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Top albums of 2016: Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ leads the way among KC music aficionados

David Bowie, Drive-By Truckers, Solange, Brandy Clark and a Tribe Called Quest were among the artists who topped our list of the best albums of 2016.
David Bowie, Drive-By Truckers, Solange, Brandy Clark and a Tribe Called Quest were among the artists who topped our list of the best albums of 2016.

Death overwhelmed the year in music, and it arrived early. Eight days into the new year, David Bowie released “Blackstar,” his 25th solo album. Two days later, Bowie died of cancer, an illness and a verdict few people were prepared for.

“Blackstar” was Bowie’s valediction, his swan song, a “parting gift,” as his producer Tony Visconti described it. It is an operatic vision, a panoramic expression of life and mortality from a rock star who consistently redefined himself and his music.

Bowie was not the only one to address his impending death in music. Leonard Cohen did, too, in “You Want It Darker,” released in October, just weeks before his death.

Both of those albums appear several times amid the 30 or so lists that compose our annual best-of-music compilation.

Other albums that address loss also show up here. In Radiohead’s “A Moon Shaped Pool,” Thom Yorke mourns the end in 2015 of his long-term relationship with Rachel Owens (who of died of cancer on Dec. 18). In “The Weight of These Wings,” Miranda Lambert deals head-on with the very public end of her marriage to Blake Sheldon.

In November, hip-hop heroes A Tribe Called Quest released “We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service,” their first studio album in 18 years. The album includes contributions from founding member Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor), who died in March.

Aside from the death and grief it delivered, this year also aroused vehement and widespread discussions about politics and race, and those issues found their way into music: See Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” and Tribe’s “Thank You.”

Times of loss and emotional and social upheaval often produce visceral and inspired music, and there is plenty of that in the lists that follow.

Timothy Finn

Pop music writer for The Star

Favorite albums

  • Radiohead, “A Moon Shaped Pool”
  • Sturgill Simpson, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”
  • Brandy Clark, “Big Day in a Small Town”
  • Solange, “A Seat at the Table”
  • Miranda Lambert, “The Weight of These Wings”
  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”
  • Lydia Loveless, “Real”
  • The Lemon Twigs, “Do Hollywood”
  • Drive-By Truckers, “American Band”
  • A Tribe Called Quest, “We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service”

Recordings by Kansas City/Lawrence bands

  • Tech N9ne, “The Storm”
  • Berwanger, “Exorcism Rock”
  • The Grisly Hand, “The Grisly Hand”
  • Erik Voeks, “So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away”
  • Chris Tolle, “Early Reflections”
  • Rachel Mallin and the Wild Type, “Degenerate Matters”
  • The Conquerors, “Wyld Time”
  • Hipshot Killer, “They Will Try to Kill Us All”
  • Katy Guillen & the Girls, “Heavy Days”
  • Julia Othmer, “Sound”
  • The Philistines, “The Backbone of Night”
  • Red Kate, “Unamerican Activities”
  • Not a Planet, “Smoke Bombs & Cigarettes: The History of Now”
  • Victor & Penny, “Electricity”
  • Me Like Bees, “There Will Be Time”

Bill Brownlee

Contributing reviewer for The Star

  • Kanye West, “The Life of Pablo”: The most crucial artist of the new millennium encapsulates the tenor of the times with a breathtakingly vulgar gospel album.
  • Chance the Rapper, “Coloring Book”: While his mentor wallows in sin, Kanye West’s radiant protégé finds salvation.
  • Hélène Grimaud, “Water”: A classical recital with a difference, “Water”underscores the daring playing of the French pianist with electronic interludes.
  • Logan Richardson, “Shift”: The saxophonist’s ferocious debut on Blue Note Records reflects the artistic resurgence of Kansas City’s jazz scene.
  • Rich the Factor, “Smile”: The Kansas City rap linchpin returns with a vengeance after taking a state-mandated vacation.
  • Rihanna, “Anti”: By discarding formulas and decorum, the pop star devised a glorious mess.
  • Jóhann Jóhannsson, “Orphée”: The Icelandic composer constructs miniature symphonies for romantics with an affinity for icy indie-rock.
  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”: A foundation in jazz makes the ethereal icon’s final statement his best work in 25 years.
  • David Murray, Geri Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington, “Perfection”: The combative jazz trio improvises with breakneck authority.
  • Miranda Lambert, “The Weight of These Wings”: Lambert’s boozy yarns about staring down heartbreak and mortality extol the virtues of burning the candle at both ends.

