Best of LA Music 2016

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Considering the size of this sprawling metropolis – as well as the recent influx of creatives from the Bay Area and NYC into our fine city – we always have high hopes that there will be a group of local artists we can throw our support behind here at KCRW. This year’s standouts were a mix of new and old. Here are some of the highlights (with playlist below):

We all chuckled a bit when we heard the first single on the much-anticipated new album from indie rock goddesses Warpaint was called “New Song”. It seemed a bit on the nose. BUT it’s a fantastic song and quickly became a station favorite.

After a bit of a break (and a relocation to New Orleans for band leader Alex Ebert), Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes returned with a true group effort with PersonA. My favorite track changed over a few times, from “Hot Coals” to “No Love Live Yours”, eventually landing on the piano-driven “Wake Up the Sun”

Retro soul singer Nick Waterhouse invited throwback phenom Leon Bridges for “Katchi”, the best track on his sophomore album on Innovative Leisure.

Local Natives by Brian Lowe

Local Natives took a long break after their sophomore release to figure out what they wanted to do next and the resulting album is an exploration into new sonic territory. And, as always, they continue to be one of the best live bands around.

Gallant is an R&B singer with a special touch. “Weight in Gold” is perfect for fans of Sam Smith and Blood Orange

Anderson Paak is certainly not new, but 2016 was his year. Between his solo release “Malibu” and his partnership with producer Knxlwledge on the Stones Throw release “Yes, Lawd!” (as NxWorries) he has everyone’s attention.

From left: How to Dress Well’s Tom Krell, Harriet Brown, Michael David of Classixx and Sean Guerin from DeLux. Pic by Dustin Downing

Production duo Classixx returned with a slew of special guests on “Faraway Reach”. “Fine Times” feat. DeLux was a early favorite, but they also introduced us to the greatness of another local artist, Harriet Brown.

After a string of successful singles (and a Grammy nomination for “Faded”), electronic producer ZHU finally released his full length debut.

Dawes by Brian Feinzimer

LA folk rockers Dawes returned with the album “We’re All Gonna Die”. It sounds quite dark but listen a little harder and you’ll hear the silver lining embedded in the lyrics of the title track.

Korey Dane is a talented singer-songwriter who grabbed our attention with a triumphant love song called “Jules Verne”.

The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas signed OC faves The Growlers to his label and produced their new album. The band has a dedicated fanbase thanks to their raucous live shows. “I’ll Be Around” is one of their best tracks yet.

Frank Ocean’s new album was highly anticipated – and much delayed. All of that added to the excitement when it dropped in August.