Nate’s Top 20 Tapes of 2016

The year’s end calls for lists, listsicles, and ordered, best-of type articles. I see no reason to shy away from this journalistic reality, so, without further ado, I present my twenty favorite tapes of 2016. Excluded from the list are releases we’ve featured on the site thus far. I’ve also left off some favorite releases from larger labels; many of our fellow music publications have those covered quite adequately!


20. Ross Wallace Chait – Rocking and Rollin’ (A Giant Fern)

Ducktails’ drummer wrecks the Freak Folk 101 curve

19. Benjamin Mauch– Golden Bay Garden (Harding Street Assembly Lab)

Alluring and tranquil ambient experiments from China via Virginia.

18. Trust Fund – We Have Always Lived in the Harolds (It Takes Time)

I don’t suppose I’ll be sad on the day when twee exhausts itself. But certainly more sad than I would be if I hadn’t heard this tape.

17. Jons – At Work on Several Things (Self-released)

Kraut and psych once more will rule the Slackerdom

16. Ganz Feld – Unwise 2.0 (Lost Angles)

Listening to Ganz Feld will remind you it’s hard to be cynical about vaporwave considering what’s come after.

15. Rhucle – Yellow Beach (No Problema Tapes)

Serenity is at a premium these days, but put this tape on and you can just *taste* the sunlight warming your bones.

14. Lost Trail – Lost Trail Meets the Roar of Winter (Jeunesse Cosmique)

You got caught in a snowdrift; it happens to the best of us!

13. Fond Han – Sham Cloud (Exploding in Sound)

Dylan’s little-known east-coast DIY period finally gets a tape release.

12. Hellier Ulysses – Prime Example (OSR)

The world needs more jazzy kids like these.

11. Euglossine – Lustrous (Onmyodo Cassette)

Funk, jazz, and instant video game nostalgia – can we call it Nintendocore? 

10. Moon > Sun – Mixtape #1 (Little L Records)

You know that one friend whose demos you can’t wait to get in your inbox?

9. øjeRum – Hvid Hvile, Sort Ro (Branch Tapes)

Can you believe this guy just had this sitting around on his computer? Sumptuous ambient sketches from one of the most consistent artists.

8. Moving In – Sunburn (Z Tapes)

Aching and self-assured compositions recalling the heights of 2000s indie.

7. Monte Burrows – Ikke Ni (Wounded Knife)

Ambient sonatas with an understated appreciation for attention to detail.

6. Hovvdy – Taster (Sports Day Records)

You know that scene where The Dude’s car gets jacked in the 2035 Big Lebowski remake? I cry every time they don’t find his copy of Taster.

5. Max Gowan – Mass Transit (Little L Records)

Max is the kind of guy you can brainstorm non-sequiturs with, because even if they kinda suck, his guitar playing is still so smooth!

4. Horse Jumper of Love – Assorted Demos (Disposable America)

I wouldn’t mind Dimitri G inboxing me demos, either, come to think of it.

3. Olli Aarni – Muovia (Preservation)

Finland’s chief auteur of texture weaves gradually-unfolding webs of light.

2. Enjoy – Another Word for Joy (Burger Records) 

Bass-driven XTC jams on an MDMA injection lyrically refurbished for today’s post-post ironic times.

1. Blue Smiley – Return (Super Wimpy Punch)

Fuzzed-out heights post-punk could only dream of. And, oh God! the hooks!

Written by:

Nate Wagner is a musician, university student, and cassette lover from North Carolina. Hit him up on Facebook to talk music, find a show, or complain about Arsene Wenger.