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Dec. 21, 2016: Favorite Albums of 2016

Below is a list of my favorite albums that came out in 2016. The new releases are ranked alphabetically within three tiers: the top tier is the top 10, the second tier is the next 20 (i.e., 11–30 overall), and the third tier is the next 30 (i.e., 31–60). Below that is a list of 10 great albums I heard little bits of, but because I don't have them, I don't feel like it's responsible to throw them haphazardly on the list yet. (Note: if you're going to get me a gift for the holidays, well...) Finally, below those are 10 archival releases I really loved this year.

Every album below is worth checking out, although the ones in the top tier are of course most worth it. I ordered them this way because, to me, the qualitative differences between #4 and #7, or #18 and #25, or #36 and #50, are all pretty negligible. I do have a definitive #1, though—the LP that I listened to most this year and is honestly, because of both the music and the narrative around it (both vital, inextricable, and devastating in so many ways), the best album of 2016. It's Blackstar by David Bowie.

Top 10

Babyfather – BBF Hosted by DJ Escrow and 419
Bitchin Bajas & Bonnie "Prince" Billy – Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties
David Bowie – Blackstar
Frank Ocean – Blonde and Endless
Gate – Saturday Night Fever
Graham Lambkin – Community
Horse Lords – Interventions
Roy Montgomery – RMHQ
Solange – A Seat at the Table
Yves Tumor – Serpent Music

Next 20

ANOHNI – Hopelessness
Beyonce – Lemonade
Black Spirituals – Black Tape
Carla dal Forno – You Know What It's Like
Chris Abrahams – Fluid to the Influence
Derek Baron – Crooked Dances
Eli Keszler – Last Signs of Speed
Hieroglyphic Being – The Disco's of Imhotep
Ignatz – The Drain
Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – EARS
Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
Omar-S – The Best
Laraaji & Sun Araw – Professional Sunflow
Rosali – Out of Love
Ryley Walker – Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
Sean McCann – Music for Public Ensemble
Steve Gunn – Eyes on the Lines
Tom Recchion – Oaxaca Dawn | Bamboo

Next 30

Alex Izenberg – Harlequin
Andrew Pekler – Tristes Tropiques
Ben Vida – Damaged Particularities
Burnt Hills – Pipe Dream
Cara & Mike Gangloff – Knock on Life's Door
Chivalrous Amoekons – Fanatic Voyage
Chora(S)San Time-Court Mirage – Live at Issue Project Room
Christian Fennesz & Jim O'Rourke – It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry
Dedekind Cut – $uccessor
DRAM – Big Baby DRAM

Fadensonnen – Gutter Wanderer
Form a Log/Moth Cock – Form a Log/Moth Cock
Good Willsmith – Things Our Bodies Used to Have
Huerco S – For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)
Heron Oblivion – Heron Oblivion
Ian William Craig – Centres
Jake Meginsky – Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani – Sunergy
Marielle V. Jakobsons – Star Core
Max Eilbacher/Alex Moskos/Duncan Moore – SEF III

Mendrugo – More Amor
Nathan Bowles – Whole & Cloven
Okkyung Lee & Christian Marclay – Amalgam
Outer Space – Gemini Suite
Pure Disgust – Pure Disgust
Tim Hecker – Love Streams
Tony Molina – Confront the Truth
Ultimate Painting – Dusk
Yeongrak – Brainsoutclock
Young Thug – No My Name is JEFFERY

10 Albums That I Know are Great, but That I Haven't Listened to Enough for Year-End List Consideration Yet, Unfortunately

Albert Demuth – Haircare for Assholes
Brett Naucke – Executable Dreamtime
The Dead C – Beloved
The Double – Dawn of the Double
Elysia Crampton – Demon City
Moor Mother – Fetish Bones
Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us
Oren Ambarchi – Hubris
Shirley Collins – Lodestar

10 Great Archival Releases

Carl Stone – Electronic Music from the Seventies and Eighties
Dow Jones & The Industrials – Can't Stand the Midwest
Fraser & Debolt – The Song was Borne
The Garbage and The Flowers – The Deep Niche
Julius Eastman – Femenine
The Red Krayola with Art & Language – Baby and Child Care
Robbie Basho – Bouquet
Syrinx – Tumblers from the Vault
Terry Allen – Juarez and Lubbock (On Everything)
Träd Gräs och Stenar – Träd Gräs och Stenar

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