// Category Archive for: Best Of Lists

Best Of 2016: Jeff DeLia of 72 Music Management

Published on December 29th, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Music |


I listen to as many new releases each year as possible in most genres. My complete list each year ends up with around 3,200 to 4,000 songs depending on the year. Out of it all, I create a list like this. Thanks for taking a look at my favorites of 2016. Happy New Year!

My favorite albums out of all the artists I manage this year were Bobby Rush’s Porcupine Meat and Janiva Magness’s Love Wins Again.

More Favorite Albums of 2016

1. David Bowie, Blackstar
2. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
3. Margo Price, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
4. Charlie Faye and the Fayettes, Charlie Faye and the Fayettes
5. Bon Iver, 22, A Million
6. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
7. Michael Kiwanuka, Love & Hate
8. James Blake, The Colour in Anything
9. Dylan Leblanc, Cautionary Tale
10. Wilco, Schmilco
11. Bonnie Raitt, Dig in Deep
12. Tedeschi Trucks Band, Let Me Get By
13. Emitt Rhodes, Rainbow Ends
14. Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool
15. The Record Company, Give it Back to You
16. Steve Poltz, Folksinger
17. Amanda Shires, My Piece of Land
18. Aaron Lee Tasjan, Aaron Lee Tasjan
19. Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
20. Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered

Best Of 2016: Charlie Faye of Charlie Faye & The Fayettes

Published on December 28th, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Feminism, Music, Reissues, Retrovirus |


I’m that girl who’s always just a little bit sad I missed out on the 1960s… mainly, of course, because of the music. But ’60s soul music is alive and well today in 2016. This year we’ve been lucky to get a couple of outstanding releases from some of the original ’60s soul artists, and there is a whole lot of new retro-soul coming onto the scene as well.

Best Retro Soul Music of 2016

Charles Bradley, Changes
One of the best new old soul singers to come out of the past few years, and this record is his best yet. Let’s hope his health is improving and he’ll be back to making great music in 2017.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Sea Of Noise
This is a record I discovered late in the year, when it hit Americana radio. It’s wonderfully crafted Americana-Retro-Soul (one of my favorite musical mish-mosh terms) with creative production that brings all that old school soul into the modern era.

James Hunter Six, Hold On!
I saw the James Hunter Six live at the Continental Club in Austin and just had to buy the album on vinyl. James and the guys will get you moving, whether you’re at a nightclub watching them play, or at home listening through your stereo. We’ve known for a while that this guy is the real deal. He just keeps on putting out winners.

William Bell, This Is Where I Live
I can’t say enough about Mr. William Bell. I’ve always been a huge fan of his songs from the old Stax catalog—“You Don’t Miss Your Water,” “Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday,” and so many more. I was excited to hear that he had a new record coming out on Concord/Stax this year, titled This Is Where I Live. In 50 years the man has not lost his edge; William Bell has just as much charm as he had back in the day—in some ways, even more.

Otis Redding, Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings
For Otis fans, this is the holy grail. The brand new release gives us three nights of Otis and his band live on stage in the spring of 1966. The energy of these shows is beyond impressive. With Otis’s singing raw and unedited, his band lays back into the groove one moment and is right on top in the next, building the energy to a frenzied pinnacle of excitement. It’s almost as if you were really there.

Sidenote: I would have loved to include an album by Daptone’s late great Sharon Jones in this list, but her last record was released in 2015. However, a deeply inspiring documentary about Sharon, her musical journey, and her battle with cancer, screened at SXSW 2016. Miss Sharon Jones!, directed by Barbara Kopple, is at once funny and heart-wrenching, and hits even harder now that Miss Jones is no longer with us. I highly recommend seeing it.

We reviewed Charlie Faye & The Fayettes’ self-titled debut on June 10.

