2016 Roundup: 16 Favorite Albums of the Year

So much great music has come out in the past couple years. I’m excited about it, because I love finding new artists and albums that suit a mood or environment.


I’ve been doing a roundup of things I’ve enjoyed this year:

There’s almost always something playing while I write or check emails or say hello to some of you on social media—as well as when I worked through revisions for my new book, The Variable Life: Finding Clarity and Confidence in a World of Choices. It kept up the energy and fitting vibes for the work to be done.

[Want to be the first to know when the book is available on Amazon and Kindle? Fill out this form and I’ll keep you posted.]

Since I’ve discovered some excellent music that released in 2016, I’d like to share it with you.

For your listening convenience, follow the Spotify playlist.

Check it out, in not-necessarily-ranked-order:

16 Favorite Albums of 2016


1. Ology – Gallant

  • So much depth on this alt-electric-R&B fusion record. Great for smooth grooves when you’re feeling saucy at home with a nice glass of bourbon, because…
  • Standout Track: “Bourbon”


2. 22, A Million – Bon Iver

  • I know, it’s popular now, so the hipsters don’t like it. But I couldn’t keep from replaying this for months.
  • Standout Track: “22 (OVER S∞∞N)”


3. Honcho – Wingman

  • Full disclosure: my buddy and former college housemate Dan is one half of Wingman. I wish you could meet Dan, because then you’d love this album even more. Recommended for quirky, lyrically coy alt-rock with a loose seatbelt.
  • Standout Track: “In Comes Rushing In”

4. Coloring Book – Chance the Rapper

  • Critically acclaimed for good reason. Gospel-infused, honestly explicit (because sometimes that’s real life), and a few fun hip-hop jams.
  • Standout Track: “Blessings”

5. How To Be A Human Being – Glass Animals

  • Pretty such this is some form of alt-electric stoner rock, which makes each song’s meaning even more alluring. Weird and catchy.
  • Standout Track: “Youth”

6. Conscious – Broods

  • I became an instant fan of Broods with their previous release, so this was a pleasant development in their sound. Synth-heavy, dueling vocals, alternative rock edge.
  • Standout Track: “Are You Home”


7. We Move – James Vincent McMorrow

  • Wow, this guy is versatile. The undercurrent of various genres shines through this record, and I like it all.
  • Standout Track: “Get Low”

8. Real Emotion – Paper Route

  • Since I found their early work in 2009 and listened to them develop, I always found reasons to keep coming back. Lots of heart, bright-eyed hope, and morose longing in these pop-hooked, electronic-influenced alt rock anthems and ballads.
  • Standout Track: “Pretend”

9. Information – Eliot Sumner

  • The daughter of Sting knows how to bring the heat, all on her own. Personally vulnerable lyrics complement big arena music. Makes it seem like a modern British invasion is one worth welcoming.
  • Standout Track: “Come Friday”

10. Night Swim – Josef Salvat

  • I don’t know how many people have come across Josef Salvat, but this is an excellent record of high production value, quality songwriting, and accessible yet dark electro-pop. Could easily fit on radio waves (do any of us listen to that anymore?).
  • Standout Track: “Open Season”

11. Volition – Phoria

  • Another underrated band and album, this is perfect for a rainy day and reminiscing about the parts of your life you could’ve done better—or if you’ve already resolved to let things be. Anyone else love sad music, too? This is for us, friends.
  • Standout Track: “Evolve”


12. Home of the Strange – Young the Giant

  • I like these guys even more after reading about their background in a magazine feature. Plenty of moods to go around on this record, so you’re bound to find one you like.
  • Standout Track: “Something To Believe In”

13. Long Walk Home – Scenic Route to Alaska

  • Found them late in the year, but put it on repeat a few times to make sure I gave it enough attention. Modern alt-Americana with blunt, heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics.
  • Standout Track: “Love Keeps”

14. SEPT 5TH – dvsn

  • I came across dvsn by some Spotify recommendations, and found the album to be a fitting moodsetter for a chill night at home or just the right amount of modern electronic R&B groove. Lyrics keep it saucy, too.
  • Standout Track: “Hallucinations”


15. Red Earth & Pouring Rain – Bear’s Den

  • These guys satisfy my post-Mumford new folk songwriter needs, but with an 80s rock twist. Beautiful melodies along with fine musicianship, providing an ebb and flow of intensity without going haywire.
  • Standout Track: “Red Earth & Pouring Rain”

16. Everyone Thinks I Dodged a Bullet – Greg Laswell

  • Wow. This concept album of a relationship gone awry blew me out of the water. Soundtrack to a devastating breakup a la singer/songwriter, to the key of orchestral accents and a penchant for witty lines that keep the morose mood throughout.
  • Standout Track: “Not Surprised”

Honorable Mentions

  • Alone Together – Leagues
  • Phase – Jack Garratt
  • I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it – The 1975
  • What I Need EP – The Exit Sound

Listen to the full Spotify playlist here.


  • What was your favorite album from 2016? Share in the comments below.
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