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Staff Picks: Music

Four Favorite Releases of 2016 (so far)

The year is almost a third over and the music has been phenomenal! As we enter the warm summer months here are four great CDs that can be played at maximum volume while enjoying the sun.

Welcome the Worms by Bleached – One part Go-Go’s, one part punk and one part pure fun this LA based trio’s sophomore release is already in my Top 10 of 2016. The lead track, “Keep On Keepin’ On” is a short punchy tune that forces your hand for the volume control. If you are a fan of the West Coast punk sound, then you will love Bleached.

You Know Who You Are by Nada Surf – Can we finally stop calling this band a “one-hit wonder”? The eighth studio release from the New York based Nada Surf is pure power pop perfection. Not many bands can produce such smart and sonically superior tracks like ‘Cold to See Clear” or “Gold Sounds.” It is time for you to skip their “Popular” song check out the new album.

99 Cents by Santigold – Santigold is another great artist making innovative music without getting enough credit. Her newest release is an amazing blend of hip-hop, dance and Caribbean influences. The track “Can’t Get Enough of Myself (feat. B.C.)” is the best kind of earworm. It nestles into your entire body and elicits lots of body movement.

We Can Do Anything by Violent Femmes – The acoustic punk stylings of one of the most beloved bands of the 1980’s are back in full force. The Femmes must have heard my musical wishes because they crafted an album that is both a nod to their past and filled with some reaches into the future. The standout tracks are “Memory” and “Issues.” This record makes me so happy.


It's been a rough year for losing musical greats. The inimitable Prince left behind a huge legacy that won't quickly be forgotten. Access his classic songs via your Hoopla account.

Dive Into Diiv

The Broolyn-based band Diiv has done their shoegazing homework with their most recent album Is the Is Are. Fans of the early 1990's shoegazer scene that included groups like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive and The Jesus and Mary Chain will likely find Diiv's emphasis upon burying melodies under droning layers of noise (see: Sonic Youth), feedback and reverb to their liking.

Freegal Artist Spotlight--The Boss

I admit it, I'm not a big fan of The Boss but I'm going to use Freegal's extensive catalog of Bruce Springsteen's early albums in hopes of finding some tracks to download for my collection. Here's to the search.

American Hardcore

From the years 1986-1992, I listened to a lot of hardcore (punk music played fast). American Hardcore is a thorough and informative documentary film that introduces viewers to the music's most influential groups and the cultural and historical context in which this music developed. The film's soundtrack is a great primer and accessible to stream at

Freegal Album Spotlight--The Final Cut

By the time The Final Cut was released in 1983, Pink Floyd had essentially become a one man band. The album is widely thought of as a self absorbed, anti-war concept album that was written by bassist Roger Waters, who at the time, was railing against The Falkland Islands War, President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Singer/Guitarist David Gilmore only sings on one track and keyboardist Rick Wright doesn’t play on the album. Waters would leave the band officially two years later. Not as popular as their previous mega hit The Wall, the record still features some solid tracks like Your Possible Pasts, The Gunner’s Dream and The Final Cut. Login to your Freegal account and stream the album or download five tracks a week.

Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile has perfected the lazy, slacker vibe. Sounding like an even more blase Tom Petty with a sharper twang over fuzzed out guitar, this Philly musician makes relaxed, carefree 70's rock that evokes carefree, summer days driving to the lake.

Still Strutting Their Stuff

Recently on Facebook I noticed a bunch of posts that were lists of albums that have been the most influential in a person’s life. This inspired me to also create a list of the records that have shaped my musical taste. One such record on my list is the self-titled debut from the Violent Femmes. The Milwaukee based band was first discovered busking outside of a concert venue by James Honeyman-Scott of The Pretenders in 1981. They were later that night invited on stage by Chrissie Hynde to perform a short set before The Pretenders took the stage. This support resulted in the recording of their debut album two years later.

Violent Femmes contains such alternative classics as “Blister in the Sun,” “Kiss Off,” "Add It Up,” and “Gone Daddy Gone.” Other stand-out tracks include “Please Do Not Go,” ‘Prove My Love,” and “Gimme The Car” a track added in the CD release. Not many musical efforts have perfectly encapsulated the sound of 80’s alternative music as the Femmes did with this album. Lead singer Gordan Gano’s nasally voice, Brian Ritchie’s bouncy bass and Victor DeLorenzo’s precocious percussions blasted away from the New Wave that was dominated the scene and helped launch and establish alternative music genre.

I am super excited that in March, the Violent Femmes will release a new album titled We Can Do Anything. A very fitting name for a record from a band who has created music that has continued to delight listeners of all ages. Anytime I have been in a room in which either “Blister in the Sun” or “Add It Up” is played, everything is dropped and everyone starts to sing and dance. Let’s continue to get wild.


Favorite Songs of 2016--Sea Calls Me Home

From the Youtube comments section: "Quirky creativity in this weirdly wonderful fanfare of eclectic fantasy and whimsical wantonness. Rovingly romantic, daringly different, idiomatically inventive, enigmatically entertaining, exquisitely beautiful, eccentrically evocative, tenderly touching magic music"

I think that about sums up this perfect song from Julia Holter, one of my favorite tracks from 2016.

Freegal Artist in Spotlight--Hall & Oates

Over the course of the next year, staff will be drawing attention to classic albums, songs and the musicians who made them that are available for library users to download or stream through the Sony Music Catalog, aka Freegal

The very first major concert that I attended was seeing the mega-duo Hall & Oates at Wing Stadium almost 34 years ago. The year was 1982 and I was ten years old. Apparently I was incredibly gullible because my parents were able to convince me that we were attending a hockey game even as we entered the building and walked by the kiosks selling H&O t-shirts. Finally it hit my daft little brain that my favorite rock band was playing that night and that my parents were evil for pulling a fast one on me. Just kidding, they’re great people. H&O were one of the most successful duos from the late 1970’s through to 1985. Hit after hit on the Top 40 chart, no other group has so successfully mixed rock, pop and soul music together. Stream or download (5 per week) most of their classic tunes like Private Eyes, I Can’t Go For That, Sara Smile One On One, Maneater, and Kiss On My List through Freegal.