this isn't a "best of" list | 2016 |

overall, 2016 was a much more mellow year for me musically. a lot of the songs on this list are a little on the sad side too. i don't necessarily think that was a reflection of my personal life, but i suppose i was a little more stressed than usual. 2016 completely flew by which is probably an indication that i didn't do the best job at taking moments to pause + enjoy things. instead i just sought solace in my headphones (not the worst thing).

2016 was a pretty solid year for music though. the highlight was hearing radiohead's "true love waits." years ago i came across a super bootleg version of this song by illegally downloading it on napster. to hear it again years later cleaned up + beautiful was the most unexpected + wonderful gift ever. no words could adequately describe how much love i have for that song.

this list isn't just about the new to 2016 songs though. equally as important to me are the songs that i may not have previously given a good listen to or might have missed completely that ended up being incredibly meaningful to me. this year i listened to a lot of broken social scene, blonde redhead, interpol, + yeah yeah yeahs. for whatever reason they all sounded so relevant. also, sharon van etten. holy cow. how did she fly under my radar for so long? lou reed's "street hassle" was probably my favorite uncovered gem though.

i have to also give a shout out to stranger things + the survive guys. i'm always on the hunt for something new when it comes to music + synth nostalgia did the trick for me in 2016. it didn't quite make the list, but clint mansell's score from the san junipero episode of black mirror is done in a similar vein.

here's the full list you've all been waiting for (or not)...

1. finder || moderat
2. shut up kiss me || angel olsen
3. it hurts until it doesn't || mothers
4. true love waits || radiohead
5. cranes in the sky || solange
6. a 1000 times || hamilton leithauser + rostam
7. kids || survive
8. it means i love you || jessy lanza
9. your love is killing me || sharon van etten
10. because i'm me || the avalanches
11. my plants are dead || blonde redhead
12. funeral pyre || phantogram
13. do you still love me? || ryan adams
14. five minutes || her
15. orlando || exploded view
16. somebody else || the 1975
17. big black coat || junior boys
18. 22 (over soon) || bon iver
19. shampoo suicide || broken social scene
20. ivy || frank ocean
21. no || nicolas jaar
22. wolves || phosphorescent
23. i+1 || luh
24. staurolite stroll || night moves
25. street hassle || lou reed

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

you can also hear my full list of 2016 contenders HERE


i was there || nico jaar

show: nicolas jaar

location: thalia hall

date: 11.9.16

favorite song: he played a lot of songs from sirens which was great. i really enjoyed "no" but "space if only noise if you can see" was definitely the party song of the night

memorable moment: the music was incredible but i was super impressed by his lighting as well. sometimes it was just a small simple glow + other times it was a full on blast of light, to the point where the whole room was nearly lit. it was all a wonderful compliment to the tunes

biggest letdown: the thought of having to go to physical therapy at 7am the next morning was looming over me all night, which was a total buzzkill. i ended up leaving a little bit into the encore + wished i had stayed to see how he closed things out. i hope i didn't miss "no one is looking at u" or "the three sides of audrey + why she's all alone now"

this show: nico is one of my favorites + has been for a while. this show was something special. i'd seen him several times before at festivals + some after parties, but this live rendition at thalia hall (the most perfect venue ever) was exceptional. the show was sold out + nearly everyone seemed to be dancing. i wish i could see him again this weekend


i was there || survive

show: survive with majeure

location: empty bottle

date: 11.6.16

favorite song: this was not a show i knew song names to + that is okay

memorable moment: the opening act had some kind words to say about these guys + even called out that although it may not seem like it to those in the crowd, what they do on stage is very complex + impressive. i thought that head nod was pretty cool

biggest letdown: let me preface by saying that this show occurred the sunday after daylight saving. so although i got an "extra" hour of sleep the night before, i really just woke up an hour earlier + stayed out later. the opening act probably went on around 10:30pm. he was really cool but incredibly loud. and i'm not saying that in a pussy way. it was painfully loud. i longed for my earplugs + questioned whether or not i should step into the other room like so many people in the crowd were. he turned it down slightly after the first couple of minutes, but ouch! after him, it took about another 30-45 minutes for survive to go on + by that point i was just beat. i probably only stayed for about half of the show, but would have loved to have seen the whole thing

