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Best of 2016: Paul's Take

Best of 2016: Paul's Take

Whatever you want to say about 2016 (and we’ve said plenty), it was a great year for music and Chunky Glasses covered the hell out of it. Well, it was a great year for musical output at least. We lost far too many of our favorite artists but, by fortune or design, we gained some truly extraordinary albums before they passed. More than that, those that remained took up the mantles of the fallen to produce a bounty of sharply observed, deeply felt works. To call it a changing of the guard would be overly simplistic; an artificial narrative created to instill some sense of order on a chaotic year. But, be that as it may, it appears that as the world lurches into an uncertain 2017, at least we’ll still have plenty of exemplary musicians to help us make sense of whatever happens next.


Best Of 2016 - Eduardo's Take

Best Of 2016 - Eduardo's Take

2016, the year we played ourselves. Or the year we got played. Looking back, it’s hard not to respect this past year. On a simple scale of fucks given, 2016 gave the fewest. And, sort of like the Death Star, it’s hard not to admire how thoroughly evil and powerful the year was. It was bright in terms of music, and that may be its only bright spot. As far as real humans go, 2016 can only be described in one way: the year we were all Alderaan.


Best of 2016: Patricks Take

Best of 2016: Patricks Take

Most years I struggle to find ten albums that I enjoy listening to, from start to finish. This year, I struggled to narrow the list to a mere ten because excellent albums abound. Genre did not limit the excellence, nor did age or visibility. The musical landscape is more diverse than ever. Whether the lack of major label control has led to true creative freedom for all musicians remains to be seen, but it is beginning to look like artists are increasingly willing to make music on their own terms. And, in a year that many considered to be terrible, that is a bright, shiny ray of hope. Celebrate with me by listening to these albums and songs and supporting these artists.


"Real Peach" - Henry Jamison

"Real Peach" - Henry Jamison

SOUNDS LIKE:

A love song told on a countryside porch as the sun’s coming down

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:

Henry Jamison isn’t a newcomer to the music world, but this debut EP will no doubt leave a great first impression on folk music fans. Conceived on a 8-track recorder, The Rains EP came to fruition after a few solo recording attempts and two years of touring with other musicians.


"The Glowing Man" - Swans

"The Glowing Man" - Swans

SOUNDS LIKE:

A noisy post-rock assualt on the senses.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:

Micheal Gira reconvened Swans after over a decade on hiatus in 2009 with a new lineup, one of the strongest in the band's 34 year history.  That lineup has now released four albums – 2010's My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, 2012's The Seer, 2014's To Be Kind, and finally, this year, The Glowing Man


"VRY BLK" - Jamila Woods

"VRY BLK" - Jamila Woods

Sounds Like

Kehlani; Jhene Aiko; a proud declaration of being black wrapped in the sound of summer

Why You Should Care

Jamila Woods gained recognition singing the chorus of Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment’s song, “Sunday Candy”, but the Chicago-based singer/poet has just released her debut album of great R&B jams, entitled HEAVN, that should give her even more deserved attention. One of the standout tracks on the LP is “VRY BLK,” a song that is as clever in its wordplay as it is proudly defiant in the face of police brutality. Woods keeps Chicago in the mix, adding rapper Noname to the song for a breezy verse. As relevant as the lyrical content is today, the production values backing up her great voice makes this a quintessential summer song. But surprise - this summer jam actually has an important message.


"Longer" - Lydia Loveless

"Longer" - Lydia Loveless

Sounds like:

A more-country-than-rock-tinged eulogy for a friend

Why you should care:

The leading single for alt-country artist Lydia Loveless’s latest album, “Real”, (set to release on August 19 via Bloodshot Records), revolves around a real loss in the musician’s life. According to a For the Country Record interview, the death of close friend (and guitarist for The Girls) Joey Blackheart, spurred her to pen this song.


"Street Waves" - Pere Ubu

"Street Waves" - Pere Ubu

Sounds Like:

Captain Beefheart meets punk rock; that band that every punk/post-punk/post-rock/art-rock band you listen to lists as an influence

Why You Should Care:

"Street Waves" was Pere Ubu's third single, released in 1976, and it bridged the gap between the band's early single releases and their first album, The Modern Dance.


"Don't Hold Me Now" - New Madrid

"Don't Hold Me Now" - New Madrid

SOUNDS LIKE:

The Police on acid; cosmic spaz; slow burn punk

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:

For their latest outing, this Athen's, GA based quartet has shed some of the clean lines and jangle of their 2014 debut Sunswimmer in favor of a more...enlightened sound. magnetkingmagnetqueen gets pretty far out (see the 11 minute + track "Guay Lo") but tracks like "Don't Hold Me Now" find the band striking a perfect balance between slacker indie-pop and some seriously heady sonic explorations. 


"Drag Me Down" - Weaves

"Drag Me Down" - Weaves

Sounds like: 

Not One Direction, that’s for sure.

