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GORILLA VS. BEAR’s ALBUMS OF 2016

GORILLA VS. BEAR ALBUMS OF 2016

It may or may not be that time yet, but here is the highly subjective list of our 60 favorite albums — too long, I know, but we could have gone much deeper — from an unfathomably weird, incredible, terrifying 2016. It was a year marked by loss and uncertainty, and that might be why music felt more monumental to us than ever. Thanks for sticking with us for another year. Check the full list + a lovingly curated four-hour Spotify playlist below, and as always, we’d love to hear about your favorites that we might have missed.




60 JULIANNA BARWICK | Will
59 CASS MCCOMBS | Mangy Love
58 ARIANA GRANDE | Dangerous Woman
57 NITE JEWEL | Liquid Cool
56 HINDS | Leave Me Alone
55 AMBER ARCADES | Fading Lines
54 BOY HARSHER | Yr Body Is Nothing
53 MOOD HUT | Disco Mantras
52 PARTS | Parts
51 WHITE DENIM | Stiff

50 MARISSA NADLER | Strangers
49 KATIE GATELY | Color
48 MERELY | Uncanny Valley
47 PURO INSTINCT | Autodrama
46 CASEY MECIJA | Psychic Materials
45 STILL CORNERS | Dead Blue
44 CFCF | On Vacation
43 CARLY RAE JEPSEN | E•MO•TION Side B
42 DJDS | Stand Up and Speak
41 LIZ | Cross Your Heart





40 NV | Binasu

Binasu

NV’s playful Binasu feels a little like an alternate universe version of Jessy Lanza’s Oh No, both magical, adventurous distillations of more or less the same influences, created on different planets.







39 DREAMBOAT | Dreamboat

DREAMBOAT

Thoroughly hypnotic and moving experimental/improvisational dream-folk, found through Grouper’s instagram (the group features her regular collaborator Ilyas Ahmed).







38 KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH | Ears

Immersive and transportive synth mysticism from the Buchla master. If you’re into this one, also check out KAS’s lovely collab with the legend Suzanne Ciani.







37 JAPANESE BREAKFAST | Psychopomp

PSYCHOPOMP J BREKKIE







36 MARIA USBECK | Amparo

Maria Usbeck - Amparo (Final)

The beautiful solo debut from Selebrities’ Maria Usbeck, co-produced by Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek. To quote myself: “Amparo is a breezy and lucid journey, culminating in the serenely shimmering back-to-back combo of “Uno De Tus Ojos” + “Ciudad Desnuda“, one of the most poignant and emotionally resonant stretches of music you’ll hear this year…”







35 EQUIKNOXX | Bird Power Sound

EQUIKNOXX BIRD SOUND POWER

Colorful and dizzying mutant-dancehall(?) from Jamaica’s Equiknoxx crew. Very bizarre and disorienting in the best way.







34 POSTILJONEN | Reverie

POSTILJONEN REVERIE

Soaring, shimmering Balearic dream-pop from Sweden, highly recommended for fans of late, great Swedish legends Air France and Korallreven.







33 ANGEL OLSEN | My Woman

ANGEL OLSEN MY WOMAN







32 NXWORRIES | Yes Lawd!

NXWORRIES

The breezy Yes Lawd! might not the most widely acclaimed thing Anderson.Paak dropped this year — although he personally thinks it’s his best work — but it turns out he and Knxwledge are an absolute dream team.







31 LEON VYNEHALL | Rojus (Designed to Dance)

VYNEHALL ROJUS

Leon Vynehall created this one to act as “a record of functional club music, sequenced as if it were a club night, from doors to closing, using samples of these birds of paradise and their habitat…” We can’t confirm whether the record works as intended, as not many clubs here in TX are bumping this, but Rojus is another lush, vibrant dance record from the UK house producer.







30 WHITNEY | Light Upon the Lake

WHITNEY LIGHT UPON THE LAKE

As we said back in the summer, “Light Upon the Lake is a beautifully worn-in and classic-sounding debut. As the self-proclaimed world’s-first-superfans of the Smith Westerns’ lightning-in-a-bottle 2009 debut LP, we’re elated to see former members Max Kakacek + Julien Ehrlich reach the elusive emotional highs and stellar songwriting of that record once again.” “No Woman” is a contender for the most timeless song of 2016.







