1. Goon des Garcons – “L.A.W.W.D.”
From my perspective, Goon des Garcons did more than anyone else in 2015 to make Little Rock look like a fun place to make art, and that accomplishment alone demands respect. He also happens to be an almost compulsively ambitious rapper, continually raising the bar for the production value and reach of his and his friends’ work. Arkansas tends to prefer a kind of modest, slacker self-effacement from its artists, and so Goon’s loud pride might scan as uncouth; but the guy is explicitly attempting to start a movement, to get some momentum going. And look at what he did.
2. John McAteer and Gentlemen Firesnakes – “Consequences”
Here’s something from “Monterey Canyon,” the new LP from Little Rock’s John McAteer and Gentlemen Firesnakes, recorded by Jason Weinheimer at Fellowship Hall Sound. A song about television, physical and spiritual isolation, drinking, mistakes — and is that a melodica?
3. Take Shapes – “Tiny Spears”
From the moody and accomplished new record “Raised by Wolves,” by Fayetteville band Take Shapes — recommended for fans of angular math rock, though this one is closer to slowcore, bottom-heavy and Bedhead-bleak.
4. Solo Jaxon – “Keep Up”
Little Rock’s Solo Jaxon has emerged in the last couple of months as one of our most exciting young rappers — his flow is precise and percussive, and he has a real point of view. Following his recent stuff has felt like watching an artist find his sound; it feels crucial and thrilling. His output has been sparse so far (I think?), but watch this space.
5. La Petite Roche – “Capital View (To A Kill)”
A welcome dispatch from Little Rock musician Mark Lewis, who left the city in September only to release this, his magnum opus, a tribute to Little Rock he calls “a love sonic to a city.” Part secret-history and part speculative fiction, the record blends (very homemade) indie rock and dub, a wild dream-diary of impressionistic memories and meditations on the city’s past. This song features vocals by Jeremy Brasher (Lewis’ bandmate in The Moving Front and a columnist for Rock Candy) and has something to do with time travel, cat theft and Little Rock’s Capitol View neighborhood.
6. Young Spielberg – “Before I Go”
Young Spielberg is the new project by Ike Peters of The Coasts (who made one of our favorite Little Rock records of 2014). Peters has a gift for earworm melodies and subtle presentation — this song has a burnout-lullaby quality that’s pretty affecting.