Top 25 Songs of 2016 – The International Edition (Part Two 10-1)

Here’s the final chapter of these pointless year end lists. Sorry for bothering you so much. Don’t worry. I think I’m going to take the rest of January rather easy and focus on NFL playoffs and NHL games instead. I was meant to do a complete break, but you lovely bastards have already put out a bunch of amazing songs while I’ve been making these lists. So I guess I’ll do a few short posts. Anyway, here are my top 10 songs of the year.

10. Wesley Randolph Eader – Waitin’s What We Do

Wesley Randolph Eader’s great album Highway Winds had five pretty much equally great candidates for this list. I’ll go with Waitin’s What We Do this time around, because it’s a remarkable song. There’s no words to describe how amazing the verses of that song are.

9. Andy Shauf – Martha Sways

The Party as an album is more important than any individual outtake from it, but the final song Martha Sways is the one that I’ve loved the most.

8. Teenage Fanclub – The Darkest Part of the Night

The finest song on the new Teenage Fanclub album Here. I love all the songwriters in the band, but I’m still definitely Norman Blake -guy the most and this one is a future classic. Teenage Fanclub is the band who can turn fairly simple lines into something unearthly magical.

7. Richmond Fontaine – A Night in the City

Richmond Fontaine’s farewell album was another one that had several tremendous candidates for this list. Whitey and Me has something that really appeals to me, but let’s still go with A Night in the City. Storytelling of the highest order.

6. Kelly Smith – Lost in the Wind

Glossary folks Joey Kneiser and Kelly Smith released a new 7″ single. Joey Kneiser wrote the songs, both sing one side. Actually I haven’t even heard Joey’s side yet, because it doesn’t seem to be available digitally and even though I love these people, I haven’t been able to justify to myself that it’s ok to spend $30 for two songs (10$ for the 7″ and $20 for overseas postage). Thankfully there’s a music video for the Kelly’s side Lost in the Wind and it’s a stunning and moving song that took my breath away.

5. Parker Millsap – Heaven Sent

Parker Millsap’s Heaven Sent is an incredibly powerful song about a gay son and his religious father who doesn’t approve the kind of love his son has found even though all love is heaven sent. A really important and moving song.

I just want to make you proud
Of the kind of love I’ve found
But you say it’s not allowed
Say that its a sin
It’s how I’ve always been
Did you love me when he was just my friend?

4. Courtney Marie Andrews – Honest Life

It might be a little bit odd choice, but out of all the magnificent songs on the Courtney Marie Andrews album, I’ve been always most addicted to the amazing title track Honest Life. I’d like to live my life like that song, but don’t always succeed. I’m finding it especially hard to get over those doubts, but maybe I’ll learn one day. I can’t share Honest Life yet, because it’s not out in Europe. I’ll add a spotify embed or something when it’s out. Meanwhile here’s Irene. Another magnificent song from the album.

3. Aaron Lee Tasjan – Little Movies

I had an instant love affair with Little Movies and our relationship is still going strong. This was the first outtake from Aaron Lee Tasjan’s 2016 album Silver Tears. I’m a pop kid at heart, but these days listen to more americana kind of stuff. So maybe this is like the best of both worlds combination to me.

2. Chris Staples – Relatively Permanent

Someone gently humming fairly simple words for two minutes and I think it’s almost the song of the year. Well I do. I love this song by Chris Staples. I also love that he put this out as the first outtake from the album. Relatively Permanent is an emotion, it’s a moment, it’s everything.

1. Hiss Golden Messenger – Highland Grace

The song of the year is Highland Grace by Hiss Golden Messenger. Might be a bit of an odd choice to go with the album closer instead of the singles, but I just love this song wholeheartedly. A wonderfully arranged soulful song that beautifully wraps together their amazing new album Heart Like a Levee. A perfect song on all accounts and then there’s that ending that is out of this world.

