In appreciation of music’s true “Screaming Eagle”

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There’s something to be said for listening to a true musician in the house of blues and soul trade their wares with the ferocity of a fire and brimstone preacher.

You see, to me blues music is different from a lot of genres in the way that it relies on feeling. Not that it just simply possesses feeling, as I’m sure you could say for many songs in just about any genre you can wrap your head around. No, I’m talking more about how blues music could sell off and sacrifice every conceivable piece of itself, yet would still have all the tools it needs in just one vocal take to relay to the listener the pain involved in enduring each of those sacrifices. Mainly because the humanity contained in those vocals goes beyond just knowing how to sing on-key or turn a pretty phrase of poetry.

That would be too perfect, coated in too much varnish and veneer. Life is rarely ever all that pretty, and all the best in blues and soul made it to that pinnacle because they each had the vision and the ability to express their emotion as a pure, scratched-raw animal of a thing living in their music. Whether the person you were referencing was as smooth as Otis Redding or rough as Robert Johnson. They didn’t make it because of large figure recording contracts, reality show wins or one good single that had the fortune of enough people hitting the iTunes “download” tab.

Instead, they bled to earn their place at that microphone.

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And that’s where Charles Bradley comes in. His late-in-life musical opportunity didn’t emerge until his early 60’s with 2011’s No Time For Dreaming, and only lasted for a trajectory of three records before his untimely death from cancer last month. Still, Bradley made every mile he had count by pouring the true anguish and joy of his own life into every artistic step he walked here. It takes talent for many musicians to even be considered believable wringing out the same emotion from songs they might sing hundreds to thousands of times on stage. Bradley always seemed to charge right through believable and into open wound though with his trademark electric shriek that helped earn him the nickname “The Screaming Eagle of Soul”.

Bradley’s work is the type of music that doesn’t require an analytical microscope or a Pitchfork review. Rather, think of it as every feeling of emotion you can’t quite phrase lingering in the ether of your mind that words won’t ever quite be able to describe, yet we can all relate to. A good example in that vein is Bradley’s song “Victim of Love”, a song strung together by ramshackle acoustic guitar and wandering backing vocals that lay low and loose as the staging area for Bradley’s earth-scorching lament to love gone and flickered away.

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But regardless of the setting or production choices, Charles Bradley really did possess a set of talents that few others could say they had all in one place. He could croon like a Sam Cooke, hammer in gravelly rasps like Muddy Waters, and emote like James Brown in a way that recalls Bradley’s run as Black Velvet, an impersonator of the Godfather of Soul.

I’ve still only just begun my journey into the run of Charles Bradley, but if you have the time or the attention I would urge you the reader to do the same. Not only because Bradley is a fine example of it never being too late in life to pursue your dreams, but also because he took that chance and didn’t waste a second of it in telling his story. And we could all learn a lesson from that.

So lets keep that story alive and breathing through the power of the music Charles Bradley has left us.

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Ryan makes waves on breakout debut “Currents”

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Andrew Ryan and I have crossed paths many times as our journeys through separate sides of music have progressed. And while I would say that his has been the more interesting route, regardless I’m just appreciative to have played a journalistic spectator to his creative and musical evolution.

And no period in all that time has been more significant for him than the one here today. Since I’ve known him, Ryan has been a drummer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, writer and versatile jack-of-all-trades. But with his debut solo album Across Currents, we find him out of the support role and instead thrust directly into the spotlight.

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And thats not just because his name comes first on the bill, either. With this album Ryan is now the creative center line on the map drawing all the pieces his way, and Currents gently reflects the care of an artist who is very much aware of that. Much like we all do on a daily basis Ryan is figuring it out as he goes along here, but he manages to do so with a carefully enriching level of honesty.

Singing with a voice somewhere in the gentle timbre of an Elliott Smith or Mark Linkous mixed with a twist of slack-rock drawl, Ryan’s vocals are often more musing than momentum-filled. But that’s a very effective style for him, as tracks like “Take Aim” and “City Lights” demonstrate so well. “Out Of My Head” and “Gwyneth” show even further potential for Ryan down that road, as mourning the death of someone close and celebrating the love of his daughter brings out some of the most moving moments this record has to offer.

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And those effects are boosted when they’re brought together by Ryan’s deft hand for production. Where musicians like Smith or Linkous might be more content with tape-crackled landscapes with the ribs brought through, Ryan has a much warmer campfire to pull up a chair to. Currents generously sprinkles in horns, keys, drums, guitars and vocal layers (among other things) to dot the terrain with constant levels of shifting interest. On many occasions I found myself doubling back to a song just to catch a fragment of saxophone or winking of piano or harmonica that managed to sneak a cameo into the arrangement.