29 KERO KERO BONITO | Bonito Generation

KKB BONITO GENERATION







28 TROLLER | Graphic

TROLLER GRAPHIC

If you’re curious what it might sound like if Beach House made sinister doom metal or scored the bleakest horror flick of the year, check out the haunting and only slightly terrifying new record from Austin’s Troller.







27 NICOLAS JAAR | Sirens

JAAR SIRENS ART







26 KADHJA BONET | The Visitor

KADHJA BONET

Kadhja Bonet’s beautiful debut release The Visitor is a timeless debut that elicits (according to us) “an instantly familiar, blissfully vintage psychedelic soul vibe that could disarm even the most jaded of cratediggers…”, somehow managing to feel like a vintage throwback and an unmistakably modern creation at the same time.







25 CLINT MANSELL | San Junipero OST (Black Mirror)

1

Like the now iconic Stranger Things score and, to a lesser extent, Beyonce’s “visual album” Lemonade (both found a little further down this very list in our top 20), Clint Mansell’s moving score for the heartbreaking “San Junipero” episode of Black Mirror is inextricably entwined with the intense feelings we had the first time we experienced the music in sync with its accompanying visuals. While this certainly affects the ranking here — who knows if it would be this high on its own, and who cares — it also feels like the mark of a transcendent work by the composer.





24 CARLA DAL FORNO | You Know What It’s Like

CARLA DAL FORNO YOU KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE

Murky, ominous psych-folk from Australian Carla Dal Forno. From our original review: “the record is an intimately enveloping and beautifully dark creeper, eliciting an eerie aching and a sense of general unease that gets under your skin with repeat listens…Highly recommended for fans of Grouper’s dreamlike drones and Nico’s timeless, poignant, windswept pop.”







23 VESUVIO SOLO | Don’t Leave Me in the Dark

VESUVIO SOLO

Smooth, seductive soft-rock from former TOPS member Thom Gillies. What we said when we premiered the album back in September: “As much as we loved the group’s 2014 debut Favors, new songs like “Flakes“, “Guardian“, “Tension” and the wonderfully shadowy title track all feel like a major step up, glowing with a sophisticated, genuinely timeless vibe that’s highly recommended for fans of the darker, sexier side of early ’80s FM pop, slinky sax solos, and TOPS…”







22 HOOPS | HOOPS + tapes #1-3

HOOPS EP

We said about HOOPS self-released tapes of charming lo-fi guitar-pop way back on the 10th day of 2016: “For our money, the songwriting is consistently as strong as the stuff with which it will inevitably be compared — Mac Demarco comes to mind — and there are legit flashes of brilliance to be found in the tapes’ collective, gently warped 40-minutes…” And those flashes remain on the group’s official debut EP for Fat Possum, which is even better.







21 NEGATIVE GEMINI | Body Work

NEGATIVE GEMINI BODY WORK

Lindsey French’s “thrilling future-pop-dream-rave hybrid” debut LP.







20 DANNY BROWN | Atrocity Exhibition

DANNY BROWN ATROCITY EXHIBITION

Unhinged Danny Brown is the best Danny Brown, and he sounds downright maniacal on tracks like the dizzying song-of-the-year contender “Ain’t It Funny”, and the year’s most sinister posse cut, “Really Doe”.







19 S U R V I V E | RR7349

survive rr7349

Cinematic and monolithic synthwave from Austin’s own S U R V I V E. From our review back in July: “While we’re hesitant to throw the word “epic” around haphazardly, it certainly applies to the group’s thrilling, darkly gleaming, otherworldly synth odysseys, which are truly transportive and majestic (there’s a reason half of the group was tapped to score the best supernatural alien adventure since the ’80s, and they delivered an eerie instant classic).”







18 ANDY SHAUF | The Party

ANDY SHAUF THE PARTY

Beautifully understated and affecting storytelling from Saskatchewan’s Andy Shauf, in which he blearily recounts one fateful night at a party (although his label stresses that this is “not exactly a concept record”).







17 CROSS RECORD | Wabi-Sabi

CROSS RECORD WABI-SABI

Very eerie and hypnotic stuff from Emily Cross and her husband Dan Duszynski. A haunted, intensely beautiful “psych-folk” (for lack of a better genre descriptor) trip, created in one of our favorite towns, Dripping Springs, TX.







