Here we are with the grand finale of our Best of Springfield Music 2019 series – your top voted Springfield albums / releases of the past year! We are here today to bring you your top ten picks, numbers 1 through 10. As will our other lists, each entry has a little write-up by different members of the Springfield music community. Thanks to everyone who helped do write-ups for the whole series! And again, all of these results are published in this month’s issue of Activator Magazine with is available for free at our store and different locations around town. Let’s get to it!
#1. Chance Reiniesch – People Pleaser
Well I may not be Chance’s target market, at least I can fit the description of “stained white t-shirt” in the album’s opening lines, but that’s about it. I missed out on the packed crowd when this album was debuted at Dumb Records this year. Fortunately for me, it’s readily available on Spotify. Obviously Chance is very talented and certainly sounds to me like major pop star material. Natural vocal abilities abound throughout the album with some added interesting effects that are not overdone. Although the album is relatively short, it certainly showcases Chance’s abilities. From the pop standard material “Divine” and “Cloudz” to the acoustic duet “Hit n Run” and ending on an epic note with a very earnest “Tranquility”, and oh those strings! Production on this album is rich but doesn’t feel overproduced which is very easy to do in this genre. I expect this is only the beginning for this young vocalist virtuoso, and one heck of a start.
– Jeff Black (The Radon Lounge / Dumb Records)
The dedication and hard work that has been put into Chance’s latest release, People Pleaser, is unmatched. Chance’s voice is raw with emotion and each lyric paints a picture. The beautiful but unique production behind each song sends chills down my spine. Chance doesn’t just sing a song; he tells a story and captivates the hearts of listeners. People Pleaser has the right mix of everything you could want in an album.
– Juliann Hendricks
#2. Dexter Anodyne – Weeping Venus
Like the stomping of smoke or the fierce whirlwind of a million flapping butterfly wings, Weeping Venus comes out of nowhere with ethereal beauty and grace yet with the power and determination of a Midwestern blizzard. Tracks such as “Recurring Dreams” and “Ghosts” are gentle yet firm soundscapes that nestle you peacefully into the artfully chosen lyrics and encourage you to howl into the night along with Dexter. Weeping Venus as an album is magnificent and singular. As an experience, it’s essential and should be seen as one of the most important Springfield albums of the last decade.
– Ian Winterbauer (local poet, Vachel Lindsay Association)
#3. Vincent Sebastian – Interference
Vincent Sebastian’s album, Interference, is a piece of work that demands a second listen. The production of each track is intricate, but not overdone. His lyrics are unapologetic and tell a story in a way that every listener can understand. However, the most impressive aspect of this project is its ability to connect each track flawlessly without sounding monogamous. Overall, Interference is an impressive release.
– Chance Reiniesch
#4. Lick Creek – Too Damn Country
This is the third release for this Springfield Illinois based outlaw country band. Released June 14, 2019 it is a blend of country and southern rock with a touch of blues. Title track “Too Damn Country” is an easy to like outlaw country song while “Big Dogs” switches gears to swampy blues. Check out “Mississippi” for some great vocal harmonies from lead singers Lance Stone and Maddie Brown. All in all a great effort and production, definitely worth checking out.
– James Schroyer (The Rick Mari Band)
#5 Ty Witty – For When It Rains
Continuing a streak of successful singles and releases over the last couple years, Ty Witty continues to grow and perfect his craft, working across varying genres to great success and growing his fanbase of dedicated listeners and hardcore followers. FWIR is a departure from the more hip-hop tinged singles of recent fare, although that element is still in attendance, and the sensitive, vulnerable nature of Ty Witty is put in the forefront, and this release sees him playing with more melodic and pop-influenced tracks. Ty puts forth an effusive and honest release that fulfills the promise of its title while offering a worthy addition to any playlist, opening a portal to the experiences and tribulations that encompass his existence while painting a striking portrait of what could have been and will come to pass in this chaotic world.
