For the final ten days of June, I’ll be counting down the ten best albums that fell within my radar during the first half of 2016. Each day, I’ll reveal the next album on the list along with an informal review. This will lead to July 1st, a major release day for albums, when I’ll post an updated version of my Most Anticipated Albums of 2016 list. Enjoy!

#10: Endless Light by o’brother
Released March 25 by Triple Crown Records

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Sludgy. That’s not an adjective I’d regularly use as a compliment. Yet “sludge” is exactly the sound the post-hardcore torchbearers o’brother perfect on their third album, Endless Light. It pains me to place this warhorse of an album so low on the list since Endless Light gave me my absolute #1 best first-listening experience this year. While the next nine albums consist mostly of growers or albums that seemed awfully top-heavy, Endless Light had me utterly enraptured from start to finish. At the peak of all their powers, the members of this band have crafted a spellbinding work that hardly, if ever, falters–(“Burn” halfway through might be the only less-than-stellar song). Vocalist Tanner Merritt is especially better than ever, commanding his full range to sell his apocalyptic lyrics while sometimes channeling Queen of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme with his angsty tenor juxtaposing a smooth, sinister falsetto. Perhaps the band’s greatest asset is drummer Michael Martens, who opens the record with a tribal beat on “Slow Sin.” Throughout the record, his tom-focused playing and spacious beats characterize the songs with a unique feel, as Martens often subtly switches between playing rhythms straight or in swing. Look no further than “Deconstruct,” which locks into a groove unlike anything else happening in the hardcore game right now. I call this band the “torchbearers” of post-hardcore for a reason; this album is the reason. Even though the very specific, very dark mood of this album has proven overbearing, occasionally droning on repeat listens, Endless Light provides ample evidence that the future of this once-endangered genre is in good hands.

Check out “Deconstruct” on Youtube.

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