Out with the old, in with the new: the band formerly known as Viet Cong has officially been reborn as Preoccupations. The band's second project in as many years, Preoccupations is a strong follow-up to an excellent debut record that showcases a band evolving and finding new ways to stretch their sound. Now that the group will no longer be — for lack of a better term — preoccupied by objections to their former band name, there's nothing left to hold them back.
Track You Need To Hear: "Monotony"
Released: September 16, 2016 | Jagjaguwar / Flemish Eye
Kendrick Lamar is one of the most phenomenal talents in hip-hop, and the proof of this is that an album of his B-sides is better than most rapper's albums. Recorded during the To Pimp a Butterfly sessions, untitled unmastered. is a raw and unrefined collection of songs, offering an honest glimpse into the sheer genius of Kendrick Lamar.
Track You Need To Hear: "untitled 07 | levitate"
Released: March 4, 2016 | Aftermath Entertainment
Whitney's Light Upon the Lake features all the classic characteristics of easygoing indie rock: reflective lyrics coupled with a stripped-down, guitar-driven coffeehouse sound. While Light Upon the Lake doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel, it doesn't need to; the album is simple, contemplative, wistful, earnest, and one of the most thoroughly enjoyable modern rock records of the year.
Track You Need To Hear: "No Woman"
Light Upon the Lake
Released: June 3, 2016 | Secretly Canadian
To fully understand Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, you must first understand the enigmatic mind of Travis Scott. He teeters between mumble-rap and art-hop; wanting to ride the wave of success in the same vein of Young Thug and Future, but also taking inspiration from post-Graduation Kanye West. Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight is peak Travis Scott, accomplishing both handily and giving us the young rapper's best project to date.
Track You Need To Hear: "goosebumps"
Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight
Released: September 2, 2016 | Grand Hustle
One of music's most decidedly mathematic bands, The Dillinger Escape Plan has long been the math-rock gods of metal. Dissociation is full of the elements that we have come to expect from the band — flurries of changing time signatures, frenzied shrieks, panicked lyrics — but also shows the evolution of the group's sound. As the band's final entry in their 17-year career, Dissociation serves as not only a wonderful sendoff for the band, but one of their strongest efforts.
Track You Need To Hear: "Dissociation"
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Released: October 14, 2016 | Party Smasher / Cooking Vinyl
R&B has had a long and notable history of making sexual music, and SEPT 5TH will make one reminisce of downtempo '90s R&B, but blends it with the sound coming out of Toronto at the moment (The Weeknd, Drake, Justin Bieber, PARTYNEXTDOOR). Despite hiding behind a shroud of dvsn's anonymity, the album is straightforward; it is sexual without being self-serving, confident without being braggodocious, and serious without being deliberate.
Track You Need To Hear: "Too Deep"
Released: March 27, 2016 | OVO Sound / Warner Bros.
The all-woman powerhouse of punk follows up their star-making debut with a strong follow-up record, and continue to be the leaders of the new wave of punk. Adore Life sees a more sprawled-out sound from the group with a greater focus on Jehnny Beth's lyrics, largely trading in the ferocity of 2013's Silence Yourself and focusing more on a darker, mounting intensity — showcasing the band's evolution as artists.
Track You Need To Hear: "Adore"
Released: January 22, 2016 | Matador
Nick Cave — a truly legendary act in music — made possibly his most somber, reflective and introspective album about a topic many are familiar with. Written in the wake of his 15-year-old son's untimely passing, Skeleton Tree sees Cave confronting death on a highly personal level rather than using it as a basis for his stories. Though it feels inconsolable, it is an honest look into one man's battle with insurmountable grief.
Track You Need To Hear: "I Need You"
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Released: September 9, 2016 | Bad Seed Ltd.
If Atrocity Exhibition proves anything, it's this: Danny Brown is better when he's crazy. The album is an invitation to the wild, wacky mind of Danny Brown; his lyrics, style and image aren’t made for the popular masses, and his music is the estranged version of hip-hop — its beautiful dark side.
Track You Need To Hear: "Really Doe"
Released: September 27, 2016 | Warp Records
Freetown Sound is a politically-charged album made in a tumultuous time in America masked by the beautifully-crafted music it's set to. Blood Orange's third album is a personal manifesto for singer/composer Dev Hynes, speaking of his experiences as a black man in today's society and finding a way to navigate his insecurities. “My album is for everyone told they’re not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way," Hynes said, before finishing, "It’s a clapback."
Track You Need To Hear: "Hadron Collider"
Released: June 28, 2016 | Domino