My Top 20 from 2016

2016It seems my mixes celebrating the music from each year have become less obligatory over the past few years, I’m not going to make amends, but I did enjoy quite a bit of music this year. My wife and I were listening to one of my old “Best of Year” mixes last week as we were doing far more driving than even I prefer and she commented on how good a year that was for music and I thought how every year is a good year for music if you know where to look. This year is no different, some groups I’ve been listening to for a decade or more put out some new stuff and I’ve stumbled across some new ones that have been put on heavy rotation on my Google Play Music playlists. Listed below are 20 favorite tunes from the past year.

  1. Andrew Bird | Left Handed Kisses (with Fiona Apple)
    • Mr. Bird began writing a song about why he doesn’t usually write your average love song, when a second voice kept inserting itself in his writing. I love am a huge fan of the duet and this song is a great combination of voices. (Video)
  2. Animal Collective | Golden Gal
    • I’m hit or miss with this group, but I dig this new tune. (Video)
  3. The Avett Brothers | Ain’t No Man
    • Catchy stomp/clap tune by these folk rockers. If you missed them on Austin City Limits – go watch. (Music Video)
  4. Band of Horses | Whatever, Wherever
    • My favorite album by these guys since 2010’s Infinite Arms. I was thankful Delta chose this as a featured album on our recent Thanksgiving trip to South Korea. I put this on repeat and drifted in and out of sleep – it made me love the album even more. (Video)
  5. Fruit Bats | Absolute Loser
    • This isn’t the voice for everyone, but I really enjoyed their new album. (Video)
  6. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam | A 1000 Times
    • This is a fun combination of artists, and this catchy tune has been on heavy rotation recently, hopefully it’s pop doesn’t lose it’s flavor as time goes on. (Video)
  7. The Head and the Heart | All We Ever Knew
    • It has been fun watching this group grow and create a bigger sound to fill up the larger arenas they play these days. (Video)
  8. Ingrid Michaelson | Hell No
    • This is a fun break-up song, with a great video featuring the Deaf West Theatre.
  9. Kings of Leon | WALLS
    • Probably the song that got the most repeat listens. My favorite songs from these guys are the slow build introspective numbers that sit an wallow in emotive feeling. (Video)
  10. Ladyhawke | Wild Things
    • Coming out of New Zealand, this is a bit more pop than I usually listen to, but I really enjoy this album and it has a great 80’s synth-pop sound, if you hadn’t guessed from the name of the band. (Video – Rollerderby!)
  11. The Naked and Famous | Higher
  12. Pete Yorn | Lost Weekend
    • Another great tune from another great album by Pete. (Video)
  13. Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop | Every Songbird Says
    • Iron & Wine duet album? Yes, please. (Video)
  14. Sara Watkins | Move Me
    • 1/3rd of Nickel Creek, this is her 1st solo album and it’s not quite as bluegrass/banjo-y as her roots would suggest, though on this album that is not a bad thing. (Video)
  15. St. Paul and the Broken Bones | All I Ever Wonder
    • Rock & Soul or Alternative Soul – whatever you want to call it, it’s good. (Video)
  16. Vandaveer | A Little Time Off Ahead
    • Another fun song by these guys, they keep getting better.(Cartoon Video)
  17. Weezer | King of the World
    • I don’t know how they keep putting a hook that I want to listen to over and over again in every album they put out. I really enjoy their newest self-titled album. (Video)
  18. Whitney | Golden Days
    • This has a fun throw-back vibe and sounds to me like a heavy summer evening. (Video)
  19. The Wild Feathers | Overnight
    • How much good mid-tempo rock these days doesn’t have a throw-back vibe. (Video)
  20. Young the Giant | Something To Believe In
    • Catchy up-beat pop rock. This is not so much like me to like something so not-depressing, but it’s good stuff and that’s hard to argue with. (Video)

You can listen to the entire mix over on Spotify, or 8Tracks, or if you prefer you pull up a playlist of all the videos over on YouTube or if you’re as lazy as I am you can just watch them below.

Top 20 from


Dark Was the Night

I’ve previously mentioned Dark Was the Night, though I was rather vague about it then. This is a double compilation album featuring the best in independent music today. Benefitting the Red Hot Organization – an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS. Red Hot was founded on the premise that even without a cure, AIDS remains a preventable disease and music is a great vehicle to raise money and awareness for it. I’ve been enjoying these tunes and these are some great artists and what I was most impressed with was the amount of original music – these songs aren’t just pulled from the individual artists albums. Here is a sampling from the two discs.

Deep Blue Sea|Grizzly Bear
Die|Iron & Wine
El Caporal|My Morning Jacket
Lua|Conor Oberst + Gillian Welch

Lightning Thief

My nephews Ty & Sam got me to read The Lightning Thief, which is the first of five books (Juvenile Fiction) about Percy Jackson & The Olympians. These are some pretty fun books about a kid who realizes he’s really a demigod and this means he’s got some powers which he was previously unaware. It turns out his dyslexia and ADD were really clues he was just a natural born hero. I quite enjoyed all of these books and was glad my nephews told me I had to read them or remain uncool. It was also fun to get a refresher course in Mythology 101. The movie looks to release February 12 with two of the top billed names in ‘Goldeneye’ – Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean and quite a few other bigger names in varying sized roles. The role of Percy will be played by the kid (Loagn Lerman), who did a bang up job as the lead in the TV movie ‘a Painted House’ (Grisham); Christopher Columbus is directing.

Lightning Rod|Guster
Lightning Rod|Jenny Owen Youngs
Arms of a Thief|Iron & Wine

Rather be…Under the Covers

Here are a few covers with their corresponding originals for your Monday listening pleasure. which do you like? original or cover?

Love this song, both versions, I think they both have their place.
Such Great Heights|The Postal Service
Such Great Heights|Iron and Wine

Napolean Dynamite vs. Curious George
We’re Going to be Friends|The White Stripes
We’re Going to be Friends|Jack Johnson

This is a great song, did it need remade?
Boys of Summer|Don Henley
Boys of Summer|The Ataris