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Sam’s Top 23 Songs of 2016

11 Jan

(Sequenced for flow – not ranking – purposes.)

Tyvek “Choose Once” (In the Red)
My single of the year, from my album of the year. So raw, so good.

Mass Gothic “Every Night You’ve Got to Save Me” (Sub Pop)
Family Sing-Along Song of the Year honors go to this raucous doo-wop jam.

DIIV “Under the Sun” (Captured Tracks)
Shining down from a shimmering crack in the clouds that hung over 2016.

A Tribe Called Quest “We the People…” (Epic)
I could have chosen any of a half dozen tracks off this album but this here’s the anthem, get your damn hands up.

Francis and the Lights w/ Bon Iver “Friends” (KTTF)
Alan Parsons meets auto-tuned R&B meets, well, Bon Iver.

KAYTRANADA “LITE SPOTS” (XL)
Half this song is impossible to dance to; the other half is impossible not to dance to.

De La Soul “Royalty Capes” (AOI)
I wish this album had been more fulfilling than my anticipation of it, but there are some real gems amidst the scattershot experiments. This one’s about why a guy can’t find vintage De La on any of the streaming services.

Homeboy Sandman “Heart Sings” (Stones Throw)
Homeboy Sandman w/ I Am Many “Real New York”
(Stones Throw)
Sometimes he rhymes slow, sometimes he rhymes quick.

Beach Slang “Spin the Dial” (Polyvinyl)
“I was born at the bottom
But I never belonged
I’m hardly ever right
But I’ve never been wrong”
Could’ve been ripped straight from Paul Westerberg’s notebook.

The Men “Dreamer” (We Are the Men)
What you’d imagine to be playing anytime a parent pounds on their teen’s bedroom door and yells, “Turn it down!”

The Radio Dept. “Committed to the Cause” (Labrador)
A slinky statement of a song with hints of Prefab Sprout and St. Etienne.

Parquet Courts “Steady on My Mind” (Rough Trade)
Mmmn, Velvet-y.

Grandaddy “A Lost Machine” (Sony)
Man, this album can’t come soon enough…

James Blake “Love Me in Whatever Way” (Polydor)
That laugh track makes this even more heartbreaking than your average James Blake song.

ot to, not to w/ Noah Smith “Regretta I” (Other People)
Listen very closely.

The xx “On Hold” (Young Turks)
I know their 15 minutes of fame should be long gone, but that Hall & Oates sample…

Sonny & the Sunsets “Needs” (Polyvinyl)
The album where Sonny fell in love with a drum machine and made some goofy babies like this one.

Sunflower Bean “I Was Home” (Fat Possum)
Critics fawned over their debut but I found most of the album kinda boring. That said, this single is some transcendent psych rock amazingness.

Terry Malts “Used to Be” (Slumberland)
Terry Malts has been to me in the early 20-teens what The Wedding Present was to me in the early 1990s – completely durable and indispensible.

The Intended “Don’t Wait Too Long” (In the Red)
Rollicking goodness from Detroit’s garage (or basement, as the case may be) scene.

Leonard Cohen “It Seemed the Better Way” (Sony)
I’m a man of faith but after a year like this one, I get it. I really do.

David Bowie “Lazarus” (ISO/Columbia)
As my grandmother was bedridden and dying of cancer she’d ask my mom to open the curtains so she could watch the birds in the tree outside her window. When I first heard the bluebird line, I crumbled into a sobbing mess. Bowie gave until the very end…ain’t that just like him?

The Minni-Thins

28 Dec

The Minni-Thins describe themselves as “…a loud hodge-podge of nineties indie rock, punk, folk, and even country…. think: the Butthole Surfers doing LSD with Connor Oberst and having a bad trip while trying to write an album in the style of The Pixies.” I can’t top that. Give their burner “Apparent” (below) a spin, it’s a sure thing to clean out your sinuses.

Their album, That Old Kentucky Blackgrass, has finally been unleashed upon the masses after being shelved for 10 years. You can get a hold of it now on their Bandcamp page. Enjoy.

The Minni-Thins – Apparent from That Old Kentucky Blackgrass (2006/2016)

Will Courtney

15 Jul

There is nothing better than music to take you away to other times, whether they be good times or bad. Courtney’s voice always takes me back to when my kids were little, when his other band, Brothers And Sisters, were on constant rotation in the house and in the car. Good times.