Best Of 2016: Ronnie Barnett of The Muffs

Published on December 28th, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Music, Reissues, Retrovirus |


Top Ten Reissues of 2016

1. Milk ‘N’ Cookies, Milk ‘N’ Cookies (Captured Tracks): They shoulda been contenders but their initial good luck turned bad quickly. This long-in-the-works compilation of their lone album, singles, demos, and rehearsal tapes finally does this overlooked band’s legacy right. The two-CD set is accompanied by an exhaustive booklet jammed with photos, ads, flyers, and liner notes. Sigh!!

2. Ramones, Ramones: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Rhino): Obviously no introduction necessary for this band/album but the most special thing about this edition is the earthshaking news that the groundbreaking masterwork has finally been given an additional mono mix. The only thing wrong is that none of the boys are around anymore to hear it…

3. Crowded House, Deluxe Editions (Universal): Digitally remastered & expanded two-disc versions of all seven releases with tons of b-sides, outtakes & demos. Any morsel of Neil Finn is a true godsend.

4. Big Star, Complete Third (Omnivore): As the world borders on “Big Star overload,” Omnivore has he final word with this lavish three-disc set devoted to the tortured, beautiful Big Star’s Third. Exhilarating.

5. Scientists, A Place Called Bad (Numero Group): Wouldn’t be a year-end release without a Numero Group title, this time a four-disc set compiling the complete works of Australia’s hugely influential Scientists. Essential!

6. The Shaggs, Philosophy Of The World (Light In The Attic): No introduction necessary, Pat Thomas and LITA finally get this classic back in print & done right. I can’t believe I missed the in-store at Newberry Comics!

7. Game Theory, The Big Shot Chronicles and Lolita Nation (Omnivore): The GT reissue campaign continued this year with arguably their two most important works. I always thought the genius of Scott Miller would be appreciated by future generations, thanks to Omnivore my dream has come true.

8. Jack Lee, Bigger Than Life (Alive!): I hate to complain at all when discussing the long overdue reissue of both Jack Lee albums on one disc but… come on Alive! at an expensive list price should at least include some much needed liner notes about one of the most under-appreciated power pop icons of all time!

9. Public Image Limited, Metal Box: Super Deluxe Edition (Universal UK): If the newish trend of four-disc box sets devoted to one album made sense for one title only, this would be it.

10. Long Ryders, Final Wild Songs (Cherry Red): Compiling their complete works, B-sides, live tracks & demos… though I should say “complete minus one” as there is one key track mysteriously missing. Note to record companies: in this situation go ahead and put the song on and deal with the fallout and hurt feelings afterwards; they will get soon get over it and thank you later.

Another Ten:

Lush, Chorus (4AD)
MnMs, Melts In Your Ears (Burger)
King Crimson, On (And Off) The Road 1981-1984 (Panagyric)
David Bowie, Who Can I Be Now? (Parlophone)
Redd Kross, Teen Babes From Monsanto (Redd Kross Fashion)
Nymphs, S/T (Rock Candy)
Cluster, 1971-1981 (bureau b)
Ryan Adams, Heartbreaker (Pax-Am)
Plasticland, Wonder Wonderful Wonderland and Salon (Wounded Bird)

We reviewed the reissue of The Muffs’ Blonder and Blonder on July 22.

Best Of 2016: Jarod G. of Odonis Odonis

Published on December 23rd, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Music, Music Reviews |


Every music journalist struggles to find a voice. Years of struggle writing endless music reviews and a writer still may not find it. However, when I read quality music reviews written by a seasoned professional, that voice can project right off the screen and as clear as if they were sitting in front of me, I can hear that voice.

Couple that achievement with actual writing skill and the act of reading a truly well crafted, eloquent review becomes a kind of… salvation.

I have scoured the internet for the clearest, most unique voices of them all and come up with my TOP TEN Most Eloquent Lines from Music Blog Album Reviews 2016.


We reviewed Odonis Odonis’s Post Plague on June 20 as well as their record release show on June 28.

