This is part of Creative Loafing Tampa's new issue, The Year In Music. See and listen to the rest of our top albums here.
Pinegrove, Cardinal (Run For Cover) They just played a Tiny Desk concert for NPR, so it’s unclear how much longer Pinegrove will stay underrated. Still, we’ll always have 2016 and Cardinal, the debut full-length from one of the best young bands in America. Frontman Evan Stephens Hall is a Kenyon College product with a gift for turning his loneliness, self-reflection and odd humor into gorgeous songs filled with vivid imagery (“Waveform”) and heartbreaking life lessons (“Old Friends”) all set to the sound of plunking banjo, lap steel, breathtaking drums and Stephens Hall’s one-of-a-kind twang. I must’ve listened to album highlight “Aphasia” 200 hundred times this year because the song — much like so much of Cardinal — is a wordy, emotional up and down that gracefully captures the feeling of being a slightly confused, eternally hopeful young person in a fast-changing world. A lot of music passed through this thick skull of mine this year, and this statement from a group of kids from Montclair, New Jersey is one of the few albums that leaves me in a smiling puddle of emotion after every listen. —Ray Roa