The Songs That Defined 2016

Let it never be said that I’m unbiased. From my frequently referenced musical ties to childhood influence and my strong emotional connection to art as a whole, I tend to carry much of myself into Black Metal & Brews. This makes for writing that often treads a grey area between “personal blog” and “music writing.” Personally, that’s what I would rather read from others. I do appreciate proper journalism, which I strive to do when I contribute elsewhere, but this site is mine. With that said, I’ve created a list of songs that defined my personal travel through this strange and challenging year. Many of these are culled from albums that are on my list of the 40 best releases of 2016, but just as many are from albums that came damn close to making the cut but fell just short due to my own inability to fully digest the albums from which they were plucked or (in some cases) a matter of them being the sole compositions that carried otherwise good albums toward greatness. As this is merely a collection of songs I loved, it’s in no particular order. I’ve created a playlist on YouTube for you to browse. The songs are presented without context, just as they first came to me. While I initially had a verbose rant about each of these songs, I realize that you’re here because you trust my taste and you surely know the nuance and thought I put into my recommendations. I can’t overstate the importance of allowing an experience to take you, so instead of a description for each, I leave you with a brief set of instructions.

Listen to these songs when you’re able to properly engage. If this means listening one at a time over an extended period, that’s just as good as sitting with headphones and running through the whole list. What matters is that you pay attention. I recommend focused listening (that means getting away from Twitter and Facebook) with few distractions, but I know that modern life is chaotic. Open a special beer, have a nice cup of tea, or listen in bed. Whatever puts you in a place of comfort will make this as manageable as possible. These songs vary from upbeat to emotionally charged, from soothing electronic to pummeling death metal. If you ever listened to my short-lived radio program, you should have an idea of the dynamic at hand. Above all, I urge you to send me an email with your thoughts once you’ve finished. I’m receptive and will reply. Thanks for taking the time. Here’s to another year of fantastic music, regardless of what hell may be howling outside of this place of curated art.