Most people who work in media will tell you that it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with the number of harassment, assault, and misconduct allegations that have surfaced over the past year. The Stereogum staff has reported on so many allegations as of late that even trying to remember which one was the … More »
Pinegrove have cancelled their upcoming US tour following an allegation of sexual coercion leveled against frontman Evan Stephens Hall. In a lengthy Facebook statement, Stephens Hall details a brief but intense relationship he had with a woman who accused him of sexual coercion. He goes on to reflect on the way he has … More »
The NYC media landscape is reeling after Gothamist and DNAinfo were unceremoniously shut down yesterday by their billionaire owner Joe Ricketts. Those of us who live in New York read those two sites regularly, and we’re definitely going to be a lot less informed on the goings on about town now. It’s hard … More »
Pinegrove’s incredible Cardinal landed the rootsy, emotionally charged indie-rockers on our Best New Bands Of 2016 and 50 Best Albums Of 2016 lists, and since then, we’ve waited breathlessly for news of a follow-up. And, well, we’re still waiting, but now we have some new Pinegrove to listen to while we wait. More »
I once got busted trying to steal a magazine from my hometown library. The 8/8/91 issue of Rolling Stone apparently had one of those sensors on the last page and it beeped from my backpack on the way out. I was gonna bring it back. I just wanted to take it home to read the … More »
Artists including Lomelda, Ratboys, Pinegrove’s Evan Stephens Hall, Sorority Noise’s Cameron Boucher, Adult Mom, and Kevin Devine have teamed up for Earth Day: A Tribute to Green Day, a Green Day tribute album for charity. Per the project’s description on Bandcamp: … More »
Every year, folk-lovers from all over the country gather in the beautiful Newport, RI to celebrate the great practitioners of this timeless genre. This year’s lineup included some classics, some newcomers and some newcomers singing the classics, all coming together to make for a weekend that was truly unforgettable.
We started off our Newport weekend with one of our favorite bands, Big Thief. The highlight of their set had to be the extended rendition of their song “Mary.” Halfway through the song, lead singer Adrienne Lenker put down her guitar and asked to restart, this time becoming completely consumed by the song with every ounce of her being, and pulling us all into her lyrical kaleidoscope. The song ended with tears and a standing ovation. If you came to Newport not knowing Big Thief, chances are you left with a new obsession. The next act we caught was Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie playing a strikingly honest acoustic set of songs old and new, from various projects. Aside from the fact that he soundtracked some of the darkest and most important moments of our teenage years, his songwriting rings with a consistent relatability that could get us at any age. Needless to say, Gibbard’s performance of “What Sarah Said” delivered chills through the crowd and was a moment we are still reeling over.
We caught the beginning of Regina Spektor’s set before heading to Fleet Foxes and we wish we could have cloned ourselves to experience both of these simultaneously. Regina’s voice is like butter, and her skill and musicianship shine through in every song. She began her set a bit late, having just run off of the bus and straight onto the stage, yet still delivered flawlessly. We ran over to the Fort Stage after about three songs from Regina to catch Fleet Foxes. The band’s perfect harmonies echoed across the field and reverberated off the waves of the ocean. They played favorites from their self-titled album, Helplessness Blues and new album, Crack-Up. My favorite moment had to be the thousands of voices singing “White Winter Hymnal” as the sun set over the sailboats behind us, ending a perfect first day of the festival.
Our Saturday began with another favorite folk newcomer Julia Jacklin. And even at 11 am, on a cold and rainy morning, the Quad Stage was filled with people eager to hear this new voice. Julia performed so effortlessly, sending her voice to flutter through the air and wrap around us all in what felt like a calming hug from a good friend. She played with a live band and some beautifully blended backup vocals. However, my favorite moment of this performance was her last song “Don’t Let The Kids Win,” which Julia played stripped down by herself with her electric guitar. During this song, you could hear a pin drop, and it was not only because of the beauty of her voice. This song teaches countless lessons about love and life that could allow us all to be better people and to treat the ones we love better. During this song, it felt like Julia was guiding us to a greater understanding, and we were all fully invested in following her word.
