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Ralph’s Favorite Albums of 2016

2016 was filled with laughter, anger and all around emotion. One thing that rings true is that there was absolutely no shortage of amazing albums (literally) and we all witnessed an insanely great year in music. So deciding on a list of 10 albums was no easy task considering the amount of talent that we saw.

Believe me when I say that there are some beautiful records that I would add in a heartbeat if I had 20-50 spots on this list but I decided to keep it down to 10.

Thanks for checking out the list, hope you enjoy it!

— A&R Director Ralph Torrefranca


Anderson .Paak – Malibu

“There’s no question that 2016 was the year of Anderson .Paak. No one has ever blended multiple genres so beautifully and backed it up with songwriting that rivals some of the best. It’s smooth, it’s raw, his roots are both emotional and closely personal. This is my favorite album of the whole year — bar none.


Bon Iver – 22, a Million

Ralph – “Justin Vernon pulled a Kanye and reinvented himself. A great album takes time and after a couple of years experimenting with other creative endeavors, Vernon came back with an album that is so inherently disorienting and beautiful yet coated in layers of anger, it’s essentially not a Bon Iver album. The album truly shows Vernon’s talent in songwriting– regardless of style or approach.


Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered

Ralph – “I know these are just cuts that never made it onto To Pimp a Butterfly but his message and voice still reign true, calling out the trials and tribulations of society and delivering with that cerebral power that only Kendrick can lay down in words. This makes me so excited for the next record.”


Frank Ocean – Blonde

Ralph – “On Aug 20 2016 we all finally got to experience Frank’s newest incarnation and he did not disappoint. I’m not going to lie, my mind is still dissecting and digesting even months later but that’s what Frank Oceam does– he makes you think, contemplate and face the realities of racial tension, internal struggles self worth, identity association and sexuality. It’s almost it’s own novel in some odd way, definitely one of the best of the year.”


Beyonce – Lemonade

Ralph – “Beyonce is a staple of pop culture but with good reason. She’s come out with the strongest record she has ever released– and it’s a literal game changer. It’s autobiographical but the songs echoes to the heritage of black femmehood and still somehow pull from literary works while inventing a whole new genre herself. Lemonade cements Beyonce as one of the greats– she takes liberty to create a brand new style– then bashes it with a baseball bat right in front of your ears. She can do that, she’s Queen Bey.”

Big Thief – Masterpiece

Ralph – “This was a late addition but well worth the wait. Masterpiece is absolutely beautiful– in the most hauntingly gut-wrenching and truthful way. I’m going to be honest, this album hit me like a freight train. I wasn’t prepared to witness the raw, vulnerable emotion that lead singer Adrianne Lenker invokes in her listeners but this is some of the best songwriting & musicianship I’ve heard all year and I’m truly in awe with the creativity of this record. Bravo Big Thief, this is truly a Masterpiece”


Andy Shauf – The Party

Ralph – “Andy is a prolific writer (check his last album “The Bearer of Bad News”) and continues to show his strengths by harking back to artists like Harry Nilsson or Paul Simon and pairing his upbeat approach with complex pop arrangements that make up one of the best pop albums of the year.”


Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’d Come To Expect

Ralph – “Many of us have been fans of Alex Turner for years but only die hards know of his one off side project Last Shadow Puppets with close friend Miles Kane. Well, after all these years, the english virtuoso songwriters reunited and released the most impressive body of work they’ve ever released. I’m a huge Arctic Monkeys fan but I think the nature of the material really gave both Alex & Miles creative freedom to take their songwriting to a whole new level.”


Bruno Mars – 24k Magic

Ralph – “Another late entry but an amazing 11th hour addition– Bruno Mars is truly an artist. Not only does he write, produce and collaborate well, he takes “concept albums” to a whole new pinnacle with 24K Magic. Clocking in at only 9 songs, each could easily be a single. The album is coated in lush and bright layers of late 80s, early 90s keys, synths & harmonies yet its so unique in it’s delivery.”


Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things Soundtrack

Ralph – “I wasn’t originally going to include this as an “album” but I couldn’t deny this soundtrack the love it deserves. Kyle Dixon and Michael make up the electronic project S U R V I V E but were inherently given the reigns to score the amazing Netflix thriller/horror series Strangers Things and it was a match made in 80’s heaven. The sounds are nostalgic and eerie driven by analog synths and heart pounding moments that evoke serious emotion. Clocking in at 2 hours, it’s a “must-listen” for every musician. Did I mention it was nominated for a Grammy? Yuh.”


Honorable Mentions

Bloodboy – Best of Bloodboy


Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – I Had A Dream That You Were Mine


Local Natives – Sunlit Youth


The 1975 – i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
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