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Spanspek's Favorite Music of 2016 - Sam Retton

Yo! Hope you've been enjoying the end of the year posts so far! We got another guest bloggo for y'all today from Midwest Moms singer Sam Retton

But as usual, before we get to her end of year faves, please consider donating to La Causa 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!

Ok, that's it, lets give it up for Sam!


Sam Retton here, of Midwest Moms. Vegan, straight edge, coffee enthusiast, forever in college. Much of my favorite music, or at least the things I keep on heavy rotation, came out twenty or more years ago, so believe it or not, trying to come up with five albums I loved that didn’t come out in 2015 or earlier was quite a challenge for me because I’m old and out-of-touch at 25. Nevertheless, here were a few of my most recent favorites:

Sci-Fi Caper (Fresno, CA)
Star Stuff
Anyone who’s known me a while will know that I love Sci-Fi Caper. I actually stumbled across their Bandcamp while scouring the “twee” tag years and years ago and immediately fell in love-- so much so that I asked them to play a show I had coming up with Calvin Johnson and Joey Casio (a much-loved casualty of Oakland’s Ghost Ship fire). Long story short, they said yes and quickly became one of my favorite bands of all time and some of my best friends. Like everything they release, this album is full of jams and wonderful memories of slightly happier times. I like to think of Sci-Fi Caper as a pretty bittersweet band, and this album is deliciously bittersweet.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed Ltd)
I can think of few albums this year that were as hotly debated as Skeleton Tree, but I belong to the camp believing that Nick Cave can do no wrong (Warren Ellis less so, personally), so I carted myself off to Santa Cruz to hear the album for the first time as the soundtrack to One More Time with Feeling. Having had this experience in an old, mostly-empty theater, and then having used the album as the soundtrack to a tearful solo drive to the foothills one cool night, windows down, I can’t help but love it. It is decidedly unpolished, but especially in the wake of Cave’s teenage son’s tragic death, I admire that. You can call it lazy if you’d like-- I call it honest.

Old Gray (New Hampshire)
Slow Burn (Flower Girl Records)
Old Gray is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the most impressive post-hardcore or screamo bands left in this world. The tracks on this album are incredibly short compared to those on An Autobiography, but they sting just as much, if not more so. A December release, this album is pretty much as fresh as my favorites come. You can listen to the entire thing in less than twenty minutes, but given that the album is basically a eulogy for lost friends, you do so at your own peril.

Xiu Xiu
Plays the Music of Twin Peaks (Polyvinyl Records)
I love Xiu Xiu. I love Twin Peaks. There really isn’t much more to say about this one.

Judah (Fresno, CA)
Withdrawal
Judah is a young local band that’s destined for good things. I’m an avid fan of Jawbreaker, as my friends all know, and I’m 99.9% positive these guys are, too. We’ve had them play at Emo Night more than once, even though they’ve occasionally had to leave after their set because they were under 21. While this EP isn’t necessarily super polished, it’s a promising sign of what’s to come if they continue playing together.

Other favorites included David Bowie’s Blackstar, which goes without saying, and Heaven Adores You, the soundtrack to the Elliott Smith documentary of the same name, as well as Blaqk Audio’s Material, Brazilian trio RAKTA’s III, American Football’s long-awaited (and unexpected) sophomore album, and a whole host of albums I’ve forgotten throughout the year or not yet gotten around to.

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