There’s always next year. It’s finally paid off with their win, which nets them a chance to play 93.3’s Not So Silent Night 2017, recording time at The Blasting Room and a spot on stage at the 2017 Westword Music Showcase. 17 at Summit Music Hall. Nah, just kidding. But cutthroat competition is far more beautiful and fun. Photo by Noemi Gonzalez via the band. But it would have been nice if 93.3 shook it up with an impromptu snowball fight among the musicians, giving third place artists one final chance at glory. Meanwhile, Fort Collins folk outfit Pandas & People received $1,000 and maybe a few hugs as the live performance winner. The losers were banished from ever playing in Colorado again. Tenacity, if not great tunes, propelled Denver’s Redlands to the top. This time around, Redlands was crowned the winner after riffing it out against finalists Iolite and Pandas & People on Dec. The band joins past winners like Churchill, My Body Sings Electric and 888. That’s why Channel 93.3 (KTCL-FM) graced us once again with its Hometown for the Holidays battle of the bands. Until then, watch 2016’s rewind right here. Ah, the holidays are here, breathing wholesome values like caring, sharing and love down our necks. Denver’s Redlands wins 93.3’s 2016 Hometown for the Holidays battle of the bands competition. After forming in Grand Junction, the little-known indie rock quartet has been hustling since 2013.
Cole’s hair, the better his music — or so the theory goes. For fans of “In Spite Of Ourselves,” his 1996 album in the same vein, this one’s a no brainer. With just his voice and a six-string, “While You Stand” buoys with simple resonant beauty, invoking his relation to the mountains, ocean and night sky as a precious few constants in an ever-evolving life. A night at the disco already brings people of far-flung backgrounds together in one room, Jaar figures. The album doesn’t reach for anything too far outside of its indie-pop wheelhouse, which is probably why it flew under the radar. “For Better, or Worse,” John Prine
Bob Dylan might have pulled down the Nobel Prize this year, but John Prine — who Dylan counts as an influence — will always be the people’s songwriting champ. Nineties nostalgia is on-trend right now, but as Erykah Badu and The Root’s Questlove could tell you — the living R&B legends gave the group their seal of approval early on — KING is sharper than just sentimental taste-making. “Cardinal,” its sophomore effort, is a near-perfect execution of that, and a heck of a lot smarter than any of this year’s other rock albums. “The Party,” Andy Shauf
Andy Shauf’s latest album sounds like it was written from the lonely corner of the last high school party of senior year. “Why Are You OK,” Band of Horses
Band of Horses is what happens when a band stays on course instead of trying out a wildly new direction — a decision that usually to alienates its fanbase. “We Are KING,” KING
KING’s debut album feeds ’90s R&B through a distorted lens. That makes sense: They’re in the same circle of Chicago musicians that swirl funk, gospel and hip-hop into hyper-aware rhythm poetry. Beyond DeMent, Prine gathers a smartly curated batch of female singers from yesterday and tomorrow. Pinegrove, “Cardinal”
For all those of us who harbor a secret love of emo — the angsty, verbose style of music favored by suburban middle/high schoolers country-wide circa the early aughts — New Jersey’s Pinegrove is an exciting prospect. “4 Your Eyez Only,” J. It’s far from an upper, in other words, but don’t let that dissuade you. Yeah, just like the life of Kanye, “The Life of Pablo” was weird and captivating. The album is effectively a modern meditation in an emergency, when end of days — be it a personal (“Diary”) or societal one (“Generation Why”) — comes in the fear of losing the person that defines you, or the bliss of knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Take single “The Greatest,” for example, which could fool anyone into thinking that they’d heard the song blasting through the speakers of their turquoise Eagle Talon way back when. The fact is, if you’re reading this, odds are you’ve already seen dozens of other best-album lists this year. One part sound collage and one part dance music curriculum — house, techno, South American cumbia and many other styles scrape against one another here — “Sirens” is Jaar’s most ambitious album, one as listenable as it is intriguing. Over chintzy lounge jams, Shauf writes songs for the generation weened on Wes Anderson’s precious aesthetic — songs that might as well be written about “Rushmore”‘s precocious Max Fischer, and could score every one of Anderson’s films thereafter. We shed enough tears to fill “A Moon Shaped Pool” of our own. It’s all-but proven on “4 Your Eyez Only,” the rapper’s best yet. Why not wring some conversation out of it? Live or through headphones, the album succeeds there, and thensome. “Telefone,” Noname
