Best of 2016 - Punknews.org's picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2016

Best of 2016: Punknews.org's picks

Punknews.org's picks (2016)

Staff Picks


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Once again it's list time, and that means we've got to talk math. Punknews.org is an odd duck of a publication, a loosely organized group of volunteers that somehow manage to churn out content day after day, week after week without much of an editorial edict or any firm plan. It's fittin...

Once again it's list time, and that means we've got to talk math.

Punknews.org is an odd duck of a publication, a loosely organized group of volunteers that somehow manage to churn out content day after day, week after week without much of an editorial edict or any firm plan. It's fitting then that our site-wide Best Of list is always such an afterthought. There are publications out there that fret over the albums they choose, but that's not us. We just add up everyone's individual picks and what's revealed is revealed. The chips fall where they fall.

This overall list is tallied up based on the individual lists written by our editors, interviewers, and staff reviewers. We've tracked the results of everyone's lists in a spreadsheet you can find here. You are welcome to check our math. The individual lists are weighted so that a person's #1 pick is worth 20 points, #2 is 19 points, and so on down. Overall 175 full-lengths were voted on.

If we've missed your favourite album this year, let us know by submitting some news on the band or tossing a review our way. We're on the hunt for new team members for 2017 so you're welcome to join us and help get the word out about the music you love.

Punknews.org's Top 20 LPs of 2016

Vapor / Warner Brothers

You asked for it, they did it: Tegan and Sara went one hundred percent pop. But, whereas everyone expected a Madonna-inspired dance soundtrack ala Gwen Stefani’s first solo album, instead, Tegan and Sara looked to the gloomier side of the 80s and crafted a release more akin to Modern English than Ms. Ciccone. It’s sad and earnest and, really, it’s one of the rare records where indie-stalwarts go mainstream and hold onto their former values and core identity. - John Gentile


20. (tie) AJJ: The Bible 2

I wasn't sure how AJJ would follow up Christmas Island however upon hearing this release, I was glad to find they did so in spectacular fashion. This album has everything people have always loved about the band, but finds them building on their strengths and expanding their sound in new directions. No, it's not the same as when Sean and Ben were cranking these tunes out solo ... but I'm thankful for that. There's only one band that could make the same album multiple times, and they said adios amigos before I was a teenager. - John Gallienne


Tankcrimes / Pirate's Press

I'll be honest I'm late on Kicker, but I am so glad that I gave them a chance this time around. Rendered Obsolete is what punk rock should be: mean, gritty, obnoxious (in a good way), and full of metaphorical middle fingers. They are a great throwback to early UK punk rock with an updated edge. The 'in-your-face-ness' of this album is staggeringly high and I love it. - Ricky Frankel


Philadelphia's Nothing released a follow-up album to their 2014 debut album titled Guilty of Everything. Tired of Tomorrow encompasses very personal lyrics of mortality, mental health, and other depressive subject matter meshes perfectly with the melancholy, dark and shoegazey tone to the entire album. - Samantha Barrett


A handful of my favorite 90's punk bands (see also Bouncing Souls and NOFX) put out new records this year. This is the one that really hit the spot for me. The return to Fat Wreck Chords seems to have breathed new life into the Trever Keith and the boys. Protection is sometimes angry, sometimes introspective and always catchy. It has the passion of a young man and the wisdom of an older man. Check out "Middling Around". - Tom Crandle


The Coathangers are a badass all-female band and, now that they’re down to being just a three piece, they’re churning out some very old-school style, back-to-basics punk that could have easily graced the stage of CBGBs in the mid-70s. Brimming with girl power and a whimsical style--as evidenced by one song featuring a child’s squeak toy as a lead instrument--Nosebleed Weekend is the Coathangers’ strongest album to date and just promises that the band is going to keep getting better and better. - Julie River


13. (tie) Joyce Manor: Cody

Never Hungover Again was perfect. Joyce Manor do a helluva job in its wake though with songs that are slightly longer but similar in vein. It's tailored more towards melody and pop appeal as opposed to the grit of the last album, which was steeped in fast-paced punk. They keep similar tempos here but what they do is dial things back and try to fuse all their albums together so they meet the garage-anger of old midway with the more polished and produced sound of new. It's a great middle-ground to be honest and one that's as foot-tapping and head-bobbing as I could have asked for. - Renaldo Matadeen


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. - Dan Donald


Samson gets more hushed and introspective than ever on Winter Wheat. While that left me disappointed at first, I realized it lets his lyrics shine more than ever before. I just need more of this guy’s voice in my life and whatever way he wants to get it to me is just fine. - Greg Simpson


This isn’t just my favorite album of the year. It may be the best one I’ve heard in the last five. I don’t know why. I didn’t particularly care for anything Will Toledo released before this. But everything about Teens of Denial clicked with me. He tells full stories in his songs like Dylan but bathes in noise rock like Sonic Youth. It’s the extended intro in “Vincent,” the youthful catharsis of “Destroyed By Hippie Powers,” the agony of admittance in “Cosmic Hero,” the wordy, confused bridge in the eleven-minute”The Ballad of Costa Concordia.” That list could go on forever. I’d call this a perfect album, something I don’t remember ever thinking so immediately before. - Dan Donald