Joel Francis

Contributing reviewer for The Star

  • Beyonce, “Lemonade”: Infidelity / Romantic or societal / is Bey’s running theme.
  • Chance the Rapper, “Coloring Book”: Rap visionary. / Kanye’s “Pablo” was the start / Fully realized here.
  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”: Legend, harbinger / Lived life like an art project / Parting gift for fans.
  • Childish Gambino, “Awaken, My Love!”: Psychedelic funk / Pure ’70s throwback / P-Funk in da house!
  • Touche Amore, “Stage Four”: L.A. hardcore punks / Struggle with cancer, loss, faith / Find redemption songs.
  • Daniel Lanois, “Goodbye to Language”: Eno, U2 pal / Drops ambient platter / Celestial bliss.
  • Neko Case, K.D. Lang, Laura Veirs, “Case/Lang/Veirs”: Email sparks trio / Deft harmonies bob and weave / Fans hope not one-off.
  • Alejandro Escovedo, “Burn Something Beautiful”: Vet roars like young turk / With help from R.E.M. pals / Keeps getting better.
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Skeleton Tree”: Son’s death clouds sessions / What a breaking heart sounds like / Beautiful and bleak.
  • Lydia Loveless, “Real”: Fearless, honest search / For answers, comes up empty / Engaging country.

DJ Ray Velasquez

  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”: A beautiful, frightening, dense, jazz-infused requiem. Brilliant.
  • Brian Eno, “The Ship”: An aural, aquatic immersion into the emotional spectrum.
  • Iggy Pop, “Post Pop Depression”: Sinewy rock ’n’ roll grit unleashed with heart, scars and callouses.
  • Various artists, “Genius of Time: Larry Levan”: An eclectic collection of post-disco classics remixed or dubbed-out by legendary Paradise Garage maestro Larry Levan.
  • Savages, “Adore Life”: Contemporary post-punk feminine ferocity recalling Au Pairs, Siouxsie & the Banshees and Essential Logic. “I’m not gonna hurt you/’Cuz I’m flirting with you” says it all.
  • Aphex Twin, “Cheetah”: Surprisingly chilled, lush, acid grooves rooted in an early ’90s vibe.
  • Various artists, “Dots & Pearls 3”: Third installment of deeper, understated techno from Sven Vath’s Cocoon label.
  • Roman Flügel, “All the Right Noises”: Emotive and engaging electronic excursions.
  • Mark Pritchard, “Under the Sun”: A satisfying set of electronic experiments and chilled ambient pop from half of Global Communication.
  • Wire, “Nocturnal Koreans”: Still exceeding and defying expectations after four decades with a versatile yet cohesive mini-LP.

Judy Mills

Mills Record Co.

  • Solange, “A Seat at the Table”: Fierce and important and somehow dreamy.
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Skeleton Tree”: A document of time about grief and aging from a brilliant and talented mind.
  • Abra, “Princess”: The Duchess of Darkwave writes songs on her computer, then releases them on Periscope. And I’m OK with that.
  • Psychic Heat, “Starve”: B side on the Replay 7-inch release. Song of the year for me. Like a hot windy day in 1970 something, you want it to last forever. Let’s be honest, “Sunshower” too.
  • Bigbang, “Made”: Their last release before their military enlistment (a South Korean group) teaches you how to dance in the face of insistent nuclear threat. A lesson we might need for 2017.
  • Emma Ruth Rundle, “Marked for Death”: Probably the most metal singer/songwriter release this year. The last track especially.
  • Jim James, “Eternally Even”: Funky and rolling. Just go along for the ride.
  • Kate Bush, “Before the Dawn”: A recording of her first live show in 35 years. Waiting for a full day off to hear it, but I already know it’s perfect.
  • Childish Gambino, “Awaken, My Love!”: I don’t care if it’s a “Maggot Brain” rip-off/homage. It’s still wonderful.
  • Helen Money, “Become Zero”: When you listen to new music for a living you’re stoked to find a release you can love. Cello player makes a metal record would be my hashtag.