Best Of 2016: Cheryl Pawelski of Omnivore Recordings

Published on December 23rd, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Books, Movies, Music |


Ten Good Things… in a kinda cruddy year (not really in any order, sorta):

1. Some new record releases that were thrilling in 2016:
David Bowie, Blackstar
Wilco, Schmilco
Syd Arthur, Apracity
King, We Are King
Parquet Courts, Human Performance
Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered
A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Emitt Rhodes, Rainbow Ends
Case/Lang/Veirs, Case/Lang/Veirs
Mudcrutch, Mudcrutch 2
Hamilton soundtrack
John Beasley, Monk’Estra Vol. 1
Eric Bachman, Eric Bachman
Luther Dickinson, Blues & Ballads
Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
East Of Venus, Memory Box
Still making sense out of Bon Iver’s 22, A Million (but I think I like it a lot) and still can’t stop listening to The Epic by Kamasi Washington, a 2015 release but a towering achievement!

2. Reissues, boxed sets & previously unissued music that I was happy to hear, happier to own:
Crooked Fingers, Crooked Fingers and Bring On The Snakes reissues
Midlake, The Trials Of Van Occupanther 10th Anniversary Edition
The three-LP “Loser Edition” of Wolf Parade’s Apologies To The Queen Mary
The Crowded House catalog reissued in deluxe fashion
Fleetwood Mac, Mirage (finally!)
David Bowie, Who Can I Be Now?
Gillian Welch, Boots No. 1
Art Pepper & Warne Marsh, Unreleased Art Vol. 9: Live At Donte’s; April 26, 1974
My Morning Jacket, It Still Moves (deluxe edition)
Patti Smith, Horses: Live Electric Lady Studios
The Meters, A Message From The Meters: The Complete Josie, Reprise & Warner Bros. Singles 1968-1977

3. Various Artist compilations that make me glad that in the digital/Internet/technology-will-be-the-end-of-humankind era we live in, curation of various artist compilations still happens:
Celestial Blues: Cosmic, Political And Spiritual Jazz 1970-1974
The Girls Want The Boys! Sweden’s Beat Girls 1966-1970
Tanbou Toujou Lou, Haiti 1960-1981
Various Artists, (The Microcosm): Visionary Music Of Continental Europe 1970-1986

4. Favorite records that I produced or worked on (that finally came out in 2016), of which I’m particularly proud:
Big Star, Complete Third
NRBQ, High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective
Judy Henske & Jerry Yester, Farewell Aldebaran
Game Theory, Lolita Nation and The Big Shot Chronicles
JD Souther, John David Souther; Black Rose; and Home By Dawn
The Crowded House deluxe reissues
Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, The Criteria Sessions

5. Best shows of the year (no order, all awesome):
Emitt Rhodes, Grammy Museum
Systema Solar, SXSW
Lucius, SXSW
The Bangles & The Muffs at the Whisky
Case/Lang/Veirs at the Greek
Three nights of Wilco at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel
Judy Henske & Jerry Yester, at both the Grammy Museum & McCabe’s and Jimmy Webb actually performing on a lovely summer evening in MacArthur Park!
And this just in: sneak Beyonce performance at the Lemonade screening with a full all-female band complete with strings, horns and background vocalists!

6. Music books that were super cool:
Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run
Robbie Robertson, Testimony
Guy Clark, Without Getting Killed Or Caught: The Life And Music Of Guy Clark
Trouble Boys: The True Story Of The Replacements
Patti Smith, M Train
Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History Of L.A. Punk

7. More about Bruce’s book Born To Run:
As a life-long Bruce fan, the surprise of an autobiography (both book and audiobook!) and accompanying book tour, was a bit mind boggling. Coolest thing? None of it sucked, in fact, the book is charming, funny, arresting, insightful, honest and human. While I and a truckload of other super nerds would have liked more insight into the recordings and songwriting, a book by Bruce was something I never thought I’d see. Just like all his musical work in the past, Born To Run is life affirming and a place from which to draw inspiration in difficult times. We all deserve some transcendent rock and roll as we peer over the edge of 2017, I find some of mine here.

