Though it may seem strange, the music industry functions much more like a retail operation than an instrumental cog within the entertainment industry. Aside from the seasonal release of holiday jingles, the amount of physical product produced during the winter months is minuscule at best. Grammy nominations are closed, online merch is produced and stocked, and proprietors are focused on the selling/marketing aspect of their products (in this case being songs/albums) rather than the production of such. The result is a surplus of songs pre-Grammy closing (Sept-early Nov) and a subsequent time of planning, market responsiveness, and general listening from a users perspective during December-January (aka now). What does this all mean? You probably haven’t heard a ton of new songs on the radio in the past month or two. Yeah, boring is right. It’s almost cliche to expect my next redundant plug that the struggle, though real, is unnecessary. Per usual, FeenyFresh has your back friends.
Looking at this final quarterly list of 2016, Jim James likely represents one of the few recognizable names. The My Morning Jacket frontman had a brief solo stint in 2013, but his debut bout with solidarity sounded more like a stripped version of his full band than a divergent creative spurt. This second time around James seems to have confidently sprinted of the creative high-dive, as each song sounds nothing like the last and is frankly unrecognizable in comparison with My Morning Jacket’s previous work. I’m not complaining in the slightest, as the bizarre electronic tinges that James snuck in to songs like “Here in Spirit” leave the listener with an odd combination of interest and perplexity as they question whether the harmonious My Morning Jacket vocalist is truly this apparent genius of production formally known as Jim James.
Max Jury’s series of fluffy “Under The Covers” singles have been an absolute treat as well, nicely capturing the mental shift of in-your-face summer jams to comfortable wintertime lethargy. On top of his incredibly personal and cozy depiction of the holiday classic “Blue Christmas“, Jury’s rendition of Lana Del Rey’s “West Coast” brought on unexpected indulgence in what turned out to be some of the most tasteful covers of the year. “West Coast” may be soft like Jury’s others successful singles, but its performance is haunting, mirroring a bellowing guitar played during a pre-climactic spaghetti western steadily building up tense adrenaline during the rising action. Somehow the song retains a dazed sense of comfort in an interpretation not suited for going to sleep, but best enjoyed while laying down under a warm blanket.
Plenty of other artists seem to have followed in the same figurative footsteps, as a surplus of slow, thoughtful, and affectionate bits of alternative soul have recently graced the market. Bruno Major mends broken relationships during his devoted anthem “Easily”, Max Pope debates the causality of why the relationship was muddled in the first place with his uncertainty-ridden single “Didn’t I”, and James Vickery tries to reaffirm his personal set of core competencies in his coaxing jam “Epiphany”. Cuffing season is certainly upon us as these artists and many more are doing their best mating calls for the respective person in question. Okay, enough talk (yes, that was meant to sound like an ironic whisper to a significant other). On to the tunes!
Now I know what you’re thinking: “The year’s over FeenyFresh…where’ the playlist of all the year’s collective best?” Believe me friends, I fully plan to provide us with some much needed closure on a year filled with enticing new artists, breathtaking performances, and an overall plethora of freakin’ awesome music. These things don’t happen overnight however, and the conclusive “Best of 2016” posts won’t be happening for a few weeks. Sorry not sorry, you’re just going to have to be patient.