Exclaim!'s Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part One Best of 2016



19. Pinegrove
Cardinal
(Run for Cover)
 
If you'd asked almost anyone in January if they thought that a lo-fi roots-rock group with emo tendencies would make one of the year's best records, they'd have said you were crazy. Cardinal, the second LP from Montclair, NJ's Pinegrove, makes a strong case for such a bizarre hybrid.
 
Singer-guitarist Evan Stephens Hall croons with an off-the-cuff spontaneity that belies the heft of his lyrics. Similarly, his bandmates' ramshackle playing masks their impressive chops. Yet, even when the record feels like it's about to fall off the rails, emotionally and musically, Pinegrove find a silver lining, spinning hopelessness into call-to-arms sing-alongs. 
Ian Gormely