this show: was pretty much what i expected -- very weird but in the best way ever. i love synths + especially love the nostalgia that survive's music evokes. the fact that survive is one of the first ever synth bands is also super cool to me


i was there || broken social scene

show: broken social scene

location: the metro

date: 7.14.16

favorite song: there were a lot of good one's to pick from. there were the old favorites like "sweetest kill" + "anthem of a sixteen year old girl." but then there were also those others that i never could have know just how much i loved them without hearing them live. "cause = time," "pacific theme," + "7/4 (shoreline)" fall into that latter group.

memorable moment: i will forever be impressed by how much organized noise can be produced by such a large group of musicians. some of those favorite songs listed above would have never been in consideration if i couldn't hear for myself just how those songs continued to build + build upon itself. it was really incredible.

biggest letdown: the lead singer, kevin drew, really through me off. he was giving me some major father john misty flashbacks. i wanted to like him + find him sexy but something felt slightly off, like he wanted the same thing but tried just a little too hard.

this show: was a special one. first off, it was broken social scene's first show in five years. it was pretty awesome that chicago got the special honors to kick off pitchfork weekend. forgiveness rock record wasn't really on my radar when it came out. "world sick" was but that's about it. over the last two or three years broken social scene just stuck with me. they were one of those bands that i was constantly listening to but wasn't sure i'd ever see them play live. it was an extremely pleasant surprise to find out that wouldn't be these case. lastly, this was the last show i got to see with one of my best friends before he moved to colorado, so that meant a lot. that trifecta made this show a little more emotional + special for me. it will definitely go down as one of my favorites.


this is what it sounds like when doves cry

a generation lost another one of its great talents. death is, albeit sad, a part of life. some come as a greater surprise than others + prince's passing was a total shock. the irony being that prince was an incredibly controversial artist who lived a very straight-laced life. not necessarily the path i would have chosen myself, but extremely admirable none the less.

like bowie, prince was bigger than life. i have the fondest memories of listening to prince covers on repeat ("when you were mine" by ani difranco + "when doves cry" from romeo + juliet) + drunkenly dancing around to "little red corvette" on my twenty-first birthday. i hope you rest in peace, purple man.


tourist || run (the range remix)

the original is great but the remix is better. well done!


i was there || fort romeau

show: fort romeau with studio casual

location: smart bar

date: 4.22.16

favorite song: fort romeau kicked off his set with "it's all over" by pional + it was pretty perfect.

memorable moment: i have to acknowledge that i stayed up past 3am for the first time in a while. quite proud of that. i have a bathroom selfie to prove it.

biggest letdown: smart bar was pretty dead for this show which was a major bummer. when i saw him last summer on the sin label boat party all i could think about was how great it would be to see him at smart bar instead. here he was finally + it was a bit sad.

this show: i have heard some really great sets by fort romeau but this was not my favorite. definitely not a bad set, but didn't keep the momentum that was needed at 3am. those funktion one speakers were sounding real nice though. i don't think they will ever cease to amaze me. also worth mentioning that studio casual was pretty enjoyable too.


i was there || tim hecker

show: tim hecker with bruce lamont + good willsmith

location: empty bottle

date: 4.15.16

memorable moment: this might have been the first show i have been at where i was about 6 rows back + still couldn't see a damn thing. which was okay. the fog machine went into overdrive that night which made for a very moody setting.

biggest letdown: the first opener, good willsmith, was pretty solid but i had a harder time getting into bruce lamont. i appreciated the touch of saxophone but the yelling was a bit too much for me.

this show: i can't say i listen to more ambient music all that much but when i find myself right in the middle of it i really enjoy it. it's cool to see the entire crowd so entranced. getting to + from the bathrooms was quite the challenge because everyone was basically hypnotized.


i was there || junior boys

show: junior boys with jessy lanza

location: metro

date: 4.6.16

favorite song: there were quite a few to choose from -- "in the morning," "so this is goodbye," "big black coat" to name a few. jessy lanza had a few good one's herself too.

