First Half 2016 Music List


My music list is ever changing, so unlike my reading list for the year I'll more cover new-to-me bands in a general sense and not delve into things on a per-album basis. But of course, it's here if you want to look. Similar to my music list for 2015, it'll change periodically as I add/remove albums (and re-order) so it may not tie up with this post in a few years. I could lock it in place for prosperity, but I won't. So it goes.

New To Me Bands

Since I haven't had a regular commute in a few years, my old standby of listening to the radio for new music is more or less no longer a thing. I could listen to the radio at home, but it turns out I don't miss commercials or fund-raising drives. So, lately it's been a mix of discovery through streaming services (in my case, Amazon Prime and Spotify) and through YouTube. Of course I say “new to me” as most bands have put out multiple albums and toured the country before I'll find them. You may say I'm highly skilled, or whatever the opposite of that might be.

Heartless Bastards is an awesome band name, and I like them. At first I thought the singer was male with a high vocal range, a la Cold War Kids; but it turns out it's a woman. Oops. Their sound veers from lighter fare like the aforementioned CWK into harder rock/punk. If any of that sounds remotely appealing, I suggest checking them out.

Alabama Shakes is one of those bands that I've known about for years but never listened to, primarily because they were everyone's darling band for a bit and I have a kneejerk reaction to things that are popular. Oops, again. They're fun to listen to, and no doubt awesome live. Too bad all my old concert-going friends are married with young families! And concert tickets seem to double in price every year. And now I'm off topic.

Peter Bjorn and John were a band that I initially assumed was a guy called “Peter Bjorn” along with some dude named John. But it turns out that's the first name for three bandmates. Oops, for the third time. I'm not doing well here. I can't say I've gotten into them in a big way, but they'll stay on my streaming list.

Tame Impala is a psychedelic rock band out of Australia, so if nothing else you have to say the first part of this sentence was interesting. They have a track or two that were immediate hooks for me, while most of the rest I'll either let stream or skip depending on my mood. But that kind of sums up psych rock for me. Dudes be a little weird.

Honorable mention: The Cave Singers, The Lumineers, Fruit Bats, Cage the Elephant (any album), Dylan LeBlanc (the song “Cautionary Tale” is awesome)

New (2016) Albums

Sadly this list will be a little incomplete because I'm cheap. If an album isn't yet streamable and costs $15… I'll wait. It was nice in that brief window when new albums cost $5. Instead I'll stream. Enjoy your $0.00001 or whatever you get per play. But I'm not bitter. And yes I'm one of those people that actually still prefers whole albums (both for purchasing and listening).

Andrew Bird's album “Are You Serious” has gotten a lot of play of late from me. He has at least one video with his duet with Fiona Apple that is worth it (and my 2nd favorite track, after the opening “Capsized”). The title track is fun as he throws out some interesting wordplay and language.

Jeff Buckley's album “You & I” is, of course, primarily aimed at people who either are super fans (waves) or didn't even realize he died almost twenty years ago. It's stripped down (him and guitar) with a couple originals. So, it's “worth it” if you'll buy anything they'll throw out there. Which of course I do.

Weezer's white album (you know, the white cover; dude's are clever and just use colors. Including the same one sometimes) is pretty good; classic Weezer.

Dr. Dog's “The Psychedelic Swamp” is a revamp of unreleased material from their beginnings (I wanted to say humble, but I couldn't be bothered to research their origin story). Well worth it, just like all their stuff. And if you like their stuff, check out the band Cage the Elephant. I think you'll like them as well.

Radiohead has their new album out, but I don't have enough listens in yet to have a strong opinion. Ditto for Hotel Lights. And all the aforementioned ones I normally would have already bought out of blind (but inexpensive) loyalty.


Josh Ritter's “Sermon on the Rocks” came out last year and I still play it regularly. Broken Bells’ “After the Disco” was more recently added to my collection, but is played often to make up for lost time.

I have to say I'm still stuck on Old 97s. I alternate between whole albums (really, pick your choice, but generally “Too Far to Care”) and a “favorite tracks” mix. Eventually I'll find someone in the tri-state area who also likes them and wants to see them live.

Every few weeks I go on a kick where I listen to a lot of horns. Trombone Shorty is currently on linked playlist, but really you can pick him (any album), Too Many Zooz, or Lucky Chops. And Galactic, although they don't always have horns. But they are still awesome.

I listened to it back in the day, but finally picked up Jellyfish's 1993 album “Spilt Milk”. It's awesome and well worth it. I don't have a good excuse for not getting it before, especially since I could have bought it used in college (which I did for their first album).

Elliott Smith's self-titled album is on the list, but pretty much at any given time there's a decent chance he's on my playlist queue or his album “Figure 8” is in my car (it's old. it has a CD changer).

I think that more or less sums things up. It's more fluid than books for hopefully obvious reasons, but if anything there's more to talk about. Feel free to reach out if you're curious about any of the bands mentioned, or (even better) have suggestions for things you think I might enjoy.

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