With 2016 winding down to a close, it is time to re-examine the best releases in 2016 and compile the Top Ten Album Releases of 2016
#10 Lecrae –Church Clothes 3
Lecrae’s release of his 3rd mix tape came without any type of promotion or warning. Suddenly it simply appeared on ITunes and the listener was left to figure out thoughts, and sort out anticipation for themselves. The fact of the matter is Lecrae’s writing style and music has reached a level to where he doesn’t need any of the hype. His music speaks for itself and as tracks like “I Wouldn’t Know” and “Deja Vu” prove. The narrative of the entire album was simply raw and honest, and that is what has cemented it’s spot as #10 in Egypt’s Top Picks for 2016
#9 The Newsboys-Love Riot
As a band that has been in the industry for as long as they have, The Newsboys’ newest release came as a surprise. For one thing they have shown zero signs of slowing down and their music reflects their determination. Love Riot offered a new sound track to a younger generation while still catering to their original audience. Front man Micheal Tait exceeds all expectations vocally and leaves a performance that is sure to challenge the listener in their faith but also in daily life.
#8 NF-Therapy Session
There comes a point when you have to take into consideration the reception of the album before your personal preferences to the music. After reviewing NF’s recent live show in Cleveland, I was forced to consider the perspectives of his fans, rather than my own in writing reviews. NF’s style and skill is undeniable, and despite the subject matter and presentation being questionable, one cannot simply ignore him. That is why his sophomore album Therapy Session is a part of my 2016 Top Ten Albums. It is one of only a few on this list that can make the listener feel something and that in itself is a powerful tool.
#7 Seth and Nirva –Never Alone
Probably my personal favorite CCM/ Gospel release of the year award goes to Seth and Nirva’s Never Alone. While I recognized both artists from other musical ventures, the blend of their voices and creative input really stood out to me in their release. Brother, the release’s single, while simplistic in nature was able to convey a much deeper message and for many became an anthem. The use of piano and vocal effects really made it stand out from the rest of the 2016 releases, and while produced well, the sound does not scream of over production leaving the sound to the raw talent of the artists. Between both Seth and Nirva, there is indeed plenty of raw talent and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the power packed duo.
#6 Silence the Ocean- Horizons
Silence the Ocean is one of those bands that tends to get overlooked because of the heaviness of their sound, but they are really a band to check out. What impressed me most about their release of Horizons was the sophistication of the musical composition. The guitars themselves blend together and are clean. It is perfectly possible to sit and listen and be able to clearly tell what each instrument is doing. The rather beastly screams are just as clean, and while the aggressive level is through the roof, I can understand everything that the vocalist is saying. That level of musicianship coupled with the clean vocals make this release a master piece and very deserving of their slot as #6 in my Top Ten of 2016.
#5 Hunter Dumped Us Here- I Understand
Hunter Dumped Us Here has mastered the art of atmospheric musicianship. For example, track one of their latest release entitled Beautifully, is so simplistic that if done by anyone else, a listener would feel as though it were empty. Hunter Dumped Us Here took that simplicity and made the space work for them, all before launching into an album that is also one of a few on this list to make the listener feel something. While not your average “Christian” music release, I feel like it is a must listen if you are in a space of trying to gain empathy, or even just appreciation for other people. The band is almost a cross between Twenty One Pilots and Levi the Poet. It is honest and real, but more importantly, it is also #5 on my Top Ten Album countdown.
#4 Skillet- Unleashed
Probably Skillet’s most anticipated release was met with mixed reviews upon its drop dates, however the tracks themselves have put a new spin on their old sound. While a bit different in texture and tone the album carries a different sound, the album never dropped in leaves of professionalism or artistry. Musically, it maintained interest for the entirety of the release without a dull moment. While turning to a more mainstream style and format, Skillet also maintained their integrity to the spirit of the lyrics. In all a solid #4 pick
#3 Beartooth- Aggressive
This is an album that I had the misfortune of not discovering until I missed their live show. After stumbling across the band randomly on the radio, this album had me hooked from the very first line, which given my expectations for music, is incredibly difficult to do. It was as though thought that this band had was put into a harmony that chewed any expectations a listener had and spit it out after exceeding them. The music did things that I wasn’t entirely sure was possible, and crossed lines on the genre. It raised the bar for any future metal release. It is an album I will have on repeat for an incredibly long time. Beartooth earned the spot at #3.
#2 Disciple- Long Live the Rebels
Disciple has yet again outdone themselves with their newest release. It seems as though every single that they released in anticipation of the drop date only topped the last one, culminating in an absolutely fantastic, nearly perfect, collection of tracks, that were both moving and incredible. Like Beartooth, Disciple managed to hold my attention in both their live show and recording. You could feel the emotion seeping from every lyric and every note was played with a purpose that was palpable. Disciple did not have to fight their way to #2 on my count down, it wasn’t a contest, this slot was earned.
#1 Switchfoot- Where the Light Shines Through
In order to take the top spot in my Top Ten Count Down of 2016, the release must be moving and inspiring. The tracks have to make me want to leave my headphones and go and change the world. They have to challenge me to think differently musically, meaning that it cannot be like every other release that I have heard, but it also has to be honest and raw. Switchfoot has taken all of those expectations and stipulations and blown them out of the water. Where The Light Shines Through was the only release in 2016 to do all of those things and more. On a heavier note, this album also came in a period of American history that screamed of division and fear, not just of the rest of the world but of each other. Whether the band intended to or not, this album was an anthem of hope and healing, of understanding and love. Every single note sang of that, every harmony promised it, and song enforced it. Switchfoot achieved a perfect album, and with it the #1 slot in my Top Ten Albums of 2016.