memorable moment: jessy lanza + junior boys were quite the pairing. i listened to them at very different times in my life but they worked really well on the same bill.

biggest letdown: on one hand, it was really sad to hear junior boys play so many of their old songs after just releasing a brand, spanking new album. But on the other hand, I was pretty psyched to hear so many of those nostalgic songs from 2006.

this show: was really enjoyable. i didn't hear "fuck diamond" but everything else from jessy lanza was really great. her voice was stellar. as was jeremy greenspan's. it is kind of crazy that i had never seen junior boys before this night but i'm glad i finally got the chance.



war on drugs || touch of grey

aaron + bryce dessner of the national are developing a grateful dead tribute album with the help of a few very talented friends. courtney barnett, phosphorescent, jenny lewis, kurt vile, local natives + many more are offering a helping hand with this one. you can see the full tracklist here.

while a bit cliche, touch of grey is definitely one of those anthems of my youth thanks to the countless hours i spent pestering my brother while he listened to music in his room. the fact that this song was paired with war on drugs just puts a bit smile on my face.

you can hear a few other songs from the album here.


a perfect nursery

when i picture myself having kids, for whatever reason, i always picture them being boys. not that i have much say in the matter, but i think i just feel more confident in my rough-and-tumble sports skills than any girly influences i might possess. but then i came this incredible nursery from designer extraordinaire, emily henderson, + i'm not quite sure which i want. guys, this nursery is incredible.

i absolutely love the color palette + the wallpaper is pretty much to die for. you can see more on the nursery makeover (including product details) at emily henderon's blog.


i was there || sxsw send off party at the hideout

show: sxsw send off party with matchess, lionlimb, crown larkes, + whitney

location: the hideout

date: 3.12.16

favorite song: admittedly, the only song i knew by name was "no woman" by whitney, but i still thought it was the best.

memorable moment: because these were all chicago bands you saw quite a few proud parents in the crowd. it was very sweet.

biggest letdown: most of the artists i saw were pretty decent or at least interesting, but crown larks was a bit harsh for my liking

this show: is such a great idea. i am hopeful that one of these days i'll get myself down to austin for the actual sxsw, but this was a cool alternative with a bit more chicago pride.


mothers || it hurts until it doesn't

i have really enjoyed the new mother's album. it's got this easy, spring-like air to it. i have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more about them coming out of sxsw where they have several shows. they'll also be playing at empty bottle on may 7th which unfortunately conflicts with floating points live show at the metro which i already have tickets for.


squid soup

if you're friends with me on twitter or facebook you probably know that about two weeks ago i was freaking out over the four tet boiler room set. of course the music was amazing, but almost equally impressive was the lighting. the geniuses behind four tet's magical stage setup is a group that goes by squid soup + they deserve some major props.

i was there || polica

show: polica

location: schubas

date: 2.22.16

favorite song: they played all new music with the exception of three older songs so i know which songs liked more than others but i didn't always know the names of them. i wouldn't have known the name of my favorite from the night had it not been for a kind sir in the crowd who very politely asked the band. that song is called "melting block" + it sounds great live. this was a song where they really let the bass shine.

memorable moment: when you go to a show in an intimate venue like schubas with two drummers + a bass player you're going to feel the show as much as you hear it. schubas really was the perfect spot for them.

biggest letdown: i don't love going to shows before albums get released but thankfully i really enjoyed most of the new music. my only wish is that the show could have gone on for an extra hour just to hear more of their older stuff.

this show: was not one i originally planned to go to but i'm really happy a friend had an extra ticket for me. i've seen polica three times now + they're always impressive (even when channy is running on little sleep thanks to her new baby). they'll be back to chicago on april 16th for a show at thalia hall so you've got yourself an opportunity to check them out in the near future


heard || 2.24.16

sophie touring north america around coachella || brooklyn vegan
the biggest disappointment of pitchfork music festival 2015 was the mysterious last minute cancellation of sophie's performance. i don't believe i ever got an explanation on that one either. guess i get one more shot. the official tour hasn't been fully released by primary nightclub in chicago set up a facebook event for april 8th. count me in.... or not. sadly it sold out before i snagged tickets.