There’s a lot of Chance the Rapper in “Telefone,” MC Fatimah Warner’s debut as Noname. “When I remember memories don’t last forever / When I deny my empty with an open letter / Who gon’ remember me? / My satellite, my empathy,” she sings on “Yesterday.” With no use for a name, she sets her focus on her art, a worthwhile venture by any yardstick. We figured, in a season of giving, it’s better to share the wealth than pile on the popular kids. But if you’re looking for an album to keep you company on a lonely winter drive, look no further than this digestible-yet-distinct folk album. The octet has repackaged the genre’s hallmark squealing vocals, self-interrogation and crushing riffs for the quarter-life crowd. Frontman Evan Stephens Hall somehow manages to be conversational in an album about how hard it is to communicate: “I’d pace around the place so quiet in myself / I’d wake the next and see my silence went unfelt,” he sings on stand-out track “Aphasia.” For the sake of that: The album is really good. “Sirens,” Nicolas Jaar
With “Sirens,” experimental Chilean producer Nicolas Jaar has expanded on the chilly headspace he popularized with guitarist Dave Harrington in side-project Darkside. We know: That Beyonce album was incredible. More specifically, he sounds like Kendrick Lamar lite, rapping about the same great injustices but with more concern for pop value and less of a mind for wordplay. Weyes Blood (real name: Natalie Mering) is tellingly resigned in the face of horror, sounding like a depressed Shania Twain riding side saddle on a hydrogen bomb falling to Earth. Susan Tedeschi puts her searing vox to George Jones’ “Color of the Blues”; On “Mental Cruelty,” he wisely taps rising country singer Kacey Musgraves, who’ll join him on tour in 2017. On “For Better, or Worse,” his latest, he takes from the songbooks of his mentors, re-imagining them via duets with female singers that gussy up Prine’s crumbling voice. Photo by Katie Miller, provided by Pitch Perfect PR. Elsewhere, the Los Angeles trio’s faithful modern yet faithful reproduction of the genre furthers this sense of misremembering. “Mowing,” Michael Nau
Solo debuts can be tricky business, but fans of Michael Nau’s since-retired project Cotton Jones can take heart with “Mowing.” As on past projects, melody is the Marylander’s strong suit here. She lets her inner child take the pen — “unorthodox paradox in a pair of Doc’s,” she raps on “All I Need” — as often as the wise matriarch on her shoulder. “Change,” a highlight, has him on one of the album’s finest beats, bemoaning the horrors du jour in an attempt to materialize someone — anyone — who can catalyze evolution. But through familiar horn stabs and marching-band rhythms, Warner is her own artist, with a poetic sensibility that eclipses most rappers her age. The band has cut a niche for itself that few others can claim: The drunk punk with the heart of gold, up one day and down the next, but always worth your time. Iris DeMent sang that album’s stand-out titular song, and she returns to help Prine take on the country-western “Who’s Gonna Take the Garbage Out,” a bickering duet between irascible lovers that was first popularized by Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubb. Cole
The longer J. The genre’s simmering rhythms drag that much slower at points, its major keys pitched down almost imperceptibly. As serious as that sounds, the album is as fun as it is frank, like on the indelible “Foldin Clothes,” which cuts true romance down to its maturest essence: “I wanna fold clothes for you!” Marital duty never sounded so sexy. And that Radiohead LP? Weyes Blood’s “Front Row Seat to Earth” is one of 2016’s best overlooked albums. Enough said. Through failed come-ons and awkward conversations, the Saskatchewan native makes you feel for his wobbly attempts to navigate love, even after you realize he’s something of a social anti-hero. Wife Whitney McGraw joins in for songs like “Maralou,” a down-tempo tiki lounge foxtrot tacked up by shimmering synths. “Front Row Seat to Earth,” Weyes Blood
Was there an album released this year with a more loaded title than Weyes Blood’s “Front Row Seat to Earth”? “Why Are You OK” is merely a variation on the emotive stomp-a-longs that the alt-Americana rock outfit has been putting out for the last 12 years, and that’s more than all right. Here, that materializes in songs that weigh emotional damage control (“Hag”) and the value and harm of a critical voice always barking in your ear (“Solemn Oath”). Below, dig into 10 of 2016’s unjustly overlooked albums. Pigeonholed as he may be by his folk roots, “Mowing” explores more than just his Appalachian trappings. It sounds like a nightmare based on a memory. Infusing songs with disquieting tales of injustice (“Killing Time”) and a literal (if reductive) “History Lesson,” the producer has attempted to weaponized dance music for political engagement.