Chuck Haddix

“The Fish Fry” KCUR (89.3 FM)

  • Allen Toussaint, “American Tunes”: A love letter to the great American songbook from the musical genius who wrote the chapter on New Orleans. His reading of Paul Simon’s “American Tune” is a balm for our troubled times.
  • Rolling Stones, “Blue & Lonesome”: The Stones, the original bad boys of rock ’n’ roll, return to their roots in the American blues tradition with spirited covers of classics by Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf and other blues greats.
  • Melissa Etheridge, “Memphis Rock and Soul”: Etheridge pays homage to the Memphis-based Stax label with grit and grace.
  • Various artists, “Sitting in the Park”: This tastefully curated anthology of Chicago soul rarities is drawn from the vast 45 rpm collection of Bob Abrahamian, a long-time Chicago radio host.
  • Chris Hazelton and the Boogaloo 7, “Soul Jazz Fridays”: Every Friday night, organist Hazelton and the stellar Boogaloo 7 delight audiences with their distinctive blend of soul jazz, harkening back to the great organ jazz groups of the 1960s.
  • Victor & Penny, “Electricity”: Not content to faithfully re-create popular and jazz standards from the 1920s and 1930s, Victor & Penny draw from those influences to create a fresh style based on the hard-swinging style of their hometown Kansas City.
  • Various artists, “God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson”: A celebration of the timeless blues-drenched gospel songs featuring an eclectic lineup of contributors including Tom Waits and Lucinda Williams.
  • Katy Guillen & the Girls, “Heavy Days”: Rock ’n’ roll at its best. A stripped-down power trio rockin’ out with heartfelt lyrics.
  • Catherine Russell, “Harlem on My Mind”: Vocalist Catherine Russell pays tribute to the golden age of jazz and swing as pioneered by her father, bandleader Luis Russell, a contemporary of Louis Armstrong.”
  • Janiva Magness, “Love Wins Again”: This soulful CD celebrates how the power of happiness and love triumph over despair and darkness.

Rachel Mallin


  • Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, “A Man Alive”: I suggest everyone listen to the Sound Exploder podcast on “Astonished Man.” It hurts the soul.
  • Angel Olsen, “My Woman”: When angsty meets groovy, Angel Olsen is the poet who initiates the introductions.
  • Whitney, “Light Upon the Lake”: “I lie awake in all kinds of darkness, Polly.”
  • Bon Iver, “22, A Million”: In the year of every top artist experimenting with releasing albums that deviate from the versions of them we’re used to, this was my fav.
  • Frank Ocean, “Blonde”: From the track “Ivy”: “I ain’t a kid no more. We’ll never be those kids again.”
  • Shearwater, “Jet Plane and Oxbow”: Recounting ’80s music is cool again.
  • Kishi Bashi, “Sonderlust”: Everything about the intro screams EDM remix, then those minor chord strings come in and break your heart.
  • Lucius, “Good Grief”: I miss the songwriting of first album “Wildewoman,” but this album vies for my favorite production on an album this year.
  • River Whyless, “We All the Light”: Discovery credit goes to 90.9 FM the Bridge for this one.
  • Childish Gambino, “Awaken, My Love!”: No, I didn’t understand “Zombies” or “California” either. “Me and Your Mama” redeems my “eh” feelings about it.

Laura Lorson

KPR (91.5 FM)

  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: “Skeleton Tree”: Hard to listen through, but it’s the sound of mourning and loss and love.
  • Radiohead, “A Moon Shaped Pool”: Better than it ought to be. Less cryptic, more scenic and cuttingly clear.
  • Steven Wilson, “4  1/2 ”: The only artist of the last 10 years that I literally cannot wait to see what his next artistic move is.
  • Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, “I Need Never Get Old” and “Wasting Time” (singles): Every time I think I’ve heard them enough, it turns out I’m wrong. I listened to these songs almost infinitely this year.
  • A Tribe Called Quest, “We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service”
  • Nails, “You Will Never Be One of Us”: Because metal is where interesting things happen, musically speaking.
  • Drive-By Truckers, “American Band”: Sure it’s bleak, but it’s who we are.
  • Bent Knee, “Say So”: Prog and classical and industrial and like nothing else on Earth.
  • Iamthemorning, “Lighthouse”: Interesting soundscapes and dark, dark harmonies. If you like your music dense and dark, this is what you want.
  • Hebrides Ensemble, “Since It Was the Day of Preparation …” Best classical piece I heard all year. Endlessly fascinating, unpredictable, exquisitely crafted.

