I: The Albums
A bunch of bands I've loved for decades put out new music in 2016, but for the most part, they were replacement level. So from 10 to 4, I don't have much to say. If you like these bands, you will probably at least be ok with these albums.
10. Sum 41- 13 Voices
9. Weezer- Weezer (White)
8. The Pixies- Head Carrier
7. Blink 182- California
6. Green Day- Revolution Radio
5. Soul Asylum- Change of Fortune
4. NoFX- First Ditch Effort
And now, on to the ones worth talking about.
3. Wheeler Walker, Jr. - Redneck Shit
When Birdcloud came to Chicago in June they were opening for one Wheeler Walker, Jr., who is basically a male version of Birdcloud. The title track is breathtaking in just how much profanity one can fit into three minutes, and it just gets nastier from there. "Family Tree" is similarly impressive, but more creative in its disgustingness. And then there's "Drop 'em Out", an ode to boobs that Walker says "is an Oak Ridge Boys song in my head". It's amazing to me that albums like this exist at all, but two years running, dirty country is a genre I've gotten myself into.
2. Against Me! - Shape Shift With Me
I was prepared to wait another year or two for a follow-up to 2014's "Transgender Dysphoria Blues", one of my all-time favorite albums, but I got one in less than three years. "Shape Shift With Me" occasionally dips into the brutally honest space that TGDB inhabited on tracks like "Norse Truth" ("How am I gonna look you in the eyes when I've known you so very intimately?"), but it's generally just an energized punk rock record. The best songs on it are great not because Laura Jane Grace has opened up even further, but because she doesn't HAVE to anymore. TGDB is a prerequisite for this album in that it charted the path for Against Me!'s future, but SSWM sets the velocity for that path. Still personal, still political, but supercharged with brand new confidence.
1. Brian Fallon - Painkillers
All year- except for that month where I was randomly in love with Erasure- "Painkillers" was my soundtrack. While Fallon's music with The Gaslight Anthem took emo-honest lyrics and threw loud punk-grunge-alternative guitars on top, this solo effort is more folk-rock or roots-rock than anything. It still sounds vaguely Springsteen-ish (Fallon likes to roar about cars sometimes), but I'm over that, because I'm obsessed with his lyrics. When I feel like he feels on songs like "Nobody Wins" ("I must have lived a lifetime without you/ You must have ended up somebody's angel") or "Among Other Foolish Things" ("The lights in this town they don't brighten up anything"), I stay in bed all day. When Brian Fallon feels that way, he makes brilliant music.
II. The Songs
As seen above, lyrics were a big thing for me this year. So instead of watching myself type, I'm just gonna put up the Youtubes for my ten favorite 2016 songs and my favorite lyric from each.
10. "Meet me at the station, let's pretend to go somewhere."
9. "Don't let her catch you in the act of throwing in the towel."
8. "You'll probably get hurt in heels and a skirt when you're in the middle of a circle pit."
7. "So sorry but I need your wife I'm breaking in my brand new scythe."
6. "There was this one time when I painted a masterpiece."
5. "I love a lie just like anybody else."
4. "For every Demerol-tercation, they'll have a good Xanax-planation"
3. "They talk boots while they're laughing at you-ou."
2. "A study in sophisticated nuances of putting holes in your lungs."
1. "Maybe someday they're gonna love me back to life."