Wednesday, June 1, 2016

So Far So Good 2K16

We are not two, we are one!
Music's important, it seems a necessity. Emotions and creativity intersect through the sounds of our favorite songs. The first half of this year has been pretty damn good. I began the process of dissecting music on a biannual basis back in 2013. I like to get a feel for the albums recorded until June. Then, as in the past, I give a rundown of the records released in the second half of the calendar year. We should digest the soundtracks to our live's thoughtfully. So without further blather, here are my choices at the halfway point. Hello summer.

Cactus Blossoms | You're Dreaming
Release date: January 22
Thanks to The Mississippi, and the talent residing in an artistically nurturing metropolitan, better known as the Twin Cities; The Cactus Blossoms have achieved the constant ebb of old music while  flowing into our modern consciousness (No More Crying the Blues). Tooled with great words, their vocals deliver and harmonize all too well (Mississippi). Their sound can conjure many names of yesteryear if you must mine them (Change Your Ways or Die). It's better in my opinion to just let their timeless rhythm stream over you—it leaves you almost river drunk. They make the most of their AM radio-friendly narratives (listen below).

"Stoplight Kisses"

Santigold | 99¢
Release date: February 26
In many ways this is the antithesis to the above mentioned. Santigold came in and delivered a modern pitch, one I wanted to hear. The hit on this record has a direct message, playful and snappy with confident honesty (Can't Get Enough of Myself). The pace changes from track to track, a good example is (Who Be Lovin Me), featuring one of two guest spots. My personal favorite from 99¢ is the track below (Chasing Shadows). Earlier praise can be found here.

"Chasing Shadows"

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down | Man Alive
Release date: March 4
Get down and stay down, Man Alive moves me. Thao's latest is truly an offering. She serves up incredibly honest tales that can only be summarize as perceptive and personal. Man Alive might be my favorite album thus far. Maybe what I'm about to say is too simplistic, but the main course is the middle of this record. Track five (Nobody Dies) has taken on a completely new meaning for me as of late—it's almost too harsh in its seemingly kind reminder...what to say? There's a type of persistence to this record, it wants to affect you. I identify with the songs, the words, the music. It all works for me. Feeling brave enough to say things, must feel good (Guts). Aided by the rallying of their leader, the band's playing encourages me to partake, to yell along with (Fool Forever). Smashing into me are the lyrics and lullaby of dropping all the bullshit, the effort it takes to tell it like it is (Millionaire).

"Nobody Dies"

Sturgill Simpson | A Sailor's Guide to Earth
Release date: April 15
The overall sound is robust, navigating differently, yet remaining true. A Sailor's Guide to Earth definitely rocks when the time is right (Keep It Between the Lines). Sturgill Simpson has followed up an otherworldly record with another mystifying contribution. I want more. A beautiful cover from my youth is given new life, literally (In Bloom). Sometimes there's no good to cling to, but there is, and he reminds us of it (Brace For Impact). Greasy times call for a different set of rules. He outlines the struggle quite poignantly on the final track (Call to Arms). Sturgill's a good guide.

"Call To Arms" (live)

Kevin Morby | Singing Saw
Release date: April 15
Wavering sounds coax you in on the first track from Singing Saw (Cut Me Down). Lessons come in many forms, there are also warnings, sometimes they're one in the same (I Have Been to the Mountain). Kevin Morby can paint with his words, and this time there's a bit more punch, more heft. Other voices, horns, and an organ's hum smear the edges of his story, a sort of sonic apprehension. I like the images he chooses to share with us on certain cuts (Dorothy). I also feather in some of my own. Connections are made when I hear Kevin Morby's music (Ferris Wheel). I like that.

"I Have Been to the Mountain"

Beyoncé | Lemonade
April 23
Lemonade is everything without being diluted. It encompasses almost too much, but is singular; the message is sharp and honest. It feels as though, she is free. The sound-scape is a cornucopia of genres, swirled cohesively to create visions of reggaeton dance hall (Hold Up), hit them boat horns yo. Then it becomes deep soul and hip hop in one track (Freedom). It's also country (Daddy Lessons). There are elements of rock (Don't Hurt Yourself). And amazing pop power with a helpful sample (All Night). Then there's the beast that Bey dropped at the Super Bowl halftime. "Formation" is its own thing—with that old school Asian sounding string being bent over new school beats. How'd she get away with that show? She's slay'n, just drop'n it harder and more direct, way to be Beyoncé. Lemonade is pure nectar from pain.

Honorable Mention: Lucius | Good Grief - The Jayhawks | Paging Mr. Proust - Margo Price | Midwest Farmer's Daughter - Lucinda Williams | The Ghost of Highway 20

PS. Thanks for tuning in, I know I've been a bit absent recently. Things happen.


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