The next act that we saw was the great Angel Olsen, who continues to amaze and inspire with every single performance. Angel performed songs from all across her catalog, from early folk number “Acrobat” to recent rock single “Shut Up Kiss Me.” She’s a dynamic musician who can bring in the audience with the intimacy of a whisper, and in the next moment, belt out with a tremendous amount of power. She joked in between songs about the wind (which was going wild during her set), and by her last song, the sun had come out and the wind had calmed, a metaphor for what her music does to our hearts. Jim James came onto stage to perform during “Sister” and “Those Were The Days” and later played his own wonderful set on the Quad Stage.
After that, we caught Grandma’s Hands Band, the Bill Withers tribute band which was star-studded with the likes of Justin Vernon, Natalie Prass, members of Hiss Golden Messenger and more, playing renditions of “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lovely Day,” leading the crowd in a celebration of one of the great songwriters of history. Billy Bragg also played a moving set including a version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing.” This one was specifically tailored to our political times, and it was called “The Times They Are A-Changing BACK.” The performance created an empowered moment with the massive audience watching over at the Harbor Stage.
Soon enough, it was the end of our magical weekend at Newport Folk Festival. The final day began with a tribute to Chuck Berry performed by the Texas Gentlemen, Shakey Graves, Nathaniel Rateliff and more. Nathaniel Rateliff also did a full set at the Harbor Stage as the “unannounced” artist of the weekend.
We got to catch New Jersey alt-country band Pinegrove at the Harbor Stage, whose crowd was not only insanely large but quite loyal, knowing every word to every song they played. This set felt like a big reunion of good friends. Pinegrove’s energy on stage was absolutely infectious, and I now understand what everyone is talking about when they say I “must experience the live thing.” Halfway through this set we ran to the Quad stage to catch Margaret Glaspy whose beautiful voice and quirky songwriting charmed the crowd.
Other highlights of day three included Whitney, Dr. Dog and “Speak Out,” a set of protest songs featuring Sharon Van Etten among others. The night ended with John Prine joined by surprise guests Roger Waters, Lucius, Justin Vernon, Margo Price and Jim James.
We are always amazed to experience the camaraderie of the people and the artists at this festival, as well as everyone’s real devotion to the art of folk music. It is a special space where a two year-old could enjoy the same music as an eighty year-old, who could enjoy the same music as a millennial. The surprises, collaborations and overall memories made at Newport this year felt a lot like magic, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the coming years.
Rootsy New Jersey indie rockers Pinegrove, whose Cardinal was one of the absolute best albums of 2016, have released a new live album called Elsewhere. It was recorded near the end of a year when they played nearly 200 shows, and their road-tested experience shows in the quality of their performance. The album … More »
Pinegrove are one of those bands with many talented songwriters in the mix, though Evan Stephens Hall is the one who gets the spotlight in that lineup. Thus, his bandmates channel their own inspiration into other projects. Nandi Rose Plunkett has impressed us with Half Waif, and now Sam Skinner is releasing his own … More »
Artwork by Isabella Bersellini
I’m not gonna sugar coat this for you — compiling and arranging the “best” songs of the year is inevitably a messy, upsetting, confusing, infuriating business, and I hate it. There never feels to be a truly right answer, and the process of convincing yourself there is one…well, it lends itself to sadness and over-indulgence. With albums, you can identify certain bodies of work that create a beautiful, lively, devastating, jovial, game-changing whole. Songs, though…songs are the wildcard. Singles, EPs, b-sides, hidden tracks, 7” record store day limited-edition pressings. There’s simply too much to wrap your head around and not enough time to truly explore the breadth of offerings each year — and that’s particularly true given the clusterfuck that was 2016.
So, with that in mind, we give you our list of top songs. The tracks that got us through the more difficult days and kept us going on long nights. The songs that weave incredible stories, break our hearts and elevate our moods. We probably missed a lot of your favorite songs, so please comment below with what you’d have added. Hope you enjoy, and happy end of 2016!
Click here to check out our Top 30 Albums of 2016.
