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20 Great Songs of 2016



2016 pressed delete on way too many musicians. Folks like Prince, Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, Leon Russell, Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg, Maurice White, Mose Allison and plenty more are now in the recycle bin. Their music lives on in the ears of those who remember, and thankfully new musicians get born every day. The list of 20 Great Songs of 2016 below is chock full of new faces and a few old friends.

Rugged Country – Japanese Breakfast
I could have picked any track off Japanese Breakfast’s excellent EP Psychopomp, but this one has the kind of chorus that just screams road-trip. Read our review


Two Dead Cops – Parquet Courts 
I drink negronis on occasion in an attempt to acquire a taste for them, same reason I buy Parquet Courts records. This time it stuck.


Your American Girl – Mitski
Sometimes videos do everything to distract you from a really great song. 


Shut Up Kiss Me – Angel Olsen
Angel Olsen has a little fun on this track and so will you.


You Want it Darker – Leonard Cohen 
Cohen released this one shortly before his death this year. What an attention whore!


Heathens – 21 Pilots 
My friends give me shit for digging this track, but beauty is in the ear of the beholder, Jon.


Starboy – The Weeknd  ft. Daft Punk
“I’m a motherfuckin’ starboy.



Miles East – The Hard Part
Saw Miles do this live a few times this year. Killer song. Read our interview

Dickie Betts – The Dean Ween Group
Borrowing more than just the title from the Allman Bros.



24K Magic – Bruno Mars
Mars channels some Gap Band and the occasional Kendrick Lamar delivery on this ginormous hit.

Cricket and The Genie – The Claypool Lennon Delirium
“Cricket and The Genie plays with Sean’s childhood memories of meeting Michael Jackson’s famous monkey-friend Bubbles while on the set of 1988’s Moonwalker.” Read our review

Ray LaMontagne – Hey, No Pressure
“Anything you want your life to mean, it can mean.”


Masterpiece – Big Thief
The best song Lucinda Williams didn’t write this year.


Capsized – Andrew Bird
Plenty to love on Andrew Bird’s latest record.


Dark Necessities – Red Hot Chili Peppers
I think I listened to this on repeat for a week when I first heard it. Fucking Flea, man. Read our review


Easier Said – Sunflower Bean 
I’ll admit it. I’m hypnotized by Julia Cumming. You wanna fight about it? Meet me near the flagpole after school and we’ll see what’s what.


We the People… – A Tribe Called Quest 
This track is bouncy AF, with lyrics ripped from our unfortunate headlines. Peace out, Phife.


Proof of Love – Paul Simon
“Even when Simon references his own catalog, he takes it a step or two beyond his comfort zone and then safely back again.” Read our review

All I Think About Now – Pixies
An ode to ex-bassist Kim sung by current bassist Paz that re-purposes the classic hook from “Where Is My Mind?” Read our review


The Numbers – Radiohead 

I love the latest Radiohead record “A Moon Shaped Pool,” but the stripped down live versions have a purity missing from those recordings. Read our review




Janita – Three Songs She’d Love to Have Written



Janita’s newest album Here Be Dragons is another in a progression of finely crafted hymns for the empowered. Whether by love, as in the silky “I Do,” or by subverting expectations, in the Beatlesesque “Not What You’re Used To,” Janita draws on lessons learned during a positively unique career that spans decades and continents. We caught up with Janita on the heels of her latest single “When It’s All Up To You” to find out three songs she’d love to have written.

Elliott Smith — “L.A.” 

This is one of my favorite songs by Elliott Smith. I listened to the full album Figure 8 a lot while I was writing the songs on my new album, and it was a huge influence on me both melodically and lyrically. This song in particular has also informed some of the production choices we made later, like the heavier guitars you hear on my song “Not What You’re Used To.”

“L.A.” is incredibly melodic, but there’s an elusive, haunting quality to it. It feels like you’re always trying to reach it, catch up to it somehow. The backing vocals accentuate that feeling. In my mind, the song paints such a vivid picture of the ephemeral, fickle nature of L.A., and the similarly transient nature of the main character. Elliott Smith himself? I don’t know exactly how he does (did) it, but I’m certainly in awe of it.