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Top 25 Songs of 2016 – The International Edition (Part one 25-11)

One more list to go. I suppose there would be also reissues and Finnish EPs, but I only bought a few and therefore I would have to list everything and probably still wouldn’t get to top 5. So there’s even less point in that so these will have to do. I’m sure you are thankful, because this year end listing has already gotten a bit out of hand. Anyway, here are my favourite songs of the year. Ok, I put a little emphasis towards artists that didn’t make the cut on the albums or EP of the year list. Spreading the love a bit or something, because lots of great stuff haven’t yet appeared on these lists. But this was only in sort of a tie situations and most of these would be on this list no matter what. Maybe I should make a longer Spotify lists later, because I’m sure I could easily come up with 100 songs that I loved during the year. The order is once again pretty insignificant, because I love them all wholeheartedly.

25. Jim Bryson – The Depression Dance

Canadian Jim Bryson can do the honors and kick off this list with his Depression Dance. This actually maybe could be a little bit further up on the list, but I thought it’s a damn good place to start. Mostly because by the time you have finished this list, you might need to scroll back to the beginning and listen to this song over and and over again. I’m a guy who masters the art of being miserable for no apparent reason and this song lifts my spirit up each and every time. I love the people on the video as well. And the cat of course.

24. Margaret Glaspy – You and I

Next we have Margaret Glaspy and You and I from her Emotions and Math album. The album had a few songs that I wasn’t that keen and that’s why it didn’t made the cut on the album list, but there was plenty of songs that I really loved. This one You and I was the highlight for me.

23. The Burning Hell – Men Without Hats

Fuck The Government, I Love You is obviously still the best song of the decade and would take the song of the year award this year as well. However, I was cruel and disqualified it, because it was my song of the year 2015. No need to worry, because The Burning Hell has a great candidate for this 2016 list as well. Men Without Hats is a brilliant tribute to Canadian new wave band Men Without Hats.

22. Bonnie Whitmore – Fighter

Bonnie Whitmore’s album Fuck With Sad Girls was one of those that kept on going on and off the list while I was writing that album list. I’m already feeling guilty, because in the end I left it out. I’m expecting nightmares about this any day now. There’s plenty of great songs on this one. This song Fighter is my biggest favourite.

21. Steven James Adams – Kings Of The Back of the Bus

Steven James Adams is a long time favourite. His album was maybe a bit of a hit and miss one. I absolutely loved 4-5 songs, but the rest of it was only good. The biggest highlight was this songs Kings of the Back of the Bus. I really love this video where suits look for a remedy for their corporate lives.

20. M. Lockwood Porter – Reach The Top

M. Lockwood Porter released an album full of gorgeous songs. This song Reach The Top was a particular highlight.

19. Caleb Caudle – Tuscaloosa

Caleb Caudle put together a strong album Carolina Ghost. I haven’t seen too much love for this particular song on people’s song of the year lists, but for me Tuscaloosa was the biggest highlight of the album.

18. BJ Barham – Unfortunate Kind

BJ Barham released a great solo album. It has a few equally strong candidates for this song list, but somehow the combination of song + video lifted The Unfortunate Kind little bit above the others.

17. Hayes Carll – The Magic Kid

Hayes Carll wrote a song to his son, The Magic Kid. It isn’t any wonder that it’s pure magic.

16. Margo Price – Hands of Time

Margo Price opened her album in perfect fashion. Autobiographical Hands of Time is a stunning song.

15. Austin Lucas – Wrong Side Of the Dream

This duet by Austin Lucas and Lydia Loveless was one of the many highlights of Austin Lucas’ 2016 album Between the Moon and The Midwest. The ending song Midnight would be equally good pick, but this is easier to share so let’s go with this one.

14. Jon Latham – Lifers

First outtake and the title track from the forthcoming Jon Latham album due out in 2017. This single Lifers is further proof that Jon Latham is a magnificent songwriter and I’m so look forward to hearing the full album.

13. Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster – The Dirt, The Bells & I

The Dirt, The Bells & I is the perfect ending to Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster’s gorgeous solo album Constant Stranger. So brilliant.

