Friday, December 30, 2016

Best of 2016 with Teacher On The Radio

It’s that time of year when most of the major critics have already posted their “best of” lists, and we in the “fan critic” scene finally get around to posting ours. Every year, I wonder if I can even pull this off, but music is such an integral part of my internal spiritual response to surviving life in these times, I feel more-or-less obligated to share the energy and hope I have found from these songs and albums! When I began sorting and sampling a few days ago, I thought I might have five or ten albums or discs on here. Yet I ended up with thirty.

Here is my middle-aged Gen X fanboy confession. Whenever I look at all the important “best of” lists at places like Pitchfork or NPR Music or even Rolling Stone, I feel guilty for not listening to even more music and not-getting-what-others-get, perhaps even being old, ucoool, not-quite-hip.

There are always some records that everybody who is somebody seemed to list on their list -- but not me. But I am too old to care now about being in or out, but must admit it, music is still part of my daily essential spiritual diet; music is a big part of what gets me through life, especially a year like 2016. This two-hour Spotify mix of folk, Americana, soul, gospel, and psychedelic “jesushippy-Dadrock” is from the heart. I have seen the famous critics lists. Surely I have left some important things off this list, but it comes close to what helped me survive. Here is my personal list. The top thirty is followed by a link to a Spotify playlist. If you made a list or playlist, I want to see yours.

Artist - Album/Song (date of release) Artist Twitter
  1. Avett Brothers - True Sadness (6.24.2016) @theavettbros
  2. Cloud Cult - The Seeker (2.12.2016) @CloudCult
  3. Jim James - Eternally Even (11.4.2016) @jimjames
  4. Woods - City Sun Eater In the River Of Light (4.8.2016) @WOODSIST
  5. Judah and the Lion - Folk Hop N Roll (3.4.2016) @judahandthelion
  6. Crowder - American Prodigal (9.23.2016) @crowdermusic
  7. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Let Me Get By (1.29.2016) @DerekAndSusan
  8. Mavis Staples - Livin on a High Note (2.19.2016) @mavisstaples
  9. Run River North - Drinking From A Salt Pond (2.26.2016) @RunRiverNorth
  10. Ray LaMontagne - Ouroboros (3.4.2016) @RayLaMontagne
  11. Hiss Golden Messenger - Heart Like A Levee (10.7.2016) @hissgldnmssr
  12. Steve Gunn - Eyes On The Lines (6.3.2016) @SteveGunnMusic
  13. Frightened Rabbit - Painting of a Panic Attack (4.8.2016) @FRabbits
  14. Kings of Leon - WALLS (10.14.2016) @KingsOfLeon
  15. The Rolling Stones - Blue & Lonesome (12.2.2016) @RollingStones
  16. Drive By Truckers - American Band (9.30.2016) @drivebytruckers
  17. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - PersonA (4.15.2016) @EdwardSharpe
  18. Michael Franti & Spearhead - SOULROCKER (6.3.2016) @michaelfranti
  19. River Whyless - We All The Light (8.26.2016) @RiverWhyless
  20. Amos Lee - Spirit (8.19.2016) @amoslee
  21. St. Paul & the Broken Bones - Sea of Noise (9.9.2016) @StP_BrokenBones
  22. Shearwater - Jet Plane And Oxbow (1.22.2016) @ShearwaterBand
  23. The Head and the Heart - Signs Of Light (9.9.2016) @headandtheheart
  24. Sam Bean & Jesca Hoop - Love Letter for Fire (4.15.2016) @IronAndWine
  25. Violent Femmes - We Can Do Anything (3.18.2016) @violentfemmes
  26. Conor Oberst - Ruminations (10.14.2016) @conoroberst
  27. Black Mountain - IV (4.1.2016) @_blackmountain_
  28. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (2.26.2016) @macklemore
  29. My Morning Jacket - “Magic Bullet” (11.11.2016) @mymorningjacket
  30. Various - Day of the Dead (5.20.2016) @dayofthedead