Why You Should Care: 

Toronto’s Weaves may be responsible for bringing down not one but two giants of the music industry. They were asked to cover this One Direction song for a compilation to be released by RDIO. Right after recording it, RDIO declared bankruptcy and was gone. Not long after that, so was One Direction. 


“Bamboo” - Hinds

“Bamboo” - Hinds

Sounds Like:

Low-fi Spanish garage awesomeness

Why You Should Care:

 You can be forgiven for not keeping up with the burgeoning indie scene in Spain; suffice to say Hinds is one of its best exports. The foursome recorded “Bamboo” when they were a duo called Deers, and the feedback they received after posting the tune online convinced them to submit it to a local music competition.


"The Asp and the Albatross" - Freakwater

"The Asp and the Albatross" - Freakwater

SOUNDS LIKE:

Twin Peaks version of Johnny and June; Neko Case/Kelly Hogan through a Tim Burton lens; punkcountrygospelfolk

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:

For the past 30+ years Janet Bean and Catherine Irwin have been crafting some of the most haunting, genre-defying “Americana” in the canon under the name Freakwater. Their latest album Scheherazade takes its name from the queen/storyteller of “One Thousand and One Nights”, and it’s a perfect metaphor for the band’s first album in nine years.


“The Iambic Cleaning Song” - Healy

“The Iambic Cleaning Song” - Healy

Sounds Like:

Chance the Rapper; Memphis hip hop; chillaxation

Why You Should Care:

Perhaps one day when we talk about music from Memphis we won’t automatically think of Sun Records. Healy could start that revolution with the mellow brand of hip-hop presented on his great debut album A Galaxy with Skin. His singsong delivery and minimal yet bluesy instrumentation illustrate that he’s more than familiar with the musical progeny of his home city.


"Come" - She-Devils

"Come" - She-Devils

Sounds Like:

Modern, indie Nancy Sinatra; lo-fi surf rock

Why You Should Care:

Audrey Ann and Kyle Jukka came together in the summer of 2014 – following Ann’s high school partnership with Majical Clouds’ Devon Welsh (and the Clouds’ Matthew Otto also mixed and mastered She-Devil’s new EP). Their new EP is a beautiful exercise in minimalism, and the first single, “Come,” proves that atmosphere and simplicity can often outweigh advanced musicality.


“Jenny Come Home” - Andy Shauf

“Jenny Come Home” - Andy Shauf

Sounds Like: 

Elliot Smith, Wilco

Why You Should Care: 

One of the newest artists on Anti- Records (label of the two influences cited above), Saskatchewan’s Shauf is poised to break out. Andy Shauf’s 2015 record Bearer of Bad News was a breathtaking collection of mostly harsh tales about drug addiction, murder, and the kind of world-weary ne’er-do-wells that would feel right at home in songs by another of Shauf’s labelmates – Tom Waits.


Roadkill Ghost Choir - Keep It Under Cover (EP)

Roadkill Ghost Choir - Keep It Under Cover (EP)

Sounds Like:

One of our favorite bands having fun; Your favorite 80's jams spaced out and given that special Roadkill "touch"; any given Sunday in our basement. 

Why You Should Care:

The guys of Athens, GA's (by way of Deland, Fla) Roadkill Ghost Choir are, first and foremost, music fans. If you follow them on Facebook you can see the ever growing playlist that they listen to in the van. If you've seen them live you know the energy this band brings to their art. Put simply, they're one of the best bands to come up in the past few years, and they're story is just getting started. So what does a band who's opened for Band of Horses, received widespread critical acclaim for their debut album In Tongues and become known as practical warhorse of the touring circuit do in their spare time?

Record a handful of choice 80's covers obviously.


José Gonzalez – “Leaf Off/The Cave”

José Gonzalez – “Leaf Off/The Cave”

SOUNDS LIKE:

Mellow, acoustic singer-songwriter material that still manages to be distinctive. For fans of artists like early Iron and Wine, Alexi Murdoch, or Bon Iver.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:

It’s been nearly eight years since we’ve had a solo release from Jose Gonzalez, who has released two albums with his band Junip in the intervening time. In February, the singer-songwriter released Vestiges & Claws, his third solo album, from which “Leaf Off/The Cave” is taken. Little has changed since those earlier albums; 


White Eyes - "Streetcar Love"

White Eyes - "Streetcar Love"

Sounds Like:

Perfectly perfected psychedelic pop; Jefferson Airplane; Quicksilver Messenger Service; The Guess Who; the sound of a million vans crying out at once; Chunky HQ on any given day.

Why You Should Care:

In the late ‘60s, upcoming Numero Group subjects White Eyes were bringing the sunny sounds of California’s psychedelic-pop explosion to the plains and flatlands of the American Midwest. Anchoring the front of a record that covers the gamut of van rock (there’s a bitchin’ take on traditional blues standard “I Know You Rider”), “Streetcar Love” certainly mines some familiar territory – it’s safe to say, given the similarity to this hit by The Guess Who, that they should be thankful they don’t exist in today’s world of blurred lines and stolen vibes – but in a pre-internet world, how else were fans supposed to get their heady fix?