Best of 2016 Staff Picks: Fred Pessaro
2016 was a major year. Besides the litany of staggering losses — from the passing of Bowie to the Ghost Ship tragedy and all stops in between — we all endured a major shift in music. Our heroes are fading away, creative spaces are slowly but surely drying up (R.I.P. Acheron), and the stupid calls about rock being dead get louder and more thinkpiece-heavy. We don't believe it, and we don't think that rock will ever not be filled with creative folks reimagining genres and pushing boundaries. It's human nature to take ideas and push them to new and exciting heights. This won't stop now or ever.
On a personal note, this year has been filled with major life events. After years running another site, I slid in with the fine folks at Townsquare Media and started my voyage with CLRVYNT. I fulfilled a lifelong dream to not only go to Tokyo, but see one of the greatest bands of all time there. I saw once-in-a-lifetime gigs from the Stone Roses, Metallica, Death Side and Black Sabbath, in addition to stellar shows by favorites like New Order, Morrissey, the Marked Men, Kamasi Washington, Giuda, Title Fight and more. In a year marked by painful transition, there was plenty of catharsis to go around.
2017 will be a whole new year with excellent records (more on that soon), new challenges and a lot more from us at CLRVYNT. We are humbled at the fact that, in a field as crowded as music, anyone would give a shit about a word that we have to say. So, to the readers, we say THANK YOU. Look for us to rip it next year.
ALBUMS 11 - 20
Anohni - Hopelessness
Big Thief - Masterpiece
Blood Pressure - Need to Control
Demdike Stare - Wonderland
The Minneapolis Uranium Club - Human Exploration (late 2015)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree
Nothing - Tired of Tomorrow
Power - Electric Glitter Boogie (late 2015)
Steve Gunn - Eyes on the Lines
Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat to Earth
ALBUMS 1 - 10
Andy Stott - Too Many Voices
Yet again, this U.K. genius scores big with minimal electronic and ambient that is just as relaxing and thought-provoking as it is sexual.
Blood Incantation - Starspawn
There's something that's instantly hateable about being the hottest thing on the hype train. Sometimes it’s warranted, but most of the time it’s all shine and shimmer with no substance. Blood Incantation’s new LP and live show is 100 percent promise AND delivery. A true genius in the world of death metal has been unveiled.
Culture Abuse - Peach
If Sugar-era Bob Mould came from hardcore and knew how to party, he might sound a little like this. A feel-good, wall-of-guitars pop confection that digs into your brain and never leaves.
Hamilton Leithauser & Rostam - I Had a Dream That You Were Mine
This new LP could have existed in nearly any era of rock. It’s classic pop songwriting that nods at everyone from Leonard Cohen to doo-wop, but Leithauser’s husky growl gives it an edge that makes the whole thing seem in the now.
Inter Arma - Paradise Gallows
There’s a majesty that Mastodon reached on Remission that has yet to be replicated, a bottled magic that shows itself on Through Silver in Blood and Times of Grace. After three LPs of trying to find it, Paradise Gallows is the realization of the dream to catch that apex. Take one listen to “An Archer in the Emptiness” and tell me that doesn’t sound like a stampede of elephants.
Mary Lattimore - At the Dam
At the Dam is its own meditation chamber. The LP is the single most serene and beautiful record of the year, an incredible effort of harp manipulated with effects. This total dream of a record could be my most played LP of the year.
Sumerlands - Sumerlands
Supergroups never sound this super. This crew of guys — who have also served in War Hungry, Power Trip, Magic Circle, Innumerable Forms, Hour of 13 and many others — take traditional heavy metal in the Jake E. Lee era-of-Ozzy style and make it fresh and ripping. A true triumph.
Vanity - Don’t Be Shy
Don’t Be Shy plays like a rock 'n' roll songbook on shuffle. Evan Radigan’s vocals sometimes approach Liam Gallagher’s lazy drawl, and other times, Lemmy’s growl. There are touches of glam and Oi! and hardcore and punk pub rock throughout the entirety, and one song sounds like a Chuck Berry ripper with Joe DiNunzio on the chorus. What ever the fuck it is, it’s rock 'n' roll and I like it.
Teenage Fanclub - Here
The longstanding U.K. outfit has always been one to deliver consistently great records ever since their landmark Bandwagonesque, but the latest feels like a highlight in an already incredible discography. Their first LP in six years might be their best since the quiet classic Songs From Northern Britain.
Tyrannamen - Tyrannamen
Feel-good garage punk from Australia that touches on pub rock. Simple and genius.
Angel Olsen - My Woman
Asphyx - Incoming Death
Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
Crown Court - Capital Offence
David Bowie - Blackstar
Fury - Paramount
Heron Oblivion - Heron Oblivion
High Spirits - Motivator
Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions - Until the Hunter
Japanese Breakfast - Psychopomp
Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch
Madeira - Bad Humors
Marie Davidson - Adieux Au Dancefloor
Parquet Courts - Human Performance
Powell - Sport
Swans - The Glowing Man
Tim Hecker - Love Streams
Terry - Terry HQ
Tyvek - Origin of What
Yumi Zouma - Yoncalla
EPS AND 7”S
CC Dust - CC Dust
Framtid - Horrific Visions
Kriegshog - EP
Primal Rite - Complex Life of Passion
The Repos - Poser
RIXE - Les Nerfs A Vif
Sheer Mag - III
Terry - 8 Girls EP
Tony Molina - Confront the Truth
Turnstile - Move Thru Me
Urochromes - Get in Line for Mental Decline
Warthog - Warthog
2015 RECORD THAT NEVER LEFT THE ROTATION IN 2016
Tenement - Predatory Heights
GIG OF THE YEAR
GAUZE @ Antiknock in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. April 10, 2016
ICYMI, here are best-of lists from John Hill and Zoe Camp:
Weyes Blood's 'Front Row' to a Beautiful Wasteland
Blood Incantation Conduct a Cosmic Death Metal Opus
Culture Abuse 'Dream On' About Three-Guitar Power-Pop Attack
Avoiding the Rock Fantasy Vacation with Hamilton Leithauser
A Decade Later, Inter Arma Still Hate Safety Metal
Sumerlands Dig Queensrÿche, Don't Call Them 'Sport Coat Metal'
Vanity Made a Genius Record by Simply Being Themselves
Japanese Breakfast’s Grief Teaches Us Something About Love
Tyvek Go Tip to Tail on Latest Album 'Origin of What'
Michael Gira of Swans Talks Rebooting, Larkin Grimm
Power-Popper Tony Molina Doesn't Need No Stinkin' Choruses