As the year comes to a close, it’s time to take stock of the music released by Vermont artists over the last 12 months. VPR spoke with Dan Bolles, music editor for Seven Days, about his top Vermont music picks for 2016.
Here are five songs from Vermont artists that Bolles recommends:
Madaila — “Realization” (from Traces)
"Madaila one of the bands that a lot of people have kind of had ticketed for larger success and I think this new record is one big reason why ... I think they have a really rare combination of vision, talent and smarts.
"They really have a sense of what it means to be a working band and kind of explode out of Vermont. Not that being in Vermont isn't a great thing, but if you're if you want a little bit more it kind of helps to know what you're doing, and I think these guys really do."
Find more from Madaila here.
Kat Wright — “Who’s Your Fool” (From By My Side)
"The tune was actually written by another local songwriter, Brett Hughes.
"I think it's telling that the record is branded as Kat Wright. The Indomitable Soul Band's name’s not on it, [though] they're all still there. But I think that indicates that they're thinking a bit larger than just the classic soul sound … If you listen closely there's a lot of other stuff going on, and I think that could really translate to more of a cross appeal to larger audiences."
Find more from Kat Wright here.
Grup Anwar – “Mila” (from A Syrian Journey: From Damascus to Burlington)
"The bandleader is a gentleman by the name of Anwar Diab Agha. He is a Syrian immigrant who moved to Vermont in 2008. Back in Syria, he was a very renowned composer and a master oud and violin player. [He] came to Vermont and started this band with a bunch of local Western musicians.
"The interesting thing to me is that he has corralled this group of local players who had mostly never played that style of music before and come up with this really great combination of Arabic music and Western music. It's a really cross-cultural band, and I think especially given what's going on in Syria right now, it's a pretty profound record."
Find more from Grup Anwar here.
The High Breaks – “Voodoo” (From Droppin’ Off With…)
"[The High Breaks] used to be essentially a band called Lenway. They were like an indie jangle-pop band and they have sort of re-emerged as this noir-ish surf band, kind of like if you crossed Dick Dale with David Lynch.
"[They] have a lot of that really cool staccato surf guitar with some sort of ethereal, odd sounds going on in the background.'
Find more from The High Breaks here.
Wooden Dinosaur – “Will” (from Working Weather)
"They’re from Brattleboro and are one of my favorite local bands and have been for quite a while. The lead guy is Michael Roberts, just a really fantastic songwriter.
"This album he's sort of fleshed out Wooden Dinosaur. It used to be kind of a trio, sometimes a quartet ... but this time around he's enlisted a whole bunch of musicians. [Michael Roberts] kind of, in a weird way, almost reminds me a little Willie Nelson."
Find more from Wooden Dinosaur here.
Dan Bolles’ column “Soundbites” appears each week in Seven Days. Read more about Dan’s top picks from this year in his Year in Review.