2016 in Music

It has been a while here on Sandy Beats….life has a way of getting you distracted with other things. However, music has been a constant for me, and 2016 has been filled with some great albums. Music is most definitely an art, but like paintings, photographs or sculptures I am drawn to those things that can be enjoyed many times over a long period of time and that speak to me on an emotional, spiritual or intellectual level. While I enjoyed some of the top albums that you will find on critic’s lists, I found so many of them as something that was great in that moment, but did not carry on its greatness after the moment had passed. With that in mind, I am not a music critic, I crafted this list based on what I listened to the most and what I remember the most from the year.

  1. Frightened Rabbit – Painting of a Panic Attack
    The desperation in the lyrics and the expansiveness of the sound on this record caught me on first listen. I’ve enjoyed previous efforts from Frightened Rabbit, but this record has spoken to me all year. Seeing the band live at LouFest and meeting three of the members at City Museum(!!) later that day was a live music highlight this year.
  2. The Strumbellas – Hope 
    This one is no surprise as this was my most listened to artist of 2016 (according to Spotify). I first heard the band in 2015, and then realized I had found them just in time for their 2016 release. This record is so full of introspective lyrics and catchy hooks I just could not stop listening. Their performance at Life is Beautiful is one of my top 2 festival performances this year.
  3. The Lumineers – Cleopatra 
    There are times when it seems that albums are made for you at specific times of your life. I feel this way about Cleopatra. Songs about life, loss and love never get old, but this trio has a way of communicating them on such an emotional level. They provided my favorite festival performance of the year. Looking at those who were around me, it was nice to know I was not the only who who shed a tear or two at the show.
  4. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here … Thank You For Your Service 
    This is the newest record on the list, and may have been higher up had it come out earlier. As I tell pretty much anyone who will listen, this is the hip-hop that America needs right now. Amidst the overproduced and under-talented pool that is mainstream hip-hop, ATCQ comes back and seems as fresh as they day the first busted out onto the scene. The songs on this record cover a variety of relevant topics including racism, classism and the President-Elect Trumplethinskin. The first live show of my life featured Phife Dawg (RIP) and to this day I’ve not seen a better MC in person.
  5. John Paul White – Beulah 
    I loved the Civil Wars, probably to the point of obsession. When they split up, I was heartbroken. What they did with their two records spoke to me on a such an  emotional level, I did not know if I would hear that from music again. Well, John Paul White proved me wrong. While I will always miss the Civil Wars, I am so very pleased that JPW released a record that is as raw and honest as the Civil Wars but also very different.
  6. Catfish & The Bottlemen – The Ride 
    I have a renewed faith in modern day britrock after learning about Catfish and Bottlemen a few years ago. These songs are super catchy and have a maturity not seen in the previous album.
  7. The Head & The Heart – Signs of Life 
    This was my most anticipated release of 2016. The Head and The Heart are consistently one of my most listened to bands, and I’d say they are one of my favorite bands. This is very different from their previous two records, but growth and change are good, and I think this album clearly illustrates that.
  8. Young the Giant – Home of The Strange 
    I’ll be honest to say that I’ve been more of a fan of YtG live than I have their studio releases. That all changed with Home of The Strange. Amerika is one of my most favorite songs of the year, and is particularly relevant noting the political changes to the United States. While I won’t say that YtG has not been amazing, I think this record really shows a maturity and sense of strength in whom the group is as a unit.
  9. Grouplove – Big Mess 
    If this record was not on the list, I am pretty sure my Sandy Beats collaborator, BEGT, would end me. Regardless of that, this is my favorite of the Grouplove records, and the songs live with me long after I listen to them. This was also one of my top concerts of the year. Grouplove brings so much passion and energy into their performances. It would be difficult not to like them.
  10. Travis – Everything at Once 
    I dare say that I’ve been a fan of Travis for almost 20 years. I greatly anticipated the release of this album, and enjoy that they are the Travis of my youth (and their own youth) while also growing as a band. This record spawned one of my favorite Travis songs, “Idlewild”.

