2016's Greatest Hits

Here's my favorite blog post of the year.

2007 Edition
2008 Edition
2009 Edition
2010 Edition

2011 Edition
2013 Edition
2014 Edition
2015 Edition

Sycamore Street Studios

I saw a friend on the street in Durham this Fall and stopped to chat for a bit.  He was about to fly to St John USVI for a few weeks of vacation -- he's had a very successful career and his kids are grown, so he has the time and resources for this type of trip.  

The friendly convo drifted into a discussion about time and how we use it, to which I said that when (not if!) I'm in his situation and have time, resources, etc., I plan to write and record a new crappy song every day -- just to have the creative outlet and to have a hobby and a process to share with my kids.

After rethinking the conversation over a few days, I decided that waiting until I was retired to do this would be stupid -- so I fired up GarageBand and started making crappy songs with Thomas:

Beach Time
Twinkle Twinkle
Progressive Metal
Just Be Careful
Fast, Tough, & a Little Bit Mean

Our songs definitely got better with time.  Just Be Careful and Fast, Tough are actually pretty decent -- I'm going to work up some new non-5-year-old-soccer lyrics so the Titans can perform the latter.  

We don't really have an official name for our "band" yet, but we've been calling ourselves Thumb Toe for a while now.  My hunch is it will stick.

My goals for 2017 are to record another ~8 or so decent songs with Thomas (and Catherine) so that we can "release" and "record" and to record a few of my own songs (sans children) that reflect what's knocking around in my head and my heart.

American Titans

My rock band American Titans got way better and played a handful of gigs in 2016.  And they were all soooo much fun.

We had a slowdown over the summer when Barba came along, but had a nice run of shows in Raleigh this fall.  2017 should be a good year for us -- we've got an awfully tight 60+ minute set and a handful of new originals in the works.  And I suspect that we'll record a few songs for an EP at some point.


Favorite Records

My favorites:

All alt-folk / rock / Americana this year.  Don't think I'm getting softer -- still plenty of offensive music in my rotation -- but maybe hitting 36 and 3 kids is making me a bit more mellow.

Fruit Bats -- Absolute Loser -- this was one of those "why haven't I been listening to this band my whole life?" kind of things.  My Sweet Midwest is my favorite chorus of 2016 -- I catch myself singing it to my kids all the time.  

"None of us has seen it all."

Kevin Morby -- Singing Saw -- I think his best record, simple, clean, beautiful.  

"I've got a songbook in my head."

Whitney -- Light Upon the Lake -- this record is a breezy summer afternoon, such a pleasure to listen to start to finish.  Guessing that this one is probably on lots of best of lists for 2016.  Adore the brass, the jangly piano, and the sweet falsetto.  

"I'm not sure I know which way the rising river flows, on the night I lose control.  Oh dear -- don't you let me go."

Hiss Golden Messenger -- Heart Like a Levee -- my new favorite band...and based in Durham, no less.  Phil Cook, Matt McCaughon, and Tift Merrit play on this record.  Lead singer Mike Taylor is around my age, has young kids, and sings the truth:

On the trade-offs of having a wife, kids, and a job that you love:

Do you hate me honey, as much as I hate myself?

On finding joy:

You can't choose your blues, but you might as well own them.

On family:

Take all of the grace
And all of the sorrow
Put it on me
Set it free
For a moment
Just a moment
Can I carry it?

God I love this band so much.

Other faves:

A Giant Dog -- Pile -- pretty sure I found out about these guys via tweet from Merge.  A really fun punk band out of Austin.  Sex & Drugs is great -- "can't even remember being young".  Also -- plus points for naming a song Jizzney.

DBT -- American Band -- as strong as anything they've released, love the anger, the truth, and the protest.  Ramon Casiano is my favorite track...and an unbelievable story.  A perfect record for 2016.

Sturgill Simpson -- A Sailor's Guide to Earth -- I remember listening to this the first time and feeling amazed by the unexpected soul/funk turn on the first track.  Also love the rhyming Japanese cities and the N64 Goldeneye line on Sea Stories.

Run the Jewels -- RTJ3 -- haven't really given this one a good listen to be honest, included it simply because I know I'll bang it like crazy over the coming weeks. :)

Diarrhea Planet -- Turn To Gold -- was more excited about this record than any other in 2016 and it delivered.  Hot Topic and Ain't A Sin To Win are my faves.

SIMO -- Let Love Show the Way -- was home alone and playing this so loud that I didn't hear my phone ring.  It was Kelly saying that Cat had tripped her and she broke her ankle on the curb after Thomas' soccer practice.  She was not very happy about that.  Still -- awesome record!

Live Shows

Planet Creep w/ my sis and bro, the drummer.

Planet Creep w/ my sis and bro, the drummer.

Phil Cook with Kelly...and Barba in utero.

Phil Cook with Kelly...and Barba in utero.

Fruit Bats with Zach.

Fruit Bats with Zach.

Also Diarrhea Planet x2 -- in Durham with Chad, in Chapel Hill with Chris.  

Turns out that newborns and live rock and roll don't really mix.  Hoping for more loud music in 2017...and already have Hiss Golden Messenger and Run the Jewels (!!!) on the calendar.

Happy 2017.