Now, 10 years later, Will is releasing his sophomore solo effort, Planning Escapes, which was recorded in Texas with his backing band, The Wild Bunch, which features members of Brothers And Sisters.

Planning Escapes has a little bit of everything in it’s 10 songs, from down-tempo country ballads to straight-up rock ‘n’ roll. Give the Neil Young-esque “Sad, Sad Eyes” a spin below, you won’t regret it.

Planning Escapes is solid from start to finish, I highly recommend it. Get your hands on it now from Will Courtney’s site.

Will Courtney – Sad, Sad Eyes from Planning Escapes (2016)

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Woods

13 Apr

Brooklyn’s Woods are back with their outstanding 9th LP, City Sun Eater in the River of Light. Taking the best parts of almost every genre of music out there and adding it their already wonky, folk-psych sound, Woods have created a groove-driven (dare I call it “groove-psych”), psychedelic rock masterpiece.

Check out the head bobbing beat of “Can’t See At All” (below) for a mere sampling of how cool this album is.

City Sun Eater… is out now and available on whatever media suits your fancy from WOODSIST Records – I highly, highly recommend it.

Woods – Can’t See At All from City Sun Eater in the River of Light (2016)

Peter Stringer-Hye

30 Dec

Nashville native, and member of The Paperhead, Peter Stringer-Hye recently released an incredible self-titled EP with Trouble In Mind Records. Check out EP closer “Throw Away The Day”, it’s a country tinged, psychedelic, toe-tapper and my favorite track from the EP. Head over to TiM’s site and snag yourself a copy before they are all gone.

LABRYYYNTH

17 Apr

LABRYYYNTH is a new project from members of Dr. Dog and Golden Boots. Their self-titled debut LP is 10 tracks of stripped down, sci-fi themed, head nodding 70′s era pop rock. Check out the Moog driven toe-tapper “Traveling Strange” below. LABRYYYNTH’s album is available in all formats from PIAPTK. It’s also available on cassette from Burger and vinyl from Bleeding Gold. I highly recommend it.

LABRYYYNTH – Traveling Strange from S/T (2014)

David Novick

10 Jul

There is not a lot of info on the interweb about David Novick, but I will share with you what I know. He is out of SanFrancisco. He recently released his second album Your Sister’s Hand.

Novick’s psychedelic folk sound is perfect to chill out to. Check out slow builder “Beneath The Line” (below) to sample a taste of Novick’s mellow goodness. Your Sister’s Hand is available now on Ty Segall’s Drag City imprint GOD?. Enjoy.

David Novick – Beneath The Line from Your Sister’s Hand (2014)

Skye Steele

6 May

Straight from the inbox comes multi-instrumentalist Skye Steele’s new EP Glorious Sunshine. It contains 5 songs of dreamy, haunting and sometimes pretty sparse folk songs.

Skye’s guitar and vocals play of each other well while the vocal harmonies and piano hauntingly swirl in and out of the foreground on “Singing In The Street” (below), the standout track from the EP. Glorious Sunshine is available now through iTunes. Enjoy.

Skye Steele – Singing In The Street from Glorious Sunshine (2014)

Greg Ashley

27 Mar

Former Gris Gris singer, Greg Ashley’s new album (and first with Trouble In MindA Generation of Slaves is a smooth slab of lo-fi goodness. Mixing jazz and folk with hints of country to create 9 songs that you will find yourself revisiting over and over again.

The male/female vocals and honky-tonk piano on “Misery Again” (below) combine to make it one of the best tracks on the album. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. A Generation of Slaves is out now and available from Trouble In Mind. I suggest you get your hands on a copy as soon as you can.

Greg Ashley – Misery Again from Another Generation of Slaves (2014)

New Bums

12 Mar

New Bums are a new band featuring  Donovan Quinn (Skygreen Leopards) and Ben Chasney (Six Organs of Admittance, Comets on Fire). Their sound is simply put, two guitars (with the occasional drums and other instruments) and two voices.

Their debut LP, Voices in a Rented Room is out now through Drag City. Album opener “Black Bough” (below) illustrates their sound perfectly. Two voices and two guitars playing nicely together, while the minimal amount of drums fill in the extra space to make this one of the standout tracks on the album. Enjoy.

New Bums – Black Bough from Voices in a Rented Room (2014)