The 20 Best Songs of 2016 - Oh My Rockness

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The 20 Best Songs of 2016

We picked our favorite songs of the year. Come listen & agree with our choices!

December 5, 2016

Written by Patrick McNamara

We listened to a bunch of new music this year.

Most of it was fine.

Lots of it sucked (who cares about those songs tho).

And a few really stuck.

So let's recap those sticky sticky jams!

Here are our twenty favorite songs (from here on out simply known as “the best") of 2016 A.D.

Come for the great content. Stay for the big time playlist.

The songs are in no particular order - the fact that they're in alphabetical order is just a massive coincidence.

OK -- let's blast the jams --- yeah!

The Best Songs of 2016

American Football - "My Instincts Are the Enemy"

This legendary little '90s emo band (I saw them live in 1996 in Champaign, IL when they were called The One Up Downstairs - please hold your applause for me until the end of this feature) released their first album in seventeen years a couple months ago. It's really good and -- for the most part -- sounds like a new Owen album. That's fine! I named my firstborn Owen! But “My Instincts Are the Enemy" (track 2) is perhaps the most American Football-y of all the songs on the record and that's what all the aging emos want to hear. Wait for the guitar twinkles at the 2:30 mark and you'll hear what I mean. This song rules. I sing it around the apartment (proud renter) / in the shower often.

Patrick uses conditioner bottle as microphone:

“I need you more than ever! Tell me what you see!"

From the album: LP2

American Wrestlers - "Vote Thatcher"

(I promise this whole list won't just be “American" bands.) This is a good upbeat jingle jangle synth happy song about somebody dying. Not sure if that someone is Margaret Thatcher or not. Regardless, you may now honor the dead by dancing / blasting this brief pop ripper.

From the album: Goodbye Terrible Youth

Beverly - "Victoria"

I'm not even sure this song came out this year. It could have been the tail end of 2015 A.D.. If only I had access to some type of super research machine that could help me fact check this. Oh well! Who cares! I can do what I want! This is my music blob and this song stays in the feature! “Victoria" was co-written by Kip “Back! Back! Back!" Berman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (no relation to Chris) and if you look up “catchy" in the dictionary you won't find this song because the dictionary is tired and old and boring. But it should be in there!

From the album: The Blue Swell

Fear of Men - "Island"

This fantastic post dream pop band from Brighton put it all together on this heartbreaker. “You tell me impossible things that break me, that break me. You tell me impossible things that shake me, that shake me to my core." Damn. Crushing. So good. Also, no, I don't know what post dream pop means. I thought you did.

From the album: Fall Forever

Forth Wanderers - "Slop"

This Montclair, NJ band had a jam on our 2015 list and there's a pretty simple explanation why they're included here again. Forth Wanderers rule! This chill laid-back lo-fi fuzzy goodness of a song makes me feel like everything will probably be fine. And it most likely won't! Now that's what I call a good jam. Also, see this band live at your earliest convenience, please. They're going to be #famous pretty soon.

From the album: Slop

Frankie Cosmos

Speaking of fame, remember when Greta Kline was in The Squid and The Whale for a second? “Kyrie Eleison is the road that I must travel!" God, that movie rules. But enough about that, this is perhaps the stickiest song on Frankie Cosmos's 2016 A.D. album “Next Thing" and if I was doing “The Best Records of 2016 A.D." this album would almost certainly be included…. but I'm not….. who has the time I am but just one small blobber…. so you'll just have to love this single jam instead. I hope you love it. Spoiler: you will.

From the album: Next Thing

Gates - "Forget"

This song is the opening track on Gates' 100% fantastic 2016 A.D. album “Parallel Lives." Perhaps you know this already but his band rocks the f&*# out (not sure I'm allowed to curse on my own DIY blob). Not so much on this track, though. It's called a ballad, dog. And it's beautiful. Gates rules.

From the album: Parallel Lives

Jank - "Versace Summer"

Taken from their album of the same name, this song pretty perfectly sums up the Jank experience. Crazy rhythms. Dirty riffs. Funny lyrics (garlic bread rules). Strange melodic wonderment. This is my new favorite eccentro-pop band. Can I make a request to anyone who might be listening that could actually make this happen? Jank should do a tour with at least one of the 87 bands that Rob Crow (eccentro-pop's supreme leader) is currently in. Please make that happen, someone. I'd pay to see that shit (I've decided that yes I am allowed to curse on my own DIY blob). Also, if this show happens, possible to get on the guest list?

From the album: Versace Summer

Japanese Breakfast - "Everybody Wants to Love You"

Japanese Breakfast is one of my very favorite bands (the super talented Michelle Zauner and pals) that I heard for the first time in 2016 A.D. (even though they've been in existence since at least 2013 A.D. -- I'm often three years late and two bucks short on good things). This completely chill phi slamma jamma pop song is from “Psychopomp" -- one of my favorite albums of 2016 A.D. If you don't like this one I'm afraid our relationship isn't going to work out. Find some other blob who can make u happy.

From the album: Psychopomp

Joyce Manor - "Last You Heard of Me"

Joyce Manor is sounding more and more like The Lemonheads these days. Not a bad thing. An awesome thing! Here's one standout track from an album (“Cody") full of them. I saw them play it live this year at Irving Plaza (Modern Baseball also played this show - more on them in a minute but right now this is Joyce Manor's time) and I'll always remember the crush of jubilant kids swaying like a rolling wave to their buoyant punk pop goodness. I wasn't part of the crush. I was in the balcony. I like to breathe.