12. Robbie Fulks – Alabama at Night

This song by Robbie Fulks was actually nominated for grammy and rightfully so. The album has a few equally perfect candidates for this list, but let’s go with this one because it’s rare that I have similar addictions as the bigger folks.

11. Christian Lee Hutson – I Just Can’t Fucking Do it Anymore

Jumping the gun a bit here again, because I don’t think this song is available yet. Well other than this absolutely gorgeous music video that I’ve watched several times. A damn good new song from Christian Lee Hutson and lifts the expectations sky high for the forthcoming album. Here’s I Just Cant’ Fucking Do It Anymore closing the first chapter of the songs of the year list.

The rest of the list later today, if I get it done before the NFL playoffs kick off. If not, then it goes until tomorrow.

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Top 10 EPs of 2016

A few more pointless year end lists to come. First this EP list. I suppose one could argue that a few of these are actually full albums. Sorry if someone feels they are in the wrong category. Anyway, here are my favourite EPs of 2016. The order is pretty insignificant and might as well be alphabetical.

10. Ethan Crump – Hellfire and Amazing Grace

Ethan Crump is only nineteen-years-old (or was at least when this came out, maybe he has turned 20 by now), but he is already extremely good songwriter. Immensely talented young man from Hartwell, GA. And no, he is not just one for the future. Those three songs in the middle of this EP. Title Track Hellfire and Amazing Grace, Mary Ann and Mason County Blues are all so gorgeous that any songwriter would be proud of them.

9. Adam Remnant – When I Was a Boy

Southeast Engine frontman Adam Remnant put together a really convincing solo EP where the struggles of adulthood hit almost too close home. That Southeast Engine sure had a pretty special line-up. Remnant released this EP and Adam Torres put out excellent album this year and very soon in 2017 William Matheny will be dropping his most likely excellent album into our hearts.

8. The Blackeyed Susans – Lover or the Loved

Australian The Blackeyed Susans are back in this ball game. New EP Lover or the Loved this year and full-length album in 2017. Count me in. I’ve really missed you. You can be my medicine once again.

7. Guy Capecelatro III – The Smallest Darkest Things

This is one of those that you could easily argue that it’s a full album or at least a mini-LP. Five originals and two covers. Anyway, I love Guy Capecelatro III and his new release The Smallest Darkest Things is a brilliant and moving tribute to Brown Birds’ Dave Lamb.

6. Chris Bathgate – Old Factory

A long time favourite Chris Bathgate came back with an EP called Old Factory, which was of course magnificent. I’m so hoping for more Chris Bathgate music in the not-too-distant future.

5. Rayland Baxter – Soho

This Rayland Baxter EP would have made even bigger impact this year, if I didn’t already know these songs by heart. However, I do love these stripped-down versions even more than then the ones that appeared on the album back in 2015.

4. Michael Feuerstack – Adult Lullabies

Early in the year Canadian maestro Michael Feuerstack celebrated the 1st anniversary of his previous album The Forgettable Truth by releasing a new Adult Lullabies EP that was mostly recorded in the same sessions. Kind of goes to show how strong that album was when such treasures as these didn’t make the cut then.

3. Matt Paxton – Let Me Rock ‘n Roll Tonight

Canadian songwriter Matt Paxton might not be a household name (not yet anyway), but we love him here at the headquarters. This year he put out an magnificent EP Let Me Rock N’ Roll Tonight. This song Can’t Say Your Name was a huge personal favourite.

2. Hezekiah Jones – Har! Har! Har!

One of my big personal favourites, Philadelphia’s Hezekiah Jones released a surprise EP Har! Har! Har! late in the year and Raph Cutrufello and co were once again in great form. It was an extremely close call with this and my top pick and could easily go either way. I could come up with some minor flaw or a song I wasn’t that addicted to from the others if I really had to, but these last two were perfect on all accounts.

