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Top 50 Songs Of 2016: Part 1

November 28, 2016

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Hey there!  It’s time to start running down my favorite songs and albums (look for this list next week) of the year.  Below you’ll find Part 1 of my Top 50 Songs of 2016 list.  It (and every part that’s coming after today) consists of tracks that I found myself frequently revisiting throughout the year.  Simple!  Enjoy.

PS – One thing is a little different this year – I will not be including any Austin acts in this singles list.  I’m going to be doing a two-part year-ender via 101X Homegrown (my radio show) that will detail my favorite Austin tracks.  Look for Part 1 to air on 12/11, and then Part 2 on 12/18.

PPS – I got a ton of take down notices, so you’ll have to listen via Spotify.

50)  :Sia – Waving Goodbye (Produced by Diplo):  When I saw (and loved) The Neon Demon, I found myself really digging this anthemic number as it blasted over the credits.  Oddly enough, I didn’t even realize it was by Sia until I got home and looked it up.

49)  :Big Baby D.R.A.M. – Cute:  This is such a silly song by D.R.A.M., but it’s so damn catchy that I’ve been unable to escape it for most of 2016.  Just let it take you.

48)  :Polica – Lately:  If you ask me, this is the best song off of Polica’s latest album, United Crushers.  It’s hazy and sparse and the line “seems like we’re too comfortable in love” is a sharp one.

47)  :Father John Misty – Real Love Baby:  Whether you’ve ever fully boarded the Father John Misty hype train or not, it’s hard to deny just how charming this track is on all fronts.

46)  :Pity Sex – Bonhomie:  The boy/girl vocals in this Pity Sex track are so on point.  As is the 90s-lean it carries.  And well, everything else about it.

45)  :Screaming Females – Skeleton:  I sure do love me some Screaming Females.  This track was rightfully cut from 2015′s Rose Mountain, but I’m glad to have it now – it’s unhinged and great.

44)  :LVL UP – Hidden Driver:  You could criticize this LVL UP effort as being too Neutral Milk Hotel-esque, but that would be silly.  It’s just a great song.  Turn it up.

43)  :Forth Wanderers – Slop:  This one from Forth Wanderers has a meandering arrangement and lyrics loaded with obviously-youthful musings – “I love too much/Too hurt this bad” – but I dig it.

42)  :Frightened Rabbit – Death Dream:  I loved Frightened Rabbit, then I veered away, and now this song has brought me back to them.  That’s how stellar it is.

41)  :The Blow – Think About Me:  There’s an early-era Rilo Kiley vibe on display here that I’ve been caught up since I first heard this song.  Thanks for that, The Blow.

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Quickdraw: Solids, The Coathangers, Bleached, Purple, Frightened Rabbit

February 22, 2016

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Solids – Blank Stare:  “YES!”  That’s what I exclaimed when this new tune from Solids slid into my inbox.  The sound here is thick, but the song itself is still hooky.  I love it.  The Else EP is due out April 15 via Topshelf/Dine Alone.

:The Coathangers – Nosebleed Weekend:  Here’s the title track off of The Coathangers’ upcoming LP.  It’s not quite as snarly as the band usually is, but there’s still enough attitude on display to get your week started right.  Nosebleed Weekend is due out April 15 via Suicide Squeeze.  See them on June 5 at the Mohawk.

:Bleached – Wednesday Night Melody:  While I’m slightly weirded out by the way this song starts off like a mix of Beverly Hills and I Love Rock N’ Roll, I like that Bleached are trying to expand their sound.  Welcome The Worms is due out April 1 via Dead Oceans.

:Purple – Bliss:  I really love this pop rock gem from the Texas-based Purple.  Good luck getting it out of your head.  Bodacious is due out April 1.

:Frightened Rabbit – Death Dream:  What a wonderfully moody track this is.  I think it has me ready to get back to fully paying attention to Frightened RabbitPainting Of A Panic Attack is due out April 8 via Canvasback/Atlantic.

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Stream This

November 8, 2013

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The SOTO inbox is always full of cool stuff that never gets to see the light of day on the actual site, and I’d like to change that.  So, every Friday I’ll be posting the best album streams and videos that were sent my way during the week.  Take a scroll and find something worth remembering.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

David Bowie – The Next Day Extra
M.I.A. – Matangi
Latryx – The Second Album
Mount Eerie – Pre-Human Ideas
Eminem – The Marshal Mathers LP 2
Lady Gaga – Artpop
Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Co. (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Flume – Self Titled
Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
Nguzunguzu – Skycell
Vaura – The Missing
Eraas – Initiation
Chris Garneau – Winter Games
Cold Beat – Worms EP
Caspian – Hymn For The Greatest Generation EP
ILLS – Hideout From The Feeders
Vaadat Charigim – The World Is Well Lost

VIDEOS

Thao And The Get Down Stay Down just put out The Feeling Kind EP on Ribbon Music.

Chvrches’ The Bones Of What You Believe is out now.  They play Stubb’s on November 22.