100 – 81
100. Japanese Breakfast – “The Woman that Loves You” – Listen
99. ELEL – “Change My World” – Listen
98. Local Natives – “Past Lives” – Listen
97. Hello Shark – “Drake Night” – Listen
96. Conor Oberst – “Goossamer Thin” – Listen
95. Birdy – “Keeping Your Head Up” – Listen
94. Band of Horses – “Solemn Oath” – Listen
93. Bon Iver – “666ʇ ” – Listen
92. American Wrestlers – “Give Up” – Listen
91. You Won’t – “Ya Ya Ya” – Listen
90. Nicolas Jaar – “History Lesson” – Listen
89. Foreign Fields – “I” – Listen
88. Young Thug – “Wyclef Jean” – Listen
87. Jack Garratt – “Surprise Yourself” – Listen
86. How to Dress Well – “Lost Youth/Lost You” – Listen
85. Andy Shauf – “The Magician” – Listen
84. PUP – “DVP” – Listen
83. Nothing – “A.C.D. (Abcessive Compulsive Disorder)” – Listen
82. Shy Girls – “Trivial Motion” – Listen
81. Hazel English – “Make It Better” – Listen
80 – 61
80. Maggie Rogers – “Alaska” – Listen
79. Sylvan Esso – “Radio” – Listen
78. Swet Shop Boys – “T5” – Listen
77. Robert Ellis – “California” – Listen
76. Bon Iver – “22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Listen
75. The Lonely Island – “Finest Girl (The Bin Laden Song)” – Listen
74. Vagabon – “Fear & Force” – Listen
73. The Lemon Twigs – “I Wanna Prove to You” – Listen
72. Ta-Ku & Wafia – “Love Somebody” – Listen
71. Eagulls – “Skipping” – Listen
70. Islands – “No Milk, No Sugar” – Listen
69. Japanese Breakfast – “Jane Cum” – Listen
69. Parquet Courts – “Human Performance” – Listen
67. Preoccupations – “Anxiety” – Listen
66. Miya Folick “God is a Woman” – Listen
65. Gordi – “Can We Work It Out” – Listen
64. Drake – “Controlla” – Listen
63. Sløtface – “Take Me Dancing” – Listen
62. Iska Dhaaf – “Invisible Cities” – Listen
61 – 41
61. Kyle Morton – “Innuendos” – Listen
60. case/lang/veirs – “Atomic Number” – Listen
59. ANOHNI – “Drone Bomb Me” – Listen
58. You Won’t – “Revolutionaries” – Listen
57. Francis and the Lights (feat. Bon Iver) – “Friends” – Listen
56. Japanese Breakfast – “In Heaven” – Listen
55. Carseat Headrest – “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” – Listen
54. Drake (Feat. WizKid & Kyla) – “One Dance” – Listen
53. Rubblebucket – “If U C My Enemies” – Listen
52. Sunflower Bean – “Human Ceremony” – Listen
51. Bat For Lashes – “In God’s House” – Listen
50. Beck – “Wow” – Listen
49. The xx – “On Hold” – Listen
48. EZTV – “High Flying Faith” – Listen
47. Sad13 – “Devil in U” – Listen
46. Kanye West – “Fade” – Listen
45. The Julie Ruin – “I Decide” – Listen
44. Angel Olsen – “Shut Up and Kiss Me” – Listen
43. Lydia Loveless – “Longer” – Listen
42. Maragret Glaspy – “You and I” – Listen
41. of Montreal – “gratuitous abysses” – Listen
40 – 21
40. Frankie Cosmos – “Fool” – Listen
39. PWR BTTM – “New Hampshire” – Listen
38. Whitney – “No Matter Where We Go” – Listen
37. Lucy Dacus – “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” – Listen
36. Warpaint – “New Song” – Listen
35. BadBadNotGood (feat. Samuel T. Herring) – “Time Moves Slow” – Listen
34. Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam – “A 1000 Times” – Listen
33. Chance the Rapper – “Same Drugs” – Listen
32. Big Thief – “Paul” – Listen
31. Kanye West – “Wolves” – Listen
30. Kendrick Lamar – “untitled 03 | 05.28.2013” – Listen
29. Death Grips – “Giving Bad People Good Ideas” – Listen
28. Solange – “Don’t Touch My Hair” – Listen
27. The Avalanches – “Subways” – Listen
26. David Bowie – “I Can’t Give Everything Away” – Listen
25. James Blake (Feat Bon Iver) – “I Need a Forrest Fire” – Listen
24. Savages – “Adore” – Listen
23. Parquet Courts – “Berlin Got Blurry” – Listen
22. Big Thief – “Masterpiece” – Listen
21. Weaves – “Coo Coo” – Listen