The Best Music to Give This Holiday: Studio One and Blues

Dec 2, 2015

There’s been a lot of great music released this year, and on this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa Public Radio Studio One Tracks hosts Mark Simmet and Tony Dehner about the best new independent and alternative albums of 2015. Then, we get an update about the best in new blues from Bob Dorr, who hosts Blue Avenue, Backtracks and Beatles Medley and is leader of The Blue Band.  

Mark Simmet’s list of best new tracks in 2015

I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler by Yacht off their album “I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler”

“The two core member of the band came out of Portland, Oregon. There are a lot of synth driven bands these days, and after I heard it a couple of times, this is my favorite album of the year. It’s just incredibly catchy, and they’re really smart.”

The Legend Of Chavo Guerrero by The Mountain Goats off their album “Beat the Champ"

“Several of the bands on my list have appeared in Iowa at various festivals in 2015. My next band is one of those, The Mountain Goats played at the Maximus Ames festival. I had always known they were a good band, but I went back this year and got really into them. I rediscovered their older work, and this is one of those albums that rewards repeated listening.”

Price Tag by Sleater-Kinney off their album “No Cities to Love”

“This time they’re older and singing about different concerns.”

Restless Year by Ezra Furman of the album “Perpetual Motion People”

“This is a Chicago born, young musician. He’s freewheeling. He writes about his own life and the troubled lives of other people. His songs are usually inspiring and sometimes funny.”

61 Cygni Ave by Neon Indian of the album “VEGA INTL. Night School”

“This is another synth band. I’m not a huge synth fan, but well, maybe. Don’t tell anybody. The lead is Mexican born, and this is fun to listen to. This is funk, dance, reggae; this is quality ear candy.”

Tony Dehner’s list of best tracks of 2015

Compound Fracture by My Morning Jacket of the album "The Waterfall"

They put out their 7th studio album this year. They put out what I think are two classic albums in the early 2000s, but their work after that I thought was a little hit or miss. But I am going to call this album a return to form. If you miss big arena rock from the 80s and 90s, you have to check out this record. It’s got some big choruses.”

Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go To the Party by Courtney Barnett of her album "Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit"

“She is from Melbourne, Australia. This is from her first full length album. She is a very witty song writer. This is very refreshing. She’s very down to earth album, and there’s a lot of personality here. There are some songs that are a lot more introspective, but this is a rocking tune.”

Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for two Virgins) by Father John Misty of his album “I Love You, Honeybear”

“He says this is a concept album about himself, and what he says is his regrettable behavior from his youth. Father John misty is the alias for Josh Tillman. This album is also supposed to be a loose story of how he met his wife. It’s hard to tell where Josh Tillman ends and Father John Misty starts.”

No End by Low off the album “Ones and Sixes”

“They’re from Minnesota, and this is their 11th album. This band was founded by a married couple. The vocal harmonies are the attraction here. They’re split beautifully throughout this whole album, and maybe this is because they’re in Minnesota, this is cold weather music. It’s a good January album.”

Where Do I Begin by Wilco of the album "Star Wars"

“They released this for free back in July, with no inkling that Wilco was even working on a new album. On a Thursday, they said, ‘we have a new album out, you can download it for free right now.’ I think this is charmingly low key. After 20 years and 9 studio albums, they’ve still got a few surprises left. I think there are songs on here that would make a Wilco all-time mixed tape, and I think this is one of them.”

Bob Dorr's List of Best Blues Tracks of 2015

Juke Joint on Moses Lane by Fiona Boyes from the disc “Box & Dice”

“This is one of my favorites. She’s originally from Australia. She plays a variety of odd guitars, literally a cigar box guitar. She’s a one-time international blues-challenge winner. Apparently these are hand-made guitars. You can see a picture on the cover of her cds.”

Let it Rain by Deb Ryder from the album “Let It Rain”

“I think this next artist was on my new artist best of last year. She’s out with a second album. She was originally from Peoria, and now she’s moved to LA and has surrounded herself with some of the world’s greatest players. She wrote all the tunes including the title track.”

Loretta by Shaun Murphy from the album “Loretta”

“I’ve been a big fan of hers from a long time. I don’t know if you’ve heard, she did international tours with Eric Clapton and Bob Seger. She was the voice of Little Feat. She is headlining the friends Blues Blowout in February. Bob Seger is going on a new tour, and she is his back-up singer. So, we’ll hope he doesn’t steal her from us.”

Cash Box Boogie by The Cash Box Kings from their album “Holding Court”

“This is the other co-headliner for the Blue Blowout. This is in my opinion one of the world’s best Chicago traditional blues bands. You’ve probably been hearing quote a few of IPR’s exclusive recordings of the Cash Box Kings.”

This Time Another Year by Brandon Santini from the album “Live & Extended”

“Oh, you know, I’m a harmonica player wanna be, so there’s got to be at least one harm player on this list. This next player, I call him a new generation blues players. Flat out – the guy can play harmonica.”

Cursed by The 24th St. Wailers from the album “Where Evil Grows”

Is That It? by Wee Willie Walker from “If Nothing Ever Changes”

“He was apparently rediscovered on the blues cruise. He walked up on the stage and started to sing and their jaws dropped and asked ‘what’s up with this guy?’ This is one of the great soul/blues album of the year.”

Blues in a Bottle by Rob Lumbard from the album Blues In a Bottle

“I played in a band with him in the late 90’s, and he’s been going ever since. He’s been elected to the blues hall of fame in February. He’s teamed with a piano player and an upright bass player. This album is great, and this is the title track.”