As a music fan, one of the greatest pleasures in life is listening to an entire album from beginning to end, without feeling the need to skip a single track. When an album isn’t satisfying all the way through it takes away from its overall quality. That’s why I think it’s important to recognize the albums that are truly amazing front to back. To have a great song is fantastic, but to have an album full of remarkable songs is incredible. So with only four more months until 2016 is over, I think it’s only fair and very important to share with you what I think the best albums of 2016 have been so far. And in case you’ve been missing out on all of this awesome new music 2016 has given us, or even if your headphones are just in serious need of something new, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe should be at the top of everyone’s Must Listen lists. These are the albums that I’ve listened to the most, the ones that stuck with me, and the ones I think are worth recommending to you. So here they are. In no particular order (cause that would be impossible), these are the albums that deserve your attention.
1)Blake Shelton – If I’m Honest
– This album has everything a great country album is supposed to have. The best parts of this album are raw and emotional, and they pull directly at your heartstrings, the way music is meant to. It also stays true to who Blake is, not just as an artist but as a human being. Blake without a doubt, unintentionally created one of the most genuinely honest and autobiographical albums I’ve ever heard, and he completely nailed it.
2)Jon Pardi – California Sunrise
– This album is perfect for those fans who are missing the traditionalism in their country music. With plenty of twang and catchy hooks, there are more than enough real toe-tappers on here, as well as low-key sultry tunes for true country music fans. Pardi has taken the country music from your daddy’s era and mixed it with the edginess of today’s country music and created the perfect modern hoedown playlist. It’s the modern day Urban Cowboy soundtrack, and if you don’t understand that reference then you probably shouldn’t be listening to country music.
3)Charles Kelley – The Driver
– Pure and effortless talent is showcased on this album, as Kelley glides through each song on his first solo effort with ease and passion. Every song is smooth and flawless in every way possible, and Kelley’s vocals are at their finest. If you’re open-minded when it comes to music, then you will truly be able to appreciate this piece of work the way it should be appreciated. This album is the perfect example of what it sounds like to make music that feeds the soul.
4)Blink 182 – California
– (Alkaline Trio’s) Matt Skiba is truly an asset to the band, as his uniquely dark vocals mesh surprisingly well with frontman Mark Hoppus. Full of dynamic hooks, catchy lyrics, and plenty of upbeat tempos in true Blink fashion, California is the album pop-punk fans needed. This album has revived the pop-punk genre. It’s the perfect comeback album from a band every one of its fans have greatly missed.
5)Lacey Sturm – Life Screams
– The singer’s first solo effort post-Flyleaf is a no frills, full force explosion in every way. It’s fiery and high-energy rock music that shreds both musically and lyrically, as Sturm takes her listeners on the journey through the battle between light and darkness. Sturm is vocally at her best on this album, as she sings with such a natural strength that her words echo in her listeners’ ears long after the album ends.
6)Chris Lane – Girl Problems
– Chris Lane isn’t your average country singer, and his debut album isn’t your average country album. In fact, with its smooth 90’s style R&B vibes and dreamy lyrics, this is a perfect country-pop crossover album that should appeal to fans of both genres. Lane’s vocals are as sweet as a Boyz II Men song and on point through every song. If country music had a baby with R&B it would be Chris Lane. He takes two very different types of music and melds them together to create a sound that is as irresistible as ice cream on a hot summer day.
7)Tyler Hammond – Take a Sip EP
– Tyler Hammond is the definition of a down home Georgia boy who knows how to hustle, and his music is a direct reflection of that. With lyrics that are as sincere and laid-back as he is, Hammond knows how to write songs that are relatable to his listeners. His latest EP is no different. It’s a six song, perfect representation of what country music is supposed to be, and should be heard across all mainstream country radio stations.
8)Waterloo Revival – Front Row EP
– This is feel good country music at its best. This EP is fun, easygoing, and it’s invigorating. Each song is better than the next, and after these 6 are over you’re left wanting 6 more. Cody Cooper and George Birge have created a unique sound that needs to be heard by all country music fans. With their fresh, cool sound there’s no reason why Waterloo Revival shouldn’t be country music’s next hottest duo.
9)Dierks Bentley – Black
– This is easily the best album the Phoenix native has released in years. Black takes the listener on a rollercoaster of emotions, through the ups and downs of a relationship, and back again. While it’s definitely a darker album for Dierks, it’s also some of his best work. Songs like “Freedom” makes you want to feel more and relive certain experiences, while “Different for Girls” perfectly explains the different effect break-ups have on both genders without sugarcoating anything. This album definitely has a song everyone can relate to in one way or another.
10)Maren Morris – Hero
– Here’s a chick who takes her love for traditional country music and blends it seamlessly well with just the right dose of edgy pop that leaves us with an album that is blunt, catchy, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. With her debut album, Morris proves she has what it takes to hang with the big women of country music. Her unique sound, no-nonsense songwriting, and impressive vocal range all help distinguish her among the rest of the women in mainstream country music right now.
11)Good Charlotte – Youth Authority
– I think it’s fair to say this is the year for excellent comeback albums from our favorite pop-punk veterans. Good Charlotte return with an album that is reminiscent of old school GC, but with a much more modern and developed sound. Youth Authority is full of mature lyrics that are both reflective and storyteller in their delivery, yet perfectly relevant and relatable to its fans who have grown with the band. This album is nostalgic in the best way possible and will definitely hit you hard where it matters.
12)Locash – The Fighters
– The best way to describe this album is feel good country twang with just the right dose of modern country to keep things interesting. This duo know how to take the FGL formula to country music and put their own spin on it. Fun, effortless, and fresh, this is definitely the album to keep you relaxed and groovin’ through your day. If I had to pick a standout track, though, it would definitely be “The Fighters.” If ever there was an anthem for those who work their lives away just to barely survive, this is it. Its message, to never give up no matter how bad things are, is like a beacon in the dark for those who struggle every day.
13)Adelita’s Way – Getaway
– Melodic, hit you in the face hard rock with a 90’s edge is what this album is. It’s gritty and speed driven and knows when to slow down just enough to give you the slightest break you might need without losing its momentum. The only way to listen to this album is loud because any other way just wouldn’t be doing it justice.
14)Dylan Scott – Dylan Scott
– This Louisiana native knows how to create the perfect country song by honoring his traditional country roots, but still managing to blend them with his love for today’s modern music. Its heartfelt lyrics and sweet melodies make this album irresistible to any true country music fan.
15)Real Friends – The Home Inside My Head
– Missing those pop-punk and “emo” bands from the 2000’s? Need to fill that empty space inside your heart that used to be full of gut-wrenching lyrics that perfectly summed up how you were feeling? Go listen to this album and I guarantee you will be instantly cured. Words can’t describe how amazing and flawless this album is. Its passionate lyrics and crushing beats leave you feeling rejuvenated in a completely therapeutic way. It’s impossible not to let your emotions pour out while listening to this album.
16)Sixx: AM – Prayers for the Damned
– This rock super group’s second album is pure, heavy hitting hard rock that smacks you right in the face. Solid musicianship, top-notch vocals, and candid lyrics make this album an excellent example that rock music is not dead, but very much alive.