1. Birger Olsen – The Lights Just Buzz

Some of the above might have bigger favourite songs, but as a whole this smooth operator by Portland-based Birger Olsen ends up taking the imaginary EP of the year award. I’ve seen this been referred as an album, but with just 6-songs I felt it fitted better under this category. Whether it’s an album, mni-album or an EP is pretty insignificant though. What matters far more is that it’s absolutely wonderful. The whole beautiful thing is set in the blues and country territory with light jazzy vibes and gospel bits adding another layer to the sound. It’s smooth, warm and subtle, but also with lots of depth and detail. Another treasure from Mama Bird Recording Co.

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Top 50 Albums of 2016 – The International Edition (Part Five 10-1)

This thing got a little out of hand, but here’s finally the top 10. You might find it weird that there’s no Leonard Cohen or Sturgill Simpson for example. I’m sure I would love them, but I haven’t bough them yet. So that’s why. These are also always completely subjective and there’s nothing objective about them. Just the albums that I fell in love with during the year. Oh yeah and I left out Pony Bradshaw, because it looks like they’ve made that album unavailable at the moment. It’s nowhere to be found at the moment. I’m assuming there will be a more official release coming up in 2017. I hope so, because it’s a really good album and Josephine would be a contender for the song of the year title, if it was out and available. Here are the other chapters of this ridiculously long albums of the year 2016 list.

Part One 50-41
Part Two 40-31
Part Three 30-21
Part Four 20-11
Part Five 10-1

And now my top ten picks for the year 2016.

10. Aaron Lee Tasjan – Silver Tears

Aaron Lee Tasjan created an album that shines brighter than his suit. The first outtake Little Movies took my breath away and is a song of the year contender. The rest of the album Silver Tears didn’t fall far behind. Very impressive.

9. Austin Lucas – Between The Moon & The Midwest

A long time favourite Austin Lucas released a new album Between The Moon and the Midwest early in the year and it stayed on the playlist and in my heart throughout the whole year and I have no plans of letting it go. The new album has some very traditional country stuff, but also a bit of psychedelic pop vibes. It took him a while to get it out in the world, but it was completely worth the wait.

8. John K. Samson – Winter Wheat

I’m a huge fan of Canadian songwriter John K. Samson and his band The Weakerthans. Winter Wheat is his new solo album although it also features other Weakerthans members. I haven’t spent too much time with it yet, but it’s already pretty safe to say that John K. Samson has once again written a marvellous album.

7. Teenage Fanclub – Here

Scottish Teenage Fanclub is one of my all-time favourite bands and they are still Here and in great form. The Darkest Part Of The Night is the biggest highlight and a contender for the song of the year title. Thin Air and Connected to Life and few others are also future TFC classic and it’s a strong album as a whole.

6. Nap Eyes – Thought Rock Fish Scale

Canadian Nap Eyes is a pretty weird band. At first listen, their music just seems lazy and effortless, but somehow they lure you in and a while later what seemed lazy and effortless has turned into charming, unique and thoughtful. A brilliant record.

5. Daniel Romano – Mosey

The new Daniel Romano album turned out to be a little bit different than what I expected beforehand. A little bit of Lee Hazlewood, ye-ye, avant-garde pop, psychedelic elements, soul and what not. It took a few spins or maybe even more than just a few spins, but eventually I fell in love with it and actually it might be my favourite Daniel Romano album at the moment.

4. Hiss Golden Messenger – Heart Like a Levee

Hiss Golden Messenger is only getting better all the time. M.C. Taylor and co put together a masterpiece called Heart Like a Levee. Great songwriting and wonderful arrangements. Album closer Highland Grace is a work of ark. The ending of that song and this record might well be my favourite moment on any record this year.

3. Richmond Fontaine – You Can’t Go Back, If There’s Nothing To Go Back To

Moving on to the top 3. These next three were by far the dearest albums of the year to me and anyone of them could have been the album of the year, but this is how it went today. Richmond Fontaine is going out with style and released one hell of a farewell album. Future will tell will this reach the same classic status as Post To Wire, Winnemucca and The Fitzgerald, but I think it’s pretty much on the same level. Which is a lot said, because we are talking about one of the greatest bands of the past 20 years. We are gonna miss you Richmond Fontaine.