8. Runner up in Bruce-ville
The release of the Christic Benefit shows from November of 1990. It was my first Bruce show as a fresh L.A. resident (I was there the 17th). A mind-blower in that he had not performed solo since the early 1970s—before he had a record deal with Columbia. He was nervous, but still managed to debut brilliant new songs like “Real World” and “Soul Driver” among others. The solo versions of these songs performed on these two nights, remain the definitive versions. Extra bonus, a photo by Greg Allen, my partner at Omnivore adorns the cover of the Nugs release!

9. Music Film: The Beatles, Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years
Never having had a chance to see The Beatles live (I don’t think I’ll be able to say this for much longer, but I’m too young to have seen The Beatles live), it was a treat to see this documentary in the theater. The film itself was fun, but the really great part of motivating my ass to the theater (and not waiting for streaming, on-demand, Blu-Ray, DVD or whatever method the ones and zeros bring us our entertainment these days as we calcify on our couches), was seeing the bonus concert at Shea Stadium on the big screen. It was large, it was loud, and it was glorious good fun!

10. Favorite album design/packages
I love music. I love it so much, I made it my life’s work. I also love all the things music comes in—the packaging, the artifact. Yeah, yeah, I know, streaming. Whatever. I really like all my cool records and don’t really like the idea of renting music. Just ain’t for me. I love art, photography, liner notes, and package design and how powerfully they co-mingle with music, each amplifying each other.

A few I dug the most this year were…
David Bowie, Who Can I Be Now? LP set
Various Artists, Waxing The Gospel: Mass Evangelism & The Phonograph 1890-1900
Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool deluxo-LP/CD
Sloan, One Chord To Another LP/45 set
Grateful Dead, July 1978: The Complete Recordings
Pearl Jam, Live At Third Man Records vault package
The Band, The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary

Check out our reviews of 2016 releases from Ominvore Recordings.

Best Of 2016: Riley Etheridge, Jr.

Published on December 22nd, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Books, Movies, Music, TV |


Book: Swing Time by Zadie Smith—Friendship and class collide is an insightful and moving way.

Movie: Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins—Amazing performances chronicle the coming of age story of a young man in Miami.

Album: Rabbit Hole by Billy Crockett—Master producer releases his own collection of heartfelt and poetic songs.

Television: The Crown on Netflix —Who knew that history was so interesting? John Lithgow is amazing as Winston Churchill.

We reviewed Riley Etheridge, Jr.’s Secrets Hope & Waiting on September 23.

Best Of 2016: Jon Reynolds

Published on December 22nd, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Music, TV |


2016 was not the best year in recent memory. Not only did we lose some of the most iconic musicians of the last four decades, but we also had to witness the rise and fall of cultural phenomena known as the “dab” (progressive form: “dabbing”). I believe that most Americans, and do I dare say, most inhabitants of our planet, are ready to put 2016 behind us.

With that being said, here are some of the more memorable moments that should be preserved, or at least not forgotten, from 2016.

Greatest Musical Shock of 2016
Let’s start with something morbid! Prince is no longer with us. The news of the iconic guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, and double-breasted jacket wearer hit news junkets like a ton of MineCraft bricks. As is recent tradition, I, along with the rest of the western world, bought and played his music, ensuring that his estate coffers would be filled for whoever might be indulging in his vast financial empire. But on a more serious note, we lost one of the most talented, creative, and truly pioneering musicians that has have graced a stage. This is not to mention his widely appreciated criticism of the music industry’s royalty and ownership laws: something every working musician and songwriter is fighting against these days. Farewell, you purple genie: you will be missed.

