Top Ten Songs by Local Musicians
It’s that time of year. The Plaza has outlined their buildings with lights, the weather is (finally) changing, people are overeating and over-shopping. 2016 is almost over. And with the closing of the year comes top ten list. To end Local Week, I want to count down my top ten songs from local musicians. There has been so much good stuff released this year that narrowing the list to ten was difficult. That said, here they are.
10) “Wolf” by Heidi Lynn Gluck. Gluck is no stranger to writing noir-like country songs. Whether it’s her twisting lyrical narratives or her haunting voice, Heidi Lynn Gluck imbues her songs with a sad mysteriousness. “Wolf” is no different. Minimal and arresting, “Wolf” bodes well for the rest of her next album, Pony Show.
9) “A Witch Shall Be Born” by Convoker. Sludge-filled murk. Smokey grinding. Riffs of grime. Convoker’s Lord of The Rings inspired single is everything doom fans love. Side A, “A Witch Shall Be Born” is turgid and relentless–a true masterpiece of doom.
8) “Electric Children” by Merlin. One of the first singles to the like-named album, “Electric Children” burns through its grooves with heaviness on its mind. Blues-driven riffs and pummeling drums explode under the vocals. “Electric Children” is a force to be reckoned with anytime it travels through a speaker.
7) “Vega” by Emmaline Twist. Somehow, Emmaline Twist is able to bring together uplifting melodies with melancholy tones. “Vega” vacillates between emotional resonances like a Rothko.
6) “All Bases Covered” by Various Blonde. This song, this band, defies classification. Rhythmic and moody, psychedelic and wavy, Various Blonde’s Record Machine debut is full of electronic trips and guitar-led journeys. “All Bases Covered” is a good microcosm of the album.
5) “Charlie Parker” by Aaron Alexander. From rAdiAnt rEdoNE, “Charlie Parker” is hits hard and smooth. Built from jazz samples, Aaron Alexander flows his best–skating down melodies and shifting rhythms with ease. Alexander proves the KC hip hop scene is bubbling.
4) “Turned Me To Stone” by The Conquerors. From their High Dive debut, Wyld Time, “Turned Me To Stone” revives the fuzzed over guitar tones and distortion dusted vocals that enamored 60s garage rock to the American psyche. The tune is catchy from verse to chorus and back again.
3) “Mammoth” by Jorge Arana Trio. The noisiest jazz trio in the nation does it again with Mammoth, their 2016 follow up to Oso. The titular track of that album is sludgier, heavier, and moodier than anythign the band has put out. Frankly, “Mammoth” destroys any and everything in its path.
2) “Frequent Flyer” by BLKFLANL. The unstoppable duo of Barrel Maker and Conductor Williams leaves nothing to be desired on BLKFLANL II. Big beats and massive raps collide to make an album that is as infectious as it is poignant. “Frequent Flyer” is a hip hop at its most classic. Best for the dancefloor, the song is pure fun.
1) “Whale Falling” by Psychic Heat. One of my favorite releases of 2016, Psychic Heat’s Sunshower is strong from start to end. That said, “Whale Falling” has a special place in my heart fuzz. Layered percussion and incendiary riffs lay the groundwork for the narrative of a disintegrating whale. The song is the aural equivalent of watching Blue Planet with all the lights out.