Megan Fair is Space Buns Forever, a local music promoter, a recent graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. School of Journalism and she listened to a lot of great music in 2016. (Submitted)

Top Tunes ’16: Megan Fair

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This is the fourth installment of a December-long series that examines what Athens-centric tune heads have been jamming to all year long. Keep tabs on the series throughout the month here

My favorite 2016 releases:

Face Always Towards The Sun by Blithe Field
This Orchid Tapes release snuck quietly into existence in January and immediately burrowed its way into my soul. Blithe Field (aka Spencer Radcliffe, a former Athens resident,) carefully crafted an experimental album composed of room recordings, humming and whirring electronics and simple melodies that manage to capture the bliss of living in Athens, as well as the feeling of moving away. If you live in Athens/participate in the music scene you may even recognize some of the names and certainly some of the landmarks. This release puts me right in my feelings and is absolutely required listening for 2016.
Top tracks: “Sleeping Bags in a Row,” “Endless Days at Strouds,” “Milkshakes in the Rain”

The Dream Is Over by PUP
I am a sucker for well-executed gang vocals and self-deprecating lyrics. I’m also a sucker for high-energy, technical, riffy punk music. PUP managed to take all the things that make me nerd out and finetune it to create an amazing sophomore release, The Dream Is Over. “DVP” is one of those songs that makes you involuntarily stage dive even if you’re too old for it to be appropriate (guilty as charged). From the devastating storytelling to catchy hooks, this release is nothing but bangers, front to back. If you absolutely forced me to pick my favorite album from this year, it’d be this one.
Top tracks: “DVP,” “The Coast,” “Sleep In the Heat”

WORRY. by Jeff Rosenstock
Jeff Rosenstock is one of the realest dudes making music right now. He’s honest, he’s frank, and he’s turning his distress into catchy rock music that somehow manages to feel sweet like bubblegum and bitter like the harsh reality of 2016. Some would (lazily) categorize Rosenstock’s music as pop punk, but this angst isn’t high school level angst. This is, “Oh god, all my friends are getting married and having babies and the world is literally on fire, and the music industry is garbage” angst. If you slept on it, now’s a good time to dive in.
Top tracks: “Festival Song,” “Wave Goodnight to Me,” “Staring Out the Window at Your Old Apartment”

Show Me the Body by Show Me the Body
There are few things that can be said about Show Me the Body that capture the raw energy of the band. Seeing this album performed live was a transformational experience. From taking down police brutality to using brutal hardcore and punk woven with hip-hop to push back against gentrification of the gritty city of NYC, SMTB manages to turn 10 tracks into a comprehensive manifesto that explodes with rage while showcasing some of the grooviest HxC of the year. Hot tip: Make this the soundtrack to your cycling workout and feel the burn.
Top tracks: “Chrome Exposed,” “Body War,” “Aspirin”

Lemonade by Beyoncé
Anyone who knows me knows that this album completely captured my heart for the majority of the summer. The first time I heard Bey sing, “I don’t wanna lose my pride, but Imma f!@$ me up a b*#!&,” I screamed out loud. My poor roommates got to put up with me belting out “Don’t Hurt Yourself” in the shower, my bedroom, and the kitchen. The visual album was the cherry on the top of an already perfect pop album. Powerhouse collaborations made tracks like “6 Inch” actual face melters. From the genius production to the artful story arc, Lemonade is a beautiful testament to the power of forgiveness and a reminder to bow down to #BlackGirlMagic.
Top tracks: “Hold Up,” “Formation,” “Freedom”

RR7349 by S U R V I V E
I worship the MOOG synth sound more than most things in this world. The fellas of S U R V I V E brought us none other than the stellar soundtrack to Stranger Things, but they also put out RR7349, an audio journey through space and time to an alternate universe where everyone’s covered in glitter and dances like goths. It reminds me a little of the soundtrack to the first Spyro the Dragon, if that soundtrack was infused with MOOG synth wizardry and shot into space on a ship steered by David Bowie.
Top tracks: “Wardenclyffe,” “Other,” “A.H.B”

A Man Alive by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
Produced by none other than Ms. Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, A Man Alive is one of the most clever albums of the year. Thao’s careful folk sensibilities find a more electric sound infused with synths, vocal effects and mathier beats. It was on heavy rotation for the first few months after it came out in no small part thanks to Thao’s unique voice and yarn-weaving. I fell in love with the way Thao blended genres from funk to rock to folk and managed to turn it all into a cohesive album.
Top tracks: “An Astonished Man,” “Nobody Dies,” “Slash/Burn”

Good Grief by Lucius
Lucius makes addicting pop music that bends expectations and pushes the envelope. Good Grief managed to take the squeaky clean sound and warp it with moments of dissonance and chaos in a way that kep it interesting. The amazing chaos of “Gone Insane” and its vocal break towards the end were enough to sell me on this one. The album begins with accapella harmony work that turns into a giant, stadium-ready track that immediately captivates, and it ends with a ballad to the tricky journey back to find yourself. Happy trails!
Top tracks: “Gone Insane,” “Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain,” “Madness”

Rediscovered this year:
Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town, The Killers
Doolittle, The Pixies
Last Splash, The Breeders
Live It Out, Metric
Strictly Rude, Big D and the Kids Table
Spiderman of the Rings, Dan Deacon
The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance
Commit This To Memory, Motion City Soundtrack
Weezer, Weezer

Megan Fair is a recently graduated student of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Space Buns Forever and a local music promoter.