Favorite Albums of 2016

Over the course of 2016, I discovered many new artists whose albums I fell in love with, fell back in love with old artists because of a new record and followed my favorite artist’s newest records. Each one of these showed of that new music flourished this year, many albums I listened to were a huge hit. Although others, were not. But this is my favorite records of 2016 so that is what I will be discussing. *Albums are in no particular order*

  1. Better Weather-With Confidence

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Aussie pop rockers, With Confidence were never a band that was in my sights until I saw them on a recommended video while watching State Champ’s newest music video for
“Secrets.” I heard With Con’s two EPs, fell in love, and when Better Weather was released, fell even more in love with that album. It’s truly a wonderful album, there are simple lyrics surrounded by deeper ones on many of their songs. Each one is extremely catchy as well, with choruses that can be learned after only a couple listens. That may make the record sound more simplistic, and with some songs it is, but that’s not the whole thing. With Con explores themes of avoiding normality and prides themselves with being different while pursuing their musical dreams. This is a special record and extremely easy to get into.

Stand Out Tracks: “Long Night,” “Waterfall” and “Archers.”

Rating: 9/10

2. Death of a Bachelor-Panic! At The Disco

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Panic! At The Disco is a well-established group with four other albums under their belt. With each one and different line-up changes, the sound has been changed in each record to suit the band when creating their music. Now that Brendon Urie is the last original Panic! member standing, he mixed up this record from where they began with A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. But this new sound is still as good as their original. The songwriting still shows of Urie’s talent and his vocals are fantastic, especially in the title track. It sounds more pop than the unique sound of their previous works but it works. Panic! are known for this sound changing act so don’t be disappointed yet. It really is an amazing work that deserves to be appreciated.

Stand Out Tracks: “House Of Memories,” “LA Devotee’ and “Crazy=Genius.”

Rating: 9/10

3. Double Dare-Waterparks

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Discovering Waterparks was one of the best musical things that has happened to me all year. I was familiar with them from their Cluster EP and when their debut released, I shrugged it aside. After listening to their lead single, “Stupid For You,” I finally listened to the whole thing. Thank goodness that I did, this is clearly one of my favorite records of the year and it may even be my favorite. Each song hooked me instantly; Waterparks’ pop punk sound combined with electronic elements created a unique sound and feeling that is rare to hear. I honestly have nothing bad to say about this record; you need to listen to it because it is phenomenal.

Stand Out Tracks: “21 Questions,” “Plum Island” and “Powerless.”

Rating: 9.5/10

4. Headspace-Issues

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Electronic, rock, metal and rap wouldn’t seem like genres that would blend together, but Issues makes them all work in their newest release, Headspace. Around the time this record came out, there was nothing but buzz about how amazing it was. I strayed away from them because of their metalcore elements, but kept an open-mind about this release. And I’m glad I did. Each song is truly unique from each other but is still able to create a cohesive unit as the album wraps up nicely when listened to from start to finish. The metal elements are toned down to make more room for the blending of the electronic and rock ones with sprinkles of metal and even rap. It’s an album that won’t be easily forgotten and for good reason. Issues showed off how great of a band they can be with this record and I hope they continue is this direction.

Stand Out Tracks: “Coma,” “Slow Me Down” and “Lost and Found.”

Rating: 8/10

5. The Human Condition-Jon Bellion

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Every record on this list, except this one, falls in the rock genre. And I don’t call myself a fan of rap, but The Human Condition is a pop record with electronic and rap elements on it that I instantly fell in love with. It’s fantastic and each song has a different feel to it. “80’s Films” has a nostalgic vibe to it while “Morning In America” takes a point on social issues and the world we know today. Every element Bellion experimented with works and nothing is forced. Everything is cohesive and creates a three dimensional record that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Stand Out Tracks: “Morning In America,” “Hand of God” and “Maybe IDK.”

Rating: 9/10

6. Low Tides-This Wild Life

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Acoustic duo, This Wild Life’s sophomore album, Low Tides, takes what they have created with their debut, Clouded, and  expands upon it. From the songwriting to instrumentals, each have improved and shows off what they are capable of. Many songs on this record expose true emotional reactions from the listener. This shows how powerful the songwriting is that it evokes those emotions from someone who may not even be going through the situation being sung about. Kevin Jordan’s vocals are soft and can serenade any listener. They pair perfectly with the seriousness of the topics and his emotion is reflected in the same way. This record is an easy one to listen to and a hard one not to enjoy.

Stand Out Tracks: “Hit The Reset,” “Red Room” and “Let Go.”

Rating: 8/10

7. Misadventures-Pierce The Veil

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After waiting four years for a new Pierce the Veil release, this record doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. Being such a huge fan of Selfish Machines and Collide With The Sky, I was nervous that this record wouldn’t be able to compare to either of those. But that is not the case at all, fortunately. These songs are crafted beautifully and intensely; from the personal lyrics to all the band’s talents on their respective instruments. This is another band that have established themselves as a powerhouse in their genre and they still have a lot of musical fight left in them. “Song For Isabelle” is one where vocalist Victor Fuentes  shows off his personal lyricism and lets his emotions through. Meanwhile, “Texas Is Forever” shows off wonderful instrumental work. Although those respective elements shine in those two songs, they are shown in every song. This record is Pierce The Veil that we all know and love with extras that show that they are developing with every release.

Stand Out Tracks: “Floral and Fading,” “Bedless” and “Texas Is Forever.”