16 FEAR OF MEN | Fall Forever

Fear of Men - Fall Forever







15 VARIOUS | Sky Girl (Compiled by Julien Dechery + DJ Sundae)

SKY GIRL

An incredible compilation of lost and impossibly obscure gems, mostly unheard, described by its curators as “a deeply melancholic and sentimental journey through folk-pop, new wave and art music micro presses that span 1961-1991.”







14 YUMI ZOUMA | Yoncalla

Yumi Zouma - Yoncalla

From our mid-year review: “After collaborating long-distance on two of our favorite EPs of the last couple of years, the group finally got together in the same room to record their debut LP Yoncalla, and the IRL intimacy paid off…this is shimmering, wistful, anthemic dream-pop at its best.”







13 KENDRICK LAMAR | untitled unmastered.

KENDRICK UNTITLED UNMASTERED

King Kendrick’s breeziest, most playful release, and arguably his most enjoyable, featuring at least two of our favorite beats of the year (one by ATCQ’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and one by a 5-year-old).







12 KYLE DIXON & MICHAEL STEIN | Stranger Things Vol. 1 + 2

STRANGER THINGS OST

Call us nostalgists, but from the first whirr of that instantly iconic opening theme, the pitch-perfect retro-synthwave score from Dallas’s own Kyle Dixon + Michael Stein (of S U R V I V E) played an integral part in creating the Stranger Things world, one that remains our favorite TV experience of the year.







11 WEYES BLOOD | Front Row Seat to Earth

WEYES BLOOD FRONT ROW SEAT

Gorgeous, magical ’70s Laurel Canyon Tapestry vibes refracted through Natalie Mering’s cosmic and distinctively modern kaleidoscopic lens.







10 BEYONCÉ | Lemonade

BEYONCE LEMONADE







09 BURIAL | Young Death / Nightmarket

BURIAL YOUNG DEATH NIGHTMARKET 12

I’ll admit that the latest surprise release from Burial might objectively be ranked a little too high here, but sometimes things are all about timing, and if we’re being real, no other music exists that makes me feel the way that Burial does. “Young Death” is as haunting and emotional as it gets, and the transportive and cinematic “Nightmarket” should obviously be prominently featured in next year’s Blade Runner sequel.







08 KORNÉL KOVÁCS | The Bells

KORNEL KOVACS THE BELLS

Incredibly fun and engaging dance music from Swedish producer and Studio Barnhus crew member Kornél Kovács. What we said this summer after bumping this record in the car for like a week straight: “…it’s a beautiful and playful house/techno gem that can be almost whimsically dreamy at times, but always feels warm and heartfelt.”







07 DIANA | Familiar Touch

DIANA FAMILIAR TOUCH







06 FRANK OCEAN | Blonde

FRANK OCEAN BLOND







05 RADIOHEAD | A Moon Shaped Pool

RADIOHEAD AMSP

In which Thom and co. explore darker, more personal themes over a sprawling LP that might be their most delicate and direct release to date, and one of their best. Featuring the devastating version of “True Love Waits” we’ve always wanted.







04 KAYTRANADA | 99.9%

KAYTRA 99.9

What we said back in June holds up: “We’ve been casual fans of Kaytranada since hearing his brilliant Janet Jackson remix a couple years back, but his incredibly diverse proper debut LP is a next-level effort from the versatile Montreal producer. So many breezy bangers on this thing, thanks to Kaytra’s vibrant, living/breathing beats, which glow with heavy Dilla vibes.” I could have gone for a few less featured vocalists and more instrumental bangers in the vein of “Lite Spots” or “Track Uno”, but that’s a minor quibble. Our album of the summer.







03 KEDR LIVANSKIY | January Sun

KEDR JANUARY SUN

We were honored to bring Russian underground producer/dance-pop songwriter Kedr Livanskiy to Texas this summer for her first U.S. shows, and we’d be lying if we said that experiencing those early live shows didn’t deepen our appreciation for her debut EP and confirm our initial thoughts on January Sun: “through the hypnotic haze of even her raviest tracks shines a natural pop sensibility, revealing an exciting talent who incorporates myriad diverse influences — Laurel Halo, Inga Copeland, Aphex Twin, Mazzy Star, Teklife, ‘90s & early ‘00s-era MTV, and as “Keep Your Word” exhibits, old school jungle — to create a dream-like world that sounds sort of unlike anything else happening right now…” The most exciting debut of 2016.







