It's becoming a year-end tradition at KCUR's Up to Date: Reviewing the year's best work from area musicians.
This year's panelists are:
- KCUR 89.3 music critic Bill Brownlee, whose work appears weekly in The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine and on his jazz blog plasticsax.com;
- Hannah Copeland, a Kansas City musician and KCUR 89.3 arts contributor and announcer;
- Kansas City musician Calvin Arsenia.
We asked them to name their three favorite songs from national or international artists, and their three favorite songs from local or regional artists. Here, in alphabetical order, are their top nine songs by Kansas City musicians in 2015.
“Highway’s Holding Me Now” from the album Wild Heart
Kansas City audiences have long embraced blues-rock artists. In Samantha Fish, the city has finally nurtured a performer who compares favorably with the style’s most accomplished musicians.
“Alright Now!” from a 7-inch single
Late-night revelers who've celebrated at the Green Lady Lounge during performances by Chris Hazelton’s boogaloo band have experienced one of Kansas City’s most vibrant recurring parties.
"Can't Run Forever," from the album Can't Run Forever
As seen on the North American Communion Tour, Hembree is a Kansas City group we need to keep our eyes on. This track, "Can't Run Forever," is catchy, anthemic, and extremely danceable.
"Sghetti Sauce," from the album Headrush
HMPH! stretches the limits of rocks' two most common instruments, drums and guitar, to unexpected wordless realms of aggressive and peaceful sound.
Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle
“Riot” from the album Live in Kansas City
Eddie Moore and his young band mates' disruptive energy and fresh perspective enhanced Kansas City’s jazz scene in 2015.
"Already Wrecked" from the album Easy to Dream
Sara Morgan is bringing us back to our roots, wrapping storytelling and steel guitars in an elegance that is all her own. "Already Wrecked" is a new spin on an old story about heartbreak and its constant comrade: whiskey. Morgan's crystalline voice effortlessly strings us through the tragedy of love but somehow still leaves us looking to the bright side right until the end.
"On the Floor," from the album Sweet Nothings
Songstress Jessica Paige seeks clarity, wrestling through the shoulda-coulda-wouldas and what-ifs of romantic encounters. Lyrically, production-wise, and arrangement wise, "On the Floor" flawlessly puts order to chaotic emotions.
"Cities With Clout," from the album Townie
The most hometown-proud cut on an album rich with Midwestern-Americana stories of youth's simplest moments that carve lasting paths, and fears of looming adulthood.
Second Hand King
"Doo Wop Group," from the album Before the Bomb Drops
Second Hand King endearingly longs for the impossible — to be a doo wop singer — as muted horns croon over a '90s hip-hop beat. Uncanny music beds from a dozen producers accompany this rapper as he struggles to understand what really matters on his end-of-the-world concept album.