Rating: 8.5/10

8. In Our Bones-Against The Current

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Pop rockers, Against The Current have finally released their debut record. After listening to their two EPs front to back, multiple times, a new record was long due. And In Our Bones doesn’t disappoint one bit. The songs are catchy and evolve into a more pop rock sound that takes one step further than their previous EPs. All the songs are unique and have something about them that make them special, but the band truly shines with “Blood Like Gasoline” and “Wasteland.”

Stand Out Tracks: “Blood Like Gasoline,” “Wasteland” and “One More Weekend.”

 

 

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Waterparks-Double Dare Album Review

Three-piece pop rock band, Waterparks, formed in Houston, Texas in 2011. The young group are signed to Equal Vision Records and released their debut album, Double Dare on November 4 and another EP earlier in 2016. Additionally, they also have two EPs, which were released in 2012 and 2014. The signing to Equal Vision has helped them find and develop their sound and is greatly improved upon on Double Dare.

This record showed the band discovered the delicate balance between pop rock and a more pop sound created by the use of a variety of electronic effects. Some songs lean towards either side of this spectrum, but the record as a whole is balanced. It shows that Waterparks experimented with different elements and carefully crafted a product that shows them all off in their own unique ways. Nothing is overpowering or overwhelming, it’s a blend that the listener won’t be able to get enough of.

“Hawaii (Stay Awake):” This song serves as a nice introduction to the sound Waterparks is established with this record. It’s a good introduction to Awsten Knight’s vocals and the mix of pop rock with electronic effects they utilize in their songs on this album. The effects like the ones used in the background of the chorus. Knight’s voice is so easy to listen to and seems to put you in the trance that is Waterparks through the blended elements the boys incorporated.

“Gloom Boys:” This song, along with the whole album is fun to listen to, and the pre-chorus shows that off. Knight sings this part of the song quickly and creates a special effect that can’t be achieved with simply the electronic sounds. A glow/starry effect with the slight twinkle sound is created in the chorus and between that and the hard rock/Knight’s vocals, new layers are added. Like many other songs on Double Dare, the catchiness of the instrumentals does not cause the lyrics to suffer. Knight creates creative but fun lyrics, which isn’t easy to achieve, especially for their first album. An example of the lyrics is, “I brought a knife to a gun fight, I brought my words to a fist fight…”

Stupid for you: In the beginning, they mention colors like “natural blue,” which comes from one of their older songs, “I’m a Natural Blue.” The high pitched “hey” in the chorus is a wonderful addition that improves upon the chorus. Knight’s vocal talent is unique and the way he goes from soft vocals before he explodes into harder vocals at points of the chorus creates depth. Like all the rest of the songs on this record, this is a fun song that makes the listener want to get up and dance. Like “Gloom Boys,” there is still no lack of creative lyrics, especially the use of this metaphor: “You’re a symphony and I’m just a sour note.”

“Take her to the moon:” This track is the most pop song on the record, but is one of the best Parts of the chorus seem like they could be featured in an Owl City song, with the use of the starry electronic effects. These types of effects are used the most in this song but they are scattered throughout. A technique like this allows for more emphasis on them when paired with the instrumentals.  And Waterparks makes it work so perfectly. The verse and the pre-chorus are so different, with what seems like alternating vocals, but it’s still one vocalist. He sings back and forth with himself, as if he were singing a duet with someone else.

“Made in America:” Putting the most pop song next to a hard rock one in the track list creates such a great contrast. This is a fast-paced pop rock song that has more emphasis on the instrumentals, but still has those slight electronic effects. Like in the verse, they use an effect that is similar to a synth sound. The topic of this song reminds me of Green Day’s work, as Waterparks uses certain diction when describing American culture. “We’re made in America/We’re classic hysteria/We’re culture cashing, hazard smashing.”

“Powerless” and “21 Questions:” These are the two slow songs on this record and both feature acoustic sounds. “Powerless” has a more explosive chorus, with the introduction of drums and guitars, meanwhile “21 Questions” keeps the acoustic track for the majority of the time. “Powerless” has a story element to it, which Knight auditorily paints for the listener. “21 Questions” is a rawer sound, since it sounds like just the acoustic guitar and Knight’s voice. Those vocals sound the most different out of the whole album, not as magical like on the other tracks. Both songs show off his vocal talent in a different but special way.

“Little Violence:” This song sounds like the hardest hitting, because of Knight’s aggressive vocals. Although it has these hard-hitting guitars, drums, and even vocals, the band still makes the electronic effects work. Knight can transition from the vocals listeners are familiar with featured on the rest of the record to the aggressive ones in little time.

“Plum Island:” The intro doesn’t even sound like a Waterparks song, but it’s easy recognizable once the chorus hits. The way the guitar erupts after the chorus and leads back into the drums shines with the electronic effects that are added. They can be heard after the second chorus very clearly, it’s a dreamy synth sound. There’s different aspects of this song, that are separate but when put together they fit, even though it doesn’t seem like they would when they are apart. From the hard guitar/drum combo at parts, to pure electronics, to the mix of instrumentals and electronics, all work wonderfully.

Double Dare is a work of art that hooks the listener from start to finish, and achieving an experience that cannot compare to many other releases. It creates another realm of starry and unique effects that listeners get to wander around in for 44 minutes. This album is an experience no one will want to miss out on.

Rating: 9.5/10