love, ribbons, + poo: my favorite music of 2015 || paul shirley
paul shirley the basketball player was just fine. but paul shirley the author, music lover, + let's be honest, total babe is more up my alley. i always look forward to his yearly take on music, especially in such a strange year like 2015. his year in music took shape during some messy times (pun may or may not be intended) which i think we can all in some way relate to. it's an enjoyable read + he also helped introduce me to some albums that i didn't quite give a chance.

watch four tet's boiler room set || pitchfork
i'm a total four tet fan girl. while i can see how his music may not be for everyone, i do have a special place in my heart for those who get it. his boiler room set last week was incredible. i first listened to this while in bed at night with my headphones in + honestly felt so at peace. the lighting for this set was incredible too but i'll get to that another time. if you're one of those special special few who enjoy four tet i really encourage you to join me at the mid on may 20th for his set with ben ufo (also great). if we stick together the mid may not be so awful.

flesh to dust: luh's anthems of disillusionment || pitchfork
luh's been one of those mostly under-the-radar acts that i felt pretty special for catching on to early by way of wu lyf. after wu lyf's fall ellery james roberts paired up with ebony hoorn to form luh. pitchfork did a pretty nice wrote up on them. even more exciting is that they are on the pitchfork music festival lineup. really looking forward to that.

james blake + bon iver's justin vernon tease festival performance as fall creek boys choir || pitchfork
the full eaux claires lineup was announced + while i can't say i'm totally sold enough to commit to a weekend of camping  i wisconsin i do like the thought of these two pairing up. james blake's new album is definitely one of my more anticipated albums for 2016. you can also listen to bon iver's unreleased track, "haven, mass," here if you're missing him too.

whitney || no woman

excited to see these guys open for unknown mortal orchestra on may 10th at thalia hall.


underworld || i exhale (dj koze remix)

i'm pretty excited about underworld's march 18th release of barbara barbara and while i am a fan of "i exhale' in it's original state, dj koze does add something nice to it with this remix.

underworld's video for "i exhale" is pretty nutty too if you haven't checked it out yet.

just friends

i definitely can't call myself an avid reader at this point in my life but i am making a conscious effort to try to read more books. i have always liked reading and although i never really considered myself a book worm i was probably part of the minority in high school + college that actually did most of my reading assignments instead of going the cliff notes route.

last year i read kim gordon's girl in band which i mostly enjoyed. once finishing that it turned me on to patti smith's just kids which seemed to have some similarities. i just recently finished just kids + it is now now my favorite book. ever.

just kids chronicles patti smith + robert mapplethorpe's journey through the new york creative scene in the 1970s. i have always had a thing for the artists, the rockstars, the poets, + the dreamers of days past. patti, not surprisingly, is a phenomenal writer + her story is an incredible one. i particularly enjoyed her recountings  of her time in the historic chelsea hotel.

just kids was a really great book that i would highly recommend. patti's relationship with robert is so beautiful + moving. i was sobbing like a baby at the very end, but entirely worth it. i have m train, the sequal to just friends, on the docket too. hoping it is just as riveting.


allan kingdom || fables (featuring chronixx)

 i've never been much into hip hop but recently i have started listening a bit more. i think i've finally been open to this musical genre and have gotten better at pinpointing the fine line between likes + dislikes. i've found that allan kingdom isn't too hard for my gentle soul. his father comes from south africa and you definitely hear some of those influences in his music.


hinds || chili town

hinds is so hot right now. and rightly so. they won my award for best album name in 2015 with their very awesomely named "very best of hinds so far." they're also super fun to see in concert. and on top of that hinds is comprised of four super cute spanish chicks. time to come on down to chili down if you know what i mean. what do i even mean? just give them a listen instead.


