The 9 Best Albums of 2016 You Should Have Heard

Dive by Sam Brumby @sambrumby
Here’s another good thing that happened in music this year. The winning image in the music category of our photo comp, by @sambrumby

Man, what a piece of shit 2016 has been. It feels like all the good people died, and all the bad ones stayed behind to finish off the world.

The only redeeming part of this whole year has been the music. The last twelve months have birthed some incredible albums, and while it would be our pleasure to list each and every one of them, Rolling Stone already did that. So instead, we thought we’d list off a bunch of lesser-known albums you might not have heard of, ‘cause we’re edgy like that, y’know? Here they are, in no particular order; the best albums of 2016 that you should have heard but didn’t because Beyonce released Lemonade.


It still amazes and baffles me that some people have never heard of Cass McCombs. The Californian singer-songwriter has been teetering on the brink of stardom for years. He’s released eight albums in the last 14 years, and while sure, he’s garnered some diehard fans, he’s also remained largely obscure. What kind of a world must you live in to have never heard the name Cass McCombs? I don’t know, and I don’t want to. This year, Cass released Mangy Love, and it’s full of earnest, witty, beautiful gems like this one.

Julia Jacklin, Don’t Let The Kids Win

The first time I listened to the title track of this album, I wept at the traffic lights. ‘Wept’ isn’t an exaggeration either—it started with a wobbly bottom lip after the first verse, before an increased secretion of lacrimal fluid hindered my vision by the second, before my duct walls burst and I made those weird sounds ducks make mid feeding frenzy. Luckily I was stopped at a red light at the time, because I was 100% incapable of operating a moving vehicle. Anyway, the whole album is fucking incredible, and the fact that it’s the 24-year-old Australian’s debut record blows my mind.

Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Denial

The first song I ever heard by Will Toledo, aka Car Seat Headrest, was this one. How catchy is it? But it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts. I interviewed him about the record this year, and we played a fun game called ‘Fill in the Blanks’ (I know, very clever). I thought it would be a light-hearted little ditty to break up the album chatter, but it turned real dark real quick. Once he’d filled in the blanks to my lines, I read out the full sentence he had created. It read, “It’s fair to say that most days are long and empty, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some fulfillment or die without a hope”, to which Will replied, “That’s a good quote, I should write that down.” The whole thing just made me like him more, and the fact that he’s only 23 means this level of cynicism is only the beginning.

Kevin Morby, Singing Saw

The problem with releasing your album early in the year is that David Bowie died early in the year, so nobody cares about your record that you released early in the year. What’s worse is not only did Bowie die, but he left behind a brand new record that is better your new record, or any other record, for that matter. Still, ex-Woods bassist Kevin Morby released a really great record this year, and the fact that it went largely undetected is a travesty to ears across the world. There’s still a month of ’16 left— time to discover Singing Saw.

Autolux, Pussy’s Dead

Holy mind melt, batman. Pussy’s Dead is the third release from Los Angeles three piece Autolux, and it solidifies Carla Azar’s place in history as one of the best American drummers out there, with her abstract and complex time signatures pounding along to each track like a heart fluttering in the dark. It’s part rock, part dreamscape, part electronic, part WTF, and all awesome.

Drugdealer, The End of Comedy

I didn’t want to like this record when it came out because the band’s name made me roll my eyes, which I then realised is what (good) drug dealers also make you do, so then I smiled to myself (because I have no friends) and gave them a listen, and then I couldn’t stop listening to them and now I’m telling you to listen to them (because I have no friends). Good talk.

The Drones, Feelin Kinda Free

This song should bury you deep in the suffocating dirt of your heartbroken past, and if it doesn’t, you should see a doctor because you might be a psychopath. What’s the rest of the album like? No idea, but who buys singles anymore?

Mossy, self-titled

If you recognise Mossy’s face, it’s because his real name is Jamie Timony and he starred alongside Geoffrey Rush in The Eye of the Storm. Havent seen that? Neither have I, but it seemed like a cool fact to mention. Due to never having seen it, I cannot attest to his acting talents, but can wholeheartedly confirm he rules at music. He only released an EP this year, but the five-song taste will leave you salivating for more, whilst also allowing you more time to catch up on Eye of the Storm, starring Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Timony, which I haven’t seen.

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