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California State University, Northridge

Best Of 2016 So Far

2016 has been a year marred by the passing of a number of great musicians. Fortunately we have been consoled by great new music and here's a quick look at some of KCSN's favorite albums half way through 2016.

Ray LaMontagne Ouroboros
Coming off of his 60’s influenced Supernova album, Ray Lamontagne remained in a throwback kind of mood. He brought in Jim James of My Morning Jacket fame to produce a very psychedelic rock influenced Ouroboros. From the seconds of “Homecoming” to through “Wouldn’t It Make A Lovely Photograph”, you could swear Pink Floyd recorded this album around the same time as Dark Side Of The Moon. “The Changing Man” into “While It Still Beats” is definitely a highlight.


Lucius Good Grief
Normally a band with two or more lead singers looks to highlight their differences. Lucius, on the other hand, keeps reminding you how similar Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig are. Good Grief is a culmination of their hard work over the years. In an age of music where dynamic range is all but forgotten, they can rock out on tracks like “Born Again Teen” before keeping you on the edge of your seat with the sparse “Dusty Trails”.


Sturgill Simpson A Sailor's Guide To Earth
The country rock revolution continues with Sturgill Simpson leading the way in 2016 on A Sailor’s Guide To Earth. Sturgill has a very special ability to take an everyday country song and quite literally take it beyond this world. Who else would think of a country song like “Keep It Between The Lines” getting a horn section? Or how about a dark cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom”? This album is rich with passion and fire, maybe more so than just about any other release in 2016.


Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
Is there any band who shrouds their album releases in as much mystery as Radiohead? A Moon Shaped Pool is their first album in 5 years and yet again the band surprises us with another transition. This time “Burn The Witch” previewed what was to come – strings. Compared to the last few albums, the band returned to more melodic sounds without escaping who Radiohead is at heart. Gorgeous arrangements bind the album together while the band continues to push the envelope on what constitutes a great song.


David Bowie Blackstar
The sudden death of David Bowie hit many music fans hard, yet we were consoled by his final studio album, now clearly his swan song to the world. Recorded over Bowie’s final years as cancer ate away at his health, the always adventurous artist left us with an album that is beautiful yet ugly, evocative yet mysterious, and challenging yet comfortable. Bowie’s influence on the music world is unquestioned and Blackstar was a fitting end to one of the all-time greats.


So how about what's coming for the rest of the year? The Head And The Heart have already made big waves with "All We Ever Knew" off of their upcoming album Signs Of Light.


Is there anything that has blown you away so far in 2016? Any upcoming relelases you're excited to hear?