2016 First Quarter in Music Review

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Spring is here and the pollen is everywhere to prove it. With the arrival of spring (and the impending summer any day now) the first quarter of 2016 has come and gone. The first part of the year always has it’s share of new releases to kick off the new year and a big March before quarter end comes another wave of new albums from name and buzz bands alike. It seems as though there’s always an album(s) released in that first quarter of each year that just sticks with you all year and doesn’t fade with time. In 2015, Father John Misty released I Love You, Honeybear in Q1, which stuck all the way to the end of the year as our favorite album of 2015. In 2014, The War on Drugs released Lost In The Dream in Q1, as did Beck with Morning Phase, both of which ended the year as our top 2 albums.

For this Q1 review, we decided to have 4 writers (Ian, Lisa, Matthew, Mike), each with their own opinions, like and dislikes, to name their Top 10 Albums of Q1 2016 and 10 Favorite Songs Q1 2016; after all, the great part of lists is getting different perspectives and the distinct possibility to find something you missed or should revisit from someone else’s list, a discovery of music to add to your own collection.

If there’s one album from Q1 2015 that could be primed to make that run throughout 2016 all the way to the top of year end lists, it would have to be the debut album from Mothers, When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired (February 26, 2015, Grand Jury); the one album which made all 4 lists, and topped two of them. It’s clear that Mothers debut has made an impact already in 2016, their flame has just been lit, and there’s plenty of fluid left to burn bright.

Other notable albums that made their way onto more than one list of ours: David Bowie’s Blackstar (3), Nap Eyes’ Thought Rock Fish Scale (2), Hinds’ Leave Me Alone (2), Daughter’s Not To Disappear (2), Your Friend’s Gumption (2), and Sunflower Bean’s Human Ceremony (2).

Our individual 2016 Q1 Reviews:

Ian Ihde‘s (Minneapolis) Q1 in Music 2016:

Top 10 Albums Q1 2016:

10. PolicaUnited Crushers

9. Deep Sea DiverSecrets

8. The Cactus BlossomsYou’re Dreaming

7. Penny and SparrowLet a Lover Drown You

6. Aidan KnightEach Other

5. MothersWhen You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired

4. Basia BulatGood Advice

3. TW WalshFruitless Research

2. WintersleepThe Great Detachment

1. Parker MillsapThe Very Last Day

To be frank: there’s not a track on this album that I don’t like. Having been minimally impressed by Millsap’s first two releases, I was surprised to find myself as compelled as I was by the album’s first single “Pining”. Much like David Ramirez’s “Fables” did for me last year, The Very Last Day has upended any and all of my previous perceptions of Millsap. The lyrics are weighty, the music packs a punch (regardless of dynamic), and there is plenty of variety from which to savor Millsap’s soulful southern swoon. Even though it’s by no means a lock for the top spot on my year-end list, I certainly am looking forward to heavy dosages of this record throughout the rest of 2016. /– II

10 Favorite Songs Q1 2016 (alphabetical):

  • The Cactus Blossoms – “Stoplight Kisses”
  • Harriet – “Ten Steps”
  • Little Green Cars – “Easier Day”
  • Margaret Glaspy – “Somebody to Anybody”
  • Mystery Jets – “Bubblegum”
  • Parker Millsap – “Pining”
  • Pinegrove – “Old Friends”
  • Porches – “Hour”
  • TW Walsh – “Shallow Water”
  • Wintersleep – “Spirit”

Lisa Parish‘s (Atlanta) Q1 in Music 2016:

Top 10 Albums Q1 2016:

10. Newark Wilder – Vanessa Atalanta

9. Feels – Feels

8. Thao + The Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive

7. Lucy Dacus – No Burden

6. Hinds – Leave Me Alone

5. Daughter – Not To Disappear

4. Your Friend – Gumption

3. The Snails – Songs From The Shoebox

2. David Bowie – Blackstar

1. Mothers – When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired

Athens-based experimental folk band Mothers have taken the indie rock world by storm with their debut studio album When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired. Their debut album creates something unbelievably powerful, filled with raw emotion and Kristine Leschper’s fragile, ethereal voice creating compelling melodies. Her backing band’s musical talents are impressive and perfectly timed. With soaring guitars that bring power to the songs, while the drum and bass drive the rhythm forward, the band isn’t shying away from building something more vigorous. Their song “Copper Mines” is a perfect example of the entire album, constructing builds with different tempos that bring you up and down with each change in rhythm. The quality, folk-like lyrics create a story with every word, Kristine captures your attention and delicately cradles you through. Mothers’ album is that one that is meant to stick to your bones and will be remembered as something exquisite, the production value is outstanding and the feeling you get while listening does not shatter from start to finish. It is easy to love this album because of how relatable it is. They have beautifully provided something through song that each of us has experienced in some way or another, helping us heal from wounds we thought we had gotten over. When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired is the album that will push you past the dark period and gives you the feeling that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. /-LP

10 Favorite Songs Q1 2016 (alphabetical):

  • Chrome Pony – “Road Dope”
  • Coast Modern – “Animals”
  • Day Wave – “Gone”
  • Emily Wells -“You Dream Of China”
  • Mitski -“Your Best American Girl”
  • Mothers – “Lockjaw”
  • Parquet Courts – “Outside”
  • The Snails – “Tight Side of Life”
  • Weaves – “One More”
  • Your Friend – “Come Back From It”

Matthew Ellis‘s (Boston) Q1 in Music 2016:

Top 10 Albums Q1 2016:

10. LNZNDRFLNZNDRF

9. Mind SpidersProsthesis

8. MothersWhen You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired

7. Sunflower BeanHuman Ceremony

6. Bent ShapesWolves of Want

5. The Sun DaysAlbum

4. David Bowie – Blackstar

3. Hinds – Leave Me Alone

2. PinegroveCardinal

1. Nap EyesThought Rock Fish Scale

The appropriately titled Thought Rock Fish Scale from the introspective Canadian rockers Nap Eyes is acutely self-aware from the first note. The instruments come in sounding like a lounge band laying down a soundtrack to a night of bent elbows and rapt conversation. Singer Nigel Chapman then spends the next four and a half minutes of opener “Mixer” (and the rest of the album) running through thoughts that will sound awfully familiar to listeners that hedge toward the introspective and reflective side of life.

What makes this album great is how confident the music is, even when the lyrics are anything but. Chapman is able to express intimate thoughts and feelings in an unflinching voice that nearly hypnotizes the listener. Thought Rock Fish Scale is the most unique album I’ve heard this year, a fully realized product that has me hanging on every new melody and word. /-ME

10 Favorite Songs Q1 2016 (alphabetical):

  • Car Seat Headrest – “Vincent”
  • David Bowie – “Lazarus”
  • The Gotobeds – “Real Maths/Too Much”
  • Mitski – “Your Best American Girl”
  • Nap Eyes – “Stargazer”
  • Night Moves – “Carl Sagan”
  • Parquet Courts – “Berlin Got Blurry”
  • Pinegrove – “New Friends”
  • Sheer Mag – “Can’t Stop Fighting
  • The Sun Days – “Don’t Need to Be Them”

Mike Gerry‘s (Atlanta) Q1 in Music 2016:

Top 10 Albums Q1 2016:

10. Your Friend – Gumption

9. Damien JuradoVisions of Us on the Land

8. Quilt – Plaza

7. Dylan LeBlanc – Cautionary Tale

6. Book of Colors – Book of Colors

5. Nap Eyes – Thought Rock Fish Scale

4. David Bowie – Blackstar

3. Sunflower Bean – Human Ceremony

2. Daughter – Not To Disappear

1.  Mothers – When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired

Mothers at Savannah Stopover

Mothers at Savannah Stopover

There is no doubt about the best album so far of 2016; Mothers debut, When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired, clearly takes the spot as the most distinct, unique and challenging album released so far this year. There’s nothing quite like it: Kristine Leschper’s unique vocals adding the urgency to her introspective and thought provoking lyrics, then the talented group of experimental musicians on bass, guitar, and drums, etc. surrounding and each building upon Leschper’s folk core, turning her songs into something extremely powerful and focused. The band’s progressions and builds take the songs into a crescendo that makes you want to burst from the inside out. Even when the band isn’t going hard, pairing down to the softer side of mostly lyrics and vocals on songs like “Too Small For Eyes”, the tracks still stand out.

When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired is an album of someone terribly struggling within, trying to figure out life. This isn’t a feel good album. The lyrics cut deep right into every organ and bone in your body, twisting the knife at every turn. It hurts. But what makes this album truly great, is the end result. No matter the timing or your mood, listening to Mothers debut is good for the soul. As this album closes down with “Hold Your Own Hand” and the song ends with an instrumental that feels like an upward build towards better times, it all seems to make sense. Sometimes you need to rage, sometimes you just need to feel something, anything, andWhen You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired is sweet sweet emotional relief. No matter how many times I’ve listened to this album, I’ve ended with a huge smile on my face that says it all about this incredible debut. /-MG

10 Favorite Songs Q1 2016 (alphabetical):

  • Big Brutus – “Thoughts At So Ba
  • Caleb Caudle – “Uphill Battle”
  • Car Seat Headrest – “Vincent”
  • Culture Culture – “Rgb”
  • David Bowie – “Lazarus”
  • ex why – “Salt”
  • Mothers – “Copper Mines”
  • Nap Eyes – “Stargazer”
  • Sunflower Bean – “Easier Said”
  • Your Friend – “Heathering”

All contributors’ Favorite Songs Q1 2016 currently on Spotify, added to the OE Favorite Songs 2016 playlist below (links above to songs not on Spotify):

 

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Mike Gerry

Head music fiend at OpenEars Music

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