beauty routine

funny how the year before turning thirty i'm finally starting to care a little bit more about my skin. i feel like a total hypocrite writing this post because up until recently i really haven't done much to take care of my skin and i haven't tried a million different products. all i know that there are some beauty products i have been using recently that i really like:

milky jelly cleanser || glossier
there is something about the consistency of this cleanser that is just perfect. it does a stellar job at removing makeup but doesn't dry my skin out. this is crucial during these brutal winter months.

coconut oil || cocovit
i can thank my recent trip to colombia for this discovery. after returning home i was on a total coconut kick + decided to finally test out the wonders of coconut. i put a small layer of this stuff every time i get out of the shower or wash my face. i got to bed smelling like yummy coconuts + wake up with the softest face. you can also use this on your cuticles and as a hair mask but i haven't really tried that out yet.

instant comeback facial serum || benefit
i believe the team at benefit refers to this stuff as "liquid face lift." while i'm not sure i would go that far i do feel like this product does a good job of keeping my skin hydrated. i feel like i'm a teenager again when i add a small layer of this after the cocovit coconut oil.

rapid age spot + pigment lightening serum || murad
this product isn't in my every day or even weekly rotation any more but i have to give a head nod to it based on how well it did at removing sun spots from a vacation in cost rica. i thought i'd be stuck with polka dots on my face forever but after some consistent use they completely disappeared. totally worth the slightly more expensive price tag.

gypsy water hair perfume || byredo
i'm not much of a perfume girl so byredo's hair perfume is a nice alternative. i love the gypsy water scent + since it is sprayed on my hair as opposed to my skin directly it doesn't seem as overpowering as some perfumes.

lately i have been much more aware of all of the magic potions + products out there so there are certainly more i'd like to try out. i have been eyeing grown alchemist, la mer, aesop, + bali body products. i also really want to try out biologique's lotion p50. that stuff is supposed to be a miracle worker.

are there any others i should be trying? again, i'm no expert in this arena so would love to hear any recommendations.


read || 1.27.16

watch david bowie's unaired interview with '60 minutes' || cbs news
"searching for music is like searching for god -- they're very similar."  he also talks about music being a way to communicate with others despite any personal feelings of loneliness or isolation. david bowie sure does speak my language in these unaired clips. they're worth taking a peek at.

traveling with a golden retriever || fubiz
meet aspen. he's just about the luckiest pup in the world. aspen has been traveling the world with his owner, a photographer. this basically sums up all of my life's hopes + dreams.

my home intentions for 2016 (that might work for you, too)  || apartment therapy
"find the right balance between spending + saving" really hits the nail on the head for me. this is one of my number one goals going into 2016. additionally, i think this article finally convinced me to check out the life-changing magic of tidying up by marie kondo.

my biggest design regrets + what you can learn from them || emily henderson
once i finally balance spending + saving i'll for sure take emily's advice into consideration. dining room lighting, curtains, + accent walls are three items in the condo i want to eventually tackle + emily's design advice is always spot on

meet the most pampered vegetables in america || npr
interesting read on some of the most ivy-league veggies out there + how a family farm in ohio started dominating this market. this place is less of a farm + more of a scientific food lab as they work to develop the best produce for some of the top chefs in the world. they usually make to to their finally destination within 24 hours of coming out of the ground. really impressive work here.

body painted woman in the infinity split installation || fubiz
photographer alex markow turns the female body into a a beautiful work of art through the use of paint on both their bodies + the installation background. the result is something magical.


luh || i+i

remember luh? they're the pair that keeps impressing me over + over. just yesterday i was thinking to myself that there hasn't really been any music recently that has moved me (because i'm a weirdo + think about things like that), but this track does the trick. almost makes me want to be a morning person.

luh will be making some tour stops in europe in march. i would love to get them state side this summer.


the range || florida

First single from The Range's new album, Potential, due out on on March 25th. This song is beautiful + has me very excited to hear the rest. Definitely one of my more anticipated album releases of the year. The back story on this album is pretty incredible too. You can read more about it on Pitchfork.


anderson paak || come down

i just recently stumbled upon anderson paak's album + was very pleasantly surprised. this song reminds me of a modern day james brown.


seen || 1.20.16

so i'm about to commit the blogger cardinal sin. i had this excellent idea to start sharing all of the beautiful + inspiring snapshots i have found on instagram but i screwed up. i have quite a collection of images but unfortunately did not capture all of the sources. i promise to do a better job of citing my sources moving forward!

january definitely puts me into nesting mode. these negative degree temperatures just end up keeping me indoor + dreaming about ways to decorate my home. i would kill for those little monkey lights at the bottom.