Marion Merritt

Records by Merritt

  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”: The Laughing Gnome said goodbye in the most powerful, poignant, heartbreaking way.
  • Fantastic Negrito, “Last Days of Oakland”: Blues that goes to the marrow of your bones, shakes it up and leaves you with hope.
  • Betty Harris, “Soul Jazz Records Presents Betty Harris The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul”: All songs are written, arranged and produced by Allen Toussaint, backed by the Meters.
  • Anderson .Paak, “Malibu”: An ultra-cool blend of hip-hop, ’60s soul and R&B. Paak is the alchemist that makes it all sound fresh.
  • Charlie Hilton, “Palana”: Bleak, biting lyrics that seem to float through a shoe gaze haze. Mac DeMarco guests.
  • Vivien Goldman, “Resolutionary Songs 1979-1982”: The Professor of Punk, a music publicist and journalist, the ex-Flying Lizard introduced new mixes of music genres.
  • Durand Jones & the Indications, “Durand Jones & the Indications”: Neo-soul proudly displaying its gospel roots.
  • Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, “Dark Soul of the Night”: After EMI refused to release this album, Danger Mouse gave it away. It had to be heard. Swan song of Mark Linkous and Vic Chestnut.
  • Lee Moses, “Time and Place”: This masterpiece from a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, popular session guitarist and gifted soul singer was somehow overlooked in 1971.
  • Angel Olsen, “My Woman”: Olsen continues to surprise with her third album, as she changes directions while keeping her strong point of view.

Fally Afani

Editor, I Heart Local Music

  • Lincoln Marshall, “Water”: Considering what this hip-hop duo has accomplished this year (opening for Public Enemy, nonstop shows, etc.), Water is definitely the top album of the year in Lawrence.
  • Wendy Moira, “Punx Don’t Pay (To Get Into the Sandbar)”: This is very representative of the thrilling and raging garage rock scene here in Lawrence.
  • Psychic Heat, “Sunshowers”: Psychic Heat put on one of the most unique and original album release shows of the year. Always a wild time with these guys.
  • The Philistines, “The Backbone of Night”: You’d be mad not to fall for a band with such a heart-racing album (and live show).
  • Nicholas St. James, “Theatres”: Nicholas St. James is an artist that constantly creates ways to push the boundaries of folk and bluegrass.
  • Toughies, “Sweet Dream”: Although they released only an EP this year, Toughies has established themselves as one of the more likable songwriters with a can’t-miss live show.
  • Bonzo Madrid, “Worries”: CJ Calhoun continues to craft mesmerizing and hypnotic tunes sure to satisfy you through the year.
  • Calvin Arsenia, “Catastrophe”: Calvin Arsenia will likely be remembered as the one that Kansas City let get away. You can expect to see his name in lights soon in a never-ending string of fame as he wins hearts across the world.
  • Red Kate, “Unamerican Activities”: Red Kate is a punk act that has consistently burst at the seams with the type of noise rockers crave. Every single track on “Unamerican Activities” delivers as the band roars through the Midwest.
  • The Conquerors, “Wyld Time”: The Conquerors have consistently owned a sound not found in these parts and backed it up with unbelievably entertaining live shows.

Mark Manning

“Wednesday Midday Medley” KKFI (90.1 FM)

  • The Philistines, “Backbone of the Night”: For the radio show this was our most played record. We’ve played every track. This band transports me to a better place.
  • Katy Guillen & the Girls, “Heavy Days”: Katy Guillen, Claire Adams and Stephanie Williams are masters of their instruments and rock ‘ ’n’ roll us all, with authority.
  • The Grisly Hand, “The Grisly Hand”: A beautiful double LP from a band writing and creating great songs. Joel Nanos at Element could be the band’s seventh member.
  • The Conquerors, “Wyld Time”: Rory Cameron leads this fabulous band through a debut album where every song is a hit single we want to hear again.
  • Heidi Lynne Gluck, “PonyShow”: The love child of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. The clarity of her exquisite voice serves the revelation of her dark poetry.
  • Various Blond, “All Bases Covered”: Joshua Allen continues to mix funk, soul, electronica and rock, making cool and engaging songs, singing lyrics about the night.
  • Hipshot Killer, “They Will Try to Kill Us All”: Mike Alexander plays guitar for many bands, but his soul is punk, and his heart is as big as the sound of this great band.
  • Psychic Heat, “Sunshower”: Evan Herd and Tanner Spreer bring visceral music alive on stage with every show, and this record captures their greatness.
  • Betse & Clarke, “River Still Rise”: Traditional and future folk inspired by explorers Lewis & Clark showing how Betse & Clarke are trailblazers of sound and vision.
  • Calvin Arsenia, “Catastrophe”: Limited edition EP, produced for Folk Alliance International, contains demo recordings of original gems that are the blueprints for Calvin’s soon to be released full length debut, coming in 2017.

