Thee Oh Sees – “Gelatinous Cube”
Definitely one of the most prolific bands of the past decade, Thee Oh Sees easily make this list again for 2016, since they simply kick out the jams. “Gelatinous Cube” is the real barn-burner on their 2016 album, A Weird Exits. Also, the song also shreds live, enhanced by the group’s dual drummer arrangement. Heavy, fast and a massive kick-start to the incoming new year. Here is a video clip of the band performing the track at Levitation Festival, over a year before its official album release:
True Widow – “Theurgist”
Chelsea Wolfe has been promoting True Widow heavily on Instagram, so it prompted some immediate listens. Even on a blind recommendation, what a pleasant surprise. Sure, it’s a bit gloomy, like Chealsea’s material, but this song is a potent driving force, especially when you’re in the mood for simple, dark rock. After checking out the rest of True Widow’s album, AVVOLGERE, which is solid, but “Theurgist” is by far the stand-out track. It’s actually a flawless song.
The Faint – “Young & Realistic”
In conjunction with the release of their new compilation, CAPSULE:1999-2016, The Faint have released a fresh single for the year, “Young & Realistic”. It’s a nostalgic sound for the band, featuring well-crafted electronic swells and driving percussions suitable for the dance floors. Yet, with the stale state of EDM and celebrity DJs, it’s welcoming to hear a versatile group like The Faint update their sound a bit to 2016’s satirically, absurd pop-standards, while beating clichéd DJs at their own game. It goes without saying, The Faint are still a must-see live act, with entrancing visuals, similar to the official music video below:
DIIV – “Mire (Grant’s Song)”
With a solid number of killer songs on Is the Is Are, DIIV have significantly improved upon their previous album, Oshin. On Is the Is Are, we see each song vary stylistically, but form a more textural, distorted whole. Rather than an indie rock album you’d hear shopping at Urban Outfitter, we are seeing the band emerge into a more cohesive, aggressive template, while still rightfully keeping their signature comparisons to DIIV’s initial catalyst, Beach Fossils, as well as some more unusual influences like Rudimentary Peni. “Mire (Grant’s Song)” has really layered, interesting guitar work, with the vocals being nicely subtle. Below is a long-form session of the song from PitchFork:
GOAT – “Goatfuzz”
Honestly, Swedish multi-instrumetalist band, GOAT, may have over-thought things on their latest double-album, Requiem. It’s just not on the same accessible standards as their two previous efforts, but that minor gripe aside, there is still a lot of outstanding compositions to salvage from Requiem to keep us fixated this year. Prime example, “Goatfuzz”. I think if a band like Porno for Pyros were still around recording new material, you’d get a lot of the same elements that GOAT has been refining in their absence. Perry take note.
Kino Kimino – “Passion”
Kim Talon is the voice and force behind the NY group, Kino Kimino. I first heard this track on the local Laguna Beach radio station, KX 93.5, and was intrigued a bit by the hokey line, “Passion is the mashed potato”, but I was also curious about the Sonic Youth-esque guitar licks in the track. Appropriately, it turns out Lee Ronaldo and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth were actually involved in the recording process of Kino Kimino’s debut, Bait is For Sissies. So, if you like Sonic Youth, you’ll definitely find some repeated listens in the album. Here’s hoping that Kino Kimino tour extensively in the coming year.
Sunflower Bean – “Wall Watcher”
Sundance Institute invited New York City band, Sunflower Bean, to play a show at the Ace Theater for the Sundance NextFest in Downtown Los Angeles. This young band, blasted the entire theater with punk riffs, sounding especially “full” for just a three-piece. Singer and guitarist, Julia Cummings, had a bit of a Joan Jett vibe and commanded the audience’s attention with ease. Their song, “Wall Watcher” is a prime example of all the good things about this band:
Carla dal Forno – “What You Gonna Do Now?”
Australian songwriter, Carla dal Forno, has a song, “What You Gonna Do Now?”, that sounds like it could have easily been an outtake off of New Order’s Movement, but with immaculate, accomplished female vocals instead. It’s a down-tempo track, quite experimental, mostly electronic and a decent soundtrack for driving through the city into the late evening.
Second Still – “Try Not to Hide”
Maybe this track is a bit older than a year, but “Try Not to Hide” is a majestic display from local (to L.A.), up-and-coming band, Second Still. This track is basically an audio hodge-podge of the best tones from Psi-Com, Killing Joke, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, with vocals similar to Jehnny Beth of Savages. It’s a trippy composition, with an absolutely addictive bass-line, John McGeoch-inspired guitar work, and a drum machine that doesn’t sound shitty. You probably won’t hear this track outside of local radio station like KXLU or social media, but Second Still emanates promise. I’d encourage you to buy the Early Forms EP, as the other songs are equally on par.
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Bleached – “Keep On Keepin’ On”
Not a whole lot to say about this track other than it is great single from the all-female local L.A. band, Bleached. If this song is any indication of the energy / pacing of the album, it’s probably worth checking out.
For your convenience, our top songs of 2016 have been curated in Apple Music for an easy to access playlist: