2016 was the dirt fucking worst. There’s no other way to put it. It seems almost absurd to talk about what a great year it was for music, in light of all of the terrible things that have happened, but music helped us cope a lot over the last twelve months. And serendipitously, a wealth of great records were released this year, as everything else seemed to go for broke. Here are twenty-five of them that allowed us to forget the cruel dystopia that has become our reality, if only for a little while. We needed both their comforts and catharsis, perhaps more than ever before.
There really is a fantastic run of events this weekend, and what made the cut was put ahead P.S Eliot/Ought at Market Hotel, Allah-Las at Baby’s All Right, and The Album Leaf at Littlefield to name a few. Slightly out of town is the excellent Don Giovanni-led New Alternative Music Festival out in Asbury Park. Finally, the 2016 Vendy Awards are at Governor’s Island on Saturday, and there are still a few tickets available at the time of writing, it’s always a great event, especially if you’re a fan of street food (2015 review here).
Nada Surf return home for a couple of shows in September, firstly at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday the 17th and then Bowery Ballroom on the 18th. Now officially a quartet in the last few years with the addition of guitar maestro Doug Gillard, they will play as a trio for the Music Hall show while he has re-joined Guided By Voices, they’ll be back to a four-piece at Bowery Ballroom (now, how about a GBV/Nada Surf combined show?!).
I’ve previously mentioned that Nada Surf should be considered one of the all time New York greats, and their most recent album, You Know Who You Are, only adds weight to that claim. Released in March on Barsuk Records, it’s another stellar collection of power-pop with perhaps Matthew Caws’ most heartfelt lyrics to date. Few writers can turn a song on its head or throw out a lyric that seems inconspicuous on a first impression and then a masterstroke on further reflection quite like him.
You can watch the two videos from the album, Cold to See Clear and Rushing below.