2016 Halftime Report: 25 Best Albums Of The Year So Far

With the calendar soon flipping over to July already we’ve reached the halfway point of 2016 and with that comes my 25 favorite albums of 2016 so far. I did this “Halftime Report” a few years ago and thought I’d try it again. It’ll be fun to compare this list to the year’s final list (The year-end list will be the standard Top 50 albums) and see which albums change and which are strong enough to withstand the following six months of new ones. Confirmed releases in the 2nd half of 2016 by the likes of The Head And The Heart, Local Natives, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Okkervil River, Shovels & Rope, Beck, and Drive-By Truckers coupled with strong rumors of new albums from giants such as Metallica, The Rolling Stones, U2, Kings Of Leon, My Morning Jacket, Soundgarden, and The Stone Roses are sure to put this current crop of Top 25 to the test.

David Bowie’s ★ (Or Blackstar if you prefer) was the first truly great album out of the gate released deep in the doldrums of winter in early January, pulsing with intergalactic noir its ruminations on mortality were unfortunately an ominously perfect match with Bowie’s untimely and tragic death. ★ sat atop this list for the majority of the year until a slew of excellent albums in May eventually toppled it. It’s been a well-balanced mix of veteran acts returning to form (The aforementioned Bowie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Iggy Pop, Tom Petty’s side project Mudcrutch, and Cheap Trick), dark horse surprises (Black Pistol Fire, Joe Bonamassa, Parker Millsap, and The Bones Of J.R. Jones), and rookie record wonders (Car Seat Headrest, Kyle Craft, and The Shelters).

The year so far though belongs to Will Toledo a.k.a. Car Seat Headrest and his phenomenal debut with Teens Of Denial. Although he has technically self-released several lo-fi albums on Bandcamp (A subsequent compilation of those albums called Teens Of Style was also released) Teens Of Denial is his major-label debut of entirely new material. A 70-minute opus full of ridged guitars, angst, self-loathing, and sardonic wit showcases Toledo already in the form of an established world-class songwriter. It’s the most satirical and self-aware album since Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear came out early last year.

Here’s the list so far:

25. The Avett Brothers- True Sadness

24. Tax The Heat- Fed To The Lions

23. The Jayhawks- Paging Mr. Proust

22. Rival Sons- Hollow Bones

21. The Felice Brothers- Life In The Dark

20. The Lumineers- Cleopatra

19. Jake Bugg- On My One

18. The Bones Of J.R. Jones- Spirit’s Furnace

17. Wolfmother- Victorious

16. Sturgill Simpson- A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

15. The Shelters- The Shelters

14. Frightened Rabbit- Painting Of A Panic Attack

13. Cheap Trick- Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello

12. Parker Millsap- The Very Last Day

11. Brian Fallon- Painkillers

10. Joe Bonamassa- Blues Of Desperation

9. Mudcrutch- 2

8. Band Of Horses- Why Are You OK

7. Kyle Craft- Dolls Of Highland

6. Iggy Pop- Post Pop Depression

5. David Bowie- ★

4. Radiohead- A Moon Shaped Pool

3. Black Pistol Fire- Don’t Wake The Riot

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers- The Getaway

1. Car Seat Headrest- Teens Of Denial