Best of 2016: The best Seattle albums in 2016

December 13, 2016

2016 was a very exciting year for the music community in the Pacific Northwest. Not only was the quality of the releases that came out of the Seattle area high this year, but they were also many. SO MANY. It felt like we were premiering a new song on Locals Only almost every week.

From well established Seattle artists like Car Seat Headrest, Deep Sea Diver and Chris Staples getting national recognition to newer bands like Sloucher and Naked Giants announcing that they have arrived and they’ve got next, this is a fun time to be a music lover in Seattle.

WATCH: Naked Giants new music video

Below is a list of my favorite releases of 2016. There was so much great stuff this year that making a “Top 10” list would have been impossible. So instead I have my favorite LPs and EPs from 2016 listed below in no particular order (but Car Seat Headrest is at the top for a reason) and yes there are a lot of them but all of these artists deserve your attention. So, give it to them.

DISCLAIMER: While we are typically very PDX friendly on Locals Only, I had to stick with the greater Seattle area for this list otherwise it would never end.

Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial

While I’m not using rankings in this list, It’s not an accident that Car Seat Headrest is at the top. Teens Of Denial is that record I never got tired of. It was that record that didn’t seem possible after how good Car Seat Headrest’s 2015 Teens Of Style was. Rolling Stone had it at #4 on their best of 2016 list behind only Beyonce, David Bowie and Chance The Rapper. Pretty good company to be in. Oh yeah, and Smash Mouth tweeted their approval.

Deep Sea Diver – Secrets

More Deep Sea Diver, please. Honestly, we’ve all been waiting for Secrets since Deep Sea Diver released History Speaks back in 2012. Secrets was worth the wait. I just don’t know why they had to try and make me cry with “Great Light.” 

Hey Marseilles – Hey Marseilles

When a band releases a self-titled album, often it’s their first release. Hey Marseilles waited to get a couple full lengths under their belt before naming their 2016 release after themselves. They waited for a real good one. I’ll be playing “West Coast” on Locals Only until the end of time.

David Bazan – Blanco

I am in love with this album. Traditionally I have to be in a very specific and dark mood to get into a David Bazan album. Based on the content this album should probably be the same way, but it’s not. Blanco actually makes me want to get into that serious, dark mood just to listen to it. That way I can properly appreciate songs like “Both Hands” and “Trouble With Boys”. Now watch this video and cry the appropriate amount of tears.

Smokey Brights - Hot Candy

Ummmm, they called the album Hot Candy. Do we actually need to discuss this further? The evolution of Smokey Brights has been very fun to watch over the years and it is all on display with this album.

Damien Jurado - Visions Of Us On The Land

Remember when the writer’s strike happened in Hollywood and television shows when from 20 episode seasons to 10 episodes? I feel like somewhere along the way the same thing happened with the full-length album. Not for Damien Jurado. Visions Of Us On The Land is 17 tracks that have left me feeling like several months later I’m still discovering this album. Just a couple of weeks ago I realized "Walrus" was my favorite song in the bunch. Visions Of Us On The Land is seriously the gift that keeps on giving.

Tacocat - Lost Time

They wrote a song about Agent Dana Scully which Gillian Anderson then tweeted about. Oh, what a time to be alive. While listening to Lost Time you’ll hear some very pointed and sometimes sarcastic messages, but those messages just add to the fun sound of this whole album.

Crater - Talk To Me So I Can Fall Asleep

Crater snuck up on me a bit with their debut LP Talk To Me So I Can Fall Asleep. This album was released early in the year and the national media took notice. Rightfully so. It’s loaded with electro pop tracks, but of a very thoughtful and honest variety. With new music on the way, I think 2017 is going to be their year.

Sol – The Headspace Traveler

Sol is one of my favorite hip-hop artists (not just local). How do you address serious topics but still bring party jams to the table? The Headspace Traveler is how. The assists from Otieno Terry and Dave B are masterful. Sol just keeps building momentum and tracks like “Ain’t Gon' Stop” are a perfect example of why.

Kris Orlowski – Often In The Pause

Personally, I am of the mind that Kris Orlowski can do no wrong and have felt that way for at least a few years now. Often In The Pause kept me feeling that way. One of my favorite songs of the year is “Enough” but there are plenty of songs to be excited about in there. Check “Walking In My Sleep” if you’ve someone missed it.

Young In The City – II

Young In The City is Noah Gunderson doing a better version of Springsteen than Springsteen does, but with more suggestive lyrics. On II, Young In The City continues to give us songs for rural back road driving that feel familiar in the best way.

Chris Staples - Golden Age

Early in 2016 Chris Staples dropped by Locals Only and played a couple of songs live for us. One of them was “Park Bench” which he said would be on his new album Golden Age. I knew then we were in for a treat. Golden Age is the perfect follow up to his 2014 release, American Soft. Plus he released it on a hundred-year-old steamship which somehow makes it sound even better.