In a way, sneaking in is the best thing that Across Currents does. The tone of the record may not hit you on the first listen, but thats the thing about art built around introspection: it doesn’t just reveal itself after a few minutes. As a recovering introvert myself, this kind of storytelling takes time to reveal but means a lot if you just make the time to sit and listen to it.

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Its also the type of storytelling that can be very difficult to willingly tell (especially publicly), and for that I give Ryan a lot of praise.

He’s created a fine start to what I hope is a long solo career still waiting to be heard.

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For more, visit andrewryanandthetravelers.com. Photos courtesy of the site. 

Phan uses “Fear” to succeed on stellar latest LP

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Fear is the Teacher.

Those are the first four words to greet you when discussing emerging singer-songwriter Ben Phan’s latest LP. The phrase is the title of the album, but also in some way acts as the mission statement for it as well.

Phan has described the album as a collection of his own varied fears, and that is a truth this record upholds quite emphatically. The emotional tenor of Teacher is a skillfully introspective landscape that gazes thoughtfully at the up’s and down’s of worries of the day to day in human life. The record has all the folk-side campfire warmth of the Fleet Foxes, matched by a sense of energy and camaraderie similar to Old Crow Medicine Show or early-day (AKA: best day) Mumford and Sons.

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The genuine honesty of the album’s storytelling is as equally genuine as the chemistry Phan has with the musicians crafting with him in the studio. The group sounds seamless as they bob and weave through bluegrass jangle, ramshackle gypsy waltz, soft-hearted folk balladry and every stop of the train in between. The time signature shifts on tracks like “Beast of Desire” and “No Pain” alone are an impressive display of musicians riding a chromatic wave together in lockstep, no easy feat by any means.

Gazing further into the arrangements, one of my favorite colors spread onto the canvas is the consistent presence of Molly Barrett on the fiddle. Ordinarily, I feel the instrument is often used as a background appetizer in music and less of the main course. On Teacher however it has the chance to flourish, one moment seizing the terrain with grateful strokes before being able to hover between something I can only describe as Kentucky get-down and Classical reserve.

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But ultimately, this record boils down to the beauty of what Ben Phan has done here. You could chalk that up to instrumentation, the words behind the beat, the production in the mix, but in the end… there’s undeniable soul wrapped into this album’s pores. To begin to tap into that, fast forward to the end of Fear is the Teacher and its closing track “Be Still My Beating Heart”.

There are a lot of sights to see before you get to the end, so by no means should you skip those chapters for long. But “Heart” deserves special mention here, for many reasons I won’t be able to explain with entirety. Suffice it to say, with it’s plain-hearted richness and layered harmonies stripped back to one of Phan’s most stirring vocal declarations… the song will leave you in shivers.

But enough from me. Go check this out on http://www.benphanmusic.com, and start writing your own mental stories.

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(Photos courtesy of benphanmusic.com) 

 

 

Calhoun raises haunting “Phantom” into life

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To my recent memory, few musicians have truly captured the spirit of ethereally drawn emotional agony quite as close to the bone as indie songstress Kohli Calhoun.

Calhoun had already snagged my interest earlier this year with her prior single “Take Me Away” and its ability to ruminate on profound emotional discomfort with a Regina Spektor knack for wrapping it in brightly fragile pop. Her latest single “Phantom” takes that concept and walks off down a dark hallway full of whispers with it. The feeling is still familiar, but now its filled with a greater desperation of yearning vocals, swirling synths, heartbeat taps and an ominous tape player slink worthy of a St Vincent track.

The video for “Phantom” brings that internal dissonant chaos to visceral life in the form of a woman moving through a forest with a primal, almost seizured level of intensity. It boils the song down to emotion rather than wordplay, which is where “Phantom” seems truly meant to thrive the most.

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If Calhoun’s latest line of music continues to explore the depths of this musical headspace, I look forward to seeing where the rollercoaster of her thought will bend to next. The journey certainly won’t be an easy one, but it is a rare gift on Calhoun’s part not to just sing but to sing with her whole heart poured into every note.

“Phantom” doesn’t just stand out because its a strong single. It stands out because its almost uneasily direct in how it expresses itself. Not because its a Whitney Houston ballad from The Bodyguard and this moment called for something sad. Rather, it breaks down the finer details of what makes that sadness exist in the first place.

