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Staff Picks: Music

Four Favorite Releases of 2016 (so far)

The year is almost a third over and the music has been phenomenal! As we enter the warm summer months here are four great CDs that can be played at maximum volume while enjoying the sun.

Welcome the Worms by Bleached – One part Go-Go’s, one part punk and one part pure fun this LA based trio’s sophomore release is already in my Top 10 of 2016. The lead track, “Keep On Keepin’ On” is a short punchy tune that forces your hand for the volume control. If you are a fan of the West Coast punk sound, then you will love Bleached.

You Know Who You Are by Nada Surf – Can we finally stop calling this band a “one-hit wonder”? The eighth studio release from the New York based Nada Surf is pure power pop perfection. Not many bands can produce such smart and sonically superior tracks like ‘Cold to See Clear” or “Gold Sounds.” It is time for you to skip their “Popular” song check out the new album.

99 Cents by Santigold – Santigold is another great artist making innovative music without getting enough credit. Her newest release is an amazing blend of hip-hop, dance and Caribbean influences. The track “Can’t Get Enough of Myself (feat. B.C.)” is the best kind of earworm. It nestles into your entire body and elicits lots of body movement.

We Can Do Anything by Violent Femmes – The acoustic punk stylings of one of the most beloved bands of the 1980’s are back in full force. The Femmes must have heard my musical wishes because they crafted an album that is both a nod to their past and filled with some reaches into the future. The standout tracks are “Memory” and “Issues.” This record makes me so happy.


It's been a rough year for losing musical greats. The inimitable Prince left behind a huge legacy that won't quickly be forgotten. Access his classic songs via your Hoopla account.

Dive Into Diiv

The Broolyn-based band Diiv has done their shoegazing homework with their most recent album Is the Is Are. Fans of the early 1990's shoegazer scene that included groups like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive and The Jesus and Mary Chain will likely find Diiv's emphasis upon burying melodies under droning layers of noise (see: Sonic Youth), feedback and reverb to their liking.

Merle Haggard

The legendary country singer Merle Haggard, whose songs about drinking, failed romances and outlaw life earned him a place in the musical pantheon, has passed away at the age of 79. Check out his some of his catalog at or the KPL collection. Recommended for beginners would be: I'm a Lonesome Fugitive/Branded Man and Strangers and Mama Tried.

Freegal Artist Spotlight--The Boss

I admit it, I'm not a big fan of The Boss but I'm going to use Freegal's extensive catalog of Bruce Springsteen's early albums in hopes of finding some tracks to download for my collection. Here's to the search.

Song of the Day--I'm In Love (yes I am)

The world needs more Billy Stewart in it so...



By now, you've likely heard the buzz about the new Broadway musical, Hamilton, created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, in collaboration with Stephen Sondheim, Ron Chernow and the Roots. The New York Times called it a "multiethnic hip hop romp about 18th century politics" and it is funny, sad, and full of beautiful lyrics and melodies. I've been listening to it on repeat for weeks now and like all the best musicals, the songs are making me laugh and cry. And multiple times, I've been inspired to look up some historical facts. With the cast members performing at the White House earlier this month and a national tour just announced, we're sure to keep hearing more and more about Hamilton for years to come. So check out the cd or download the album on the library's Hoopla digital service.  Get yourself ready for that glorious day when Hamilton finally comes to the Midwest and we can see this work of art for ourselves!

Biopics Galore

Three musical legends are getting the Hollywood biopic treatment. Portraits of trumpeters Miles Davis and Chet Baker and legendary country troubadour Hank Williams will be the subject of upcoming movies slated for later this year (Miles Ahead, Born to be Blue and I Saw the Light). Catch up on their musical catalogs via compact discs, Freegal or Hoopla.

American Hardcore

From the years 1986-1992, I listened to a lot of hardcore (punk music played fast). American Hardcore is a thorough and informative documentary film that introduces viewers to the music's most influential groups and the cultural and historical context in which this music developed. The film's soundtrack is a great primer and accessible to stream at

Phife Dog- 1970-2016

Legendary MC Phife Dog from the seminal late 1980's hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest passed away today. He and his fellow rap partner Q-Tip were the group's primary members. Some of their hits included Bonita Applebum, Can I Kick It and We Got (Jazz) Bugg'n Out. The New York Times has his obiturary and video of Can I Kick It here.