15 Great Albums You Didn't Hear in 2016

Rolling Stone critics choose LPs that flew under the radar

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Failed Flowers, 'Failed Flowers'
15
4/15

Failed Flowers, 'Failed Flowers'

2016 wasn't good for much, but it's been an absolutely fantastic year for indie rock (just like 2015, 2014 and 2013 were), and yet even amongst all the Lvl Up and Human Performance and Sunflower Bean and Mitski and Big Thief and the Hotelier and Pity Sex going around, I kept coming back to this tiny record by this Ann Arbor, Michigan band, and its pretty zippy hey-whatever guitar tunes – nine of them in 18 minutes. Singer-guitarist Fred Thomas was in the good Sixties-garage pop band Saturday Looks Good to Me. This is garage-y too but looser, with a Flying Nun/Maxwell's/C86 vibe and a warmly small sound like it was recorded at the bottom of Ira Kaplan's sweater drawer. They rock out a little on "8AM," hit reedy harmonies on "Coke Floats" and bask in "the regular mundane anxiety" of whatever their life is like on "Ready for the Break." Bassist-singer Anna Burch sings lead on the breakout drive-time bomb-drop of a focus track "Supermarket Scene," where the guitars ring like tiny cathedral bells and she imagines the kind of meet-cute that takes years to unfold: "Maybe when we're older/Maybe when we both get paid/We can find a place that feels like home." Shopping day looks good to me. Jon Dolan

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