Greatest Television Show of 2016
This one is not easy. If there were any redeeming quality for 2016, it would be television. With unparalleled shows such as HBO’s Game of Thrones and Netflix’s Stranger Things, it’s near impossible to choose. But for the sake of simplicity, I am going to limit myself to shows that only premiered in 2016. With that said, I have narrowed it down to one: HBO’s Westworld. This show needs no introduction. It has it all: western shootouts, robots, mysterious old men, time jumps, Anthony Hopkins, that guy who whose only job in the park is to bump into people and get shot, and in a long standing HBO tradition, lots of naked people. All that being said, it is one of the most well-written stories on TV right now. The acting is incredible, and despite not knowing if it would have a second season, the show still managed to pull off a crazy, unexpected finale that satisfied audiences but maintained the need for more. Here’s to season two coming out sometime!

Greatest Live Musical Performances of 2016
Everyone has seen the “big guns” do their live shows on YouTube. There’s no point in praising what has already been praised (just ignore my last paragraph). With that being said, one of the greatest shows I saw this year, one that very few people got to experience, was actually a whole festival: Live on the Green 2016 in Nashville. For those of you who don’t know, Live on the Green is a FREE music festival in the heart of downtown Nashville that goes on all summer. Every Thursday there is a massive outdoor show that usually includes the top independent, rising artists of the last year. In the final weekend of the festival, a second stage is set up and the music lasts from Thursday through the whole weekend. That is where the magic really happened this year. To name a few artists that graced the stage this year:

The Weeks
Judah and the Lion
Rayland Baxter
Repeat, Repeat

The variety of these performances alone was enough to draw me in, but the fact that each one of the shows was of the same quality and caliber as the next completely blew me away. In one weekend my confidence in live music was restored. If I had to choose a favorite, it would probably be Rayland Baxter. He just has a way with live performance that is relaxing but engaging at the same time. However, Judah and the Lion definitely go home with most entertaining show. I mean, what other show has four guys with a mish mash of instrumentation and electronic tracks, twerking on stage, and singing “Ignition” by R. Kelly. No one. But, I got to see it with my own two eyes, and so did my mom.

Greatest Unknown Band of 2016
Being a resident of Nashville, I come across a lot of bands that deserve way more attention than they actually get. One of those bands is PET ENVY. Am I friends with them? Yes. Do we have the same producer? Yes. Have I played shows with them? Yes. Is my mentioning of them in this article a favor to some friends? Absolutely not. This band is fantastic both as a recording group and as a live performance. They deserve every bit of praise they get. Without trying to use any fancy musician adjectives to describe them, I will say that they maintain the entertainment of pop rock while including the superior technical skills, as musicians, that each member undoubtedly holds. It’s hard to get both of those things in the same room, but when it happens, it is unmistakably fun! Keep up the work, guys!

Greatest TV Personality of 2016
John Oliver. I’ll say it again: John Oliver. I am not going to go into great detail with this one because it’s not necessary. He, like so many other satirical news reporters, helped us through the painful process and outcome of the 2016 election cycle and kindly reminded us that 2016 is a year that needs to be erased from the annals of history. Cheers to that ridiculous, little British man.

Greatest Known and Unknown Songs of 2016

Two songs captured my attention this year: “Giuseppe” by Trash Panda and “Over Soon” by Bon Iver. Bon Iver’s 22 a Million has earned split reviews over the past few months mainly because it has a handful of songs that are great and a handful of songs that aren’t. “Over Soon” stands outside of either one of those categories. It does all the Bon Iver things that a Bon Iver song should do, but it also branches out into the more electronic tonality upon which the whole album is based. What captured me most was the single note on which the song builds. There is something incredibly relatable and comforting about a single note that continues through an entire song. It is like a foundation for a house: the house being the rest of the arrangement and the decorations being the lyrics and melody. This song is truly a masterpiece of arrangement and deserves a lot more praise than it has received.

As for Trash Panda, I am less inclined to think deeply and more inclined to speak plainly. It is a simple, unknown song that has a cool reggae feel without coming anywhere near the “chukka chukka” of an actual reggae song. As for the lyrics, it culminates its sarcastic lip in the third verse when it takes a clear shot at President-elect Trump, questioning how he was able to gain the trust of millions simply through his personal charm and gusto. Catchy, well-written songs that maintain social relevancy are hard to come by these days. Well done, Trash Panda. Stay trashy.

