If nothing else, 2016 was a great year for music. Here are just a few of Redhawk Radio’s favorite albums of the past year that we’ll be spinning for a long, long time.
Allison Beer, Website Manager — Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Denial
I didn’t particularly enjoy this album the first few times I listened to it, but then I fell in love with “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” and the rest is history. Teens of Denial has been on a regular rotation for me since late August and it gets better every time I listen to it. Will Toledo’s lyrics are frank, relatable, and completely depressing, brought to life amidst angst-filled guitar riffs. The album is a great piece of indie rock that takes some unforeseen turns but hits hard the whole way through. For instance, Toledo unexpectedly yet flawlessly drops a verse of Dido’s “White Flag” into the middle of a 12-minute long ballad flawlessly—need I say more? Teens of Denial is amazing.
Jason Tulloch, Business Manager — Kendrick Lamar, Untitled Unmastered
I will keep this simple: it’s Kendrick. It’s Kendrick even better than before — and who would have thought this that was even possible? Every new album offers a new dynamic of his genius, and Untitled Unmastered is no exception. The jazz influence found in this album differentiates it from the rest and makes you hope other rappers follow KL’s lead. When you look at the best albums, a key reason they are the best is because you forget you are listening to an album and just think it has been one very long song. Untitled Unmastered flows like that. (Don’t listen with your parents, unless they are cool. I guess mine aren’t.)
Jason Tulloch, Business Manager — James Vincent McMorrow, We Move
Who the hell is James Vincent McMorrow? That was exactly my question. JVM is a soft, rigidly voiced singer with some decent albums floating around. He kicks off We Move with “Rising Water,” an upbeat song and one of the best. Such a great start. The album moves sharply into a slower direction, dictated by a steady drum beat showing off a little more of McMorrow’s range. At the end of the day, We Move is a beautiful album backed by an incredible vocalist. It makes you feel. I like that.
Nicolae Sadovnic, Digital Marketing Manager — A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead
After a 20+ year career that left Radiohead synonymous with innovation, they’re back at it again. If you want to avoid calling it “art rock” so as to not to sound pretentious, you can call it “orchestrated prog rock.” A Moon Shaped Pool is some of their most elaborately produced and dynamic work, which is saying a lot considering they also have In Rainbows and Kid A on their resume. After plateauing a bit to the reigns of Thom Yorke’s patented style on 2011’s King of Limbs, they show limitless artistic evolution as their dynamic, progressive song structure and overall sound design push their already-expansive limits to create something tastefully unique. Listen to the song “Glass Eyes” and pay attention to the lush instrumentation, ambient soundscape, and evolution. Also check out the track-to-track continuity. We’re not talking about an amazing collection of songs, we’re talking about an album-long experience full of indulgent orchestration and fearless experimentation.
Joe Hayden, General Manager — Chance The Rapper, Coloring Book
Chance proves that he very well might be “the only one who still cares about mixtapes” with Coloring Book, his third mixtape produced by himself, Nico Segal (a.k.a Donnie Trumpet), Lido, and Kaytranada, among others. Collaborations on the album include artists such as Yeezy, J Beibs, Francis and the Lights, and Chicago Children’s Choir. His willingness to work with top name artists along with indie bands like Francis and the Lights and a children’s choir illustrates his versatility and creativity. Just the mere fact that he releases his music free and available to stream for everyone attests to his dedication to producing music with no ulterior motive but for people to listen to what he has to say. After all, the album kicks off with “All We Got,” which embodies Mr. Happy’s message that music is all we got. This song, along with many others, reveals Chance’s echoing of biblical messages that share a message of hope and love triumphing over evil; a good mental depiction of this (and also my personal favorite line in this album) is “I might give Satan a swirlie.” How’s that for being righteous. I love this album because Chance really opens up about his drug abuse and his change of heart, displaying a vulnerability unprecedented.
Claire Stemen, Senior Editor — The Last Shadow Puppets, Everything You’ve Come To Expect
I’m a sucker for anything that is reminiscent of 60s rock and roll or the un-tied polish of a suited boy band—quelle charme! The Last Shadow Puppets are of that nostalgic breed of vintage recreation, made up of Arctic Monkeys’ lead vocalist Alex Turner, former frontman of the Rascals Miles Kane, English composer James Ford, and bassist Zach Dawes. It’s impossible not to love the brotherly chemistry verging on the homoerotic between these Alex and Miles, the faces of the band, as they flail their limbs and gel back their hair, screaming along to gorgeously lyrical tracks of which this album positively bleeds. And, since their first absolutely transcendent album The Age of the Understatement came out in 2008, us superfans of this supergroup have been waiting for far too many years. There could be no disappointment; this record is as classic as the last and something I’m itching to have in my vinyl collection. If you’re looking for dreamy guitar riffs, smooth vocals with that rebel-kid edge, look no further than the Italian-suited clad boys from Britain, the Last Shadow Puppets. (If anything, Google Alex Turner just for the pelvic thrusts of epic proportions.)