Alternative: 2016 in Review, and What to Expect in 2017


Sophomore albums provided 2016’s best Alternative music.

2016 looked like it could become the year of the sophomore album. Unfortunately, some release dates fell to early 2017. However, much of the year’s best music comes from very young bands, all on sophomore efforts.

The beginning of 2016 saw excellent sophomore albums from Run River North and The 1975. Run River North’s Drinking From The Salt Pond was quietly one of the better albums of the year. Their dynamic songwriting and musicianship allowed them to create a very unique and fun album.

The 1975 look like the class of the Alternative genre. They followed up their smash debut with I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. No other band is doing the type of experimentation and productions that The 1975 take on. I like it when you sleep… is the type of grand production that could have fallen short of the ambition, but they hit it in stride. That’s good news for music fans, because that means The 1975 are here to stay for a long time.

The Lumineers won the summer with Cleopatra. The long awaited sophomore album checked off every box. Brilliant writing and storytelling, brilliant production, even brilliant music videos. Cleopatra is easily the Alternative album of the year. The Lumineers made their fans wait four years for a second album, but they took that time to devote themselves to create something special. Not many bands do that today, and the music suffers because of it. The Lumineers are an exception, and the rest of the industry would be wise to follow their example.

Bad Suns and Catfish & The Bottlemen also delivered sophomore albums in Disappear Here and The Ride, respectively. Bad Suns offer some of the catchiest Pop-Rock and show that they are willing to experiment and take chances. Catfish & The Bottlemen broke through with their hit “Soundcheck.” They offer hope that the 2000’s punk rock sound might be getting a rebirth.

Although driven by young artists, 2016 did see some Alternative veterans creating some great music. Kings of Leon followed up 2013’s Mechanical Bull with WALLS. Their seventh studio album showed Kings of Leon still has a lot of great music left in them. Justin Vernon returned to Bon Iver with 22, A Million. The third Bon Iver album again proves that their a few musical minds rivaling Justin Vernon today.

2016 offers a lot of hope and encouragement for the future of Alternative music. The young artists like The 1975, Bad Suns and The Lumineers could lead the genre into a new golden age.

2017 could push Alternative music further into the mainstream.

Looking ahead to 2017, Alternative music could see a similar pattern as 2016. More young artists look to lead the genre while veterans provide the support. New albums from Colony House, COIN and Elliot Moss, will be backed up by albums from John Mayer and Ryan Adams.

The singles from 2017 albums we’ve heard so far have all been great. Nashville band COIN’s single “Talk Too Much” has exploded and sky rocketed expectations for their 2017 sophomore album. Colony House has released four singles from their January release, led by “You & I.” They look to jump into the mainstream by refining their sound and delivering a much more rock oriented album. Elliot Moss made waves with the video for “Without The Lights.” and provided on of the best singles of 2016. That puts him in a prime position for a 2017 album to hit big.

John Mayer will return with a new album, The Search For Everything. His new single “Love On The Weekend” shows a return to a pop sound after living in the folk world for a couple of albums. Mayer could also have a John Mayer Trio album on the horizon, in addition the The Search For Everything.

Ryan Adams is set to release Prisoner in February. The first single, “Do You Still Love Me,” is a heavy rock ballad and provides a similar sound to his most recent album, Ryan Adams.  That sound works really well, as Ryan Adams is one of the best albums Adams has released since the early 2000s.

2017 should see continued growth for Alternative music. With the young bands in the genre right now, Alternative music is in a good place. Between 2016 and 2017, the future of Alternative music is easy to see.

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Cory Uhls
Cory is an aspiring music producer in Nashville, TN. After growing up in Indiana playing drums in his or his father’s various bands, he decided to move to Nashville, where he completed a degree in Audio Production from Middle Tennessee State University. He wants to not only help create great new music, but promote great music that many people never hear about otherwise, introducing people to the vast world of independent music.