2016 Music Recap: Recorded

12 Dec

We can dissect the ins and outs of this year as a whole another time, but for now I’m gonna focus on what I focus on best: the music. And for all its other weird aspects, 2016 was a pretty awesome music year for me, both for getting good things on disc (or data) and for seeing awesome shows. Let’s commence.

The Recorded Good

Albums…yes, I still buy them. Usually via iTunes. I am a very heavy “single” consumer these days, though…like most people who listen to the radio. If I hear it and like it, I’ll usually get the song. If I find myself getting a decent amount of songs from one release, I’ll usually go all in on the album.

Susan Gibson: Remember Who You Are

Any year with a Susan album in it is a magic year, and this one has been one of my favorites since it landed in my earholes earlier this year.  I know I am biased but I am also right. Susan recorded with good friend and all around Buddha Don Richmond, and they took a perfect batch of songs and made them perfecter. In particular, Susan can’t play “Put the Shovel Down” without me actually getting goosebumps and it’s awkward because while it’s one of her most serious songs, I will request it everywhere and bring everyone else in the room down into goosebumpy meditation with me. Don’t miss it. (Also, thanks to Emily Shirley, some of the best album artwork everrrrrr).

Ellie Goulding: Delirium
Technically a late 2015 release, I didn’t get his until I was nearing the live Ellie show in April. The thing she’s proven with her recordings is that she’s an album artist, not just a single dropper. This one picks up where her 2013 release “Halcyon Days” leaves off…almost every track is an earworm for me. She’s a singer-songwriter at heart, but uses beats and rhythm in a fantastic way. Highlights: Something in the Way You Move (above), On My Mind, Codes

Mary Chapin Carpenter: The Things We Are Made Of
It’s always a good year when MCC releases a project, and this one lived up to my expectations. A big old deal was made about Dave Cobb producing, because he’s the “it” Americana producer this year, and that’s great but…it sounds like a Mary Chapin Carpenter album and that’s awesome, so I’m gonna give a big round of applause to Mary Chapin. Some of the best writing you’ll find anywhere. Highlights: Something Tame Something Wild, The Blue Distance, Oh Rosetta

Elizabeth Wills: Every Little Star

I was lucky enough to be in the studio for the birth of this album in January, and even if I didn’t see the love and attention that went into this record, I know I’d still hear it pouring from my speakers. Elizabeth is a healing kind of songwriter to listen to, much like MCC above, and these are some of my favorite songs of hers. Especially check out: Love Come Down and Spinning Circle

Kiiara: Low Key Savage
I bought Kiiara’s EP because I really loved her breakthrough single “Gold,” and all of it is one pop/EDM trip that I have grown to love. One of the critiques of “Gold” is that it’s hard to hear the words and to that I say…but that BEAT. Also that line is “Gold up in my teeth, tastes like money when I speak.”

Lady Gaga: Joanne
Of course, I was excited for a Gaga album. This one is different. Some have called it a country album, and while she’s written with a Nashville hit maker (Hillary Lindsey, who is certifiably awesome) for a couple of songs, I don’t really see this as such. It’s a songwriter album, and there’s still the requisite amount of weird to make it a Gaga album. I was a little sad to lose the Eurodance sound I love from her, I am currently obsessed with Million Reasons, so I guess I’m ok with it all.


Since “one track at a time” is increasingly the way I want to buy music, I thought individual songs needed their own list. Heavy on the pop.

Calvin Harris/Rihanna – This Is What You Came For: T-Swift wrote this and if you listen really close you can discern which “ooo ooo ooo”‘s are hers and which are Rihanna’s. Yes I’m a nerd. I got to hear the solo piano version live in October so that was cool.

The Belle Sounds – Call Out Love
The Belle Sounds – Olivia
The best band in Austin right now FIGHT ME. The songs, the sounds, the harmonies…they sound like their recordings when they play live and that is incredible.

Johnnyswim – Let It Matter: This duo is back and their new album is gorgeous. This song especially gets me, and their melodies are top notch.

Major Lazer + Justin Bieber – Cold Water: Yep, hell froze over and The Biebs made my list. Whatever you think about his pants and his conduct, the kid attaches to a good pop song, usually. He had an especially good year with his own album, but guest spots on other songs sealed the deal. This one is my jam.

X Ambassadors – Unsteady: I know nothing about this band but this song was big and I never got tired of it.

Mike Posner – I Took A Pill In Ibiza: I feel like this one came out last year, but maybe not…anyway it’s big on the Grammy nom list this year. I feel like these are some of the most honest lyrics on pop radio at the moment. In fact, Posner wrote it as an acoustic folk song, and the remix got sucked up into hit radio land and here we are. It’s great.

And here we are, in December. May the 2017 music muses be kind to us.

Next post: the live stuff.

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