Countdown to the Best New (to me) Artist of 2016:
14. Cat’s Eyes- 1950’s type pop that reminds me of Linda Gore.
13. Moose Blood- Best band name, but a little bit of a depressing sound. Not bad, just a little more down then I usually gravitate toward. I would listen to another one of their albums.
12. Banks- Tough-gal, with R&B flavor and club beat.
11. The Brothers Osborne: Country and feisty. These songs WILL get stuck in your head.
10. Girl Blue- Clearly someone to keep your eye on. There is so much potential here. “Call Me Home” is soft and sweet, “One and Only” is tough and strong. I can’t wait to see where she goes, I don’t think this will be the last we hear of Girl Blue.
9. Shovels & Rope- The frenetic pace of the music is amped up and interesting. They would have rated higher if the singing was a little more pleasing. It sounds like loud talking, really. But the music is different and makes up for the shout-sings–mostly.
8. Maren Morris- The recording quality is poor, like, really, really bad-probably the worst on this list. It sounds like someone sitting in a bar held their phone up and then uploaded it. It’s sort of hollow and 1980s cassette tape–taped over a few times. The quality of the work itself is nice though. I find Morris’ lyrics and singing refreshing. “My Church” is one of my favorite tracks and speaks to how a passion can be almost spiritual. I don’t know if she writes all of her own songs, but she wrote at least one, “Second Wind” that Kelly Clarkson recorded. I like how the songs are country, but saucy. See “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry” a poem on raising your standards as a female. It’s progressive ideas in a country format–I like it!
7. The Mowgli’s- I think they may have had a prior album–but I don’t think I’ve heard anything from it. This album is sort of a soft-country crossed with Hansen sometimes (“Alone Sometimes”) and The Plain White Tees (“Arms & Legs”) other times.
6. Shawn Mendes- Maybe he was around in 2015 and earlier, it sure seems like his “stiches” song has been at least. But I don’t know if the whole album was out earlier, or if the single dropped very early in 2016. At any rate, I see great potential here. It’s like a more mature Bieber. And “Air,” “No Promised,” and “Bad Reputation” grab you instantly.
5. The Ballroom Thieves- The background instrumentation is really the star here. There is a cello? It lends a resonant, interesting sound to the trend of going hipster-bluegrass. Don’t get me wrong, hipster-bluegrass is probably my favorite genre right now, but bands shouldn’t be doing it only to break in the business or get into a smaller awards category.
4. NEEDTOBREATHE- Let me get this out of the way first–I hate when artists use mispellings, all caps, symbols, numbers, or other nonsense in their name. All caps, one word? Sigh. But the sound is Kings of Leon meets Fall Out Boy in a church choir. It’s kinda hipster, with roack and gospel. I especially like “Happiness” with it’s churchy vibe, “Don’t Bring That” that sounds like music played in a car chase, and “Great Night” feat Shovels & Rope.
3. American Authors- Bouncy, happy, and just enough electronic to suit the Millennials.
2. Tim Moxam- Hipster country. Gentle strumming, and an old school country singing style. It’s right up my alley. “Harvest for the Queen” is so great of a song! It’s poetry on guitar.
1. The Heavy- My favorite new artist of 2016! Check out “Big Bad Wolf” and tell me you’re not a fan too. It’s interesting and upbeat. “Short Change Hero” addresses sociology in a catchy way. They sound like a cross between CeeLo Green and Lord Huron. A little bit hipster, a teeny bit motown. It’s a really good mix, and I can’t wait for more.