2. Courtney Marie Andrews – Honest Life

I’m jumping the gun a bit, because the Euro release of the new Courtney Marie Andrews album Honest Life happens in January 2017 on Loose Music. However, I got it when it came out in the states on Mama Bird Recording Co last fall and I completely fell in love with it. There’s no way I could leave out such a masterpiece. Besides, this blog jumped the shark years ago, so I’m sure it’s perfectly ok to jump the gun as well. Anyway, Courtney Marie Andrews is a brilliant songwriter and Honest Life is an amazing collection of beautiful, honest and thoughtful folk songs.

1. Andy Shauf – The Party

The album of the year 2016 is The Party by Canadian songwriter Andy Shauf. This was sitting on the album of the month slot in the old blog layout for half of the year, so I guess it’s no wonder that it’s also the album of the year. The Party is an absolute beauty of an album and I love it to bits. A wonderfully orchestrated and arranged collection of songs that makes me forget time and place and instead I end up dragged into the life of these people, their stories and narratives. Andy Shauf created a colourful pop masterpiece that will stand the test of time.

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Top 50 Albums of 2016 – The International Edition (Part Four 20-11)

Part One 50-41
Part Two 40-31
Part Three 30-21
Part Four 20-11
Part Five 10-1

20. Two Cow Garage – Brand New Flag

Two Cow Garage from Columbus, Ohio is a long time favourite and they can kick off the top 20 with their great new album Brand New Flag. Both songwriters Micah Schnabel and Shane Sweeney are in excellent form on this new one.

19. Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster – Constant Stranger

Water Liars frontman Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster put out a magnificent solo album Constant Stranger. A really strong indie-folk album altogether and then there’s this last song The Dirt, The Bells and I . Such a brilliant song.

18. Kalispell – Printer’s Son

Next we have Shane Leonard’s Kalispell. Actually Printer’s Son would have been on my top 10 a year ago, but I left it out because it didn’t come out officially until summer 2016 (Kickstarter backers got it a year earlier). It’s a bit difficult to decide where it should land this year, because I didn’t listen to it nowhere near as much as back in 2015. I still love it though and it’s full of stunning folk songs.

17. BJ Barham – Rockingham

American Aquarium frontman BJ Barham released a magnificent solo album Rockingham. Small town hymns that are both warm and devastating. The song + video combination of The Unfortunate Kind is heartbreaking. Man returning from a gravesite and looking back the life they shared. Overwhelming hurt wrapped in warth and gratitude.

16. Robbie Fulks – Upland Stories

Unfortunately there haven’t been that many Grammy nominees on my year-end lists. This year we do have one, because Robbie Fulks got two nominations. I didn’t see that coming, but it was fully deserved because Upland Stories is awesome. The album contains beautiful and warm folk/bluegrass sounds and wonderfully written stories set in the uplands. So fabulous.

15. Chris Staples – Golden Age

Oh Chris. I fell in love with you the minute I heard the first single and opening track Relatively Permanent. That song is a moment. That song is everything. The rest of the album Golden Age had a hard time living up to that, but it didn’t fall far behind its glorious first outtake. The whole album is remarkable.

14. John Calvin Abney – Far Cries and Close Calls

John Calvin Abney is an Oklahoma-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His new album Far Cries and Close Calls is a very captivating collection of songs. A while back he might have been better known as a trusted sidekick or backing musician to your favourite folk songwriter, but these days he is also a tremendous songwriter. Or well maybe he always was and I just haven’t heard the old material.

13. Drive-By Truckers – American Band

I love the band Drive-By Truckers, but for some weird reason I haven’t been extremely excited about their last 2-3 albums. I can’t even pinpoint why that is exactly, because while the records aren’t their very best, they are still pretty damn good and would be standouts in someone else’s catalogue. The excitement is definitely now back, because this new album American Band is a stunning collection of songs. Lyrically important and both Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley are in top form.

12. Daniel Markham – Disintegrator

Daniel Markham put together a dreamscape called Disintegrator. If you wake up in the middle of the night, play this one as loud as your neighbours can handle and it will kick the demons out of your head. Outstanding record from Daniel Markham once again.

