Best of 2016 - Dan Donald's picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2016

Dan Donald's picks (2016)

staff picks

Hello constant PunkNews reader,
I am one of the reviewers around here. They call me Max, Max Power – I got it from a hair dryer. I’d like to introduce my list by saying that I hate using a rating system, so take the numbers with a bit of a grain of salt. 2016 was an awesome year for music, I couldn’t fit everyone into my top 20 list. Audio/Rocketry, xBNMSx, and The Dillinger Escape Plan all deserved spots on my list, but 20 spots filled up quick this year. Thanks for checking out my picks for 2016. Love it, hate it, enjoy it. Happy holidays!

The Native Sound

One of the most emotional and sad records of the year. If you like soft music that sounds heavy, with depressing lyrical content, look no further. You are welcome.

Satisfying thrash metal can be tough to come by these days. It is nice to hear legends like Testament still producing bangers in 2016.

Some more solid and sad music for 2016. American Football came back this year with another s/t record, and it does not disappoint. Emo on top 2016.

The Exquisites were a new band for me this year, they sound like a combination of 90's punk rock/lo-fi with a Dinosaur Jr. vibe. Definitely worth checking out.

Another new band for me this year. Apologies, I Have None are an awesome band from England, who have been heavy on my recent 2016 rotation. They are somewhere between a darker version of Jimmy Eat World and Brand New with their own distinct twist. Good stuff.

Gold Stock Records

Carpenter are always solid, and Lifelines is no exception. Heartland inspired rock and roll, with a punk rock vibe, you won't be disappointed.

Chemical Miracle is a great record. It is a diverse offering, that definitely has a bit to please everyone, from blast beats to poppy sing alongs, it has it all. There are parts that feel like melodic hardcore and other parts that remind me of Balance and Composure. This record deserves your attention.

Another classic band that continues to put out solid records. Love them or hate them, Taking Back Sunday will alway hold a place in my heart.

This is a heavy record. Gatecreeper take the vibes of classic English style death metal like Bolt Thrower and Benediction and put an American dbeat twist on it. If you like heavy music, this record is absolutely worth checking out. One of my favorite metal albums of 2016.

entertainment One

Another awesome heavy record for the 2016 list. Crowbar added another heavy hitter to their long discography. Contender for heaviest of 2016.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this release, it turned out to be an awesome and fun acoustic listen. Ray Rocket works to combine some of the snotty punk attitude from Teenage Bottlerocket and add a well played acoustic vibe to it. Plus it has a Ramones cover, whats not to like?

Vapor / Warner Brothers

My pop record for 2016. Tegan And Sara's Love You To Death is 2016's 1989 - I know that sounds confusing, but remember, you heard it here first.

I know some people have tossed around the term "dad music" when talking about recent Thrice releases. Call it what you will, it is still awesome. While it is obviously different from older releases, TBEITBN is a very well written rock record. It easily found a spot in my 2016 list, dad style or not.

Here it is, Green Star by PEARS. This is likely going to be on most of the lists this year, so I will keep it extra brief. Fast, playful and catchy with some heaviness to sweeten the deal. Solid record front to back.

Bird attack records

Awesome Canadian skate punk. This record is fast and technical with very well crafted harmonies. Belvedere have come off of a 12 year break and gave us an awesome punk rock record. The technical proficiency of this band has always been admirable, but they really hit a home run with this one. Hit it.

Here we are, my pick for heaviest record of 2016. This was the best cross-over record of 2016, maybe even of 2015 for that matter. Ringworm may be getting old, but they definitely have learned at least a few new tricks.

I may have fallen off the Jimmy Eat World train sometime after Futures, but Integrity Blues brought me right back as if I hadn't missed anything. This record reminds me of why I loved Jimmy Eat World in the first place. One of my favorite of the year.

What can I even say here? While some of NOFX's catalogue is better than others, I can't say that I dislike any of it. That being said, First Ditch Effort is far from the bands worst output. I enjoyed this record very much, it took me a few listens to really take it in, but it was worth it. Love it.


I know, I know, I'm getting less "punk rock" by the minute. 2016 has been an awesome year for music, but what has really set it apart is new material from old bands, old bands who many of us started to give up on. The White Album reminds me of Blue/Pinkerton era Weezer, it is catchy and awesome, and I can't help myself.


This is sort of funny that Blink-182 topped my list this year. I'm old, and I still love pop-punk, I have embraced this, but I will admit that I had sort of given up on Blink years ago. I like songs from their entire catalogue of releases, but long have been the days since I would listen to a Blink record front to back. That is, until California came out and reminded me of why I loved Blink (and Alkaline Trio I guess), in the first place. Are there cringe worthy moments? Yes, goofy/dumb lyrics? Absolutely, but I still think this record came out very well. I will admit to even the most questionable tracks *cough Los Angeles cough* have grown on me after repeat listens. If you loved Blink-182 as well as Alkaline Trio, this record is a no brainer. So this is as close to a favorite as we are going to get, as well as my top guilty pleasure of 2016.