From the album: Cody

- "Cut From the Vine"

This year (reminder: 2016 A.D.), little lovable local band LVL UP (I've been telling you for years about their goodness -- thank you for finally listening) signed to legendary record label Sup Pod (sp?) and released the Grade AAA+++ album “Return to Love" and should take over the musical world if the musical world knew what was good for it (sadly, it often doesn't). Everything's coming up LVL UP these days. They all growns up and they all growns up and they all growns up! Such a good band.

From the album: Return to Love

The Menzingers - "Lookers"

The rare Menzingers song that's not about either waitresses or cigarettes, “Lookers" is one of those jams you will like immediately (i.e. sticky sticky sticky) -- unless you don't like well-sung songs with huge hooks and big time choruses and an overall feeling of contentment with the world, because if a jam can rock out like this how bad can things really be. If that's the case, you're gonna hate this song. Don't blast it. Don't touch it. Don't even look at it. For the rest of you, “YESSSSSSSS. So good!" is what you will most definitely scream after streaming this one.

From the album: After the Party

Mitski - "Your Best American Girl"

This is but just one of probably 500 (5000?) year-end lists Mitski will be on. It's kind of complicated but here's why she's so acclaimed -- Mitski rules! This song in particular. Wait for the chorus if you're the type that likes tapping into the essence of musical transcendence. I think I've really gotten to the heart of the matter here today. Thank you.

From the album: Puberty 2

Modern Baseball
- "Apple Cider I Don't Mind"

* Patrick uses conditioner bottle as microphone in shower:

“Did you ever love me?"

“You think we can make it?"

“Is this past or present?"

I really love singing this song in the shower, especially those three lines. I don't have the chops to mess with the rest. Man, I really love this song. Modern Baseball rules!

From the album: Holy Ghost

Nothing - "Vertigo Flowers"

Fuzzy crunchy sludge-y pop rock perfection! That's what you're gonna get if you blast this song by Nothing (they're really something). Perfection isn't for everybody, though, so if you'd rather not blast this kick ass jam, I'd understand. For the rest of you -- wait for the 2:10 mark, please. That's when someone's foot slams on a pedal and the heavens open up.

From the album: Tired of Tomorrow

Parquet Courts - "Human Performance"

This band's band is the band behind the band BEHIND the band. Please don't ever forget this. What we have here is a tremendously chill blitzer that comes from their 2016 A.D. album of the same name. Is that record any good? Not really. I'd say it's more like entirely great. When are Parquet Courts gonna play the Boston Garden tho?*

* this is a really good joke and here's why it's funny…. the Boston Celtics is a basketball team that famously plays on a parquet court and…. well….. I'll just stop explaining this joke now so you have time to laugh and laugh and laugh about it.

From the album: Human Performance

PUP - "Sleep in the Heat"

PUPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP. It's no secret the entire Oh My Rockness staff (Claire's around here somewhere) is huge fans of this band. Here's why: they rule! This is perhaps my favorite song from PUP's 2016 A.D. album “The Dream is Over" (no it ain't, doctor!) but they're all dope as hell. Fun fact: the video for this BANGER features one of the kids from “Stranger Things." We let our 8-year-old son Owen (see: Football, American) watch that entire series and he wouldn't go to the bathroom alone for weeks. Bad parents? That's up to the (parquet?) courts to decide.

From the album: The Dream Is Over

The Sun Days - "Busy People"

This sublime band (not the kind that goes around telling everybody they don't practice santeria) from Gothenburg, Sweden (just 3,768 miles from NYC in current traffic) plays jingle jangle power (post) dream pop w/ the best of 'em. I like them better than both The Sundays and Sunday, the day of the week, and I bet you haven't even heard of them. This need to change RIGHT NOW. Listen to this loveliness and you'll be checking flights to Gothenburg in no time. A massively underrated band. But not by this blob. 17 Michelin stars.

From the album: The Sun Days

Tiny Moving Parts - "Common Cold"

If I'm being completely honest with you (and I always try to be because I #respect both you and the blobbing process) I've probably played Tiny Moving Part's exceptional (post) math pop album “Celebrate" more than any other record this year. I love it. It's hard to pick just one jam off it for this list because they're all so good but it's not that hard because I just did and here it is! After you love this one (and you will love it) I highly suggest you listen to the entire album it came from or our friendship is over.

From the album: Celebrate

The World Is A Beautiful Place And I'm No Longer Afraid To Die - "Smoke & Felt"

I want to talk more about how much this band rules on Twitter but I keep running out of characters! This standout selection is from the band's (no way I'm writing out their name again) split with Sorority Noise (I love them too) and the more you listen to it (it's 6 minutes and change and will fly by in the blink of an eye) the more your infatuated head will fall over your love-stricken heels and you won't mind this one bit even though walking will become rather difficult. Have you ever tried getting around with your head over your heels? It ain't easy. Neither is writing a pretty much perfect song like this one. I love music so much.

From the album: Leaf Ellis / Smoke & Felt split

Those were our twenty favorite songs of 2016 A.D.

And here's that big time playlist again -- just in case you missed it.

Music foreva!


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