11. Wesley Randolph Eader – Highway Winds

Wesley Randolph Eader from Portland might still be fairly unknown, but he is an incredible folk songwriter. Highway Winds should get a lot of recognition. This contains some of my favourite songs of the year. Actually five of these ten songs could be candidates for the songs of the year list. There’s a couple of songs that I’m not that excited about and that’s the only reason this dropped just outside top 10. Wesley Randolph Eader closes this chapter of the albums of the year list by Waitin’s What We Do and Sorrows For A Song, because it would be impossible to pick just one.

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Top 50 Albums of 2016 – The International Edition (Part Three 30-21)

Part One 50-41
Part Two 40-31
Part Three 30-21
Part Four 20-11
Part Five 10-1

30. Caleb Caudle – Carolina Ghost

Moving on to the top 30. North Carolinian americana/country singer-songwriter Caleb Caudle has become a big blog favourite over the last few years and I will buy everything he releases. I really love the song Tuscaloosa, but obviously it’s not just that. The whole album is pretty amazing.

29. China – Pool Of Tears

This might be a little obscure pick, because San Francisco-based China is still criminally unknown. That’s unfortunate, because Pool of Tears is a wonderful record. Not exactly the happiest record you might ever hear, but somehow it’s still damn enjoyable one to listen to.

28. Cody Jinks – I’m Not The Devil

Looking for some real and true country music instead of country songs about sipping rum drinks by the pool (that was slightly modified late great Ben Bullington quote). Well look no further. Cody Jinks is the man for the job. I’m Not The Devil is an extremely convincing album and it has already picked several #1 spots in the country/americana blogosphere and rightfully so.

27. Caleb McCoach – Vanity

I accidentally stumbled upon this Caleb McCoach album Vanity during one of my aimless bandcamp browsing sessions. I listened to this for hours and hours and oh how badly I fell in love with it. It’s dark and fragile, but also somehow peaceful and warm. Caleb actually released another album in December. I have to get into that sometime soon, because this one is special.

26. Freschard – Sunday Night

Regular visitors are probably well aware that I’m seriously addicted to the music of French-born, but Berlin-based Freschard. Shh.. Boom Biddy Boom and now Sunday Night is an album trio that I could just listen to all day long. This new one maybe didn’t have anything as highly addictive as Cheese and Crackers or glorious as Tweet Tweet, but it’s definitely another winner.

25. Michael Nau – Mowing

Page France and Cotton Jones guy Michael Nau charmed me early in the year with his solo album Mowing. Full of sweet folk-tinged pop songs and irresistible low-key beauty. It all sounds so smooth, lovely and easy-flowing. I have the US version, but it also came out in the Europe very late in the year.

24. Itasca – Open To Chance

Paradise of Bachelors is a label whose taste I trust and I will listen to each and everyone of their releases. I didn’t know Itasca aka L.A based folk singer-songwriter Kayla Cohen before this album, but Open to Chance instantly became very dear to me. I’ve spent a lot of time just lying on the floor wrapped into the mesmerizing serene beauty of this album.

23. Matt Woods – How To Survive

New Matt Woods album How To Survive has been in really heavy rotation. The man has the voice and of course the songs too. This one Fireflies for example. So damn brilliant and the rest are pretty much on the same level.

22. Kacy & Clayton – Strange Country

Did I ever feature this when it came out on New West Records? If I didn’t, I’ll turn myself in tomorrow to the local police station. One shouldn’t get away with such a crime. Anyway these Canadian second cousins put together a stunning album that echoes both the North American folk tradition and British 70s folk. Very impressive.

21. Robert Ellis – Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis didn’t play it safe and the new album has very ambitious and innovative arrangements and more sonic adventures that I’m usually willing to take. Robert Ellis is such a talent that he can make this all work beautifully and this genre-blending break-up album turned out to be absolutely wonderful. Robert Ellis and California from his self-titled album is a perfect way to end this third chapter of this pointless albums of the year list.

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