And in some way that imperfection, is sometimes the most perfect thing to hear.

Grade: A

For more: Visit kohlicalhounmusic.com

A note on a side project…

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So as I made brief mention of in a prior post, I haven’t had the time I might like to pursue writing about music and the musicians who tell it lately because of my immersion into radio. Its made for a busy life and not a lot of time to talk about this kind of stuff.

With one exception.

I have launched an arts and culture segment for my radio station called The Arts Beat where I get to talk about subjects like music, theatre, art and so much more I’m still planning to do. The stuff doesn’t always revolve around music (though it still gets the lion’s share of the time), but it shows some more of my versatility and I’m happy to have that out there.

So check these out, enjoy them (they’re only about a minute long each), and keep checking for a new one each week. There’s even a guest appearance from X Ambassadors keyboard player Casey Harris.

Still not sure how I made that one happen.

Check it out here

Now introducing… The Interview Series!

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So as you may have noticed, my presence here on this website has been minimal at best for a bit now. And while I hope to slowly change that over time, a big reason for this has been a greater launch of my life into the world of radio as a news reporter and broadcaster.

Its led to a lot of great opportunities to both hone and enhance my skills (which I hope to start utilizing here soon enough). What it has also done is allow me to have a greater realm of access to recording equipment and new things I can bring to On The Back Edge of the Beat.

So lets start with this new segment, which I’m calling The Interview Series! Much like the pieces I’ve done here in the past, the focus will still be on the music of underground and indie musicians. In this case though, we’ll be personally discussing their craft, new music, background, and most other notable stuff under the musical sun.

For this first volume I had the privilege of interviewing the lovely Talay. Her recent self-titled EP has been a big hit in my earbuds and car radio, so when the chance came to snag her for a phone interview I was understandably pretty excited. Having already reviewed her EP (which you can read here), I was glad we could dish out more on the new music, Talay’s writing process, what’s on deck for her next EP and a whole hell of a lot more.

Enjoy and stay tuned for more of these in the future!

Pop rock roars with life on smashing “Talay”

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Break out your headphones or roll down your windows, because one of the most anthem-filled EPs of 2017 has arrived.

And its made its way to the world in the form of Megan Talay’s 2nd album, simply entitled Talay. If that (self-titled) album title is meant to indicate a greater ownership of the sound of these songs, it leaves one hell of an impression burning in its embers.

While Talay’s debut Piece By Piece was certainly a strong beginning start, it was more of a creamy Ani DeFranco center surrounded by an acoustic coating. Talay instead rips up that formula and replaces it with spastic electric guitars, brilliantly cutting, lip curled like a punk rock heroine lyrics, and a sense of constant crowd-surfing spirit thats more than worth a few stage dives.

Talay is essentially the all night party living next door to a rave. Even the initially-drifting “I Hope Your Band Goes Nowhere” groundswells into a belting riff-roaring growl of taunting defiance against a douchebag ex-boyfriend (maybe the same charming percussionist from prior romper “Drummer of the Band”). The album fluently demonstrates Talay’s proficiency for early to well into the-2000’s pop rock, embodying the guitars of Prince’s final all female band 3rdeyegirl and the vocal twistings of a revival straight out of Josie & The Pussycats or The Runaways.

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Talay manages to channel the heart and earworm choruses of those girl power outlets into one of the best rock EPs of the last several years. And not because it requires the technical proficiency of a Fleet Foxes album being reviewed by Pitchfork. Music is not a complex animal that requires a thesis statement.

Sometimes, the best music is all about feel. And Talay has it all the way to her “Parent’s House” and back again.

Grade: A

Songs To Download: “Parent’s House”, “I Hope Your Band Goes Nowhere”, “City”

Listen Here: http://www.talay.bandcamp.com

Talay brings alt-punk jamfest to “Parents’ House”

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I was first introduced to Megan Talay’s music over a year ago when her Piece By Piece EP landed directly in my lap courtesy of Megan herself. The New York City-area singer-songwriter immediately had all the earmarks of well-honed acoustic pop with a hearty dosage of capable songwriting to back it up.

And while I was a big fan of Piece by Piece at the time, there was a part of me that was looking to see more from Megan. Like that wasn’t the entire picture fully formed just yet. And eventually I began to see more the more I followed her work, though what eventually riveted me the most was anytime Talay touched an electric guitar. Whether it was jamming out to Prince or punk, the girl had some serious shred skills that didn’t quite manifest themselves on the quieter songs. I began to listen for more Joan Jett instead of Ani DeFranco.

