Top Ten List

Jake Varrone - 2016 Top 10 Albums

Hook writer, Jake Varrone, is here to present his top 10 for 2016! A list full of some of the best music for Jake's year! Check out the list below!

1. Travis Scott - The Birds In the Trap Sing Mcknight
Whenever I’m in a good mood, I’ll put this record on in the car, roll down the windows and belt at traffic. It’s catchy as hell and a very beautiful trap/hip-hop album in its own edgy way.

2. Anderson Paak - Malibu
I got hipped to Anderson Paak after a buddy told me to check out the single “Am I Wrong.” Right away, I realized this dude not only a gifted musician, but brings this palpable charisma to everything he touches. Every song this dude comes out with sounds like gold, and I’m really excited to see where his creativity takes him in the upcoming years.

3. NxWorries - Yes Lawd!
This album is a collaboration between producer Knxwledge and Anderson Paak that will change the hip-hop/r&b game in 2017. Relying on Knxwledge’s sample based beat making genius and Paak’s unmistakably smooth yet edgy vocal timbre, you can expect to hear these guys’ names a lot in 2017.

4. the Weeknd - Starboy
I was really skeptical about this album because I wasn’t a huge fan of the single. I thought it was stagnant, boring, and unable to stand on its own. However, when I heard it complimented by the rest of the album, my perspective flipped. The album is teaming with hits, and is easily one of the best produced records of the year. I’ve never been more excited about the Weeknd.

5. Kaytranada - 99.9%
Kaytranada is a rhythmic genius. His music is soulful, smooth, and dynamic. Whenever I listen to his music I usually end up with a sore neck. This record is incredible – especially “GLOWED UP,” and “YOU’RE THE ONE.”

6. Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
What is there to say that has not been already said about this one-of-a-kind album. I’m so happy to see an independent artist find as much success as Chance not only for his talent and style, but by staying true to his roots. Chance For President #2020.

7. James Blake - The Colour in Anything
I’ve always been a HUGE fan of James Blake. I think he has been changing the electronic music and r&b game for a long time, and is finally gaining the recognition he deserves. Side note, this album dropped on my birthday, making it that much more special for me!

8. PARTYNEXTDOOR - PARTYNEXTDOOR 3 (P3)
I love the vibe of this album. PARTYNEXTDOOR says so much without saying much at all. I’ve always been a fan of minimalism and I never knew minimalist hip hop/r&b could evoke so much emotion and still be catchy as hell.

9. StarRo - Monday
StarRo is an electronic artist I discovered after watching him do a mixmag set alongside Sweater Beats. After checking out his original music I was immediately hooked. As I said earlier, I’m a huge fan of minimalism, and have a huge admiration for artists who compose minimalist tracks with taste and creativity.

10. ZHU - GENERATIONWHY
ZHU is another artist I got into this year. He has a really unique sound that can be a little difficult to pin down to any singular genre since he includes components of electronic music as well as indie rock and dance. He’s a young producer with a lot of potential, and I’m excited to see what he has in store for 2017.

Larry Iaccio - 2016 Top 10 Albums

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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. 

Gene Meyer - 2016 Top 10 Tracks

Gene Meyer, lead singer for grindcore band, Bandit, and comedian, shares with The Hook his Top 10 Tracks for 2016!

1.    “Grind Hard With A Vengeance/Failure To Thrive” – Ground – Split w/Bandit
No other moment this year captured the animosity quite like these two songs do, specifically the seemless transition from the ending two-step of “Grind Hard” directly into the sweet mother of god badass opening helicopter breakdown of “Failure To Thrive”. That riff is pure merciless revenge and if you don’t immediately crowd kill everything in your living room when it comes on, then you are just a fucking poser, my dude.

2.    “Chihan Ki Pari” – Chepang – Lathi Charge
There are other songs of this album that I was considering putting on here but this is definitely one of the more “grindy” bangers of the sick LP from this Nepalese unit. Anchored by the beautifully disharmonic Discordance Axis-esque arpeggio, the whole 65 seconds of this song are just a stellar example of angular self-loathing writhing on the floor via guitar, drums and vocals.

3.    “Hollow Roots” – Wormrot – Voices
Grindcore bands just can’t seem to win. Either they release album after album of the same music and elitists call them “boring” or they try something new and elitists call them “posers”. I for one am amazed by the job these Singaporean grinders did incorporating Deafheaven style black metal influences into their music while also staying very true to the crusty grind that they had purveyed so successfully in the past. The entire album is beautiful, haunting and full of memorable moments yet it was this song that really captured their new dynamic perfectly.

4.    “Napalm Menth” – Dome – Demo
Grindcore is a divisive subgenre but I think one thing that people tend to forget about is that it can be, and sometimes should be, fun. The absurdist samples that bookmark the scummy, bonehead, idiot grind only highlight the glorified stupidity on display here. As soon as I turn this song on I can just smell the spilled bongwater and body odor of a basement grind show. Action Bass? MORE LIKE ACTION ASS!

5.    “You Will Never Be One Of Us” – Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us
The title track from the most polarizing album of the year from the most polarizing band of the moment. Yes, this one is ripe for parody and yes, the memes are great but at the end of the day this fucking song rips in a way most bands could only dream of. This is probably the first Nails album where I can actually tell what the guitar is doing and I think they are much better for it. Don’t even act like the helicopter breakdown during the second half of this banger doesn’t give you a sweat pants boner.

6.    “Hypocrisy” – Shitstorm – Split w/Radiation
Seven seconds to let everyone know what pieces of shit we all are. Love it. ;)

7.    “Dying Inside” – Blight Worms – I
Everything about this song just IS GRIND. It’s like this band was like “Let’s just sum up the entire early discography of Napalm Death into a fucking riff and open our song with it and maybe have the dude from ACxDC do vocals over it”. I contest that there was no better build-up/blast then this year than this song right here.

8.    “Face First Into Concrete” – Noisear – Split w/Days Of Desperation
It would not be a stretch to call most of this band’s output “redundant” but what they do, they do will. It is also not the easiest music to play, let alone create, so give credit where credit is due. This is easily the strongest song of their side of the split EP and it is quite the banger. Discordance Axis in a high school science lab with the dudes in Maruta as your teacher. Tight.

9.    “Des Bribes de Nuits” – Whoresnation – Split w/Chappa’ai
If you were looking for a stellar example of modern grind, then this one would be it. Just about everything is perfect here: the rough production that enhances the heaviness rather than detract from it,  the faux breakdown during the intro and of course the diminished  fifth evisceration that would make the dudes in Insect Warfare proud.

10.    “Assistance” – Gendo Ikari – Unit 1
The opening three seconds of this song really set the tone for the entire album: “full velocity spasms of bezerk insanity with intermittent brutal slam parts”. I think the MVP here has to be the vocalist, who’s piercing shrieks and guttural regurgitations take the affair to another level.