@the stellabluegallery | @westelm | @anewalldecor | @schoolhouse | unknown | @heavythreads

 i would like to start drawing again. and no i am not interested in adult coloring books. naked women + fishing lures are more my style.

@leah_ball_handmade | unknown | @sfgirlbybay | unknown

colombia left me dreaming of warn weather + future beach adventures. my next trip will definitely call for a new swimsuit + cool choker necklace.

@prismboutique | @acaciaswimwear | unknown | @bikinibird

i could really use some frozen champagne in my life.

@pennyweight | @local_milk | @thecoolhunter_

sweet music
oh bowie. you will be missed.

unknown | @freepeople | @glitterguide | @garancedore

 even though the holiday season is long gone i'm going to want to remember these ideas for next year

@joslyntaylor | @asraigarden | @local_milk


jennylee || boom boom

i really hope men everywhere don't take these lyrics literally because i personally don't want to get "boom boomed" the next time i move my body. aside from that, jennylee of warpaint looks to have a pretty promising solo career ahead of her. looking forward to hearing more + possibly checking out her february 23rd show at the empty bottle.

update: tickets bought.


heard || 1.13.16

pitchfork guide to upcoming releases: winter 2016 || pitchfork
i'm going to try to make a conscious effort to listen to a lot of these. some of the ones i am most excited about are: james blake, m83, chromaticsfrank ocean, polica, animal collective, kanye west + beacon. hoping there are a few hidden gems in there as well

tame impala announce tour || pitchfork
as excited as i am to see tame impala again i'm probably equally as excited to see what new music opener m83 has in store for us. their 2011 lincoln hall show was one of my favorites. both bands will be coming to chicago on june 9th at uic pavillion. i wouldn't be surprised to get one or both of these acts for festival season too.

moderat announces third album, iii || resident advisor
in addition to the album moderat will also be making a stop at concord music hall in chicago on may 21st. i have never seen moderat live before so i snagged some tickets for it. they're on sale now.

explosions in the sky || disintegration anxiety
explosions in the sky have a new album, the wilderness, coming out on april 1st. based on their first single from it it sounds like it will be an album to look forward to.. 

kanye west announces swish release date || pitchfork
i know i'm not really one to talk about hip hop much but i am pretty excited for this album. i haven't totally decided how i feel about kanye the person, but kanye the musician is pretty legit. read more about my feelings on yeezy here.

2015 readers' poll || pitchfork
i am always curious to see who ends up on this list each year. while i did not vote myself this year i am spotting some similarities between this list + my own. i'm also spotting a few albums that i never checked out which may be worth a listen.


moby || sunday (the day before my birthday)

In my lifetime there will be a handful of deaths that will feel truly unbelievable to me + David Bowie's passing is one of those. How can a man so larger than life be releasing an album one day + gone the next? As a read though the news this morning I knew that I had to pay my respects but how do I even begin to choose a song to say goodbye + thank you when the list to choose from is truly endless? "Rebel, Rebel," "Rock'N'Roll Suicide," "Heroes," "Life On Mars." I could never begin to pick just one.

Last week David Bowie was reintroduced into my life with Black Star but there was one other legend whose music popped backed into my music rotation thanks to Spotify radio. "Sunday (The Day Before My Birthday)" by Moby came on + it kind of stopped me in my tracks. It seemed familiar + I have likely heard it before but I guess I've just never really listened before now. It was beautiful.

Like so many other artists out there, Bowie was definite inspiration, collaborator, + friend to Moby. They wrote music + toured together so it seems appropriate to choose one of his songs as a memorial of sorts. Although Bowie left us incredibly too soon at least he left on a high note. I only regret never seeing him perform live. Rest in peace you fabulous angel.