AllMusic 2016 Year In Review

AllMusic Best of 2016 -

 Spanning the breadth of the music covered in 2016, this list features our editors' picks for the best albums of the year. Over the next three weeks we'll be sharing more genre-specific lists, but we wanted to start at the top, featuring the best of the best.
We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service

A Tribe Called Quest

We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service

On their first record in 18 years, the group capture what made them great while giving their sound a modern update.

Citizen of Glass

Agnes Obel

Citizen of Glass

The beguiling Berlin-based Dane's third album is her most ambitious to date.

Burn Something Beautiful

Alejandro Escovedo

Burn Something Beautiful

Celebrated Texas singer/songwriter teams up with R.E.M. and Young Fresh Fellows members to cut a strong, adventurous album.

Spirit

Amos Lee

Spirit

The singer/songwriter's first completely self-produced album finds him balancing his earthy folk sound with a contemporary R&B and '70s soul vibe.

Malibu

Anderson Paak

Malibu

Stellar second album from the singing, rapping, and producing Dr. Dre collaborator, assisted here by 9th Wonder, Madlib, and Kaytranada.

Too Many Voices

Andy Stott

Too Many Voices

The Mancunian's rhythms are sludgy as ever, but synthetic choral elements and bright keyboard melodies add some color to his fourth proper album.

My Woman

Angel Olsen

My Woman

The indie crooner premieres synths and a five-piece backing band on parts of LP four, which follows the emotional stages of an ill-fated relationship.

AIR

Astronoid

AIR

Powerfully cathartic debut from the genre-defying Massachusetts band that combines black metal, thrash, shoegaze, and dream pop into a dizzying blend.

New City Blues

Aubrie Sellers

New City Blues

Soulful, smart, unpredictable "garage country" debut from the singer/songwriter.

Lemonade

Beyoncé

Lemonade

On her fearless sixth album, Mrs. Knowles Carter confronts adultery, and grieves and works her way toward healing with a dizzying array of collaborators.

Big Day in a Small Town

Brandy Clark

Big Day in a Small Town

On her major-label debut, Brandy Clark's finely rendered intimate songs get a big, bold production.

Teens of Denial

Car Seat Headrest

Teens of Denial

The 70-minute song cycle about one confused teenager is a bold, witty, affecting step forward for songwriter/frontman Will Toledo.

Coloring Book

Chance the Rapper

Coloring Book

Triumphant and uplifting third mixtape from Chancelor Bennett, operating at the top of his game.

Changes

Charles Bradley

Changes

Retro-soul vocalist is in great, powerful form on this third album, which finds him covering Black Sabbath on the title track.

Atrocity Exhibition

Danny Brown

Atrocity Exhibition

The Detroit rapper, assisted by producer Paul White on ten tracks, is in top grim form on his first Warp release.

Blackstar

David Bowie

Blackstar

Bowie continues his 21st century comeback with this restless, explorative collection of jazzy art-pop.

Beyond Now

Donny McCaslin

Beyond Now

The saxophonist's quartet delivers a fitting tribute to David Bowie, inspired by their experience working with him on Blackstar.

American Band

Drive-By Truckers

American Band

The thoughtful Southern rockers deliver an impassioned and troubled State of the Union message on their 11th studio album.

Emily's D+Evolution

Esperanza Spalding

Emily's D+Evolution

The Grammy-winning bassist/vocalist's ambitious, poetic, prog rock-infused concept album.

Post Pop Depression

Iggy Pop

Post Pop Depression

The proto-punk icon teams up with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age for a set of bold, intelligent rock & roll.

Blood Bitch

Jenny Hval

Blood Bitch

Combining vampire and menstrual imagery with avant synth-pop, Hval's fourth album is equally scary, sexy, raw, and sophisticated.

Oh No

Jessy Lanza

Oh No

Rollicking, animated fun that skips across four decades of electronic post-disco, ranging from boogie to juke.

Orphée

Jóhann Jóhannsson

Orphée

The composer's first album in six years builds on the Orpheus myth, exploring death, rebirth, and creativity with affecting nuance and beauty.

Ears

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

Ears

Playful, organic-sounding electronic music composed on Buchla synthesizers along with warped vocals and fluttering woodwinds.

99.9%

Kaytranada

99.9%

Dazzling XL debut from a producer who has impressed Janet Jackson, opened for Madonna, and produced the Internet and Katy B.

untitled unmastered.