I loved the Falcon circa 2006, but I never expected A) that Brendan Kelly would use the name again, B) that the resulting album would be their best release yet, or C) that Dave Hause would show up. All of these surprises are delightfully welcome. Gather Up the Chaps merges Kelly's favorite topics (drinking too much, failing too much) with some of his best hooks. Hause and bassist Dan Andriano take the mic for a track each and deliver some of their best material in years. Everyone's a winner and everything is fine and we are all one. - Joe Pelone


There are academically better records than this, so I'm told, but there's none I've had so much emotionally invested in. Through geographic happenstance I've had the pleasure of seeing this three-piece slowly build a catalogue of excellent singles, supported by blisteringly energetic local bar shows. A band in love with vinyl singles and limited releases, it took the Dirty Nil longer than most to take the leap from EPs to this, their first proper album. It's strange for me to even call it their debut, as I've had a few summers driving through the Niagara wine country with these songs blaring from my car window. Familiarity may be clouding my critical objectivity here, but I'm not a very good critic anyways. Nothing makes me happier than listening to these songs with the volume up. - Adam White


It's tough picking singles to highlight off WORRY because it’s so surreal. Everything Jeff Rosenstock touches turns to gold and here's another example why. The album's comprised of so many sonic signatures, it's damn hard to pin down. It's all over the place but in a good way as it prides itself on attributes and characteristics that can best be described as rushes of earnest shoutalongs, candidly told and catchily brought to life musically. All with a songwriting vulnerability like he's never shown before. When it ends, you want more of Jeff's snarky take on punk. - Renaldo Matadeen


This is pop punk at its best: upbeat yet depressing and real. Drugs and jaded tendencies register personally. Maybe a little too much? But it’s catchy as hell. Looking at Direct Hit! from Brainless God to Wasted Mind shows exactly how Fat Wreck capitalizes on a ripe apple at the right time. This is another excellent addition to both the band and label’s catalogue. - Nick Poyner


No surprise, right? Well I really have to say that PEARS truly out did themselves with Green Star. I was so happy for them when they signed to Fat Wreck Chords, but I had no idea how they were going top Go To Prison and they absolutely did. This album is thrashy, hardcore and melodic in all the right places. I can't get enough. Every song is interesting, which keeps it fresh from front to back. “Hinge By Spine,” “Green Star,” “Cloverleaf,” “Anhedonia”… GAH! The musicianship was taken to a new hight of maturity as were the vocals. I still very much stand behind my 5 star review and I could not be happier for this band's success. They absolutely deserve the top spot on my list this year. Green Star is a phenomenal record as is every show I have seen them play. - Ricky Frankel


NOFX is a band that I've grown up and grown old with. Their 90's records are some of my all time favorites. I love a lot of the later stuff too, but it's far less consistent. This is solid front to back. It manages to be a little more mature while remaining mostly obnoxious. Check out "I Don't Like Me Anymore". - Tom Crandle


Domino Records

I like Renaldo’s description of this album as “angry dream-pop,” because that’s what makes Paradise such a unique album. It rages on powerfully with a punk rock pace, but the keyboards add in this bizarre sense of jagged beauty to the album. Mish Barber-Way is one of the best punk frontwomen out there right now, and her lyrics and her voice simply wreck me as they tear through this furious yet dreamy album. - Julie River


Milo comes back from the workplace and the original pop-punkers demonstrate why they are as heralded as they are. You can make the argument that later day Descendents records are uneven, which is why Hypercaffium Spazzinate is so effective. The band takes the best points from their career and stitches them into a single, wild, but thoughtful, record. Despite their earlier declaration, the Descendents DID grow up, but, as it turns out, we head nothing to worry about. The Descendents are still the Descendents, be it ’82 or ’16. - John Gentile


2016 suffered an unbelievable number of losses in the music world, but the one that hit me the hardest was David Bowie. That has little to do with this number one ranking. His final album was one of the most challenging, boundary-pushing and unique album of his career, a career full of twists and turns, reinvention after reinvention. A dark rock record with jazz and hip hop elements, Bowie leaves us with one final bit of proof of his genius. - Greg Simpson


Total Treble

Way slower and sadder and Replacements-attuned than Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Shape Shift With Me is this jumbled, ugly mess of a breakup record that dares you to love it. And after many, many car rides spent shouting along to the likes of "Crash" and "All This (And More)," I suppose I do. - Joe Pelone


Royal Mountain Records / Side One Dummy Records

The breakneck segue from the album opening "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will" to lead single "DVP" is perhaps my favourite single moment of any album this year. It tops a list of seemingly endless small charms that PUP heaps onto their second full length, which singlehandedly makes the case that modern punk rock can retain its youth and vitality without falling in line with the trends du jour. With huge shout-along choruses and WOAH's abound, PUP's repurposing the hooks and flourishes of the mid-90s pop-punk. Those are the bands of my youth but they're sounds I'd long tired of. PUP somehow plays those familiar cards without sounding stale. - Adam White