2016 was my favorite year so far as a person who is alive. These are the musicians who inspired me most over the past 345 days 🙂 (In no particular order).
About once a year, I find a new record I’m sooooper pumped about. Morby takes the cake this year. His sound is timeless and it’s rad to see a guitar rock songwriter making some big waves. He’s also got the best mop top in the game.
Matthew Caws (Nada Surf)
Frankly, I’m pissed at myself for not discovering Nada Surf sooner. A primo melody and guitar band, songwriter Matthew Caws has not written a bad record. He’s a testament to staying in the game for the long haul and not compromising his songwriting/production for a mass audience. This man has taught me to be consistent and write the songs I want to write.
The first time I saw Willy P, I was but a wee man around the age of 12-13 at a festival in Milwaukee. This February, I was a full-grown human and I opened a show for Willy P. Willy is the best guitar player I’ve seen in real life. The next day I hit Willy with a message seeking wisdom and career advice. He called me back within ten minutes and dropped two hours of knowledge on how to stay in the game and avoid burnout. This advice helped me greatly in 2016.
Bazan still loves sleeping in his car on tour, which I can relate to. You’ve got to respect a man who still loves grinding the road after almost 20 years. I ran into Bazan at a house show in Madison and he offered pertinent touring advice to staying sane on the road while plowing across so many lonely miles.
Gordon Gano + Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes)
At the age of 13 I went to California to visit my uncle. On this trip, I met Shaquille O’neal. Thus, I swear I’d never return to Cali because that trip could never be topped…BUT THEN the strangest thing happened. The Violent Femmes asked me to open shows for them on the west coast. This was way better than meeting SHAQ. Brian and Gordon were sweet to take me under their wing and we had some good hangs in So Cal. Big honor. Hopefully I get to open some shows for SHAQ too.
Keith Murray (We Are Scientists)
So many artists take themselves way too seriously. We are Scientists do not. Co-founder Keith Murray is one funny muddafooka, and a brilliant hybrid of great songwriter and comedy writer. I ran into Keith this summer in Nashville and we chatted about the benefits of being an anxious person and how anxiety can fuel creativity & progress. Check out WAS skits and tunes online: http://wearescientists.com/shorts/
With an unpolished voice and raw production, Kweller sticks to his guns. There’s only one guy that sounds like Ben Kweller, and it’s Ben Kweller. Not even the greatest 3D printer from the future could come close to copying this man’s sound.
Steven Page (ex-Barenaked Ladies)
Page is the reason I started playing guitar and singing. After seeing Barenaked Ladies at the age of 13, I immediately went out and got a job at Mcdonalds so I could buy a guitar. Damn, did I dominate that fry-o-later. Eventually the $5.15/hr stacked up and I had myself a crappy Fender Strat knock-off. Out of all my heroes I’d most like to meet, it’d have to be Page.
Midwest is best. Iowa-native Dan Bern is a god damn champion of the road. I don’t know a dude who’s put more miles on the van than Bern. Watching fellas like Dan truly motivate me to keep trucking for the distance. It’s all about the long slow burn.
To warm up his voice for gigs, Jonas has a giant bong-like contraption of tubes and water bottles that makes promoters very nervous due to venue drug policy. Hahaha! Jokes on them. It’s just hot water and air. Jonas has a buttery golden voice. It’s possible he just chows sticks of butter before singing to get that primo sound. Great guy. Was fun to play a show with him in Norway this year.
Brian Sella (Front Bottoms)
Proof that people still give a shit about lyrics, the Front Bottoms have built one of the “cultiest” followings in the game. Brian is perhaps the most literal songwriter out there. Good luck finding a dude who writes more vivid and clever lyrics.