We reviewed Jon Reynolds’ Generation, Love EP on August 5.

Best Of 2016: Stewart Eastham

Published on December 21st, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Movies, Music, Soundtracks and Scores, TV |


I’m a rabid collector of soundtracks on vinyl, so I decided to break out my Favorite Ten Soundtracks separate from my Favorite Ten Albums, in general. For both lists, I’m only picking albums released in 2016 (whether a first release or re-release). I’m also only picking albums that had a physical vinyl release. The lists themselves are in no particular order.

Top Ten Soundtracks of 2016

The Neon Demon, Cliff Martinez
I’m a big fan of Cliff Martinez. The work he’s done recently for Nicolas Winding Refn’s films has been especially outstanding. (In addition to The Neon Demon, he did Drive and Only God Forgives.) This record has been in constant rotation at the house. (We had it cranked on set while shooting the music video for my song “Leavin’ By Sundown.”)

Biutiful, Gustavo Santaolalla
This is an older soundtrack, but Silva Screen did a special limited run vinyl release this year as part of the British website Zavvi’s “Secret Soundtrack” series. They put out some amazing soundtracks this year, but, sadly, the “Secret Soundtrack” series has been discontinued. This particular one really turned me onto the work of Gustavo Santaolalla. (I’m particularly fond of the soundtrack he did for the videogame The Last of Us which was originally released on vinyl by Mondo in 2015.

Luke Cage, Adrian Younge
I found out about Adrian Younge’s work early this year and became an instant fan. I love his melding of hip hop beats with Morricone-esque grandeur. I have yet to see this Netflix show, but the soundtrack is phenomenal. Serious head bobbin’ vibe.

Stranger Things, Vol 1 & 2; Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
It feels redundant to point out the awesomeness of this soundtrack since it’s become so mainstream. But it’s just so good! Even beyond John Carpenter pastiche, it has a groovy synth vibe that is undeniable. (I did see this Netflix show and I did enjoy every minute of it.)

The Fountain, Clint Mansell
Mondo’s release of The Fountain soundtrack on vinyl is fantastic! Mansell had another great vinyl release this year with High-Rise, but I’m going with The Fountain as my pick. Beautiful, epic, and inspiring.

Taxi Driver, Bernard Herrmann
Waxwork did a fantastic re-release of this soundtrack in 2016. Though they are mostly known for horror soundtracks, they did a killer job on this album. From the artwork to the sound quality, it can’t be beat. I have a soft spot for this soundtrack as it takes me back to a time in my life when I used to watch this movie all the time.

Twin Peaks, Angelo Badalamenti
This is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time, so to finally see it released on vinyl this year was quite exciting. As per usual, Death Waltz did a top notch job with both the art and the sound quality. Even though I listened to this soundtrack hundreds of times in my younger days, it really did feel like hearing it for the first time on vinyl.

Fight Club, The Dust Brothers
The packaging alone qualifies this album for my list. Mondo went all out, forcing you to actually rip open the cover to get to the vinyl inside. I’ve always wondered why the Dust Brothers haven’t done more work in recent times, but this album is a great reminder of the top-notch work they did in their prime. Electronic beats dripping with exhilaration and nostalgia.

The Revenant, Ryuichi Sakamoto
I have yet to see this film, but the soundtrack is magical: a great mix of different sounds which create vast, evocative soundscapes. I’ve grown so fond of the soundtrack, I almost don’t want to see how it’s used in the film since the music contains such vivid imagery on its own.

Rome Armed To The Teeth / The Cynic The Rat And The Fist, Franco Micalizzi
This Death Waltz release early in the year really took me by surprise. I was expecting the typical run-of-the-mill 1970s Italian “waka-waka” soundtrack. Instead I got one of my favorite records of the year. The first disc actually reminds me of Adrian Younge’s vibe a bit. If this album hasn’t been sampled by a hip-hop producer yet, it’s just a matter of time. The beats are large and the horns are super fly.

