Get down to Digital Trends’ best albums of the year (so far)

Every year, legions of music fans await December — a time when critic overlords worldwide bless the masses with their definitive guide to the sounds of the past year. While that’s all well and good (read: we plan to contribute our own super-awesome list come year’s end), we, like most listeners, are already antsy.

Related: Embrace the heat with our most anticipated albums of summer 2016

That’s because apart from the seemingly never-ending onslaught of legends that have passed in the first six months of 2016, there has been a lot of seriously excellent music, too. Consider this a mid-year wake up call — a guide which will help you catch some of these acts while they are still on the road in support of their latest releases, and before you might have to snag a more expensive ticket to see them following others’ year-end listicles.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 albums of the year so far:

Lemonade — Beyoncé

A sonically-stunning visual album which has inspired and empowered legions of listeners worldwide, Beyoncé’s Lemonade is more than just the biggest smash of the first half of 2016: It’s a thought-provoking work of art. Beyoncé publicly explores issues of femininity and faithfulness, curating a visually and sonically stunning account of a modern day woman. Throughout myriad beat breaks and vocal runs, it’s this higher sense of purpose which propels Lemonade to the critics circle this year — a genre and thought-busting record of the highest order.

iTunes Amazon

Blackstar — David Bowie

In many ways, the January release of Blackstar, David Bowie’s dark and creative final album, has set the tone for the entire year of music. Because amidst surprising and high-profile deaths, the music world has been producing some of its most starkly creative works in years. Bowie’s 26th release, which will likely go down as one of his best ever, is no exception. The famed British pop star blends work from jazz musicians like drummer Mark Giuliana and saxophonist Donny McCaslin with the classic sounds of producer Tony Visconti, resulting in a swan song which is as groovy, complex, and as odd as the man himself.

iTunes Amazon

Malibu — Anderson .Paak

Following the release of Malibu, a spectacular amalgamation of hip-hop and R&B which feels perfectly suited for a post-Kendrick Lamar world, Anderson .Paak may be the brightest rising star in the music world. Malibu is groovy and heavily laden with talented musical efforts from all involved, but is perhaps most marvelous for the way in which its creator is able to showcase his varied talents. Whether he is banging out drum beats, singing hooks, or enthralling with quick-paced speech-song, .Paak proves himself to be a thoroughly enticing multi-instrumentalist, a 21st century Stevie Wonder whose musical mind seems dead set on making history.

iTunes Amazon

A Moon Shaped Pool — Radiohead

For a band like Radiohead, whose legendary musical explorations have made them both beloved musical icons the world over, and some of the most heavily-scrutinized creators on the planet, it’s tough to exceed expectations. But A Moon Shaped Pool, the spiritual sequel to 2005’s now-classic In Rainbows, did just that. A powerful and cohesive work, the album managed to touch on the band’s sonic past while recontextualizing their ideas based on the decade they had between them.

iTunes Amazon

Coloring Book — Chance The Rapper

Ok, nitpickers, technically this one is a mixtape. But with high-priced production, and collaborations with many of the biggest names in music, the only thing that really makes Chance The Rapper’s third release Coloring Book not “technically” an album is the fact that it didn’t come out on a major label. And given the attention he brings to unsigned acts everywhere, that’s probably just more reason to praise him. As far as the music is concerned, Coloring Book is a smorgasbord of contemporary hip-hop sounds, ranging from smooth and soulful to heavy and Southern. But though it may feel at times like a patchwork quilt of singles, the release is stitched together with endearing soulfulness, the same Chicago-born hope which brought idealists like Barack Obama and (pre-Yeezus) Kanye to the fore.



All U.S. 2020 Toyotas will have a trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio

This fall, with the introduction of the 2020 model year vehicles, all Toyotas sold in the continental U.S. will include SiriusXM satellite radio installed with a three-month trial subscription of SiriusXM All Access.

Looking to upgrade? These are the best iPhone deals for February 2019

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for February 2019.

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.

Where to catch the encore of Marshmello's Fortnite concert if you missed it

EDM star DJ Marshmello performed a different sort of concert today: one held live in-game in Fortnite. The concert was held in Pleasant Park, where the usual football field was transformed into a stage and a massive dance party broke out.

Schubert left Symphony No. 8 unfinished. A smartphone’s A.I. just completed it

We all know computers can be used to make music, but can artificial intelligence be used to not only generate music, but complete one of the most famous unfinished symphonies of all time? Huawei has used its A.I. to find out.

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.

The best new music this week: Cass McCombs, Jessica Pratt, and more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week: New music from Cass McCombs, Jessica Pratt, LCD Soundsystem, Panda Bear, Said The Whale, and Y La Bamba.

Spotify could terminate accounts of listeners using ad blockers

Bad news for those who block annoying ads on Spotify -- the company has updated its Terms of Service to explicitly ban ad blockers. Consequences for users found circumventing the rules include suspending or terminating your account.
Home Theater

Apple's new AirPods could arrive within months, pack health sensor tech

Apple may release new AirPods in the first half of 2019. A wireless charging case, health sensors, water resistance, and better Siri integration are some of the improvements rumored to be part of the new package.

Donald Glover is (somehow) first rapper to win a Grammy for Song Of The Year

Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino) has become the first hip-hop artist to win Song Of The Year, an award that had illuded countless other popular rap artists for decades.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.
1 of 2