Here is the Official Andy Derer Show “Greatest Albums” list of the year, a tradition dating back to 1995. You can hear Andy discussing these selections in depth on Episode #177 of The Andy Derer Show – Year In Rock 2016 with special guest Stephen Thomas Erlewine
1. David Bowie – ★ (ISO/Columbia)
Bowie’s calculated final magic trick was this album, simultaneously epic and succinct at just seven tracks.
2. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (Epic)
In a world where the Drake’s and Kanye’s had taken over, who knew A Tribe Called Quest could return with such a poignant, of-the-times statement.
3. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista)
Iggy found another tall redhead dude to collaborate with and the result was his best solo album since the 1970s.
4. Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo (Def Jam)
This album’s release may be the biggest head-scratcher of Kanye’s career, with multiple missed deadlines and release dates, but the music found Mr. West capable of pulling off the “gospel album with a whole lot of curses.”
5. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL Recordings)
With the single “Burn the Witch” Radiohead gave us their closest thing to a John Lennon / big statement single and the rest of the album dripped with a warm, comfortable paranoia.
6. Weezer – Weezer (Atlantic)
Rivers Cuomo has hit the part of his career where he is perfecting his perfect pop ditty and the fourth self-titled Weezer album (dubbed The White Album) found the band delivering a gorgeous, concise love letter to Los Angeles.
7. Beyonce – Lemonade (Columbia)
The concept album of the year found a jilted Beyonce angry and empowered with a batch of eclectic state-of-the-art urban pop and also showed Beyonce’s rock & roll heart.
8. Dinosaur Jr – Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not (Jagjaguar)
A decade into a once-unlikely reunion continues to bare fruit on this loud, crunchy set full of blazing solos and inter-band communication.
9. Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book (Self-Released)
An inspiring, refreshingly positive look at the often-maligned south side of Chicago from one of rap’s most promising new names.
10. The I Don’t Cares – Wild Stab (Dry Wood Records)
Paul Westerberg and Juliana Hatfield join forces to bring on a raucous, fun set of college rock that isn’t far away from either member’s most classic moments. The chemistry between the two singers is undeniable.
11. The Pixies – Head Carrier (Pixies Music)
Frank Black (now back to his old pseudonym Black Francis) brings us the first true full length with the reunited Pixies. In Kim Deal’s place is the sterling, talented Paz Lenchantin, and the material feels like a true labor of love.
12. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker (Columbia)
Unlike Bowie’s final statement, Mr. Cohen pulled no punches that this was his last album, with every song alluding to death. A super-dark effort from the king of super-dark.
13. The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome (Interscope)
Finding refuge in jamming to the old blues covers that the band enjoyed more than 50 years ago, Blue & Lonesome found the Stones having fun, quickly ripping through these songs with respect and reverence. It’s the funnest thing they’ve released in years.
14. The Weeknd – Starboy (Republic)
A mere four years ago, The Weeknd aka Abel Tesfaye was in Canada releasing dark house music, now post-“Can’t Feel My Face” he is trying to become the world’s biggest pop star. This sprawling, eclectic set found him in fine form.
15. Kleenex Girl Wonder – The Comedy Album (Reesonable)
As if They Might Be Giants returned with a contemporary sense of pop styles, The Comedy Album found Graham Smith and company stretching out for a gloriously messy double album, trying their hand at everything from EDM to grunge rock.
16. Teenage Fanclub – Here (Merge)
This Scottish rock band has been quietly refining their sound for the better part of three decades and this latest offering is a lovely, warm addition to their historic catalog.
17. Wilco – Schmilco (dBpm Records)
A dusky, autumnal collection of strum-along (and hum-along) musings found Jeff Tweedy maturing as a songwriter without the full-band rave ups that Wilco are usually known for.
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18. Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – Earth (Reprise)
Neil Young’s live double-album with Promise Of the Real interjected their live recordings with sounds of nature and animals, making it another odd-ball detour in a career of odd-ball detours. The fact that these songs rock so hard in this environment (no pun intended) is a testament to Young’s musical fountain of youth.
19. Metallica – Hardwired… To Self Destruct (Blackened)
A loud, lumbering double-album, Hardwired caught Metallica doing exactly what they do best with the in-the-pocket crunch of a band that’s been playing together for decades.
20. Blink-182 – California (BMG)
Blink-182 loses a founding member but return to the catchy, concise skate-rock they established themselves with in the late 90s.