Now that we’ve said goodbye to 2015, it’s time to move on and look forward to what 2016 has to offer.
Here’s, hopefully, an interesting and informative list of 10 very fine bands/artists (listed in no particular order) that we should hear much more good stuff from this year. If you’re more of an aural learner, check out this Spotify playlist thrown in for good measure.
In addition to his album, Delilah, winding up on my 5 Albums You May Have Missed in 2015 list, 2016 will find Anderson East stepping out of opening act status and putting on his big boy, headliner pants. This is a great thing for all of us because more people need to get baptized by the Alabama native’s warm-blooded, honey voice slinging songs like “Satisfy Me” that sound as if – instead of Detroit – Motown made records in Nashville.
Here’s a nod to all things south of the Mason-Dixon Line: Nashville, Tennessee’s lovely Clare Dunn. Guitar skills: check. Vocal skills: check. Song about a car: check (”Ferrari”). Wicked command of a stage: check. She’s retro enough to appeal to the old, yet fresh and dynamic enough to attract the new. Dunn is one of those artists who, even if you’re not a fan of Country music, you’ll still dig her and her groove. Check out her self-titled EP for further and her swagger on “Move On.”
Brisbane, Australia’s Conrad Sewell is 23 years old and gives Ed Sheeran piggyback rides. It’s true. Besides that, his other skill set includes belting out jams that either make you dance (“Hold Me Up”) or swoon (“Start Again”). He’s got a definite R&B jones and ain’t too proud to throw in a snippet of Michael Jackson, whom you can clearly tell he loves. No shame in this young man’s fine-tuned game.
Dorothy Martin (vox), Mark Jackson (guitar), Greg Cash (bass) and Zac Morris (drums) are the Los Angeles hard rocking quartet Dorothy and have released a series of whiskey-fuled shots aimed at anyone who has ever thrown up the Dio devil horns like “After Midnight” and “Wild Fire.” Delicious, bluesy rock, scorching to the touch (and to your ears) and just as bad-ass as they wanna be with Dorothy’s voice leaving a metallic taste in your mouth. They raise hell like professionals.
Intensity, ferocity, prowess and persuasion. Love songs, wrong songs. That’s Christopher Gallant, to you. Youth and young manhood: emphasis on manhood. Vocal range, both dreamy and disturbing yet worth its weight in gold. Yes, that’s him ripping Foo Fighters’ “Learn To Fly” a new and soulful hole.
Last year London’s Jack Garratt released his EP, Synesthesiac, and won the BRITs’ Critics’ Choice Award. Any questions? Okay, fine. The last time I saw Garratt perform was in a church at SXSW where his electronic R&B soul made the place feel simultaneously holy and sexy. As you can imagine, it was a very conflicted moment but I liked it. A lot.
Australia has been a wicked goldmine for a new wave of neo-soul inspiration and artists who can unearth it with heart. Prime example: Meg Mac. Her 2015 self-titled EP was five songs of deftly touched, soul flavored gems like “Roll Up Your Sleeps” and the gospel tilt of “Never Be” which – we suspect – are just the tip of her musical iceberg. A full-length record is on the way this year so put it on your radar.
Yeah, it’s pronounced “Mother.” Since their inception in the summer of 2014, Brooklyn, NY’s bedroom project four-piece Mothxr (Jimmy Giannopoulos, Simon Oscroft, Darren Will and fronted by Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgely) has dished out a fusion of indie rock with electronic moody grooves that double as baby-making music. If you weren’t aware that Badgely had pipes worthy of fronting a band, well now you know and that sweet spot of the 80s sound is the new black. Debut album, Centerfold, is out February 26th. You’re welcome.
THE RECORD COMPANY
For four years and two EPs, Chris Vos (vox, guitar), Alex Stiff (bass) and Marc Cazorla (drums) have made themselves quite comfortable and well-loved in Los Angeles with their revival, barroom blues rock. In recorded form, their songs tend to take you back. In live form, the songs tend to make you sweat. They tour hard, play hard, have clocked formidable hours on the road with Brian Setzer, Blackberry Smoke, Trombone Shorty, Grace Potter, Mr. BB King, himself and they aren’t afraid to leave the stage in a beautiful wreckage when they’re done. Their debut album, Give It Back To You, comes out February 12th and it’ll be a pleasure to finally see (and hear) the fruits of these road warriors’ labors.
Sometimes you just want your rock n roll over the top, in your face and with balls to the wall swagger. If that’s you, then say hello to Luke Spiller, guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott and drummer Gethin Davies better known as the UK foursome, The Struts. From the hair to the outsized, Freddie Mercury-esque lungs to the classic guitar grind to the bombastic stadium sound with glammy undertones, it’s rock for the sake of feeling alive. These guys are a pure and unadulterated neo-retro and one song on last year’s Have You Heard? EP is called “Kiss This.” Enough said.