Barcelona – Basic Man

Do you love super dancey 80s synths and CATCHY hooks? Well “if it don’t hurt you, it ain’t love.” The new Barcelona album Basic Man will most certainly be making an appearance at many future dance parties. The album is made up of more than just fun dance tracks, though. The first track “Next Year People” puts you on notice of that right out of the gate.   

Sloucher – Certainty

This album from Sloucher is easily one of my favorite releases of the year and Sloucher might be my favorite new band to come out of 2016. Excited to watch what these guys do next.

Manatee Commune – Manatee Commune

This overachiever shows up on both the best LP and best EP lists. If you need a top notch chill and/or groove session then this self-titled Manatee Commune album and the Thistle EP have everything you need. Dreamy beats with guest vocals to match.

Tellers – Walking Blind

Just because Everett band Tellers was formerly known as Preacher’s Wife doesn’t mean they aren’t a new band. If you listen to the new Tellers stuff on the Walking Blind EP it is easy to hear that the band is going in a whole new direction. A very good and progressive direction.

Duke Evers – Velvet Hips

For a while, I have felt like Duke Evers was one of more underrated bands in the Seattle area. Just go back and listen to “Seaside.” These guys stepped up with the release of their debut full-length Velvet Hips. This is the sexy rock album we needed from Duke Evers.

Fly Moon Royalty – Delicious Trouble

This is bitter sweet. On one hand, I am thrilled to be writing about the fantastic album Fly Moon Royalty released this year. And it was. Delicious Trouble was pure Fly Moon Royalty dipped in funk and soul only the way they can do it. But on the other hand, it’s going to be the last Fly Moon Royalty music we get to enjoy. So crank the volume on “Grown Man” and let that siren take you away.

Lisa Prank – Adult Teen

Maybe I was living under a rock but Lisa Prank kind of came out of nowhere this year. One day I’d never heard of her, the next day she was playing several major music festivals and the national music media was all over her album Adult Teen. With songs like “Let Me Write Yer Lines” and “Love Is Dumb” Adult Teen is pop punk perfection.  

My Goodness – Islands

Yeah, it’s on my list and yeah, it’s at the top. But the new My Goodness EP felt like an attack. You give me two killer new songs and a Tom Petty cover? That’s just enough to make me want more. In all seriousness though, there is more new music from My Goodness in the pipeline and the Islands EP will do very nicely at holding me over till I can have more.

Naked Giants – R.I.P.

I don’t even know if these guys can buy a drink yet but they sure put out some good music this year. These Sound Off! alums blew people away with their R.I.P. release. It’s hard to explain but it’s a fresh sounding take on experimental garage rock They also taught me what the “Walking Taco” is. Google it.

Tangerine – Sugar Teeth

Tangerine continues to be spot on with their Sugar Teeth EP. Is surf pop a thing? If it wasn’t before, it is now. Oh, and if you want to see one of the weirder music videos of the year just watch the one for “Sunset.” I still have no idea what that thing at the end is.

Fauna Shade – Floral Hall EP

Being an Everett guy and somebody who has been to several events at Floral Hall, I am contractually obligated to mention Fauna Shade’s Floral Hall EP. Floral Hall puts a lot of Fauna Shade’s range on display in just four tracks. Go grove to “1973” the put on “No Nostalgia” or “Bazzle Shabazz” and get your face melted off. You’ll see what I mean.

Ravenna Woods – Alleyways & Animals

Alleyways & Animals is hands down my favorite release from Ravenna Woods to date. Not only is the EP spooky and fantastic, but the videos that accompany it fall right in line with that sound.

Lonely Mountain Lovers – Blood

Blood helped Lonely Mountain Lovers get the attention they deserve. For the most part, Blood is muddy Americana rock at its best. But there is more to it than that. The track “Winter” uses that same great sound but also leans into beautiful songwriting like you can’t believe.

Leava – Brunt

Soaring spacey vocals that make you think of In Rainbows and lots of chill vibes fill the Brunt EP. When you listen to this it is clear that Nicol knows what he is doing in the studio because everything sounds completely gorgeous.

Acid Tongue – Beautiful Disaster

Psychedelic simplicity. That is the only way I can describe what Acid Tongue did with their Beautiful Disaster EP. With bands like Acid Tongue and Smokey Brights in the mix, the future looks bright for Freakout Records.

Mr. Night Sky – Gaslit

I have seen Mr. Night Sky (Richie Rekow) perform live several times. He plays this incredible song called “Bones” but hadn’t released a recording of it. This killed me because I wanted to hear it on repeat and obsess over the haunting brilliance of it. Then he released his Gaslit EP and we all had “Bones” on tap. More importantly, we had more music from Mr. Night Sky.


The Good Wives – Robot Island

The Good Wives are exactly what 2016 was all about from a new music discovery standpoint. Their debut full-length Robot Island showed up in the mail and I said “never heard of them and that album name is absurd” then put it on. This album is just 12 tracks of fun indie-rock. This is the thing I put on when trying to start my day when I REALLY don’t want my day to start.

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