Top 5 Albums of 2016 with Mike DiGiulio
1. The Dear Hunter – Act V: Hymns with The Devil in Confessional
This album held a secure number one slot in my top albums of the year. The most recent installment in The Dear Hunter’s acclaimed “Act” series of grand concept albums, this record strengthens the many incredible melodies, diverse instrumentation and familiar leitmotifs fans have come to love about the Dear Hunter. Everything aspect of this album; from the way they treat the various themes and reprisals of the Act series, to the presentation of the story, to the wild journeys through various genres, is incredibly clever and brilliantly composed. I haven’t stopped jamming it since I picked it up in September, and I don’t think I will stop for quite some time.
Recommended Track: "The Most Cursed of Hands/Who Am I"
2. Bent Knee – Say So
I first discovered Bent Knee over the summer when I saw them open for Thank You Scientist, where they absolutely blew me away with one of the most incredible live performances I have seen in 2016. This band is a brilliant and unique blend of art pop, progressive rock, indie rock and countless other genres. Say So manages to be an incredibly dense, complex and layered record while still maintaining an aspect of pop sensibility. Every listen I found myself finding something new I loved about the composition and textures of these songs. It’s unapologetically weird, yet absolutely beautiful. Bent Knee is definitely band to be on the lookout for in the future.
Recommended Track: "Black Tar Water"
3. Moon Tooth – Chromaparagon
Watching the rise of Long Island’s own Moon Tooth has easily been one of my favorite stories of 2016. Their debut album Chromaparagon perfectly captures the raw energy, creativity, and spirit of Moon Tooth. In only their first release, Moon Tooth has managed to hone in unique sound that’s technical demanding and vibrant, yet catchy and exciting; a balance that’s normally difficult to maintain in the metal world. Chromaparagon is a refreshing blend of blues-rock, progressive metal, sludge, and groove metal that makes them one of the most exciting modern metal bands in the circuit right now. They consistently make me proud to be a part of the Long Island music scene.
Recommended Track: "Igneous"
4. letlive. – If I’m The Devil…
letlive.’s newest release marks a departure from their previous gritter/heavier release The Blackest Beautiful but employs a lot of incredible experimentation and interesting influences. The record incorporates subtle elements of R&B, Garage rock, Hip hop, Pop and Blues rock into letlive’s signature “soul punk” sound, while still refusing to compromising the explosive energy and punk spirit that the band is known for. It has some of the sharpest hooks and strongest songwriting efforts that the band has released to date, making a record full of extremely cohesive and memorable tracks. Lyrically, vocalist Jason Butler pens extremely intelligent and powerful perspectives on important social issues, such as police brutality and the treatment of people of color in America. Overall, this record is a brave step into new territory for one of my all time favorite groups. Letlive. has managed to write catchier and more accessible tracks without sacrificing any integrity, honesty or musicality.
Recommended Track: "Foreign Cab Rides"
5. Touche Amore – Stage Four
Touché Amore proves to make consistently great records with their fourth release: a record that broadens the group’s dynamics while keeping their bright and uncompromising intensity. Stage Four is extremely powerful, depressing and dark, both musically and lyrically. It centers on the concept of losing a loved one and the myriad of strong emotions that along with it. The addition of clean vocals and emphasis on melodic guitar lines broaden Touché Amore’s sound on this record, while still maintaining their punk and post-hardcore influences.
Recommended Track: "Benediction"