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Then along comes Parents’ House, Talay’s latest single and what feels like a wish granted. Inside are plenty of well-muscled electric guitar workouts bumping and grinding off one another in what feels like a bounce house battle between Weezer, Green Day and prime Avril Lavigne with just a dash of No Doubt-era Gwen Stefani. From a lyrical perspective Parents’ House feels straight out of the River Cuomos section of tongue-in-cheek with its nod to the struggle of the average millennial still living at home with their parents. I know I had to nod along with more than a few of the comparisons, and even though living at home is quite common these days I felt like it was a genius topic for a song that’s SO easily relatable.

Parents’ House is not only an addictive party banger of a song, it has hooks for miles in a Buddy Holly-esque runtime of righteous girl power that will feel over before it even begins. In a time of so much serious, this is pure unadulterated happy and we need that not only for rock n roll’s sake, but for the sake of our sanity as well.

Go pick this one up. You will NOT regret it.

Grade: A

Listen to the new track below!

https://myspace.com/article/2017/3/7/talay-parents-house-premiere

2016’s best… in March

I know, I know it’s a little late in the game at this point for a Best Of albums list as we’re several weeks into March of 2017. I’m still so shocked by where the time is gone that I initially typed February into the title before I realized my mistake.

But since my last post, I feel like it’s time to do some catching up and to broadcast many of the thoughts I’ve had about the best of music from the last year. I get a lot of time to listen to albums these days since I’ve started working as a full-time news reporter with an equally full-time commute to match it. So it goes without saying, there’s certainly a lot of time for thinking.

But without further ado, let’s get into it. First up…

Honorable Mention: Run The Jewels, Run The Jewels 3

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RTJ’s latest only gets an honorable mention on this list as it’s technical wide release occurred in January of 2017. The reason it gets a mention though is, as they’ve done in the past the duo of Killer Mike and El-P dropped their latest for free early on their website in 2016 as a “Christmas Fucking Miracle” to hip hop fans everywhere.

Not only did it make for a great gift for (some) of the whole family, but in a year marred by the passing of many beloved cultural figures and a Trump presidency it couldn’t have emerged at a more needed time. RTJ 3 is a mesmerizing, unrelenting sledgehammer of an album that’s political without being preachy, fiery with a greater maturity, and as cohesively strong as anything they’ve done to date.

Plus, despite the maturity it still knows when to be an absolute smartass. You’re gonna be seeing this one on the 2017 list no question.

10. Brent Cobb, Shine on Rainy Day

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In the last few years, super-producer and rising Nashville music icon Dave Cobb has had a massive string of hit albums with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Anderson East, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and the brilliant country music compilation Southern Family. Well if you listened thoroughly enough to Family, you might have also heard Cobb’s musician cousin Brent.

Much like Stapleton, Brent Cobb was originally more widely-known in music circles for writing songs that went on to large scale success with other country music artists. And also similar to Stapleton’s 2015 smash TravellerShine on Rainy Day is Cobb’s chance to finally shine the spotlight on himself.

Rainy Day is subtle, melodic, heart-wrenching and just oozes goddamn talent. Cobb hits the ground running from the first track, and whether he’s solo or going with a full band he’s unstoppably one of the best things happening in country music today.

Whatever he sings, I believe in every note of it.

9. Bonnie Raitt, Dig In Deep

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Listening to Bonnie Raitt is like going home again or sitting down for lunch with a long-unseen friend. Not just in the sense of reconnecting to the comfort of her music or the place it’s had in my life, but also in just how timeless her style and voice has remained despite the fact she’s now well into her late 60’s.

Even after 40 years of making music, Raitt still shreds like a Zen blues master on the guitar and sends chills up my spine with her husky rasp of a vocal. She hasn’t lost a step, and Dig In Deep just emphasizes that at every turn. Whether it’s covering INXS with “Need You Tonight”, breaking out the full blues brash, or bringing it down to the heart and soul of “Undone” or “The Ones We Couldn’t Be”, Bonnie Raitt is just as much a force still to be reckoned with as any time in her history.

The blues is still alive and well.

8. Butch Walker, Stay Gold

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Butch Walker first broke into my consciousness during a joint tour with Ryan Adams in which Butch was promoting songs that later became one of my favorite albums of 2015 Afraid of Ghosts. I felt like Ghosts showed Walker in a more vulnerable position, ready to ditch the uptempo rock n roll abandon in favor of a singer songwriter who could let his songs speak without a guitar workout to guide them.