Top Ten Albums of 2016

Take Me To The Alley, Gregory Porter
I absolutely love Gregory’s 2013 record Liquid Spirit and his new release does not disappoint. The songwriting, vocals, and musical arrangements are impeccable. The title track “Take Me To The Alley” is beautiful. My girlfriend and I had front row seats to see him perform here in Nashville in June (our second time seeing him perform). He takes the songs to a whole new level in a live setting and his band is truly amazing. (His drummer Emanuel Harrold is especially stunning!)

Hopelessness, Anohni
This is Anohni’s first solo release. She was previously known for her work in Antony and the Johnsons. I’m a huge fan of their records. She changes up her style a bit on this new project, but it’s just as awesome. (It’s less “chamber pop” and more electronic.) Dark lyricism and haunting vocals. Killer lines like: “Explode my crystal guts / Lay my purple on the grass.”

We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service, A Tribe Called Quest
I’m an old school Tribe fan. There was a time in my life when The Low End Theory was constantly playing. Even though it’s been 16 years, the new album in no way feels like a cheesy “we’re obligated to like it since they got back together” album. There have been some amazingly creative hip hop albums these last few years and I think this album stands up there with the best of them.

A Seat at the Table, Solange
I’m always a fan of mixing up genres, which Solange does wonderfully on this album. I’m also digging this new “minimalist R&B” vibe that’s been cropping up lately. (Sadly Frank Ocean’s Blond/e was ineligible for this list since it didn’t come out on vinyl in 2016.) The music itself has a soundtrack vibe that I dig. Don’t touch my hair!

A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, Sturgill Simpson
Although my own music is typically classified as Americana, I don’t listen to a whole lot of Americana in general. That being said, this album knocked me out the first time I heard it. With Sturgill’s Grammy nomination, it’s great to see him getting so much mainstream recognition. This album is an “art” album in the best sense of the word.

22, A Million, Bon Iver
The first time I heard this album, I didn’t know what to think other than, “I need to hear that again!” I’ve been a Bon Iver fan after seeing them perform at the Ryman touring for their previous album. The music and performance that night was beautiful. (And they had two drummers!) This new album sounds like it’s from another place that exists out of time. Modern, but ancient. I’m normally not a big fan of over-the-top vocal effects, but everything just meshes perfectly on this record making for a moving listening experience. (And I’m a sucker for the mysterious song titles and symbols in the album art.)

Sign “O” The Times, Prince
Of all the great musicians we lost this year, Prince probably hit me the hardest. Through all his eras, he’s been there right with me through all my own. It was a treat to get this new 2016 vinyl re-release to replace the scratched up original copy I had. What is there really to say about this album that hasn’t already been said. It’s probably my favorite Prince album… which is saying a lot considering how many incredible albums he put out.

Sorceress, Opeth
I’m a longtime Opeth fan, so it’s always fun seeing what new directions they explore with each album. I liked their last couple albums quite a bit, but I think this one tops them both. The songs are melodic, yet still heavy and chaotic at times. Lyrically I feel like Åkerfeldt has opened up a new door. I’ve always appreciated his lyrics in the atmospheric sense, but the lyrics on this album feel more personal. Ironically, my favorite track on the album might be the instrumental “The Seventh Sojourn.” It’s epic and powerful… especially at loud volume!

The Complete Cathedral Oceans, John Foxx
John Foxx was another new discovery for me this year. Once I delved into this gorgeous five-LP collection I was immediately hooked. Trippy, ambient soundscapes that will transport you to an alternate universe.

Exodus Of Venus, Elizabeth Cook
I really dig the latest release from fellow East Nashville resident Elizabeth Cook. This is one of the freshest Americana records I’ve heard in some time. Each song has its own sonic personality so the record is exciting to listen to. There are shades of country, blues, and psychedelica with some Stevie Nicks vibes sprinkled in. The lyrics are dark and original. Most importantly the songs just groove. (Can’t help but bob your head to “Evacuation.”)

