Duncan has been with KXCI since January 1999, working regularly as a volunteer with Program Director Mike Landwehr and became the Music Director later that same year. When it’s your job to listen to hundreds of new releases each year, you’re bound to come away with some diverse, well-honed opinions about the strongest releases of the year:
Instrumental grooves that blend the lines between electronic, indie and atmospheric (plus pedal steel!), but always focus on GREAT guitar melodies.
Langhorne Slim & The Law – The Spirit Moves
An album full of strong songs from start to finish. Langhorne’s rawness is still here but everything is much more focused and deep.
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
A return to the sparse and folkier sound of Michigan or Seven Swans… beautiful, haunting, dark and light… heavy.
Loved the debut ep that came out last year, and the stunning song The River is on this wide ranging album that goes from dirty garage blues to slow burning doo wop soul.
French producer returns after 15 years with an albums that combines his chill electronica with Mali, African instruments, voices and blues grooves.
Rayland Baxter – Imaginary Man
Album full of solid songs, melodic hooks and stellar musicianship. It has a 70’s AOR feel yet is not retro, just excellent full band singer-songwriter rock. Rayland previewed several of these songs in KXCI’s Studio 2A before the album was released.
Ibeyi means twins in Yoruban (African religious heritage in Cuba). These twins blend their Cuban/Yoruban chants and percussion with modern beats and a sparse pop, soul, jazz feel.
Josh Ritter – Sermon On The Rocks
Josh has been a favorite songwriter since seeing him in a small room at SXSW when he was just starting. Sometimes he has gone in a more pop direction but this album holds nothing back. Great stories that can be full or sparse, epic or intimate, personal and universal.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S/T
It is fitting that this came out on the resurrected Stax imprint. Full bodied blue-eyed soul that that is a strong take on the classic Memphis sound while retaining it’s own soul.
New Orleans funk masters pull in a catch of great guest vocalists to sit beside their instrumentals. Southern funk and R&B is alive and well and ready to move ya’ till the break of dawn.
Who’s this band with an amazing album of crumbly and western, lo-fi indie folk pop? Well it’s pretty much Golden Boots under a different moniker. I guess their contract didn’t allow them to release it under the a previous name.
Howe Gelb marks 30 years of Giant Sand with this sprawling album featuring members new and old and multiple guests recorded across the globe. Divided in three volume, Howe pulls it all together with his strong presence and consistent themes of life as a “transponder”.
Local and international band heads to Mexico City to develop their latest with Sergio Mendoza and then crystallizes a set full of three minute gems with a host of special guests.
Band name for Sedona based Brandon Decker. Recorded in Tucson with a host of local musicians for a desert psych acoustic gospel vibe.
Cosmic French folk the dreams in the desert. Louise has engaged us from start to finish on this album and on stage with her accent, chops and freewheeling charm.
Self titled release finds Laura Kepner-Adney added to the band for another layer of killer four part harmonies and adventurous arrangements. They join her too for Laura and the Killed Men.
They take their jam band sound to a whole new level on Gravitate while still retaining a festive sound that incorporates reggae, funk, jam/dead and twin lead guitars.
Stellar local songwriter with first solo release in ten years, but he’s been busy writing and touring with Kevin Costner and Modern West. Same players on this great collection of songs.
Chicha Dust change their name and sign to great international label Barbes for this vinyl ep. Their style also changes from covering chicha cumbia songs to creating their own desert psychedelic cumbia sound.
Brittney Katter leads the band for this album of garage punk rockers that are so bursting full of energy they seem ready to derail at any moment. Catch them live (like at this year’s 10 West festival) to witness these songs on another level.