Revis(it)ing the Past: 2016 Edition

By Eric Perzanowski, Staff Writer

Every year when December rolls around, I get the same sense of inundation. These feelings can originate from a number of things: finals, the looming holiday season, the impending changes to the weather. However, what really puts me over the top is the bombardment of year-end lists.

As a reader, I uncover a whole new world of albums that I either didn’t get around to listening to or didn’t know existed. Any one of them could be a life-changing piece of art, and you would never know. As a writer, ranking your favorite releases can be like solving a puzzle. Ranking music against each other is already weird enough, but how do you compare an album that came out at the end of November to one that came out in January? What differentiates #3 from #4? Will it make any difference to the list if I give this another listen real quick? Making a year-end list is not brain surgery; it can just feel like it is.

With this column, I put on my hindsight goggles and get a do-over. I’ll point out the albums that fell from grace once the calendar flipped back over to January, and the ones I feel stupid for not including the first time. I’ll begin by looking at a list that is over 14 months in the re-making: 2016.

Original Top 10 Albums of 2016

  1. Gojira – Magma
  2. Weyes BloodFront Row Seat To Earth
  3. Fallujah – Dreamless
  4. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
  5. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
  6. Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me
  7. AstronoidAir
  8. Vektor – Terminal Redux
  9. Ordinance – The Ides of March
  10. Knocked Loose – Laugh Tracks

Honorable Mentions: David Bowie – Blackstar, Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law, Death Grips Bottomless Pit

I was kind of surprised to return to this list, and see that Gojira was at #1. More than anything, that surprise was from knowing that #2-10 weren’t #1 and being unable to think of anything that could be at the top spot. Besides the exact order of the albums, there wasn’t any other thing about this top ten that shocked me.

As much of an impact, We Got It From Here… made when it was released, that impact and momentum only grew into 2017. While Magma may have been the clear-cut favorite in December of 2016, in March of 2018, the clear-cut favorite is A Tribe Called Quest’s final album. Even before thinking to make this column a thing, there have been several times I’ve thought, “We Got It From Here is the real #1 from 2016.”

Similarly, Laugh Tracks and Air are two more albums that meant even more to me in 2017 and on. Both are filled with infectious tunes that have extreme replay value (and they are currently both the respective bands’ only LPs, so if I want to listen to these groups, there’s not much else to choose from).

As much as I still enjoy Ordinance’s The Ides of March, it’s hard to keep it where it is. It’s as good of a progressive death metal album about Caesar as you can get, but there is so much that could now go before it. As I continue going back farther in the past, there’ll likely be more and more releases that free-fall off the list, but this is the only 2016 release that does for now.

When thinking of albums outside of my top 10 that are now worthy of the honor, the first one that comes to mind is Mitski’s Puberty 2. Have you ever turned in an assignment, but the second you did, you realized you forgot to put your name on it, and it’s too late to do anything about it? That’s essentially what happened when I omitted Puberty 2 from my list altogether. While in 2016, it would’ve ended up somewhere in the teens, its staying power is why, in 2018, it cracks my top 10.

While I forgetfully left out Puberty 2 from my original list, I intentionally left out The Body’s No One Deserves Happiness. While compiling my top 25, the last few spots were tossups between a handful of albums seemingly equal in worthiness. And honestly, as stupid as it sounds, what made No One Deserves Happiness get the ax was the sheer negativity of its material (would I suddenly embody this same negativity had I included it?). However, as the release of The Body’s collaboration with Full of Hell, Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light, came last fall, I revisited this work. This time around, I embraced the unhappiness that, as the album title would suggest, I deserve.

Re-Ranked Top 10 Albums of 2016

  1. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
  2. Gojira – Magma
  3. Knocked Loose – Laugh Tracks
  4. Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat To Earth
  5. Astronoid – Air
  6. Mitski – Puberty 2
  7. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
  8. The Body – No One Deserves Happiness
  9. Fallujah – Dreamless
  10. Vektor – Terminal Redux

Honorable MentionsEvery Time I Die – Low Teens, Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me, Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law

As it turns out, even with an additional calendar year of wisdom, making these lists can be tough. But that’s okay! This new, seemingly more perfect list will likely be flawed beyond all repair soon enough. And that’s okay, too! I guess the lesson to be learned is that music taste is subjective and ever-changing, so like what you like, while you like it.

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