02 JESSY LANZA | Oh No

LANZA OH NO

Oh No would have been our album of the year by a wide margin if not for a last second buzzer beater by A Tribe Called Quest. Our original review: “On her dazzling sophomore LP, Jessy Lanza draws from all of the dopest inspirations (Yellow Magic Orchestra, Shangaan electro, Aaliyah, Miharu Koshi, and Prince, to name a few) and filters them through her own inimitable modern electronic pop lens to create a lowkey masterpiece that, like her 2013 debut, already feels like a timeless all-time favorite that we’ve known forever. And seeing/feeling the new jams performed live in the club on Lanza’s recent tour with Junior Boys revealed a moving, intense visceral dimension that only reinforced their greatness.”







01 A TRIBE CALLED QUEST | We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service

ATCQ WE GOT IT FROM HERE

As unlikely as it seemed at the time, We Got It From Here felt like a top-3 Tribe album from the giddy first spin, and as much as we gushed about this record a few weeks ago, we love it even more after 100+ listens. In a year of surprise releases, Tribe delivered a truly unexpected and essential modern classic that eviscerated all expectations, and will always be remembered and appreciated by us as a bright light in a dark and fucked up year.







01 A TRIBE CALLED QUEST | We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
02 JESSY LANZA | Oh No
03 KEDR LIVANSKIY | January Sun
04 KAYTRANADA | 99.9%
05 RADIOHEAD | A Moon Shaped Pool
06 FRANK OCEAN | Blonde
07 DIANA | Familiar Touch
08 KORNÉL KOVÁCS | The Bells
09 BURIAL | Young Death / Nightmarket
10 BEYONCÉ | Lemonade

11 WEYES BLOOD | Front Row Seat to Earth
12 KYLE DIXON & MICHAEL STEIN | Stranger Things Vol. 1 + 2
13 KENDRICK LAMAR | untitled unmastered.
14 YUMI ZOUMA | Yoncalla
15 VARIOUS | Sky Girl (Compiled by Julien Dechery + DJ Sundae)
16 FEAR OF MEN | Fall Forever
17 CROSS RECORD | Wabi-Sabi
18 ANDY SHAUF | The Party
19 S U R V I V E | RR7349
20 DANNY BROWN | Atrocity Exhibition

21 NEGATIVE GEMINI | Body Work
22 HOOPS | HOOPS + tapes #1-3
23 VESUVIO SOLO | Don’t Leave Me in the Dark
24 CARLA DAL FORNO | You Know What It’s Like
25 CLINT MANSELL | San Junipero OST (Black Mirror)
26 KADHJA BONET | The Visitor
27 NICOLAS JAAR | Sirens
28 TROLLER | Graphic
29 KERO KERO BONITO | Bonito Generation
30 WHITNEY | Light Upon the Lake

31 LEON VYNEHALL | Rojus
32 NXWORRIES | Yes Lawd!
33 ANGEL OLSEN | My Woman
34 POSTILJONEN | Reverie
35 EQUIKNOXXBird Power Sound
36 MARIA USBECKAmparo
37 JAPANESE BREAKFASTPsychopomp
38 KAITLYN AURELIA SMITHEars
39 DREAMBOATDreamboat
40 NVBinasu

41 LIZCross Your Heart
42 DJDSStand Up and Speak
43 CARLY RAE JEPSENE•MO•TION Side B
44 CFCFOn Vacation
45 STILL CORNERSDead Blue
46 CASEY MECIJAPsychic Materials
47 PURO INSTINCTAutodrama
48 MERELYUncanny Valley
49 KATIE GATELYColor
50 MARISSA NADLERStrangers

51 WHITE DENIMStiff
52 PARTSParts
53 MOOD HUTDisco Mantras
54 BOY HARSHERYr Body Is Nothing
55 AMBER ARCADESFading Lines
56 HINDSLeave Me Alone
57 NITE JEWELLiquid Cool
58 ARIANA GRANDEDangerous Woman
59 CASS MCCOMBSMangy Love
60 JULIANNA BARWICKWill

[if you prefer apple music, that playlist can be found here]

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