15 Great Musical Discoveries From 2016

Written by on January 4, 2017

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Every couple months, my KPSU radio show “Six Degrees of Rockination” has a theme. On December 31, 2016, that theme was my favorite musical discoveries from the last year. To be clear, not all of these bands and songs were new in 2016, but they were new to me. I discovered them in 2016, so I celebrated them in this show. What songs did I play?

Kaleo – “No Good”

Goodness, this one’s a rocker. I’m so glad I discovered this band from the fertile fields of Iceland. My other favorite song by them is “Rock n Roller,” which is also a rocker.

1990s – “You Made Me Like It”

An insanely catchy pop song from 2007, which I only discovered this year. The band’s out of Scotland, which (like Iceland) produces a remarkable amount of good music for its size.

Augustines – “Are We Alive”

Our first song that actually came out in 2016! This song is both rocking and catchy, which puts it firmly in my wheelhouse. Favorite line: “Rip my f—king clothes off, she said.”

July Talk – “The Garden”

I really enjoy bands with both a male and a female singer, and the difference is even stronger with this band, because his voice is gravelly and subsonic.

Prince – “FUNKNROLL”

A lot of rock stars died in 2016. The only good thing to come out of it was me discovering this song. Originally put out in 2014, it feels like about three songs within one, and the breakdown at the end is world-class. Prince was a genius. May he rest in peace.

Young Heart Attack – “Hell On Earth”

I discovered this band way back around 2004, but didn’t realize until this year that they’d put out a second album. No surprise, it’s red-hot, loaded with fist-in-the-air rockers like this.

The Brothers Bright – “Awake O Sleeper”

Totally acoustic, but dear Lord, does this rock. This guy’s voice come from somewhere deep in the earth and just blasts out, full volume. A great sing-along, if you’ve got the pipes.

School Of Seven Bells – “On My Heart”

This song is so synth-heavy that I’m a little surprised I like it as much as I do, but the vocals are just exquisite. The two female voices singing the lead together, going in unexpected directions, it’s heavenly.

The Temperance Movement – “Modern Massacre”

I am so glad I discovered this band. They’re from England and have a perfect combo of rock and blues. I like pretty much every song I’ve heard by them.

Nada Surf – “Cold To See Clear”

Nada Surf’s been around a long time, but clearly they’ve still got mad skills. This song came out in 2016 and is up there with anything the band’s done. The high clear voice, the double-time chorus, the gorgeous harmonies. Just sensational.

Wolf Gang – “Alveron”

I just discovered this band, but they’ve already broken up. Sad. Well, at least they left us with this beauty. A wonderful mix of soft and loud.

Crash Kings – “Mountain Man”

Apparently, this song was a big, big hit back in 2009, but I’d never heard it, which either shows how clueless I am, or how rarely I listen to corporate radio. Fortunately, I discovered it this year and am now fully in love.

Blueprint – “So Alive”

This guy is fascinating. Some of the most positive hip hop you’ll ever hear. This song’s got a groove so deep, you could fall in, plus just a touch of rock edginess. A great discovery.

R.L. Burnside – “Someday Baby” (feat. Lyrics Born)

Speaking of grooves, if this song doesn’t get you moving, you may be dead. A Bob Dylan song played by an old blues man from Mississippi? And a rapper and a funky hip hop beat? Sign me up!

White Denim – “Had 2 Know (Personal)”

From Stiff, my choice for best album of 2016. I’d never been a huge White Denim fan until this year, but this album has one brilliant rock song after another. Just exceptional.

Want to hear the entire radio show? Here’s the link. A solid hour featuring my favorite musical discoveries of 2016.

Playlist:

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