Honorable Mentions:
Paper Lights – Great Escapes 
Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust 
David Bowie – Blackstar
The Avett Brothers – True Sadness 
Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth 
Drive-By-Truckers – American Band 
Mogwai – Atomic 

In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite songs of the year (not previously featured) on Sandy Beats.

A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People”

 

The XX – “On Hold”

 

Travis – “Idlewild”

 

Young the Giant – “Amerika”

 

Judah & The Lion – “Take it All Back 2.0”

 

The Broods – “Heartlines”

 

MUNA – “Loudspeaker

 

Moby & The Pacific Void Choir – “Are You Lost in The World Like Me”

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The Sounds of Summer

I know that I owe you and the world a wrap up of May. And trust me, I am working on it. But in the meantime, lets talk summer songs. Summer starts on Friday, so what better way to start off right with some amazing tunes for the upcoming season. We also want to know your summer songs… and @begt, @bernard and I are going to share with you our songs of summer.

So here I go…

I know this song came out this past fall, but it screams summer to me. We Are Twin is a an LA based Duo with international roots. Currently they only have a 5 song EP out, but hopefully have more soon. Off of their self-titled EP here is “The Way We Touch”.

Up next is a band that @Begt knows, but I just stumbled on to this spring. New York based electro-rock-ish Ghost Beach combines synths, rock, beach and a little bit of psychedelica to craft some truly unique music. I am excited because they are touring with Cherub this fall and will have stops in both Fayetteville and Las Vegas.  Here is “Miracle” off of their first full-length record, Blonde. If you don’t move around a bit listening to this song, I will question your humanity.

SoCal (OC) based The Colourist have a similar vibe to other SoCal favorites (Family of the Year, Grouplove, the Mowgli’s, etc) but clearly have their own sound. While this song could be called a song of last summer, I’ve only recently heard it, and this is my list, so this is a song for this summer. Here is “Little Games” from their self-titled 2014 release.

We are going to go across the pond for this next one. I was exposed to Lux Lisbon through The Twitter, and am so thankful for it. This Durham, England based 5 piece band has a sound reminiscent of a young Killers, but with a bit more of that English swagger. To be honest, I am a fan of all of their songs I’ve heard, but their new single “Memento Mori” is on my current rotation. I do hope this band catches fire and visits the US in the near the future. Here is “Memento Mori” from their forthcoming full-length Your Heart is a Weapon the Size of Your First.

Last but not least, my favorite Atlanta based outfit, Paper Lights, with a more slower summer evening reflection type song, “Never Let You Go”. I don’t know what it is about this band, but I am just really digging everything they put out. Here is “Never Let You Go” which is currently available on iTunes but isn’t on an album or EP at this moment.

So what are your songs for this start of the summer?

 

 

New Music: Paper Lights

This past week I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. I got food poisoning (I blame Del Taco, don’t judge) and had to call in sick to work. Between bouts of checking my work email and sleeping, I was listening to music and watching music videos. I listened to a lot new stuff, a lot of old stuff and a lot of in between. But one band stood out among all that I enjoyed. That band is Atlanta based Paper Lights. This six member band grew out of a collaboration between musicians who all had other endeavors going on. The band now describes themselves as a “collective” and a family more than a band.

What struck me first about the first song I listened to, “On Your Way”, was the atmospheric nature and the complimentary male and female voices playing off each other. The song felt hopeful, and yet sorrowful all at the same time. I’ve seen the word “cinematic” used to describe their music on other places across the web, and I think that is a good description, but does not really do them justice.

Currently, their incredible EP Caverns is available at electronic outlets include Noisetrade. I highly suggest picking it up. They have a new single coming out in March, and hopefully a full length will soon follow. They do not have many dates posted on their site now, and I hope that changes soon. I’d love to see them on a festival bill or come out west this summer.

Please enjoy, “On Your Way”. I can guarantee you’ll listen to it more than once.

You will like them if you like: Death Cab for Cutie, Churchill, The Fray