And while Stay Gold does return to Walker’s more familiar center, it’s yet another reminder of why this is what Butch does best. Songs like the title track, “Irish Exit” and “East Coast Girl” are just unhinged levels of gleeful fun, while “Descending” with country starlet Ashley Monroe still shows the songwriter Ghosts put such an emphasis on.

Cause you gotta stay gold, pony boy.

7. Bon Iver, 22, A Million 

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Justin Vernon’s mysteriously titled (and mysteriously coded) return to the spotlight as Bon Iver after 5 years away on 22, A Million may have been as equally welcomed as rejected depending on who you ask. The record found Vernon taking the more experimental notions of prior release Bon Iver, Bon Iver and letting it become the main focus.

Gone were most of the guitars and folk-rock sentiments, replaced by an almost Kanye West-like lean towards synths, samples and a sense of struggle in one’s own skin. It takes time to grow into and listen to all the layers on 22, but I can tell you with the right ear and some patience it makes sense. Added kudos to Vernon for sampling one of the great under-appreciated Irish folk singers Fionn Regan on this record too.

6. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

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When A Tribe Called Quest rolled out their first record in 18 years in 2016 with We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, I was immediately intrigued enough to listen given the musical backstory as well as the hype behind their long-awaited return. As an utter newcomer still to both the rap and hip-hop world I was not at all familiar with Tribe’s musical past, but the story of it all was hook enough for me. And the hooks didn’t stop there.

We Got It From Here… keeps up hip hop’s reputation as music’s most blunt purveyors of truth. Whether political (“We The People”, “The Space Program”), pointed (“Kids”, “Melatonin”), or sentimental (“Lost Somebody”), folk music has a long way to go to reclaim its Woody Guthrie roots from the genre that’s taken Woody to the next level of protest.

Oh, and don’t miss “Solid Wall of Sound”. Wrapped in a slinky groove, an Elton John sample from Benny & The Jets and sinuous rapping lines it’s one of many standouts in this standout of a return.

5. Brian Fallon, Painkillers

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Following The Gaslight Anthem’s 2014 release of Get Hurt, the album received a less than stellar reaction from fans and critics. At one time my girlfriend and I claimed we were the only people who actually liked what that record did. But still, it raised the question: did frontman Brian Fallon and the rest of the band need some time apart?

Well take time apart they did, and that led to the Butch Walker-produced Fallon solo album Painkillers. It felt like the most faithful pursuit of Fallon’s original aborted solo effort with Molly & The Zombies, as well as a truly honest expression of the loss of Fallon’s marriage that didn’t quite hit an emotional resonance on Get Hurt. And while the Springsteen elements of Gaslight still shine through (A Wonderful Life”), a Lou Reed “Pale Blue Eyes”undercurrent of gentle ambition flies here too.

I think it was the best career choice Fallon could have possibly made for himself.

4. BJ Barham, Rockingham

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Speaking of Bruce Springsteen, American Aquarium frontman BJ Barham took a slice of Springsteen’s American storyteller dirge Nebraska and adapted it in 2016 into his own realm of lovers and losers on his first solo record Rockingham. Unlike Brian Fallon and The Gaslight Anthem, Rockingham is less of a need for a break and more for a switch of tone.

It’s hard to imagine this aspect of Barham’s creativity meshing with his traditionally country-rock outfit American Aquarium, so what better place to let these songs breathe? As solo tracks songs on Rockingham are free to tell their stories with vague tracings of guitars, bass, banjo and brush drums giving the words their distance. It gives Barham free reign to become his characters and live out their stories for you in his world-weary growl, and that’s the best place to live within this record.

Its true folk music doing devastatingly strong work.

3: Hard Working Americans, Rest In Chaos

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I still consider Todd Snider to be one of the greatest artist recommendations I’ve ever been randomly granted. The lengthy catalogue of brilliantly strong music is one thing, and the on stage stories are CERTAINLY another (there’s quite a book that can fill you in on that in fact). But what I’ve also really enjoyed is Snider passing me an invitation into another genre of music: jam bands.

Of course Dave Matthews Band has helped me with that a lot already, but the Snider-helmed Hard Working Americans are right up there as well. With heavy hitters like Neal Casal, Dave Schools and Duane Trucks in tow, HWA went from a one-off covers album project debut into a full fledged, hard-hitting followup in 2016 called Rest In Chaos. This album not only rocks and knows how to jam, but are some of the closest lyricisms that touch on the collapse of Todd Snider’s recent marriage.