Barry Lee

Station manager, KKFI (90.1 FM)

  • Angel Olsen, “My Woman”: Songs that bite and lyrical wonders from an up-and-coming songwriter who matters.
  • Tuba Skinny, “Blue Chime Stomp”: Young New Orleans band makes jazz joyful again.
  • Teenage Fanclub, “Here”: After a long hiatus and with nothing to prove, Scottish rock band delivers a quiet masterpiece.
  • Robbie Fulks, “Upland Stories”: Veteran songwriter looks deep into the heart of America with his best lyrics and tough songs.
  • Mikal Shapiro, “The Musical”: KC artist charts her own musical course and it’s a breathtaking journey.
  • Paul Simon, “Stranger to Stranger”: Simon refuses to stagnate and delivers what could be his best album ever.
  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”: Only Bowie could weave his impending mortality into a masterwork of musical genius.
  • Leonard Cohen, “You Want It Darker”: A final requiem from a writer beyond category. It’s a work of quiet, dignified passage with his powers undimmed.
  • Drive-By-Truckers, “American Band”: The real state of the union address from one of America’s best bands.
  • Margo Price, “Midwest Farmers Daughter”: The new hope of country music delivers on all levels with great songs that don’t flinch.

Chris Haghirian

Ink magazine, Middle of the Map

  • Hipshot Killer, “They Will Try to Kill Us All”
  • Katy Guillen & the Girls, “Heavy Days”
  • Me Like Bees, “There Will Be Time”
  • Heidi Lynne Gluck, “PonyShow”
  • Psychic Heat, “Sunshower”
  • Blkflanl, “Blkflanl II”
  • Berwanger, “Exorcism Rock”
  • Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, “Kings and Queens”
  • Various Blonde, “All Bases Covered”
  • Be/Non, “Mystic Sunrise / Sunset Magic”

Jenee Osterheldt

Kansas City Star columnist, Nieman Fellow

  • Solange, “A Seat at the Table”
  • Chance the Rapper, “Coloring Book”
  • Childish Gambino, “Awaken, My Love!
  • Anderson .Paak, “Malibu”
  • Beyoncé, “Lemonade”
  • Common, “Black America Again”
  • Rihanna, “Anti”
  • Kanye West, “Life of Pablo”
  • Maxwell, “blackSUMMERS’night”
  • Drake, “Views”

Michelle Bacon

Musician, music journalist

  • Heidi Lynne Gluck, “PonyShow”
  • The Conquerors, “Wyld Time”
  • Katy Guillen & the Girls, “Heavy Days”
  • Rachel Mallin & the Wild Type, “Degenerate Matters”
  • The Grisly Hand, “The Grisly Hand”
  • Jorge Arana Trio, “Mammoth”
  • Erik Voeks, “So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away”
  • Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, “Kings and Queens”
  • Psychic Heat, “Sunshower”
  • The Great Vehicle, “Observatory Sermons”

Bob McWilliams

“Jazz in the Night” and “Trail Mix” KPR (91.5 FM)

Folk bluegrass

  • Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle, “Colvin & Earle”
  • Sierra Hull, “Weighted Mind”
  • Aoife O’Donovan, “In the Magic Hour”
  • Brian Sutton, “The More I Learn”
  • We Banjo 3, “String Theory”


  • Marquis Hill, “The Way We Play”
  • Brian Lynch, “Madera Latino”
  • Gregory Porter, “Take Me to the Alley”
  • John Scofield, “Country for Old Men”
  • Dave Stryker, “Eight Track II”

Danny Alexander

Music journalist, author

  • William Bell, “This Is Where I Live”
  • Lizzo, “Coconut Oil”
  • Nosotros, “En El Mas Alla”
  • Esperanza Spalding, “Emily’s D+Evolution”
  • A Tribe Called Quest, “We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service”
  • Chris Buhalis, “Big Car Town”
  • Rihanna, “Anti”
  • Brandy Clark, “Big Day in a Small Town”
  • Sturgill Simpson, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”
  • Michael Fracasso, “Here Come the Savages”

