2016 hasn’t been all bad. A lot of fantastic albums have been released – making this list a hard one to compile! The resurfacing of the pop-punk genre, a slew of classic albums being released and of course the return of several big bands (here’s looking at you, Green Day and Blink 182) has made this task especially difficult. There are a lot of albums we sadly couldn’t include here due to the sheer amount of good releases this year, but there should be something here for all listeners to enjoy. And, if you like these records, why not check out our recommended local bands.
By Jane Howkins
10. NOFX – First Ditch Effort
NOFX released First Ditch Effort around the same time that a few other famous punk bands released records but it was this album that shone through, with some distinct tempo alterations giving the band’s sound a much needed change.
Best tracks: I Don’t Like Me Anymore, I’m A Transvest-lite, and Happy Father’s Day.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: The Carnival Rejects
9. Metallica – Hardwired To Self Destruct
Metallica released their first proper album for eight years in 2016, and what an album it was. There were still a couple of niggles, but Hardwired To Self Destruct harks back to the group’s glory days, with Hetfield in particular sounding more passionate than ever.
Best tracks: Atlas Rise, Moth Into Flame, and Spit Out The Bone.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: Hellbound Hearts
8. Regina Spektor – Remember Us To Life
This was an album released fairly late on in the year, but one that gripped us almost from the outset. There are a couple of songs near the end that don’t quite live up to the standard given earlier on in the album, but Remember Us To Life is still a solid record.
Best tracks: Older And Taller, Grand Hotel, and Obsolete.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: Laura Kindelan
7. Jack Savoretti – Sleep No More
This was a surprising choice for us, as we had admittedly not heard of Jack Savoretti before listening to Sleep No More. However, after a couple of plays we were struck by how beautiful the singer-songwriter’s music was and fell in love.
Best tracks: Deep Waters, When We Were Lovers, and Troubled Souls.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: Everlate
6. Against Me – Shape Shift With Me
Previous album Transgender Dysphoria Blues was good but marred by awful production and a bit of filler. Shape Shift With Me stepped things up a notch with a different sound and more confident songwriting from Laura Jane Grace, which is definitely a good thing.
Best tracks: Haunting Haunted Haunts, Dead Rats, and Boyfriend.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: Us Amongst The Rest
5. Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart
Martha were another relatively unknown band when we first heard Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart, but it’s a cracking album from a D.I.Y. punk band that aren’t afraid to put a bit of pop in there as well – what’s not to love?
Best tracks: Do Whatever, Chekhov’s Hangnail, and The Awkward Ones.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: JUNK.
4. Brian Fallon – Painkillers
It’s always tricky when an artist decides to go solo, and after his band The Gaslight Anthem’s fifth album Get Hurt tanked critically, the stakes were high. However, Brian managed to pull it off, with Painkillers being a great addition to his back catalogue.
Best tracks: A Wonderful Life, Rosemary, and Steve McQueen.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: Boss Caine
3. Billy Talent – Afraid Of Heights
Billy Talent finally managed to release their fifth album Afraid Of Heights this year, after a long four year wait. Their fourth album Dead Silence was a breath of fresh air after their stunted third record Billy Talent III, so it was a relief to for fans to finally hear that a new album would be coming out after all, and the wait was certainly worth it.
Best tracks: This Is Our War, Big Red Gun, and Time-Bomb Ticking Away.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: One Way Street
2. Panic At The Disco – Death Of A Bachelor
This may be a controversial choice for second place, but considering how hit and miss their previous album Too Weird To Live, Too Weird To Die was, Death Of A Bachelor was a breath of fresh air, containing some interesting styles and frontman Brendan Urie at his best.
Best tracks: Victorious, Crazy=Genius, and Golden Days.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: A Joker’s Rage
1. Pup – The Dream Is Over
We’d actually not heard much from Pup before receiving a copy of The Dream Is Over, but it blew us away so much that it’s been put squarely in the number one spot. A stunning album from the Canadian punk band, with some absolutely storming tunes matching the wonderful melodies.
Best tracks: Doubt, The Coast, and DVP.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: Pewter City Punks
Honourable mention: Tori Amos – Boys For Pele (Remastered)
We wanted to include this in the list but considering how many good releases there were this year, it felt wrong to include an album that is technically twenty years old. The remastered copy of Boys For Pele is the definitive version of Tori’s seminal 1996 work, and worth checking out though.
Best tracks: To The Fair Motormaids Of Japan, Caught A Lite Sneeze, and Beauty Queen/Horses.
If you liked this album, you might want to catch: Vesper Walk