Kendrick Lamar

untitled unmastered.

A vital assemblage of what its maker referred to as demos, most of which were recorded during the To Pimp a Butterfly sessions.

We Are King

King

We Are King

Harmony-rich electronic soul from a trio who count Erykah Badu, Questlove, and Prince among their admirers.

Nonagon Infinity

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

Nonagon Infinity

The ever-evolving psychedelic tricksters deliver their fiercest album yet, influenced by early heavy metal and made to be played continuously.

Nattesferd

Kvelertak

Nattesferd

For their third LP, Kvelertak flex their greasepaint-lined NWOBHM muscles via a savage, nine-track set of Valhallic party anthems

Stranger Things, Vol. 1 [Original Television Soundtrack]

Kyle Dixon / Michael Stein

Stranger Things, Vol. 1 [Original Television Soundtrack]

Members of atmospheric synth group S U R V I V E give us their first score effort with the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed Netflix series.

Canto América

La Orquesta Sinfonietta / Michael Spiro / Wayne Wallace

Canto América

Led by Wayne Wallace and Michael Spiro, this large group criss-crosses the musical history and traditions of the New World with grooves galore.

You Want It Darker

Leonard Cohen

You Want It Darker

On his 14th album, the 82-year-old singer/songwriter looks into the void, wrestles with himself, God, and love with unflinching honesty.

Hero

Maren Morris

Hero

An inventive, thoroughly modern, and tremendous debut from the country singer/songwriter.

Midwest Farmer's Daughter

Margo Price

Midwest Farmer's Daughter

A smart, soulful retro-country debut that feels caught between the country and the city, along with the head and the heart.

The  Weight of These Wings

Miranda Lambert

The Weight of These Wings

A moody, muddy, and audacious double album from Miranda Lambert.

Puberty 2

Mitski

Puberty 2

On her gutsy and affecting fourth LP and Dead Oceans debut, the indie rocker addresses a crisis of belonging.

Skeleton Tree

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Skeleton Tree

Largely written and recorded in the wake of the death of the artist's son, this is a powerful work concerning mourning and grief.

Everybody’s Heart Is Broken Now

Niki and the Dove

Everybody’s Heart Is Broken Now

Channeling joyous disco and luminous synth pop -- as well as Prince and Bowie -- the duo dances its troubles away in epic, politically charged fashion.

Deluxe

Omni

Deluxe

Brainy, hooky, and energetic blend of Postcard pop, angular post-punk, and scrappy D.I.Y. punk by ex-members of Deerhunter and Carnivores.

Stranger to Stranger

Paul Simon

Stranger to Stranger

Paul Simon faces mortality and pushes forward into the future on this adventurous album.

A Moon Shaped Pool

Radiohead

A Moon Shaped Pool

A silvery, shimmering collection of subtly textured sad songs that somehow feels comforting.

Day to Day

Sarathy Korwar

Day to Day

On his debut, the producer, percussionist, and composer blurs lines between modern jazz and ancient Indian and African musical traditions.

Adore Life

Savages

Adore Life

The band brings nuance to its fiery sound with striking, affecting results.

A Seat at the Table

Solange

A Seat at the Table

The expectation-defying singer, songwriter, and producer's first release in four years is calmly cathartic, tender, and potent.

A Sailor's Guide to Earth

Sturgill Simpson

A Sailor's Guide to Earth

A sprawling concept album that expands the notion of what constitutes Cosmic American Music in the 21st century.

Love You to Death

Tegan and Sara

Love You to Death

The twin sisters' eighth album is, like Heartthrob before it, wrenchingly honest modern pop music made with heart and no silly frills.

Act V: Hymns with the Devil in Confessional

The Dear Hunter

Act V: Hymns with the Devil in Confessional

The stunning, penultimate installment in Casey Crescenzo's genre-blurring orchestral indie-prog saga.

Blue & Lonesome

The Rolling Stones

Blue & Lonesome

Mick Jagger dominates the Rolling Stones' quickly recorded, wholly satisfying blues album.

Modern Country

William Tyler

Modern Country

The guitarist's instrumental reflection on America is ambitious, tightly written, and expertly performed with a full band.

Black Focus

Yussef Kamaal

Black Focus

This South London duo smears spiritual jazz funk onto broken beat, hip-hop, and more on their startling full-length debut.