Ty Segall’s Sleeper is out now on Drag City.

Yuck’s Glow And Behold is out now on Fat Possum.

Frightened Rabbit’s Pedestrian Verse is out now on Atlantic Records.

JD Samson & MEN’s Labor is out now.  They play Cheer Up Charlie’s tomorrow night.

These New Puritans put out Field Of Reeds this week via Infectious/PIAS.

White Sea recently released the They Don’t Know single.

Tim Kasher recently released Adult Film.

The HairsCall Me Mista is out now.

Owen’s L’Ami du Peuple is out now on Polyvinyl.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin’s Fly By Wire is out now on Polyvinyl.  They play Holy Mountain on December 7.

Night Beds’ Country Sleep is out now on Dead Oceans.

Califone’s Stitches is out now on Dead Oceans.

Weekend put out Jinx earlier this year via Slumberland.

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SXSW 2013 Picks (Jennifer)

March 6, 2013

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Even though I’m a 16 year veteran of attending SXSW, I’m reluctant to do much in-depth research for fear that my head will cave in from information overload. The festival is certainly no longer limited to the latest buzz bands. I admit I’m looking forward to seeing bands that are festival veterans and maybe even a rock n’ roll legend or two. I also willingly break the unofficial rule for Austinities by checking out local band showcases. I know I can see them throughout the year, but why is it so wrong to support them during SXSW?

I’ve selected five Austin bands and five non-Austin acts worth checking out next week.

Don’t forget your earplugs, wear comfortable shoes, and drink plenty of water.

Hundred Visions

I had heard of Austin’s Hundred Visions a couple of years ago, but I didn’t become a fan until seeing one of their Austin Free Week performances in January. It was full of energy, passion, and fun. Their sound is an irresistible blend of late 70s power pop and early 80s British post punk. You can catch their official showcase on Friday, March at Metal And Lace. They’re also part of the lineup for SOTO’s day party, DC vs Austin, on the same day. Just in time for the festival, the band has released a video for the track Where Do I Sign?.

The Ugly Beats

A longtime Austin favorite of mine is The Ugly Beats. Their sound combines 60s British invasion, garage rock, surf, punk, and psych, and their shows turn into instant dance party. They’re a total blast and one of the best bands in town. They play their official showcase as part of the Get Hip Records lineup at the Parish Underground on March 16.

The Calm Blue Sea

Local quintet The Calm Blue Sea create a powerful sound that (pardon the oceanic reference here) washes over you – at once it can be gentle and calming but it can also take your breath away as it crashes over you. They’re part of an excellent label showcase by Austin based label Modern Outsider that includes other quality Austin bands such as Ume, The Black and White Years, My Jerusalem, and Mirror Travel (formerly Follow That Bird!).

Residual Kid

Don’t call them a kid band and don’t call them a novelty band. The members of Austin trio Residual Kid may be young, but I’ve been to shows where older bands that play after them have asked aloud onstage, “How do we follow that?” They’re loud, brash, and maybe even a bit messy. They’re not afraid to just go for it and have a lot of fun onstage while melting faces of all ages in the audience. They’re playing plenty of day shows and you can check out their official showcase on March 16 at The Palm Door.

Grape St

Grape St are about to release their debut album, A Date With You, on the local start up label Austin Town Hall Records. Their infectious garage rock stompers make for a raucous live show. They have two festival showcases – March 13 at Cedar Street Courtyard, followed by another showcase later that night on the Hotel Vegas patio.

Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock is a longtime SXSW veteran, but this is not an artist who repeats himself. I’m always intrigued to see him perform live. His lyrics and stage banter have a stream of consciousness quality that range from thought provoking and biting to humorous and flirtatious. I’m sure that “quirky” and “odd” have been used to describe him and his songs, but those words don’t do him justice. Just listen and dig a little deeper to appreciate the enigma that is Robyn. His official showcase is on March 14 at the Continental Club. He’s also part of the all star tribute to the late Brent Grulke at the Austin Music Awards.

Ash

I’m pretty sure I did a little happy dance when I learned that the Ireland band Ash was returning to SXSW. I have a fond memory of watching them play a day party from a far distance in 2006; the band could see the far off crowd watching and dedicated Renegade Cavalcade to us. In the past couple of years, the band has played some limited tour dates in the US, but it’s been seven years since they’ve played in Austin. In late 2012, the band marked its 20th Anniversary with the release of the Ash A-Z Series, and they’re playing additional US dates in support of that release. They have skillfully combined hard, crunchy guitars and infectious, singalong worthy pop hooks that have won over listeners and allowed them to maintain a devoted fan following. Their official showcase is at Buffalo Billiards on March 13, and they’re also playing the Irish Full Breakfast showcase.