We reviewed Stewart Eastham’s Dancers In The Mansion on August 12.

Best Of 2016: Your Friend

Published on December 20th, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Movies, Music |

Photo © Crystal Lee Farris

In absolutely no particular order…

Things that I saw:

Tim Hecker’s live set at RBMA MTL
The grace of Moses Sumney
The Lobster (if the US release date counts)

Things that I listened to:

Yves Tumor, Serpent Music
Kanye West, TLOP
Beyoncé, Lemonade
Rihanna, Anti
Blood Orange, Freetown Sound
ANOHNI, Hopelessness
Solange, A Seat at the Table
Kaytranada, 99.9%
Frank Ocean, Blond/e
Marie Davidson, Adieux Au Dancefloor
River Tiber, Indigo
Klara Lewis, Too
Nicolas Jaar, Sirens
Dave Harrington Group, Become Alive
Autolux, Pussy’s Dead
Suuns, Hold/Still
James Blake, The Colour in Anything
Caretaker, Everywhere at the End of Time
Mica Levi and Oliver Coates, Remain Calm
Mica Levi, Jackie OST
Julius Eastman, Feminine
Beatrice Dillon, Can I Change My Mind?
Demdike Stare, Wonderland

(It should be noted that I haven’t had the chance to listen to Childish Gambino or Tribe Called Quest’s new records yet.)

We reviewed Your Friend’s Gumption on January 28.

Best Of 2016: Matt Tarka

Published on December 20th, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Music |

Photo © Stefanie Ambrose

I attended a baker’s dozen worth of shows in 2016. Mostly in the DC/MD/VA neighborhoods. Here’s my recap of some musical adventures this year.

February 26: Tedeschi Trucks Band @ Warner Theatre; Washington, DC
March 10: Brad Roberts (of Crash Test Dummies) @ Jammin Java; Vienna, VA
May 9: Old 97’s, Heartless Bastards @ 9:30 Club; Washington, DC
May 23: Air Traffic Controller @ IOTA Club & Café; Arlington, VA
June 17: The Jayhawks, Folk Uke @ World Café; Philadelphia, PA
June 22: The Cure, The Twilight Sad @ Merriweather Post Pavilion; Columbia, MD
July 5: Bob Dylan & Mavis Staples @ Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts; Vienna, VA
July 17: Tedeschi Trucks Band, North Mississippi All-Stars, Los Lobos @ Wolf Trap; Vienna, VA
September 8: Dinosaur, Jr., Cloud Nothings @ 9:30 Club; Washington, DC
October 14: Noelle Tannen & the Filthy No-Nos @ Tree House Lounge; Washington, DC
November 3: Mike Mills (of R.E.M.) @ Strathmore Center for the Performing Arts; North Bethesda, MD
November 4: South Rail, Clones of Clones, Olivia Mancini @ Sofar Sounds; Washington, DC
December 3: Jay Byrd, Justin Jones @ AMP By Strathmore, North Bethesda; MD

And here’s a host of records that I’ve been listening to: either released in 2016 or some good ole chestnuts on my turntable.

The Jayhawks, Paging Mr. Proust (Thirty Tigers)
Dinosaur, Jr., Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (Jagjaguwar)
R.E.M., Life’s Rich Pageant (I.R.S.)
Green Day, Revolution Radio (Reprise)
The Get Up Kids, Red Letter Day (Doghouse)
Wilco, Being There (Reprise)
Mojave 3, Puzzles Like You (4AD)
My New Mixtape, Alone Together Forever
The Who, Who’s Next (Decca)
Mazzy Star, I’m Less Here (Rhymes of an Hour)
Jawbreaker, Unfun (Shredder)
Bill Janovitz, Walt Whitman Mall
Horse Feathers, Thistled Spring (Kill Rock Stars)

We reviewed Matt Tarka’s Surely Late on November 18.