1. Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis
It’s no surprise that Biffy Clyro tops this year’s list, I am still a firm believer they are the best rock band on the planet. “Ellipsis” is the follow up to their 2013 album double album opus “Opposites”, and it explores all aspects of the Biffy sound: catchy pop rockers, gentle acoustic strummers, and balls out rage rockers. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of the double record, but come on, it’s Biffy! My only complaint about the record is the use of co-writers; aside from “Howl” (featuring help from Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody), the songs don’t stand out all that much (“Animal Style”, “Flammable”) and Simon Neil and the Johnston bros are phenomenal writers without them.
KEY TRACKS: “Friends and Enemies”, “Herex”, “On A Bang”, “Howl”
2. Third Eye Blind – We Are Drugs
For the first time in forever, it didn’t take Third Eye Blind years to release a new album. They put out the stellar full length “Dopamine” last year and quickly followed it up with this 7-track EP of awesomeness. Stephen Jenkins and company continue to write catchy and melodic songs that live up to the best tracks in the 3eb discography. “Company of Strangers” might even be the band’s best single since their late 90’s, “Semi-Charmed Life” heyday. Here’s hoping Third Eye Blind can keep up the momentum and keep releasing more new music in 2017.
KEY TRACKS: “Company of Strangers”, “Queen of Daydreams”, “Don’t Give In”, “Isn’t It Pretty”
3. Blink 182 – California
I have to admit, I was dubious of Blink 182’s prospects without Tom DeLonge. I wasn’t always a huge Blink 182 fan, I enjoyed their tunes but never bought any of their albums. That changed with 2011’s “Neighborhoods” and 2012’s “Dogs Eating Dogs” EP. Both records were absolutely solid, and featured some of the band’s best songs after a long hiatus. Tom DeLonge was a huge part of what I liked about those records, and I was bummed when he quit the band. My fears about the band were silenced with “California”. Matt Skiba is a fantastic edition to Blink 182 and meshes really well with Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker. The result is a crisp and punchy sounding record that signals a bright future.
KEY TRACKS: “Los Angeles”, “Sober”, “Kings of the Weekend”, “Left Alone”
4. Weezer – White Album
Oh, how I love Weezer. You can gush all you want about the “Blue Album” and “Pinkerton”, but the band’s output over the last decade has been nothing short of stellar. The songs the band has put out recently rival any of their early material, and “The White Album” continues their hot streak. This album in particular re-captures some of the magic of those early albums, with songs that are classic Weezer and other tunes that branch out in different directions. While some bands of advancing age struggle to write great songs, Rivers Cuomo and the boys do it with ease.
KEY TRACKS: “Wind In Our Sail”, “Girl We Got A Good Thing”, “King of the World”, “Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori”
5. The Monkees – Good Times!
Who would have thought that a MONKEES album would be one of the best of the year?! Don’t get me wrong, I love the Monkees but this album is better than it has any business being! Mickey, Peter and Michael (RIP Davey) teamed up with producer Adam Schlesinger to produce an album of truly great tunes. Featuring writing contributions from Alan Partridge, Ben Gibbard, Rivers Cuomo, and Noel Gallagher, this record features plenty of modern Monkees classics. I also got to see them live at Casino Rama in June of this year and it was a fantastic show! This is a pure summer record and is meant to be played with the windows down as you cruise around town!
KEY TRACKS: “You Bring The Summer”, “She Makes Me Laugh”, “Our Own World”, “Me and Magdalena”, “The Birth of An Accidental Hipster”
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway
It was a five year wait for new music from the Chili Peppers after 2011’s “I’m With You”, and it was worth the wait! It’s pretty awesome that the Chili Peppers are still around and rocking in 2016, and “The Getaway” is kind of like if RHCP went full on stoner rock. This is album is funky, groovy, chill, funny, profound, and 100 percent Chili Peppers! For some reason, this album just really clicked with me driving around in the car late at night, it’s got that kind of night drive feel. It took a little bit of time to grow on me but it was worth it!
KEY TRACKS: “The Getaway”, “The Longest Wave”, “Go Robot”, “Detroit”
7. Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
Jimmy Eat World is a band that has steadily gotten better over the years, and they continue to write melodic and interesting pop rock tunes. The guitars aren’t as loud on their 9th studio record as they’ve been on records past, but Jim Adkins’ voice continues to shine and the songs are sharp. The heavy, rock out coda of “Pass The Baby” makes me wish the band went full on into that direction, but I don’t blame them for taking a softer approach. Nine albums in, they’ve earned the right to experiment and branch out.
KEY TRACKS: “Sure and Certain”, “It Matters”, “Pass The Baby”, “Through”
8. Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride
This record was the surprise of the year for me! I’d heard the name Catfish and the Bottlemen in the press, but never paid full attention. I finally took a listen and this band is right up my alley: British, great tunes and some swagger to boot! Oasis would be proud.
KEY TRACKS: “7”, “Twice”, “Soundcheck”, “Oxygen”
9. Green Day – Revolution Radio
Coming off THREE records in 2012, Green Day returned to the scene in 2016 with a record that calls back to their “American Idiot” days. The band has never shied away from politics, and on this album they find a happy medium between having a message and just being a fun punk rock band. As we head into the Trump administration, it’s good to know that Green Day will be around to call him out if we need them to!
KEY TRACKS: “Revolution Radio”, “Bouncing Off The Wall”, “Youngblood”, “Too Dumb To Die”
10. The Struts – Everybody Wants
This record was originally released in 2015, with a new version coming out earlier this year. Either way, The Struts are a straight up, fun rock ‘n’ roll band! They mix equal parts Queen, Sex Pistols, Oasis and every other great British band to form an amazing rocktail! Between them and Catfish and the Bottlemen, I feel very good about British rock going into 2017!
KEY TRACKS: “Kiss This”, “Put Your Money On Me”, “Dirty Sexy Money”, “She Makes Me Feel Like”
TOP 5 SONGS OF 2016
1. Bleached – Wednesday Night Melody
After Best Coast and Wavves, Bleached have become my go to band for sunny, fuzz drenched ditties!
2. Hands Like Houses – Colorblind
This tune is heavy and features some badass vocals as well, the Australians are taking over hard rock!
3. Twenty One Pilots – Heathens
Suicide Squad as a movie was kinda meh, but this was the perfect song for when the credits rolled!
4. Tacocat – Dana Katherine Scully
A super catchy song about my favourite FBI agent? OH YES!
5. Nada Surf – Cold To See Clear
I wished I loved Nada Surf’s latest album “You Know Who You Are” as much as “The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy” (it was #1 on my Best of 2012 list) but it was not meant to be! Either way, the first single from the record is a pure gem!