I mention it because I feel it fuels a greater passion here, and Rest in Chaos reaps the benefits.

Adele, 25

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Now TECHNICALLY the album 25 had already come out by late November 2015, but it feels like Adele has remained such a part of our musical consciousness through 2016 (and into 2017) that she’s worth including one more time. Some might say that 25 is weaker than her prior albums, but I beg to differ towards the opposite. 25 not only continues to flash Adele’s startling consistency in her recorded work, but shows that she’s capable of adapting herself in ways that continue to adhere to the roots of her style.

And true, while I could see Adele play a simple instrument and croon beautifully on every record every time out, variation is the key after a point. Some fans might not see eye to eye with that, but I feel like 25 is her most appealing record to date that’s rife with hooks, piano lines, smoky sentiment, and that signature voice that could turn water into wine and back again.

And “When We Were Young”… one of the best songs in her whole catalogue. Take that to the bank.

1. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

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Much like several of the other artists I covered on this list, we conclude this Top 10 for 2016 with yet another musician who experimented by taking their sound to the next level. And no one better exemplified that within this past year than Sturgill Simpson and his Grammy-nominated record A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.

Written on behalf of Simpson’s still newly-born son, Sailor’s Guide feels like an almost voyeuristic look at a father trying to prepare his son for the world he still has yet to experience. And I only say voyeuristic because it does feel like such a deeply personal reveal in a style that travels far from Simpson’s country rock familiars and lands deep into string sections and horn fills. And while some fans of Simpson have expressed relief to see him ending this period of his music, I’m just glad we got to witness how truly versatile Simpson is as a musician.

Look no further if you wish to see one of Nashville’s truly great last of the outlaws. And not at all a tough choice for this year’s #1 slot.

 

Third Class Gets Real On “Virginia” Double LP


Making a double album is a downright arduous task in modern music today. Lengthy epics from pioneering artists in rock, soul and so many other genres in the decades past have been replaced by one nagging fear:

The attention span of the modern audience. 

In an age where digital is still king while vinyl/physical media churns on in the shadows, the value of an album as a whole has been reduced to singles and sound bites in the modern audience’s ear. And sadly many artists have followed suit, releasing just enough quality for plenty of radio play and iTunes downloads while the material as a complete statement tends to suffer. 

This has worked so well in fact that you’ll often find once overly prolific musicians censoring themselves just to fit into the mold. And while I can understand that in some sense, I think it creates too much overthink and not enough bravery to just create.


Thankfully the lads in Third Class have disregarded this stereotype on their latest LP Virginia’s Playlist. The Ohio-based group has created an unashamedly honest patchwork quilt of subjects on this record, ranging from birth, death, childhood, love (and falling out), simply adorned poetry and the innocence of just experiencing what the world is all about once you move out past your front door. 

Accompanied by spare arrangements of piano, ramshackle electric/acoustic guitar, backing vocals, hand claps and ever-shifting ambiance, lead man Lee Boyle and co. take charge as the musical element in what feels like a many act play. At times on this one Boyle reminds me of Weird Al Yankovic when he appeared on the Ben Folds album Songs For Silverman. Capable of the comedic or what some might expect to immediately be lighthearted, when in fact he’s much much more. 

And much more is what’s needed when you feel so personally embedded into the concept of Virginia. It’s less of an album at times as much as a scrapbook of tapes, aforementioned poetry, personal statements and a woven tapestry of spoken word against song that creates more context than the music alone could ever do by itself. 


It almost feels voyeuristic to the listener in a way without pushing that envelope too far, yet is just as beautiful for all that it reveals. It makes me feel the memories being replayed as though I were there, while almost making me sad that I wasn’t able to truly live them. 

Say what you will about the YouTube/Facebook era of overexposure, I know I would have enjoyed recording on tapes for no other benefit than my own amusement. And there’s something about that type of nostalgia that rings more true than Keyboard Cat any day. 

In short, I give Third Class a lot of praise for this one. They weren’t afraid to make a double album. They weren’t afraid to make their statement regardless of what culture says is the “popular” way of doing it. 


They just made the most true sounding, human mix tape I’ve heard in a long time. That type of humanity could go a long way in a musical world much too hung up on the same dried out process of just earning a buck. 

Do what drives you. And make it as first class as Third Class does here. 

Stream Virginia’s Playlist now over on http://www.thirdclass.net, and make sure to follow the band on social media!