Radiohead — “There There”

So hypnotic. So badass. Could the production possibly be any cooler? The melody is intricate and beautiful, and I can relate to the lyric from every which angle: as the singer, as the one being sung to, and whether in love relationships, friendships, or with total strangers. The subject matter simply comes up in life in so many ways all the time… I recently tried to express similar notions as I was writing a song, only to remember that it was already done here perfectly. Goddammit.

Punch Brothers — “Julep”

This song is simply magical to me. It’s made me bawl my eyes out at a Punch Brothers concert two separate times. It’s like that viral video that was circulating some years ago of a baby moved to tears when her mom sings a sad tune. I’m that baby when it comes to this song. It simply hits some sort of primal button in me and keeps pressing it until the very end.

While you’re at it, check out Janita’s video for “Digging in the Dirt,” a funky and faithful rendition of the Peter Gabriel classic.

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New Music – Bachelor



Jay Som’s Melina Duterte and Palehound’s Ellen Kempner join forces as Bachelor – a musical powerhouse whose new record Doomin’ Sun drops May 28th on Polyvinyl.

Kemper and Duterter recorded the album during two weeks of mutual appreciation in California. Three visceral singles have been released in the lead-up, including the Pixies-flavored “Stay in the Car” and the sprawling “Anything At All.”

Bachelor has also announced the Doomin’ Sun Fest, a one-day livestream featuring Tegan & Sara, Courtney Barnett, Adrianne Lenker, Jeff Tweedy, Japanese Breakfast, Julien Baker, and more.

Doomin Sun Fest

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Self-Serving Interview with Electronic Device Does Little to Advance Musician’s Career



Two men that look suspiciously alike meet outside a fictitious Brooklyn hot-spot – six feet apart.

MC Krispy E: Very nice to meet you. (squints) Have we met before?

Electronic Device: Maybe?

MC Krispy E: Is the rest of the band joining us?

Electronic Device: (pause) I am the rest of the band.

MC Krispy E: You are Electronic Device? What’s that about?

Electronic Device: Uhm, yeah, it’s like a pen name. You know what that is, right?

MC Krispy E: I have some idea.

Electronic Device: It was actually the name of one of my dad’s companies back in the day before…

MC Krispy E: (looking at his watch) Wonderful. So… it says here you have a new single called “All Things Come to an End” inspired by the death of your brother.

Electronic Device: Yeah, after my brother died I recorded songs as a form of therapy in his old bedroom in Staten Island.

MC Krispy E: And now I read that you have cancer. Am I supposed to feel extra sorry for you?

Electronic Device: Uhm…

MC Krispy E: It sounds like this album is going to be super depressing.

Electronic Device: It’s not, I swear. I was looking for some happiness while recording these songs, there’s not much of an agenda beyond that.

MC Krispy E: What kind of music is it?

Electronic Device: I wasn’t really thinking about influences while recording, but listening back I hear some Concrete Blonde, some Cracker.

MC Krispy: So bands no one is interested in?

Electronic Device: What the hell, man?

MC Krispy: Sorry, it’s almost like I can’t help it.  What’s the single about?

Electronic Device: I hate saying what a song is about because everything is up for interpretation.

MC Krispy E: Humor us.

Electronic Device: I can say that “All Things Come to an End” has multiple narrators, some of which are unreliable.

MC Krispy E: (stares)

Electronic Device: And that one day I was at my Dad’s house and when I turned the corner into the hallway my Dad thought I was my brother for a moment, which was super sad because of course I couldn’t be.

MC Krispy E: And then you wrote a whole song about that.

Electronic Device: I guess so. When you put it that way…

MC Krispy E: (yawning) Tell us when the single come out.

Electronic Device: The single is out now. The album comes out in 2021.

MC Krispy E: Well, good for you. And good luck with that cancer thing.

Electronic Device: Yeah, you too.

MC Krispy E: Thanks. What?

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