Friday, December 23, 2016

12 Essential Christmas Albums, 1960-2016

Each year during November and December, I obsess about Christmas music and make numerous Advent and Christmas playlists, many of which have been shared on our radio program “Teacher On The Radio” or given away on homemade mixtape CDs, burned one-by-one on my computer. My passion is for new and creative versions of sacred songs, though I do love an occasional Santa song, too. By no means an exhaustive list, here are 12 essential Christmas albums I absolutely love, spanning seven decades and mostly in the realm of folk, gospel, and soul. All are available on Spotify, so go revisit your favorites or check out something new. Merry Christmas!

Josh Garrels - The Light Came Down 2016
Beta Radio - The Songs The Season Brings, Vols. 1-4 2015
Anthony Hamilton - Home For The Holidays 2014
Sarah McLachlan - Wintersong  2006 and Wonderland 2016
Kathy Mattea - Good News 1993 and Joy for Christmas Day 2003
Elizabeth Mitchell - The Sounding Joy 2013
Odetta - Christmas Spirituals 1960
Staple Singers - 25th Day of December 1962
John Denver - Rocky Mountain Christmas 1975

Bruce Cockburn - Christmas 1993

Monday, December 12, 2016

The First Day (TOTR 284)

Jack’s Mannequin - The Lights & Buzz
Bunker Babe - Mary’s Boychild
A Tribe Called Red - ALie Nation
A Tribe Called Red - The Light
Jana - Little Drummer Boy
Bruce Cockburn - Jesus Ahatonnia (The Huron Carol)
The Staple Singers - Holy Unto The Lord
Stevie Wonder - Someday At Christmas
Solomon Burke - Presents For Christmas
James Brown - Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto
Bruce Springsteen - Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
Bob Dylan - Here Comes Santa Claus
Dwight Yoakam - Santa Claus Is Back In Town
R.E.M. - Deck The Halls
The Beach Boys - We Three Kings Of Orient Are
Blackmore’s Night - Ding Dong Merrily On High
The Supremes - My Favorite Things
Mahalia Jackson - I Wonder as I Wander
Nina Simone - Children Go Where I Send You
Sarah McLachlan - Go Tell It On The Mountain
Holy City Hymns - Jesus Comes With Clouds Descending
Bifrost Arts - In Labor All Creation Groans
Beta Radio - Coventry Carol/King Without A Mountain
John Denver - The Peace Carol
Anuna - The First Day
U2 - White As Snow

Coldplay - Everglow

Monday, December 5, 2016

Shepherds & Kings (TOTR 283)

Iron & Wine - Gray Stables
Peter Mayer - Stables
Halifax Camerata Singers - Carol of the Stable Dog
Answer Hymn - Stable in the Darkness
Jefferson Ross - The Star Above the Stable
Emmylou Harris - Light Of The Stable
Pete Seeger - Rise Up, Shepherd, & Follow
Hearts of Saints - The Shepherd’s Song
Monks of Weston Priory - Shepherds & Kings
Johnny Cash - We Are the Shepherds
Nowell Sing We Clear - While Shepherds Watched
The King’s Men - Good Christian Men, Rejoice
Josh Garrels - The Virgin Mary Had One Son
India.Irie & Joe Sample - Mary, Did You Know?
The Spirituals Project - Run, Mary, Run
Joan Osborne - Cherry Tree Carol
The Brilliance - Mother of God
The Moody Blues - In The Bleak Midwinter
Indigo Girls - Angels We Have Heard On High
Cardiphonia - Upon A Hill In Bethlehem (Glory!)
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - We Three Kings
Sufjan Stevens - What Child Is This Anyway?
High Street Hymns - Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
Ordinary Time - How You Choose To Come
Buddy & Julie Miller - Away In A Manger
Kathy Mattea -Christ Child’s Lullaby
Aaron Neville - Go Tell It On The Mountain
Odetta - Somebody’s Talkin About Jesus
Harry Belafonte - Amen
JJ Heller - Silent Night