Behind singer Eddie Vedder and other original members Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, Pearl Jam remains active and is a popular live act. Britain’s Yes, known for its complex compositions, was a leader of the 1970s progressive rock movement. Shakur was shot and killed after attending a boxing match in Las Vegas in 1996, a murder that has spawned conspiracy theories but remains unsolved. The rock hall also said Tuesday it would give a special award to Nile Rodgers, whose disco-era band Chic failed again to make the cut after its 11th time nominated. Its 6.8 million iTunes sales makes it the most-bought song on that platform from the pre-digital era, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Blue Sky” and “Don’t Bring Me Down.” The band essentially exists now in leader Jeff Lynne’s imagination and home studio and had a mildly successful comeback a year ago. The hall’s award for musical excellence to songwriter and guitarist Rodgers is no consolation prize. Journey’s 1981 song “Don’t Stop Believin’” was given new life by being featured in the closing scene of HBO’s “The Sopranos” and became a favorite of a new generation. Former singer Steve Perry, estranged from the band for many years, offers some potential rock hall drama: will he show up for his induction? Founding bass player Chris Squire, the one constant in many years of personnel changes, died in June 2015. In this Sept. Electric Light Orchestra got its start melding classical influences to Beatles-influenced pop, and charted with “Evil Woman,” “Mr. Vedder is no newcomer to rock hall ceremonies, having given induction speeches for Neil Young and the Ramones. Baez’s own “Diamonds and Rust” in 1975 was one of her biggest hits. While Shakur, Baez, Pearl Jam and ELO were elected this year in their first time on the ballot, Chic has endured years of disappointment. When disco cooled, Rodgers became one of the hottest producers in the business, behind the boards for some of the ’80s most indelible albums: David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and the B-52’s “Cosmic Thing.”
This story was first published on DenverPost.com “Changes,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” “Ambitionz Az a Ridah” and “Life Goes On” are among his best-known songs. 2, 2012, file photo, Pearl Jam performs at the “Made In America” music festival in Philadelphia. Baez will be inducted only months after her 1960s paramour, Bob Dylan, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. HBO will show highlights later, with SiriusXM doing a radio broadcast. Yes’ hits include “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and its fans have waged a vociferous campaign to see them honored. She was known primarily as an interpreter of others’ songs, introducing Dylan to a wider audience at the beginning of his career. Pearl Jam exploded in popularity from the start in the early 1990s behind songs like “Alive,” “Jeremy” and “Even Flow.” After Nirvana, it is the second band with roots in Seattle’s grunge rock scene to make the hall. NEW YORK — The late rapper Tupac Shakur and Seattle-based rockers Pearl Jam lead a class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees that also include folkie Joan Baez and 1970s favorites Journey, Yes and Electric Light Orchestra. Chic, led by Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards, has become the rock hall’s version of Susan Lucci and her long quest to win a Daytime Emmy. Their affair ended badly in 1965, for which Dylan later apologized. Baez was a political activist and mainstay of the folk movement, performing at the first Newport Folk Festival at age 19 in 1959. Founding member Neal Schon was quoted in Billboard recently saying that there are so many non-rock artists in the hall that “I don’t really care about being there.” He did allow that it would be nice for fans of the band, never a critical favorite. Only 25 when he died, Shakur left behind a trove of music that was released posthumously. The hall’s 32nd annual induction ceremony will take place on April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.