Our go-to rock writer, Larry Iaccio, gives us his take on this year's best albums! Check out his top ten below!
1. Colors – House of Heroes
If you’ve never heard of House of Heroes, that’s ok. They are a fairly obscure alternative-Christian rock band from Columbus, Ohio. You know who else is from Columbus, Ohio? Twenty One Pilots. John Dun (Twenty One Pilots drummer) used to drum in this band and me, being quite the big ToP fan, was exposed to them through the grapevine, but I am so grateful I was. Do not let the fact that this band has some very overt Christian themes throughout their music distract you from some of the most well-written, catchy, and heavy rock songs of 2016. Aside from Colors featuring a wide range of musical influences, it tells a cohesive and engaging story throughout its 13 tracks. It is one of the few albums in recent memory that I can listen through in its entirety and not come across a single weak track.
2. Everybody Wants – The Struts
The Struts have a very special place in my heart. Frontman Luke Spiller may very well be Freddie Mercury reincarnate and with Queen being my all-time favorite band, I instantly fell in love with his voice. Aside from Spiller having what I believe to be one of the best voices in rock right now, The Struts’ music is classic, stadium-pop rock with everything from verses filled with attitude to huge, anthemic choruses all of which is on full display in Everybody Wants.
3. Death of a Bachelor – Panic! At the Disco
Let’s face it, love him or hate him, Brendan Urie is one hell of a musician/singer/songwriter. Panic! At the Disco has basically shifted from a collaborative band to the Brendan Urie project, and if Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die, didn’t show it enough, Death of a Bachelor puts him entirely in the spotlight in the best way possible. With influences ranging from Sinatra, to the B-52’s and 80’s music, the album is as diverse as it is interesting and features some of what I believe to be the best production on a record in 2016.
4. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Macklemore’s story is an inspiring one. A completely independent artist breaking it extremely big, and doing nothing in a way he didn’t want to do it. Yet the music business is a vicious and relentless one and can turn even the truest artists into corporate slaves. Enter This Unruly Mess I’ve Made which is basically Macklemore’s response to the industry, his sudden fame, and his current life. It’s a completely authentic record untouched by the hands of business and features the duo at the top of their musical and storytelling game.
5. Big Mess – Grouplove
Grouplove came back in 2016 in a huge way. Big Mess not only remains true to the band’s signature sound while still showing signs of growth and maturity, but during a year that was somewhat crappy, it made me feel happy and forget about all the nonsense that was going on in the world. While it may not be their best songwriting, Big Mess is definitely a great time, and I’m sure we could all use more of that.
6. Apostasy – Megosh
One of my very first articles for The Hook was doing an album review for some band called Megosh I had never heard of before. After seeing the album artwork combined with the name, and the extremely heavy breakdown intro on the first track in the album, I was quite hesitant about what I was getting myself into. My feelings could not have been more misplaced. What I was treated to was easily one of my favorite albums from an up and coming band. Featuring influences from Coheed & Cambria and Ice Nine Kills, Megosh uses these influences in a refreshing but familiar way to make a sound all their own. The songwriting, the production value, and the diversity kept me hooked through the entire album and even though the album came out last week, I still feel lucky to have gotten my hands on it before everyone else.
7. Nothing But Thieves – Nothing But Thieves
So technically this album came out in 2015, but I discovered it this year so I’m putting it on my list because it needs to be on my list. This album is incredible in every way. The band knows its strengths and plays to them perfectly. Mason’s vocals are honestly probably my favorite of the entire year, and the entire album is just beautiful ambient music playing and grooving along to his voice. This is definitely a mood album, so if you’re looking for heavy breakdowns or super catchy, dance-y choruses look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for some sweet beats and grooves and phenomenal vocals, then look no further.
8. VHS 2.0 – X Ambassadors
I think we all got to the point late last year/early 2016 that if we heard “Renegade” one more time that we would literally go insane, myself included. This doesn’t detract from the brilliance of what made X Ambassadors and VHS 2.0 a gem in 2016. Their electronic-pop music combined with Sam Harris’s beautiful, and real yet effortless vocals made X Ambassadors a band that defied genres and appealed to music lovers across the spectrum. Despite the radio playing it to death, the first time I ever heard their song “Unsteady”, I was completely and utterly captivated. While the rest of VHS 2.0 may not be as intimate as that track, it sure does completely capture my attention.
9. California – Blink-182
I never thought in a million years that in 2016 that I would be including Blink-182 in a current top 10 list, but here we are, and they rightfully deserve it. California is definitely a reinvention of sorts for the aging pop-punk band, but it was one I honestly thought they definitely needed. I won’t comment on the obvious change of members (which I still think was an amazing decision to this day) but rather how these are some of the tightest, catchiest, and most fun songs Blink has written in a good long time.
10. The Getaway – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Time and time again the Red Hot Chili Peppers prove their staying power with each continual release. While these are far from their strongest set of songs they seem to try and take the best of Stadium Arcadium and I’m with You and combine it into one package and for the most part if definitely works.