Well it is that time of year again. Everywhere you look, bloggers and the like are unveiling their Best of ’16 lists with criticism sure to follow. This year, we saw some interesting releases from cultural icons like Beyonce and Kanye West, while indie darlings like Sturgill Simpson and Conor Oberst attempted to keep music authentic.
At Ear to the Ground, we recognize the great difficulty in this task. We hear more music than we know what to do with. I attempted to keep my favorites list to fresh artists, but there are a few names you are bound to recognize. It is sort of a hodge podge of sounds and perspectives that made ’16 a weird year for music and culture. Today, I present some of the tracks that endeared themselves to me. Enjoy!
10. Son of Dov – “Ulysses”
“Hit me where it hurts” sings the natural singer songwriter Son of Dov. Off of his extraordinary EP off the same name, it technically is not a ’16 release. However, I wasn’t able to get my ears around it until recently. Either way, this is a damn good song. Ethereal and atmospheric, it is bound to stay with you long after you play it. His voice is unique and quivers well with the gentle instrumentation. Dennis King, aka Son of Dov is bound to draw much deserved similarities to fellow New Jersey singer Bruce Springsteen. This one belongs on this list for this or any year.
9. Anna Rose – “Bury Me Deep”
There are few times in life where we fall in love instantly. When we do, we remember the moment clearly if not through exaggerated perspective. When I heard a new track from fiery new artist, Anna Rose, I was reminded of this feeling. Instantly, I was hooked with her ability to bend genres and pierce even the coldest of spaces with her seductive yet rocking vocals. At once, she can make you swoon as well as rock out. And damn, can she play guitar. “Bury Me Deep”, off her EP Strays in the Cut, is a layered and electric track that is sure to appeal to that shaded sensual rock side you keep buried deep within. There is a definite mood to this song as the harmonies and baptize your ear buds.
8. Jeremy & the Harlequins – “Into the Night”
Into the Night, the recent album from rockers Jeremy & the Harlequins starts off as an impending road trip. It builds and builds throughout, drawing on bands like Vampire Weekend and The Bravery along the way. This is a classic album that could easily fit in the musical heart space of fans of both Jerry Lee Lewis and Cage the Elephant. The section of the interstate that the band thrives in is found between classic and modern; retro and forever cool. A talented band that is confident, fun, and alive in the greatest of ways, Jeremy & the Harlequins would be easy to deem the “next big thing”. Their title track is a great showcase of the band’s musical philosophy. The hit track was recently picked by Steve Van Zandt as the coolest track in the world for his radio show. This ultimate road trip song will make you singing along with it in no time. It’s New York cool is guaranteed to endear the boys to any listener.
7. Mobley – “Solo”
Mobley is a rare talent on the rise. Often times on the road, he plays every instrument and even brings a special instrument. “Put succinctly, it’s a custom-built show controller, aesthetically modeled after Wurlitzer and Rhodes keyboards from the seventies, and capable of running synthesizers, samplers, MIDI sequences, guitar processing, bass, vocal effects, videos, and lights. The brain is a Mac Mini that I souped up by maxing out the RAM and adding an SSD. By using various software solutions (including some I wrote myself) and some creative hardware routing I basically run anything that isn’t the drumkit from what I affectionately call ‘The Mothership.’” One view of his video for “Solo” was all it took to convince me of his extraordinary talent for soul and funk. Off his tight EP Some Other Country, the video shows the artist bouncing through the various stages of fame in a way reminiscent of The Weekend. Mark our words, Mobley is the real deal and due for a cosmic rise. Need proof? Just hit play:
6. Harrison Brome – “Sex Calls”
The 19-year-old Vancouver native shines on his highly anticipated debut EP Fill Your Brains. If you love those Spotify playlists or keep your ears out for new music, then chances are you might have already heard from Brome. His mix of pop, electronic, and soul makes him appealing to a wide range of musical tastes. His art is understated but also very captivating in the most human of ways. Each song blazes its own path while working well within the unified EP. The young Brome has crafted a sound that is fresh, current, and provocative. “Sex Calls” sets the mood for the EP while being the definite hit of the album. It was the first track I actually heard from Harrison Brome and I was immediately taken to a Drake like place. It is incredibly sexy and makes you feel as much confident as it does dirty. It starts with the echo of a guitar, which is rare on the EP, before bursting into a bass hip-hop beat. If you weren’t a fan before, this track will seal your affinity for his music.