ICYMI Edition: 10 Must-Hear Albums So Far In 2016
Since we’ve reached the halfway point of 2016, it’s time for my traditional mid-year “in case you missed it” column where I pick out some of my favorite picks from the year so far that I want to make sure you’ve given a proper listen to as well as some great new albums that I haven’t written about that you may or may not already be aware of … and if you aren’t, let this serve as your warning!
Before we get to the picks, I should mention that I have a Spotify Playlist that has every single RecommNeds album from 2016 in it. It is updated every week, so not a bad idea to follow along and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my under-the-radar recs (if you dig around, you can probably find links to my playlists of RecommNeds from 2015, 2014, etc.). While we’re at it, I also have a running playlist with my favorite albums from the year. There is some overlap between the two playlists, but enough differences to check them both out. That one is updated every month or so. Finally, last bit of self-promotion, I have a relatively new weekly newsletter that has music recommendations, reviews, a little Nedstalgia and a little bit of this and that. I’d be honored if you gave it a look-see and maybe you’ll find it worth your while.
All right, enough of that, here are 10 worthy albums across a range of styles and genres (something for everyone!) that I’m recommending, not necessarily my 10 favorites (but up there, for sure), just #ICYMI (in alphabetical order).
Melaena Cadiz: Sunfair
I’ve recommended some wonderful women with some wonderful voices so far in 2016, but perhaps my favorite of the bunch is this one from Melaena Cadiz. Literate, storytelling lyrics pair perfectly with light-touched acoustic guitar playing and Cadiz’s beautiful-but-not-too-beautiful voice. Almost every song on here makes me smile even after repeated listens.https://melaenacadiz.bandcamp.com/album/sunfair
Eleanor Friedberger: New View
Eleanor Friedberger has been a personal favorite for a long while, so it’s with much pleasure that I find her getting better with each album. Such a trend would make her latest, New View the best so far. Without losing her shaggy, rambling daydream stories, her music is focused and her band shows the tight-but-loose swagger of a group that’s been playing together for awhile. It all just works. Eleanor is the queen of indie rock and so much more.
Gogo Penguin: Man Made Object
I’ve recommended exactly 65 albums in the first half of 2016, all of them, in my opinion, excellent in their own way. That being said, the RecommNed with the most positive feedback, by far, was this one from GoGo Penguin. Nominally a jazz trio, these Brits take the piano-bass-drum thing into incredibly invigorating directions. Groovy and modern, this is the good stuff, believe me.
Steve Gunn: Eyes On The Lines
I’d have to go back and count, but I’m guessing that Steve Gunn has been featured in this space more than any other musician. Everything he puts out is a rec-worthy gem. Having followed and pushed him on people for so long, it’s apparent with this newest album that Steve has moved on to the next level, close to outgrowing the RecommNeds altogether. His excellent guitar playing here is couched in a set of heady indie-jams that have enough depth to please just about everyone.
The Heliocentrics: From The Deep
If you’re looking for something with a little more boogie, look no further. Another one from the U.K., The Heliocentrics marry serious out-there psychedelic and booty-shake grooves together. The album is called From The Deep and man, oh man is it deep. And funky. Center-of-the-universe kind of shit. If you missed this one the first time around, don’t make that mistake again. Must listen.
Sarah Jarosz: Undercurrent
Like a few others on this list, I’ve been following the career of Sarah Jarosz for a while now. It’s always a pleasure to see musicians you dig continue to put out terrific music. With Jarosz it’s doubly sweet because she is so incredibly talented and her music is filled with such beauty. Her newest is simply gorgeous: lovely songs, a beautiful voice and terrific instrumentation. It’s Americana of the highest degree and yet transcends any genre.
King Gizzard And the Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity
Either you’ve already heard the new album from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and you already know how sick it is, or you haven’t heard it yet. Those are the only two camps when it comes to Nonagon Infinity. Like someone liquefied psychedelic rock and mixed it with adrenaline for injecting straight into your brain, this is one seriously intense and awe-inspiring album. The Lizard Wizard continues to innovate and evolve and we’re all the luckier for it. Each song flows directly to the next (and the last song actually will segue back into the first for a real infinite loop!), make sure you are in a well-ventilated area when listening.
Mythic Sunship: Ouroboros
I am just now realizing that there are two great albums called Ouroboros out this year. Well, this is about the one you maybe missed from another great Danish jam band, Mythic Sunship. If you’ve heeded my past pleas to check out Causa Sui (whose new album is as good as any this year and an absolute must for you jam lovers), these guys are equally as compelling. Across three tracks, these guys find their way to just about every planet in the solar system, psych-rage on Pluto and then leave the galaxy altogether. Goooood shit!
Nonkeen: The Gamble
So much great music coming out of Europe as I’ve featured overseas releases again and again over the first six months of the year. One of my favorite discoveries is Nonkeen out of Germany. As I wrote when I first rec’d it, The Gamble “finds the reunited childhood friends straddling the wall between improv and composition, electric and acoustic, ambient and dance.” It’s in that ideal JamBase-friendly headspace and highly recommended.https://nonkeen.bandcamp.com/album/the-gamble
Woods: City Sun Eater in the River of Light
Woods is a band that continues to put out great album after great album, not to mention a punch-packing live show, that have put them on my short list of favorite bands out there. Each successive effort seems to take the “patented” Woods sound and apply another tasty candy shell on the outside. Here that earthy psych-folk vibe takes on horns and an almost surf/spy 60’s vibe to once again create something brand new and fully engaging. There’s no doubt this will be on my final list of favorite albums of 2016, Woods has done it again… not to put too much pressure on them, but already can’t wait to see what’s next.