2016 Midyear Music Round Up

With June almost gone now seems like as good a time as any to talk about the best new music I’ve discovered this year thus far.  The following list is not ordered from best to worst or vice versa.

  1. “Real Love” – Florrie

Florrie (English singer Florence Arnold) has been active in music for many years now and has released a lot of great, 80’s influenced, pop music, but her latest single “Real Love” (released just in time for Valentine’s Day) is her first song to be released by a major label serving as a first taste before her debut album comes out late this year.  “Real Love” is an amazing pop love-ballad with good lyrics and Florrie’s usual stellar vocals.  Just a side note, the song is just a little similar to Taylor Swift’s “Style” a song Florrie said she loved and has even covered.

  1. “Hummingbird” – Kyla La Grange

An incredible electro-pop song about being unable to decide between two choices because of self-doubt (like a hummingbird I’ll hover/but never taste the fruit) it’s been one of my favorites since it came out in April and is a solid pick for one of the best songs of 2016.

  1. “In My Blood” – The Veronicas

The first new music to come from the Aussie rock/pop duo since their 2014 self-titled album.  “In My Blood” is a different sound from what we’re used to from The Veronicas being the kind of dance pop you’d except to hear at night clubs or music houses, but regardless it’s an amazing dance song for the summer.

  1. “Criminal + Dreamers” – Willa

A more obscure release from electro-pop Canadian new comer Willa (Ali Milner) who debuted her first single “Stay the Night” (Track 4) in 2014.  This debut EP features 8 songs and overall makes for a very good listen; album opener “Swan” (which also has a radio edit at the EP’s end) is more rock-influenced with Willa belting out some defiant lyrics about not being eye-candy (I’m not a swan/pretty in the pond).  The next two tracks “Criminal” and “Hey” as well as fifth track “Stare” are my favorites featuring some interesting and solid production and wonderful vocals from an artist who all fans of pop should keep an eye on.

  1. “Hero” – Maren Morris

For whatever reason, most of my favorite LPs for each year are released in the second half of the year; which probably explains why this debut from Texas native Maren Morris is the only album to be featured on this list.  This is a solid country album with more to offer than just Morris’ breakout hit “My Church” (about the strong connection between music and driving) and follow up single “Rich”, which I would recommend particularly to fans of Kacey Musgraves.   Favorite tracks include, “Sugar”, “80’s Mercedes”, and “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry”.

  1. “Summer EP” – Cassadee Pope

I very much enjoyed Pope’s debut album “Frame by Frame” (2013) and eagerly anticipated her follow up album all of last year; whether the release of this EP is a sign the album is coming sooner or later is unknown to me.  Either way, the four tracks presented here are all very good and very much what Cassadee Pope fans have been hoping for.  Opening track “Summer” is a fun, upbeat, perfect for the summer song, but I personally prefer either “Piano” or “Alien” for their superior writing.  Third track “Kisses at Airports” is the only genuine low point for me, but is still fine; a great EP overall.

  1. “Bella Goldwin”

Another debut EP from a rising Canadian female pop artist; the real outstanding track here is opener “Higher Than Life”, which is a deeply moving about death and wishing to be reunited with a lost loved one.  The performance here by Goldwin is absolutely amazing and is the heart of this incredibly sentimental and touching song.  The rest of the EP also features the artist’s quality vocals (except for third track “Hey Pimp”, which is almost entirely instrumental) and good song writing; definitely worth a listen.

  1. “Bubblebath” – That Poppy

This is a very fun debut EP that features four standout songs; taking them in order

“Low Life”: a more reggae inspired love song about how a lover can turn bad times around (baby you’re the highlight of my lowlife/take a s****y day and make it alright).

“Money”: a very fun, upbeat pop song.

“Altar”: another bubbly song and the kind That Poppy shines the most on; my personal favorite.

“American Kids”: the EP closer slows things down and in it That Poppy shows some genuine lyrical depth and offers some good thoughts about being a young person today.

Overall, That Poppy has made a solid EP that should appeal especially to fans of bubblegum pop.

  1. CHVRCHES

The marvelously talented band that defies genre description and released one of my favorite albums from 2015 released a good song for the video game “Mirror’s Edge Catalyst” called “Warning Call” written from the perspective of the game’s heroine.  They also just came out with a different version of one of the best tracks off their last album “Every Open Eye”, but this time featuring none other than Hayley Williams front woman for rock stalwart Paramore; both these songs our definitely worth a listen.

 

That’s what I’ve been listening to and loving so far this year, again like I said most of my favorite music is released in the second half of the year, but still I’m both pretty happy with the music that’s come out this year and also very optimistic for the future.  Speaking of the future, I’m greatly anticipating three LPs in particular from pop stars Tove Lo and Charli XCX as well as from the amazing sister band HAIM.