We’re midway through the year in music and liking what we’ve heard so far. We’re excited for what’s to come, but here at the midpoint, we’re taking pause to talk about our favorite releases of the first half of 2016.
Here’s John O’s picks:
I am not the biggest fan of midyear best-of lists, but I thought it would be interesting to stop and take stock a little bit. First of all, I can’t believe we are halfway through the year already. And, despite the usual death knells being sounded for the music industry, there is more great stuff being released than ever! So, I am grateful for that.
1. Porches: I saw them at Treefort this year, and this album has gotten heavy play ever since. It’s synth-heavy, kind of intimate, like you are eavesdropping on this guy singing to himself in his room through a paper-thin wall. It’s gauzy that way. It’s an eighties sounding record, without sounding archaic. Well, at least the eighties music I used to like.
2. Hayes Carll: This is a masterpiece, by a modern-day master. He’s an heir apparent to Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. The words are heavy, and repeated listening reveals more layers and surprising twists.
3. Elizabeth Cook: Speaking of heavy, this record is a monster. I’ve always been a fan, but she has jumped several levels here, channeling Emmylou and heartbreak. But not giving in.
4. Wax Idols: Another band I loved at Treefort. So much swagger! This touches on glam rock, with gothic echoes, and tons of attitude.
5. Margo Price: There are touches of country and country rock in her record, but it’s unmistakably her songs, and her sound. Memorable, catchy and heart-wrenching all at once. So looking forward to her show at the Olympic in October.
I have to mention a.k.a. Belle.’s I Hear It Now. It’s an EP, but 4 of their songs are worth 10 of most people’s songs. I am not very objective when it comes to their work. I feel very close to it, and to them. The song “Mustangs” brings tears to my eyes. Also, Thomas Paul released Singalongs this year, and I am not very objective about him either. Complex music from a complex writer, thinker and musician. Thomas and Catherine are lifers. They humble me with their talent and genius.