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Spanspek's Favorite Music of 2016 - Mike Oz

Hey! We got another blog for you! This is unprecedented! It's from Fresno renaissance man Mike Oz!  A lot of your faithful readers know who this dude is, but for those who don't Mike Oz covers baseball at Yahoo Sports, hosts Ozmosis on New Rock 104.1 and organizes Fresno-area events such as Taco Truck Throwdown, FresYes Fest and Tacos, Brews & Jams. Before all that, he wrote about music and pop culture at The Fresno Bee for 10 years. Follow him on social media, @mikeoz.  See, he's legit.

But before we get to his picks please consider donating to Spanspek by going to the TULARE COUNTY ARTS CONSORTIUM WEBSITE and clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.  All donations go to our scholarship fund and help us keep doing our podcast, blog, and music festival! Any amount helps!

Oh and by the way, be sure to hit up Mike's Tacos, Brews, and Jams event tonight at the Tioga-Sequoia Brewery!

Thanks and lets see what Mike Oz likes!
Hi. First off, this isn’t going to be your “normal” end-of-the-year music list. I’m not one of those dudes who thinks about this stuff for months and compares with the taste-making websites to make sure I’m naming all the correct pillars of 2016.

My process is a little more basic: What did I listen to the most? What did I keep coming back to?

I’ll be honest: My modern music listening is way more about playlists and individual tracks. That’s probably a function of having to put together a radio show each week (9 p.m. Sundays on New Rock 104.1, wink, wink).  So I think that means the albums that had me coming back week after week and month after month were even more important. So, with all that in mind, let’s go:

(Oh, this is in no specific order other than how they came to mind/where they were listed in my iTunes)
Tribe did what so many hip-hop artists fail at: Make an album that stays true to their classic style while also being modern enough to attract new listeners. Add some A-list collaborators like Andre 3000 and Kendrick Lamar and you’ve got a no-doubt winner.

Light Upon the Lake (Secretly Canadian)
No, not Houston. These dudes used to be in Smith Westerns, but took a different turn here: Whitney has elements of folk and soul and country. It’s something I never thought I would have liked 10 years ago, but I guess I’m old now, ‘cause this is good.

Ology (Mind of a Genius, Warner Bros.)
While everybody was freaking out over Frank Ocean, I was trying to spread the gospel of Gallant. This guy is fantastic. In a wonderful year for soul music, this didn’t get enough attention. Change that, ASAP.
How To Be a Human Being (Harvest Records)
I love me some Glass Animals, and I think How To Be A Human Being sums up why. It’s catchy and quirky, familiar enough that to be a good work soundtrack but different enough that it’s exciting and fresh.

AMORET (Fresno, CA)
Amoret was my favorite local band of 2016. They have a sound that fits the modern musical landscape and is worthy of attention outside of Fresno. They put on a great show (it was a joy to work with him for a gig at Tioga-Sequoia). And their single “Home” was the local song I played the most this year on Ozmosis.

I don’t even need to run any numbers to know that I listened to Future more than any other artist in 2016. He’s generally hit-and-miss with me, but his hits are Barry Bonds-level. Purple Reign was his most complete effort for my taste. Spacy but catchy. With enough songs that I found myself singing randomly in the car.

This Album Does Not Exist (Universal Music)
Dreamers sort of beat me into submission. They put out guitar-driven single after  guitar-driven single, good enough that I’d spin them on my show, but not enough that I fell in love with them. Then came “Sweet Disaster,” which I thought should have been a rock radio hit. It didn’t get there, but when they finally dropped their album it was a very solid collection of guitar jams.

Yes Lawd! (Stones Throw Records)
There was no shortage of love this year for Anderson .Paak, who had a breakout 2016. One project of his that I loved and that definitely didn’t get enough attention is “Yes Lawd,” a collaboration with beatmaker Knxwledge as the duo NxWorries. It’s from Stones Throw and has a J. Dilla-type sound to it, with .Paak’s unmistakable voice giving everything one extra layer of dopeness.

Three (Republic Records)
Here’s my mainstream alt-radio pick of the year. “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” was in steady rotation in my playlists and at my events, but the album as a whole was pretty deep.

Sunlit Youth (Loma Vista Recordings)
I’ve liked Local Natives for a while now, but never really loved an entire album of theirs until this year. “Sunlit Youth” is pretty diverse in its sounds and inspirations — some straight-up indie rock songs and some bouncy, interesting, experimental songs — which I think is what made it appeal to me.


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