Tag Archives: 2016 in Review

2016 in Review: EPs

It’s hump day for 2016 in Review! Part three of five lists a handful of EPs that I enjoyed this year:

1. Moses Sumney — Lamentations

moses-sumney

Just as Moses Sumney’s voice can reach up and up, his music seems to find new heights of beauty with each song he releases. I’ll take a choir of looped Sumneys over just about any other vocal group out there.

Moses Sumney — “Incantation” [Spotify/iTunes]

2. Phil Cook — Old Hwy D

phil-cook

What a perfect companion to the outburst of joy found on Southland Mission. This compact set of pensive guitar tunes is great for working, driving, running… anything where you want to turn your active mind off and let the quiet murmurs of your soul bubble up.

Phil Cook — “Old Hwy D” [Spotify/iTunes]

3. Spencer Tweedy — Geezer Love

spencer-tweedy

Apologies for getting all parental about this, but my heart was warmed by Geezer Love in part by the combination of Spencer Tweedy’s voice — how much it sounds like his dad’s — and how he’s managed to make something all his own while building on his dad’s songwriting strengths. That thing Tweedy Sr. does by offering ear-pleasing patterns and then subverting them slightly via structural tweaks and manipulation of phrasing — Tweedy Jr. has it down pat. There’s a wonderful irony at work here: If the style you inherit is dependent on offering variation, you’ll never be a copy of what came before. In “Fawn,” Spencer sings “I want to be what you want me to be/I want to do what you want me to do,” and I can’t help thinking that in being himself, he’s already being and doing what his dad would want.

Spencer Tweedy — “Walking Home” [Bandcamp]

4. Heartracer — Eat Your Heart Out

heartracer

I had an opportunity to write a quickie review of this for RVA Magazine. Here’s a snippet:

Eat Your Heart Out’s literal centerpiece, “I Just Want U,” is an expertly crafted pop ballad that’s a joy to get lost in — lost in the harmonies, the guitar, and in time.

Heartracer — “I Just Want U” [Spotify/iTunes]

5. Thunder Tillman — Jaguar Mirror

Thunder Tillman

From my initial post about Thunder Tillman:

I love how narrative Thunder Tillman’s music is. I was hooked halfway through the EP’s first song, “Exact Location Of The Soul,” in large part because I felt like added elements and changes in mood were advancing a story.

Thunder Tillman — “Exact Location Of The Soul” [Spotify/iTunes]

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2016 in Review: Blasts from the Past

Easing into the numbered lists with Blasts from the Past — the reissues and archival releases I had the most fun with this year.

1. John Prine — In Spite of Ourselves

john-prine

I once found myself outside a recording studio talking to a very large and friendly stranger about how much we both loved “In Spite Of Ourselves,” trading the verses we could remember off the tops of our heads and laughing hysterically. The power of John Prine’s songwriting, y’all. I think about that dude every time I hear the song. I think about you too, Mrs. YHT, just [adjusts collar nervously] not just you. I’m going to stop typing about this now.

John Prine — “In Spite Of Ourselves” [Spotify/iTunes]

2. Allen Toussaint — Live In Philadelphia 1975

Allen Toussaint

The Last Waltz introduced me to Allen Toussaint The Arranger, and Matthew E. White’s interviews and Spotify listening feed helped me get to know Allen Toussaint The Influence, but I hadn’t really met Allen Toussaint The Performer until Record Store Day, when this live set was reissued. Predictably, that part of his personality is like the other parts — charming, entertaining, and close enough to flawless that you find yourself wondering if he ever makes mistakes. (Just a few months later, when I grabbed a copy of American Tunes while in Chicago for a wedding, I got to meet Allen Toussaint The Technician-Historian — he’s pretty great, too.)

Allen Toussaint — “Last Train” (live) [Discogs]

3. Gillian Welch — Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg

gillian-welch

If you buy into the Gillian-Welch-as-self-styled-Southern-person narrative, you’d probably call this album evidence of a crucial turning point in her persona definition. I tend to think we’re all constructs of the people we want to be, with varying degrees of consciousness about the whole deal. Having grown up in Norfolk — large military presence, friends’ families moving away and moving back, not all that rednecky but right near the North Carolina border — I understand how it feels to embrace Southern-ness consciously, selectively, and gradually, and I tend to feel a little defensive when people talk/write about her origin story. It’s weird, and I can’t tell whether I like this Boots album because of or in spite of that defensiveness. Probably a little of both.

Gillian Welch — “Dry Town” (demo) [Spotify/iTunes]

4. Various — Why the Mountains Are Black – Primeval Greek Village Music: 1907-1960

why-the-mountains-are-black

Spooky tunes compiled and analyzed by legendary 78’s collector Chris King? Check. Cover art by R. Crumb? Check. Release party at Steady Sounds with King spinning 78’s from the second floor? Check. Something to play whenever we want to make Greek food and/or remember our trip there? Check.

Kalamatianos” (“Dance of Kalamata”) [Spotify/iTunes]

5. Jack White — Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016

jack-white

[knock, knock, knock] “Hi, I’m here for the alternate version of ‘Carolina Drama,’ and I’m not leaving until I understand the critical plot points.”

Jack White — “Carolina Drama (Acoustic Mix)” [Spotify/iTunes]

BONUS: Bob Dylan — The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert

bob-dylan

I hadn’t planned on buying this, but that giant 1966 box set has been looking more interesting by the day, and a used copy popped up on BK Music’s Instagram feed. I figure this’ll keep the box set at bay. For now.

Bob Dylan — “Tell Me, Momma” (live) [Spotify/iTunes]

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