New Releases: 2016 Music - Top Picks from Alexis
2016's Musical Playlist - So Far
In my conquest to complete my playlists fresh, I used Wikipedia to find a list of everything that came out this year. Wikipedia is generally useless when it comes to actual research, but their lists are a really nice place to start if they have one made matching what you're looking for. As I wade through this list looking for rock, pop, rap, metal, and indie tunes: I'll leave it up here for you to browse through.
Rachel Platten (Wildfire Album)
Rachel Platten - Wildfire (January) (Pop)
I get lost in all the pop artists so even though I had heard "Fight Song" on the radio and enjoyed it well enough, I had no idea that Rachel Platten was her name. "Wildfire" came out in January, and I'm pleased with the rest of this album as well... most of it, anyways. For some reason, the most popular songs on an album are not the ones I most relate to. If I were to be the one putting songs on the radio, I would have chosen the "Superman" track to overplay. Maybe it was on the radio, but I would have made sure that I knew her name a long time ago if I had heard that side of her personality first.
Pop is not my favorite concert, but I might go to one if she was close enough to me (for the right price). As for now, she'll be in my YouTube rotation, looking for her next album.
Hinds (Leave Me Alone Album)
Hinds - Leave Me Alone (January) (Rock)
Wikipedia classified Hinds as Garage Rock. "Leave me alone also came out in January, and left me wondering about this new genre that I found. In the search for a new album, I found an entirely different kind of music that I didn't know I enjoyed. It gives you the feel of listening to your friends in a garage or small, garage-like venue. Instruments are simple, and the love love of pure music.
Going live, there isn't much on YouTube which leaves me to believe that Garage Rock isn't really a sought-after genre. Maybe we're past the time for that "classic" sound to music, but I thought their flaws were refreshing. So much of today's music has the instrumentals fixed, the voices fixed, and it's nice to know that there are people out there comfortable with raw music still.
Avantasia Live (2016)
Avantasia - Live in Moscow April 6th, 2016 (Full Show)
Avantasia - Ghostlights Album (January) (Symphonic Metal)
Symphonic metal is in no way new to me. Apocalyptica and I are old friends, so when I saw Avantasia on the list I just had to check them out. They are no Apocalyptica, but they're in my top ten symphonic metal band list now. I'm not sure what they have released in the past, but I'll be spending the next days finding every scrap of their music.
This time I found a new band in an already amazing genre. Symphonic Metal has a large following, but it's a very particular taste. The band is in now way new, but I don't get in the mood for a symphony very often. When I do, though, it is always of the metal persuasion. There are symphonies out there for all the greats, no matter what genre or artist. Google your favorite artist and I almost promise that if you put "symphony" at the end of the search. If the first search proves unsuccessful, you should be able to find a symphony version of an artist or band within your top ten.
I don't have a favorite song for Avantasia, because they were all amazing. The entire production is worth the two hours in my life I ended up losing to their versions of old favorites. Lyrics help me understand a piece of music, and it was such a gift to find a symphonic metal band that put lyrics into their masterpieces.
TEXTURES - Phenotype
TEXTURES - Phenotype (Metalcore) (February)
Metal took me over for a minute when I listened to these guys, because their metalcore sound is so clean. Sometimes, everything is just too loud when it comes to metalcore. These genre should be proud of these boys, because I can still hear all the different points and understand what he is saying. There were a couple slower songs that I could classify as just metal, so it hit a few different sub-genres all in the same album.
Whiz Khalifa - Khalifa (Rap/Hip-Hop)
Every album from Whiz Khalifa has a song for me, so I searched YouTube for this year's track. "Zoney" won for the year. Behind all the drugs and gang references associated with most of Whiz Khalifa's music, the messages in his music are sometimes more real than other Rap artists of today. In my opinion, not many other good Hip-Hop albums came out for 2016 (so far). We have a whole 6 months that hasn't been posted or planned or 2016, though, so we're bound to have some more new rap entering our lives.
Wynonna and The Big Noise - Wynonna and The Big Noise (February) (Country)
I've always thought that Wynonna's voice was one of the strongest in the country industry, and she's still goin'! Why? Because she can, that's why. Her voice is just as powerful now as when I first listened to her twenty years ago. She still performs beautiful, and has what seems to be a new band with her. Where the Judds went, I have no idea. This is the next best thing, though, as I imagine The Judds are climbing up there in age a little bit. The old-school county style will never leave her, but Wynonna is still one of the queens in her genre.
Kanye West - The Life of Pablo (February) (Rap/Hip-Hop)
Kanye is another of my favorite rappers. I'm not sure yet how I feel about the album in its entirety, but I found a few songs that I enjoyed. There's an old-school kind of feeling to this album that almost crosses over into a new genre.
"Fade" gets close to what I like about Kanye's past work, but that's as close as it got for me. I'll be waiting for 2017 most likely before I check out Kanye again.
Anthrax (For All Kings)
ANTHRAX - For All Kings (February) (Thrash Metal)
Seeing Anthrax on the list of new music in 2016 was a surprise. They have the same sound they always did, and I couldn't be more excited about the new metal albums in the last few years. Anthrax's new album will inspire me to look for any I didn't realize that I'd lost hope of rocking out with these boys again, and the concert possibilities for this summer just keep stacking up! I'll have some serious choices to make when the time comes.
Ninja Sex Party (Under the Covers)
Ninja Sex Party - Under the Covers (March) (Pop/Rock)
Ninja Sex Party, if you've never heard them, is not what you're thinking. I was sure that it was either comedy music; maybe punk or metal. I didn't trust Wikipedia that this was categorized correctly under Pop. My mistrust was misguided, and the album is filled with catchy old tunes. Vocals are pretty close to the originals, and even though I don't normally love covers... I didn't bother to turn the track because they were so well-done.
Keith Urban (Wasted Time, RipCORD) (Single)
Keith Urban (RipCORD (May Release) (Country)
As we get ready for all the new singles coming out, my favorite is Keith Urban's "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16:. Keith Urban is in my top three male country artists. Each album brings a catchier tune, and I can't get enough of him. Country music, for me, stood still when he took a break some years back. I'm so glad that he's back on the scene and cannot wait for this album to be released so that I can hear the rest of what Keith decided to share with us.
Keeping in Touch in the Summer
During summer I spend most of my time on Pandora at the pool with my son. As the summer goes by, these songs will turn into old news, and I'll have a new playlist. From month to month, I will fill my life with the music that 2016 throws at me!