Kelly Corcoran

Love Garden Sounds in Lawrence

  • Nap Eyes, “Thought Rock Fish Scale”
  • Durand Jones & the Indications, “Durand Jones & the Indications”
  • Aphex Twin, “Cheetah”
  • C.W. Stoneking, “Gon’ Boogaloo”
  • Kaytranada, “99.9%”
  • Gnarly Davidson, “Jabberjaw”
  • Woods: “City Sun Eater in the River of Light”
  • Chrissy + Hawley, “Chrissy + Hawley”
  • Exploded View, “Exploded View”
  • Lavender Flu, “Heavy Air”

Jeff Harshbarger


  • Ben Wendel, “What We Bring”
  • Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom, “Otis Was a Polar Bear”
  • Nels Cline, “Lovers”
  • Diego Schissi Quinteto, “Timba”
  • Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, “Time/Life”
  • Logan Richardson, “Shift”
  • Brad Mehldau Trio, “Blues and Ballads”
  • Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus, “The Distance”
  • Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison, “In Movement”
  • “John Cage Meets Sun Ra: The Complete Concert”

Robert Moore

“Sonic Spectrum” on KRBZ (96.5 FM)


  • David Bowie, “Lazarus”
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “I Need You”
  • Savages, “Evil”
  • Broncho, “Fantasy Boys”
  • Kate Tempest, “We Die”
  • A Tribe Called Quest, “We the People …”
  • Suuns, “Instrument”
  • The Amazing, “Blair Drager”
  • Paul & the Tall Trees, “Crack of Dawn”
  • Lost Under Heaven, “Someday Come”

David Cantwell

Music journalist, author

Favorite country albums

  • Brandy Clark, “Big Day in a Small Town”
  • The Cactus Blossoms, “You’re Dreaming”
  • Jon Pardi, “California Sunrise”
  • Paul Burch, “Meridian Rising”
  • Maren Morris, “Hero”
  • Robert Ellis, “Robert Ellis”
  • Miranda Lambert, “The Weight of These Wings”
  • Loretta Lynn, “Full Circle”
  • Earls of Leicester, “All I Want Is You”
  • Lori McKenna, “The Bird and the Rifle”

William Smith


  • Suuns, “Hold/Still”
  • Kendrick Lamar, “Untitled Unmastered”
  • Nicolas Jaar, “Sirens”
  • Bohren & Der Club of Gore, “Bohren for Beginners Prowler”
  • Weyes Blood, “Front Row Seat to Earth”
  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”
  • DJ Shadow, “The Mountain Will Fall”
  • The Comet Is Coming, “Channel the Spirits”
  • Various Blonde, “All Bases Covered”
  • Rihanna, “Anti”

Mike Stover


  • Black Mountain, “IV”
  • Michael Kiwanuka, “Love & Hate”
  • The Lemon Twigs, “Do Hollywood”
  • Angel Olsen, “My Woman”
  • Xenia Rubinos, “Black Terry Cat”
  • Jorge Arana Trio, “Mammoth”
  • Steve Lehman, “Sélébéyone”
  • Oranssi Pazuzu, “Värähtelijä”
  • Erik Voeks, “So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away”
  • Logan Richardson, “Shift”

Steve Tulipana

Musician, co-owner of RecordBar

  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Skeleton Tree”
  • Iggy Pop, “Post Pop Depression”
  • Leonard Cohen, “You Want It Darker”
  • Adam Torres, “Pearls to Swine”
  • We Are the Asteroids, “We Are the Asteroids”
  • Bloody Knives, “I Will Cut Your Heart Out for This”
  • Brian Eno, “The Ship”
  • Swans, “The Glowing Man”
  • Meyhem Lauren, “Piatto D’Oro”

Lauren Krum



  • Angel Olson, “You’ll Never Be Mine”
  • Kamaiyah, “A Good Night in the Ghetto”
  • Childish Gambino, “Redbone”
  • Joseph, “White Flag”
  • The Lemon Twigs, “I Wanna Prove to You”
  • Kevin Morby, “Beautiful Strangers”
  • Ariana Grande, “Side to Side”
  • Niki & the Dove, “Lost UB”
  • Sheer Mag, “Nobody’s Baby”
  • Margaret Glaspy, “You and I”