The Zombies

You don’t have to be a scholar or hardcore fan to appreciate The Zombies, who are in their 52nd year of being a band. Two original members remain – lead singer Colin Blunstone and songwriter/keyboardist Rod Argent. As one of the most influential bands from the 60s British Invasion, you’re probably familiar with some of their classic hits, including Time Of The Season, She’s Not There and Tell Her No. I’m not familiar with their 2011 release, Breathe Out, Breathe In, but I’m sure that they won’t leave SXSW without playing their classic hits and fan favorites. Their popularity and influence on contemporary bands endures for past, present, and future fans. Their official showcase is on March 16, and they’re also a featured interview on March 15 at the Austin Convention Center.

Free Energy

Philadelphia based quintet Free Energy never fail to make me smile. It’s feel good music that’s ridiculously catchy; think classic rock meets power pop. Even the cool kids who usually keep their hands in their pockets will start clapping, dancing, and singing along. They’re supporting the release of their second album, Love Sign, and I’ve been looking forward to their return to Austin since their SXSW showcase last year. The band genuinely enjoys what they do and it shows during their live performances. They’re playing several day shows and their official showcase is on March 16.

Frightened Rabbit

I first saw Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit at a small SXSW day party in 2008. It was a short set, but they definitely made an impression on me. The band is celebrating their return to this year’s festival with the release of their fourth album, Pedestrian Verse. Their songs have a persistent sadness, but they also convey a sense of hope and resilience which strikes a familiar chords in many of their fans and listeners.  This is not a band that stares at their shoes; their live shows are passionate, sweaty, and satisfying affairs. Their official showcase is at The Belmont on March 14. Even if you have a badge, get there early as The Flaming Lips, The Joy Formidable, Alt-J, and Surfer Blood are part of that night’s lineup.

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Stream This

February 8, 2013

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The SOTO inbox is always full of cool stuff that never gets to see the light of day on the actual site, and I’d like to change that.  So, every Friday I’ll be posting the best album streams and videos that were sent my way during the week.  Take a scroll and find something worth remembering.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Maston – Shadows
Texas Is The Reason – Do You Know Who We Are?
Lisa Germano – No Elephants
Screaming Females – Chalk Tape
Jacco Gardner – Cabinet Of Curiosities
KXP – II

VIDEOS

Unknown Mortal Orchestra play the Mohawk on February 20.  II is out now.

Frightened Rabbit just released Pedestrian Verse.  This song is the b-side off the Woodpile single.

Odesza’s Summer’s Gone is available now.

Cadence Weapon put out Hope In Dirty City last year.

Liars released WIXIW last year.

Ex-Cops just released True Hallucinations.

Hundred Waters have a self titled album that’s currently available.

Mazes will put out Ores & Minerals on February 12 via FatCat Records.

Black Books will release the Aquarena EP on February 11.

Rhye is expected to release Woman on March 4 via Polydor.

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds will put out Push The Sky Away on February 19.

Sweet Baboo will release Ships on April 23 via Moshi Moshi.

Little Tybee are set to release  For Distant Viewing on April 9 via Paper Garden Records.

The Little Ones will put out The Dawn Sang Along on February 12 via the Branches Recording Collective.

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Stream This

February 1, 2013

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The SOTO inbox is always full of cool stuff that never gets to see the light of day on the actual site, and I’d like to change that.  So, every Friday I’ll be posting the best album streams and videos that were sent my way during the week.  Take a scroll and find something worth remembering.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Veronica Falls – Waiting For Something To Happen
Feeding People – Island Universe
Alexander Spit – A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside
Companion – Self Titled
Buke And Gase – General Dome
Dog Bite – Velvet Changes
Black Books – Aquarena EP
Eels – Wonderful, Glorious
Matt Pond – The Lives Inside The Lines In Your Hand
Jim James – Regions Of Light And Sound Of God
Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
Guards – In Guards We Trust
Night Beds – Country Sleep
Amateur Best – No Thrills
Dark Star – News From Nowhere

VIDEOS

The Tontons play Stubb’s tonight with the Couch and Emily Wells.  Their Bones 7″ is available now.

Chelsea Wolfe will play the Central Presbyterian Church tomorrow night.

Fade is the name of Yo La Tengo’s latest release.

Deep Elm Records recently released Lights & Motion’s Reanimation.

Woodpigeon will release Thumbtacks+Glue on February 26.

Satellite Stories just released a Singles Remixed EP.

Madison will released We’ve Been Nothing on February 5.

Maston will release Shadows on February 12 via Trouble In Mind.

Takka Takka’s AM Landscapes is available now.

Black Moth Super Rainbow play the Mohawk on May 28.  Cobra Juicy is out now.

Tame Impala’s Lonerism is out now.  They play Stubb’s on February 26.

Grizzly Bear’s Shields is currently available.

Deerhoof’s Breakup Song is out now.

The Ruby Suns just released Christopher.

The Trent Reznor-lead How To Destroy Angels will release Welcome Oblivion on march 5.

You can pick up Ra Ra Riot’s Beta Love on Barsuk now.  They play the Belmont on February 20.

This Dana Falconberry video is part of the Transistor Six series.

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