I’ve been off and on with the “Best Music of the Year” posts over the last few years, largely because two things – 1. The last couple of years, on a personal level, have been busy, chaotic and distracting and 2. I’m gradually becoming more and more of an old curmudgeon of the “fuckin’ kids today!”/”Get off my lawn!” variety, and I’m entirely okay with that.
Time was when I effortlessly sought out, discovered, digested and dutifully evangelized new music on seemingly a weekly basis (y’know, before the pressures, realities and responsibilities of adult things like jobs, marriage and parenting took hold). Moreover, as I’m keen to laboriously point out, there was a shifting of the tectonic plates of cool youth culture some years back, and I suddenly found myself on the wrong continent, so to speak. Most of the stuff I like to routinely listen to -– let alone the means of which I choose to listen to it -– is considered the quintessence of anachronism in 2016. A great, heaping swathe of the “new” and/or more rapturously celebrated music I hear about these days either leaves me confused, indifferent or (more) contemptuous (than usual).
That isn’t to say that I’m divorced from new music entirely. I routinely hear new stuff of all varieties at my job (I am currently employed within the music industry in a sort of peripheral capacity) and I still have some cool, younger friends who hip me to the stuff they believe I’d like (most recently “Firing Squad” by Power Trip, which is enjoyably bracing). Probably the last genuinely “new” artist I took a big shine to was a young lady named Morly. That's her pictured up top. Here’s an unedited blurb I penned about her back in April….
Truly embodying the phrase, “less is more,” the music of Morly (a.k.a. singer/songwriter/producer Katy Morley) manages to say so much while seemingly utilizing very little. Framing her hushed, soulful vocals with minimal keyboards, subtle electronics and languid beats, Morly’s songs arrive with a haunting atmosphere that is chillingly intimate. The sensuous, otherworldly music to be found on her two EPs betrays her simple Midwestern roots and youthful demeanor. With a style already so distinctive and fully-formed, Morly is defining herself as a singer-songwriter to pay attention to.
My other favorite music of the year is entirely less surprising.
I'm tempted to also cite the ridiculously titled Hardwired...To Self-Destruct by Metallica, but I've only recently picked it up. It's way better than I'd have ever expected it to be, but it's too early to call it a favorite.
Being that I'm an old fart, I'm fine with admitting that 2016 was an amazing year for re-issues, finding deluxe re-mastered versions of pivotal albums (for me, at least), like Teen Babes from Monsanto by Redd Kross, Westworld by Theatre of Hate, Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden and both Metal Box and Album by Public Image. I'm still eagerly awaiting the arrival of Transparent by Zos Kia, the late Jhonn Balance's pre-COIL band, but that might have to wait until 2017.
Honestly speaking, though, in anticipation and preparation of the book, the album I've been listening to the most is really this bootleg from 1991 (the renditions of "Burn Your Bridges" and "Chameleon Man" are especially amazing)...