Troy Van Horn


  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”
  • Mike Keneally, “Scambot 2”: Osmium and iridium are the densest known elements, aside from Keneally’s musical output.
  • Sia, “This Is Acting”
  • Steven Wilson, “4  1/2
  • Case/Lang/Veirs, “Case/Lang/Veirs”
  • Heron Oblivion, “Heron Oblivion”:
  • Róisín Murphy, “Take Her Up to Monto”
  • Bent Knee, “Say So”: Art rock is alive and well and in good hands.
  • Common, “Black America Again”
  • Animals as Leaders, “The Madness of Many”

Sarah Bradshaw

Music director, KTBG (90.9 FM)

  • Andrew Bird, “Are You Serious”
  • Case/Lang/Veirs, “Case/Lang/Veirs”
  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”
  • Frightened Rabbit, “Painting of a Panic Attack”
  • Head and the Heart, “Signs of Light”
  • Heidi Lynne Gluck, “PonyShow”
  • Kishi Bashi, “Sonderlust”
  • Leonard Cohen, “You Want It Darker”
  • Me Like Bees, “There Will Be Time”
  • Shearwater, “Jet Plane & Oxbow”

Hermon Mehari

Jazz musician

  • Kanye West, “The Life of Pablo”
  • Desiigner, “Panda”
  • Chance the Rapper, “Coloring Book”
  • Logan Richardson, “Shift”
  • Drake, “Views”
  • Joyce DiDonato, “In War and Peace”
  • Travis Scott, “Goosebumps”
  • Rihanna feat. Drake, “Work”
  • Drake & Future, “Jumpman”
  • Frank Ocean, “Close to You”

Gregg Todt

KQRC (98.9 FM), musician

  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”
  • Rival Sons, “Hollow Bones”
  • The Cult, “Hidden City”
  • Blackberry Smoke, “Like an Arrow”
  • Sturgill Simpson, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”
  • The Kills, “Ash & Ice”
  • Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, “A Little Something More From”
  • PJ Harvey, “The Hope Six Demolition Project”
  • Cheap Trick, “Bang, Zoom, Crazy … Hello”
  • Kvelertak, “Nattesferd”

Dominique Sanders


  • Anderson .Paak, “Malibu”
  • Schoolboy Q, “Blankface”
  • NxWorries, “Yes Lawd!”
  • A Tribe Called Quest, “We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service”
  • Kendrick Lamar, “Untitled, Unmastered”
  • Terrance Martin, “Velvet Portraits”
  • Xtraordinairs, “X Essential”
  • Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, “Kings and Queens”
  • Solonge, “A Seat at the Table”
  • Chance the Rapper, “Coloring Book”

Erik Voeks


  • Black Mountain, “IV”
  • Ben Watt, “Fever Dream”
  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”
  • Kate Bush, “Before the Dawn”
  • Teenage Fanclub, “The First Sight”
  • The Amazing, “Ambulance”
  • Minor Victories, “Minor Victories”
  • Daniel Romano, “Maybe Remember Me”

Mark Davis

Sound engineer

  • Radiohead, “A Moon Shaped Pool”
  • David Bowie, “Blackstar”
  • Phantogram, “Three”
  • Glenn Hughes, “Resonate”
  • Metallica, “Hardwired to Self-Destruct”
  • The Life and Times, “Doppelgangers”
  • The Pineapple Thief, “Wilderness”
  • Erik Voeks, “So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away”
  • Crippled Black Phoenix, “Bronze”

Christian LaBeau

Josey Records

  • A Tribe Called Quest, “We Got It From Here …Thank You 4 Your Service”
  • Googoosh, “Googoosh”
  • Lady Wray, “Queen Alone”
  • Charles Bradley, “Changes”
  • The Avalanches, “Wild Flower”
  • Head Wound City, “A New Wave of Violence”
  • “Wake Up You! The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock”
  • Black Mountain, “IV”
  • Them Two, “Am I a Good Man” (7-inch)
  • Sheer Mag” “III” (7-inch)

Sherman Breneman

7th Heaven vinyl manager

  • Angel Olsen. “My Woman”
  • Nice As (F***), “Nice As F***”
  • Fantastic Negrito, “The Last Days of Oakland”
  • Adia Victoria, “Beyond the Bloodhounds”
  • Drive-By Truckers, “American Band”
  • Esme’ Patterson, “We Were Wild”
  • Parker Millsap, “Very Last Day”
  • Margaret Glaspy, “Emotions and Math”
  • Lydia Loveless, “Real”
  • Night Beats, “Who Sold My Generation”

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain