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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 Rebel Set

10 Jan

Phoenix, AZ punk rockers The Rebel Set are back with a new EP featuring 4 tracks of organ-fried, fuzzy punk rock goodness. You can stream all 4 songs below, I highly recommend that you do.

This bad boy is available now on vinyl (and digitally) through Hidden Volume Records. You should snag this on vinyl, that’s the best way to experience any Hidden Volume release. Enjoy!

Gloria

5 Jan

There is not a lot of info out there about Gloria out of Lyon, France. Their sound is a throwback to the 60′s, reminiscent of groups like The Ronettes and The Shangri-Las. They just released their debut LP, In Excelsis Stereo, via French label Howlin’ Banana Records.

Give the fuzzed-out, jangly “In The Morning” (below) a spin, you’re going to dig it. In Excelsis Stereo is out now and available in multiple formats from Howlin’ Banana.

Gloria – In The Morning from In Excelsis Stereo (2016)

Pow Wows

3 Jan

Toronto’s Pow Wows have been making their brand of grimey garage rock since 2010. Their latest 7 incher, Hey Doctor (via Hidden Volume Records), is another testament to their goodness.

Stream it now (below) and head over to Hidden Volume’s site and snag yourself a copy on vinyl or digital – I highly recommend this on vinyl. Enjoy.

Springtime Carnivore

22 Sep

Greta Morgan’s smokey, powerful voice is as cool as ever as it shines over the top of the lush, psych-pop grooves on her newest Springtime Carnivore LP, Midnight Room. The exuberant single, ‘Raised By Wolves” (below) is an addictive taste of how cool Midnight Room is. Definitely no sophomore slump here.

Midnight Room drops October 7 via Autumn Tone Records. It belongs on everyone’s must own list. Enjoy.

Springtime Carnivore – Raised By Wolves from Midnight Room (2016)

Sea Wren

21 Jul

Tucson, AZ’s Sea Wren is the side project of Cherish Rendon, who also plays for the fabulous psych-pop band, The Resonars. As Sea Wren, Cherish writes, sings and plays all guitars on all songs, with fellow Resonar, Matt Rendon, on the drums.

Her self-titled debut is out now on cassette through Lolipop Records and digitally available from Sea Wren’s Bandcamp page. It’s a jangly, garage-pop gem that you will find yourself playing over and over again. Give the standout track, “Birds of Slumber” (below) a spin to see what I mean.

Sea Wren – Birds of Slumber from S/T (2016)

Sea Wren FB

Holy Monitor

30 Jun

If fuzzy, spaced-out, psychedelic, kraut rock is your thing then Greece’s Holy Monitor is the band for you. Get lost in the reverbed, jangly, grime of “Golden Light” below. It’s a killer example of what these guys can do.

Ongakubaka Records has compiled both of Holy Monitor’s self released EPs onto one fine cassette (available for preorder now) which will be unleashed on July 16. Golden Light/Aeolus is also available now digitally via Ongakubaka’s Bandcamp page.

Holy Monitor – Golden Light from Golden Light/Aeolus (2016)

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard

6 May

Those of you familiar with Australian psych rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard know that they are always pushing the musical envelope. On their 8th album in 4 years, Nonagon Infinity, they are at it again. This time they have created what they are describing a “never-ending album” – with each of the 9 tracks flowing into each other, including track 9 flowing back into track 1.

Putting the “never-ending album” claim to the test over the past weekend, I made Nonagon Infinity my soundtrack for around 15 miles or so of walking, and it is as advertised – seamless.

Nonagon Infinity is a damn fine album, potentially album of the year, packed wall to wall with scuzzy guitars and throbbing bass lines over the top of frenzied double drumming beats.

Nonagon Infinity is available now in all formats via ATO Records and King Gizzard’s Bandcamp page.

New Boss

15 Apr

Fuzzy, hook-driven, psych pop goodness is what you get when you fire up New Boss’s solid new release Home Problems. Check out the title track below, then head over to Funny / Not Funny Records’ site and snatch yourself a copy. Enjoy.

New Boss – Home Problems from Home Problems (2016)

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)