Very Belated Favorite Albums of 2016 Part 1

Considering that my girlfriend and I were forced to evacuate our apartment last fall due to the sloping of the landscape, I'm sure it hadn't come as a surprise to anyone that the Favorite Albums of 2016 list didn't come to fruition before the end of the year. However, after receiving a recent request from someone in the comments section, I decided to post a posthumous list of my favorites from last year. While this isn't the usual exhaustive list that I have posted in the past, I still hope that you find something on here that perks up your ears.

1) Steve Gunn- Eyes on the Line

On Steve Gunn's latest LP, he manages to mostly keep the song lengths under five minutes, while still packing them with plenty of extended guitar breaks. It's a more punchy, upbeat affair than Way Out Weather, further establishing Gunn as a singer-songwriter who is just as likely to launch into a blistering guitar solo as he is to gently lull you into a trance with his mesmerizing melodies. This is the next logical step for a songwriter of Gunn's caliber, allowing himself to reach a larger audience without sacrificing the integrity of the music.

Ancient Jules and Night Wander

2) Cate Le Bon- Crab Day

I've been closely following Cate Le Bon ever since stumbling upon her fantastic debut Me Oh My in 2009. She has always moved forward with her sound, at times adding unorthodox instrumentation to change up the sound of the final product each time she makes a new record. Crab Day is LeBon's homage to 80's Post-punk and art rock without getting too steeped in nostalgia. Each song is an intoxicating ear-worm patiently waiting to burrow itself into your brain and stick there forever. They range from beautiful ballads to caustic noise, all anchored by Le Bon's captivating voice. If you aren't transported to a special place when listening to the climax of "What's Not Mine," then you might just be beyond help.

Wonderful and What's Not Mine

3) Ka- Honor Killed the Samurai

Those of you who've been regular visitors to Eclectic Grooves will have noticed Ka's name on previous lists. His last two records are must-haves for fans of hip-hop with lyrical substance. Continuing his trend of avoiding the trendy boom-bap beats and party-friendly choruses, the entire focus on Honor Killed the Samurai is on Ka's gritty lyrics filled with so many quotable lines you'll run out of room in your notepad trying to jot them all down. He raps in a gravelly tone, with each bar measured precisely to blend with the ominous score and sparsely placed drum beats in the background.  This record is the equivalent of eating a four-course meal, while most contemporary hip-hop is like eating a happy meal that makes you feel sad.

That Cold and Lonely and $

4) Kikagaku Moyo- House in the Tall Grass

One can only listen to so many Black Angels knock-offs before losing the desire to listen to any more current bands describing their sound as psychedelic rock. When I was just about to jump off the psychedelic bandwagon, I discovered the Japanese band Kikagaku Moyo's sublime album House in the Tall Grass. To simply call the band's music psychedelic would be doing an injustice to them, as so many bands have recently been called psychedelic that the term no longer carries any significant weight. What the band does well is to seamlessly combine the soft with the heavy. Something that most bands aren't able to grasp is how important dynamics can be to the unfolding of a song, but Kikagaku Moyo has mastered this concept. Songs that seem to effortlessly be going along in one lane suddenly switch gears and move into a completely different place without jarring the listener. If you are looking for some new music that does the term "psychedelic" proud, you can't go wrong with Kikagaku Moyo.

Green Sugar and Silver Owl

5) Marisa Anderson- Into the Light

For those living in Portland, Oregon, the name Marisa Anderson has continued to resonate long after the dissolution of the fantastic Evolutionary Jass Band. Anderson, who was the guitar player in the Evolutionary Jass Band for several years, has undoubtedly ventured into new territory with her solo career. Aside from a split LP with Tashi Dorjii, Marisa has released four records prior to Into the Light since 2005. Her style on this record can best be described as desert-soaked American Primitive guitar with a decidedly more mellow vibe than previous records. This is perfect music for riding off into the sunset in the middle of the desert while contemplating the meaning of life.

The Old Guard and The Golden West

I plan to post the second half of this list next week, so be on the lookout for this.


The Swede said…
I'm very familiar with 4 of the 5 titles on the list, but you've stumped me with Ka, a new name to me. I'll certainly check it out though, based on the quality of the other 4. Looking forward to the rest of your rundown.
Jeffrey F. said…
Thank you for this!!
Kevin said…
Hey Swede, thanks for stopping by! If you like hip-hop that's more focused on the lyrics than the beats, this will be right up your alley. Ka really puts a lot of thought into crafting his lyrics, and it shows.
Kevin said…
Jeffrey: Thanks for requesting that I make a belated 2016 list. I hope you saw some things that you dig, as well as some new discoveries. As I said in the intro to this post, the list won't be exhaustive. However, it best encapsulates the music I listened to the most last year. Part two will be coming soon!

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