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”

Long Time Gone

2014 has started as a swift kick in the pants…but that is no excuse to share amazing music with the world (or just @begt).

I was looking for a video of one of my current favorite songs (see below) and I stumbled on to a pretty amazing site/youtube channel that seems to focus on singer/songwriters and folk-ish style music. The site is Mahogany and is based in the UK. Most of the artists and acts that are featured are from the UK, but not exclusively.

The artist that lead me to the Mahogany Sessions on YouTube is Luke Sital-Singh. You may remember him from a previous post.

Here is “How to Lose Your Life” by Sital-Singh:

He is quickly becoming my go-to singer/songwriter. His lyrics hit my mood, and his voice is reminiscent of Neil Young.

Another band featured on Mahogany, is Frightened Rabbit. This Glasgow based folk band first showed up on my radar when I started listening to another UK folk artist, Frank Turner. Here is “The Woodpile”:

The acts featured by Mahogany are not just indie acts, one of my favorites (have you had enough of them already?), Travis, has also had their time on Mahogany. Here is “Where you Stand” from their latest release. 

And finally, just for @begt 

Gary Clark Jr with “Nextdoor Neighbor Blues”

Jack Johnson “I Got You”

New Music Monday: Travis

In my teens and early twenties I listened to three types of music: gangsta rap, electronic and music from the United Kingdom. During this time period, I was introduced to the band Travis through their song and probably biggest hit in the US, the song “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?” from the album The Man Who. Travis, a four piece band from Scotland is fronted by lead singer, Fran Healy and features Andy Dunlop on guitar, Dougie Payne on bass, and Neil Primrose on drums. In total, Travis has released 6 albums, with their 7th to drop in early August. This album, Where You Stand has already had two singles released, including “Moving” which debuted today.

Some credit Travis with the popularity of bands like Coldplay and Keane who are fellow post-britpop acts. I personally prefer the introspection of Healy’s lyrics to both Coldplay and Keane, and am very excited that they have new music for the first time in almost 5 years.

Travis will be headlining a limited US tour this fall. I am hoping I can see them at their closest show in LA. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform on their Ode to J. Smith tour here in Las Vegas and saw Fran Healy perform songs from his solo release and Travis releases when he opened for Keane in 2010. The show I saw in 2009 is among my top 3 concerts of all time. The band does a great job engaging the audience and you can see that they really enjoy what they do. Fran has to be one of the most humble lead singers of any group, and at times seems like an odd choice for the front man of a band. However, as soon as he starts singing, you immediately know why he is where he is.

Enjoy “Moving” the 2nd single from their album to be released in August 2013.

You will like them if you like: Coldplay, The Fray, Keane.