Luke's Top-Five Albums of 2016

Stick to Your Guns – Better Ash Than Dust
Favorite Song: No Tolerance
I’ve been following Stick to Your Guns for a long time, because they always deliver some of the best breakdowns, vocals, and heavy hitting tracks in the business. The EP slipped out in the fall completely under my nose, and when I finally got around to listening to it, it absolutely blew me away, as usual. The whole EP is phenomenal, but the short, aggressive, punchy “No Tolerance” makes me want to mosh literally every time I hear it. 
This track and album are best when cranked on a makeshift stereo system with some space to move around, because you’re going to need it. 

A Day to Remember – Bad Vibrations 
Favorite Song: Negative Space
As always, A Day to Remember delivers a memorable, balanced, and beautiful sound in Bad Vibrations. Paranoia set the tone for what we were in for, and Bad Vibrations followed that single up perfectly. Maybe it’s because I’m a designer, but Negative Space stood out to me immediately stood out to me for its melodic, speedy intro. Like the title, the lyrics are quiet, reflective, and the overarching feeling of sadness contrasted against the upbeat tune creates a fantastic conceptual dissonance that kept me coming back. 
This track is perfect for the commute, blasting on the subway.

Clams Casino – 32 Levels
Favorite Song: Ghost in a Kiss
Clams is a producer who made his name developing beats for several different underground hip-hop artists, and 32 Levels is his first full-length solo project. His style is unmistakable, and it results in an eclectic mix of sounds, ranging from sad, refractive ballads to instrumental mind trips. My favorite track is “Ghost in a Kiss” which creates a haunting soundscape that provokes a feeling of emotional loss that I can’t really describe. The complex vocals, the blended birds chirping, and snares (sounds weird, I know) create an intricate trip that always manages to leaving something else to discover. Vocals & sound blend seamlessly into something that you’ve probably never quite experienced before, and the combination has given me physical chills on multiple occasions. 
I’d recommend experiencing it while driving alone at 5am in the morning on an empty road. 

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Disassociation
Favorite Song: Manufacturing Discontent
The Dillinger Escape Plan always brings something new to the game with every release, and this project is no different. This wild and weird album is Dillinger’s most experimental project by far, and that’s saying a lot. Instead of devolving into predictability, The Dillinger Escape Plan floors it and crashes into unknown territory, and everyone is better for it. Dissonant, convulsive, and jarring are the first words that come to my mind when describing the whole project, but especially Manufacturing Discontent, which seems to be the sonic equivalent of someone kicking you out of an airplane with a rocket strapped to your back instead of a parachute. 
It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard, and will likely be one of your weirdest listening experiences of 2016.  You are not prepared. 

Highly Suspect – The Boy Who Died Wolf 
Favorite Song: My Name is Human
Highly Suspect takes you back to the grungy summer days of my youth, but it will take other listeners to many different places, and that’s the beauty of it this project. Drawing from classic grunge-punk and shoegaze, the industrial distortion and thoughtful lyrics give you plenty to chew on, and also leave much to the imagination. My favorite track off of this project is My Name is Human, an introspective, grungy adventure that’s simply good for the soul. 
Find a quiet, dark place, plug in, and listen to the whole thing in one go. It’s worth it.