– Ken Pacha (Hiphop Humpday, Activator Magazine)
#6. Foam Fangers – Trash Talk And Taco Trucks EP
“Trash Talk and Taco Tracks” harkens back to The sounds and feel of West Coast Punk in the 80s. Fast songs and angry lyrics about being mistaken for a celebrity (Chum Lee), finding food (Taco Truck) and censorship (Uncensored). FFO: skate videos, early Black Flag, Circle Jerks
– John EP (The Complaint Line)
#7. Spiff – Yellow Kelso
On the first of October this year, Springfield’s local rap artist Spiff released his fourth full-length album, Yellow Kelso. This new release from Spiff displays the artist writing richly emotional songs for a quieter, more meditative space. With Yellow Kelso’s unobtrusive instrumentation, the album itself could be mistaken for background music. But then Spiff’s voice enters, and then the overall quietness turns into a soft spotlight, capturing attention. Many tracks feel minimalistic, with only the plain strumming of an electric guitar or foggy atmospherics left behind. But they mesmerize. Even a song like “Blue Summit”, which sounds straight forward with its shards of silvery chords and midtempo beat, eventually turns into an unexpected shredding solo before ending with what sounds like a dream heard underwater. “Blue Summit” is not an anomaly, it is Yellow Kelso’s centerpiece. “Blue summit, top of the mountain, they said check the view but don’t plummet”, he sings on “Blue Summit”, the sixth track from Yellow Kelso. This song proves to be a whirlwind of calmness and serenity. Aside from the heady, exotic lyrics, this track’s unique instrumentation will have listeners wanting to keep “Blue Summit” on repeat. This album contracts itself at nearly every turn. It’s sparseness suggests that a person in a small apartment with only a keyboard and a guitar and thoughts for company. But it isn’t just anyone emoting from the abyss, it’s Spiff. In his possession, such intimacy displayed from this album attracts the ear, raises hair, and ceases heartbeats. These songs are not for rebellion, but they still serve a purpose. They are about everyday lives, about the feat of just existing, which is a statement in its own right. Listen to Spiff’s Yellow Kelso on all available streaming platforms.
– Zack Goriszewski
#8. Deezy Da Paperboy / Cornbread – Kush Kollabs
When two of the heavyweights of the 217 hip-hop scene come together on a project to combine their styles and unique outlooks, you know you’re in for something special and Trash Pandacoot and The Midwest Miracle do not disappoint with their collaborative EP Kush n’ Kollabs. While birthed from their desire to make a smoke session tape with the five tracks functioning as their “5 On It,” Bread and Deezy put their considerable talents on display with lyricism and skillful wordplay taking center stage over beats created out of Superior Sounds Studios that set a tone of of pure bliss, serving notice that there’s more to be found here than just songs about getting high. Those familiar with the solo work of the Trash Panda and Da Paperboy know they always deliver the goods and they do that and more on this outstanding effort. Kush n’ Kollabs is aptly named, with 217 greats Meezy Killafield, Kool Krew, JunioR Pasáre and Jayy Wills joining in on the fun and lending their considerable talents to an EP that offers a glimpse of the collective brilliance this group of artists has to offer, showcasing just how much talent is regularly overlooked in the central Illinois area.
– Ken Pacha (Hiphop Humpday, Activator Magazine)
#9. Master Bastard – Drinking With Children
There’s no question that Master Bastard is familiar with excellent guitar work, and Drinking with Children is a great example. The Intro to their album is 2 1/2 minutes of lyric-less solid, heavy riffs that will get you nodding your head without realizing it. In my opinion the group lends very talented heavy metal skills to a punk/alternative album, as exemplified by the track Breakdown of the Century. Indeed, some songs may pleasingly manifest what would happen, say, if Bad Religion had more guitar chops- or the Deftones were more punk. Catchy lyrics on tracks like Joose and Crimson Teeth (as well as the aforementioned Breakdown of the Century) will bubble up in your mind days after listening, while in-your-face tracks like Roadster definitely command replay value. Although the vocal melodies might not be incredibly creative, the guitar work and song composition skills more than make up for it.
– Brian Tippy (Legacy of Giving Music Festival)
#10. Kate The Band – Wine & Dine / Starry Eyes
Wine & Dine sounds like two slices of pent-up 2 a.m. energy, uncoiling in a desperate attempt to find some meaning in life before the morning spoils it all. A soundtrack to outrunning your troubles while you can, it evokes the gentle rawness of the Pixies’ quieter moments. BJ Pearce’s tight snare and rolling fills build tension and momentum, while Jessica Knight’s low end reminds you of the constant murmur of your heart. On top of it all is Kate Laine’s guitar, a wash of starry arpeggios and glimmering harmonics, and her voice, the border between the excitement of endless possibilities and the pain of the ticking clock.
– Mark Beanblossom (Idle Oath)