Top Tunes ’18: Conor Stratton

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Wow! 2018 has come and gone, and it’s about time we reflect on our favorite sounds of the past year. Leading up through the end of the year, WOUB Culture will be spotlighting what various music-centric people throughout the region have been enjoying the most for the past 12 months.

Conor Stratton (Photo by Hillary Jones)

I’m a Hocking College alumni and Yellow Springs, OH native. Currently, I own and direct a music and craft brewing festival called Springsfest. I’m the songwriter in the Crooked Spines and also work as Speaking Suns’ manager. On the weekends, I have the privilege of bartending at the Yellow Springs Brewery, come say hi sometime.

The Party / Andy Shauf

This album is not only deeply moving but also a testament to Shauf’s storytelling and musical excellence. I recently actually drove all the way to D.C to catch him performing at a movie theater by himself, and I can think of few performances that were as captivating as that one.

Selected track – “To You”


Freedom / Amen Dunes

Freedom has been a consistent play for me recently. Amen Dunes truly tapped into a very unique, atmospheric beauty with this record. It’s poetic, versatile, big and delicate all at once.

Selected track: “Believe”


Bad Behavior / Broncho

Broncho has been a favorite of mine for quite a few years, and this recent release has only solidified that further. They have a dark pop about them that I’ve never heard in anyone else. Their melodies are addicting and unique, their guitars are washed in deep chorus and reverb, and Ryan Lindsey’s voice is unimmitatable. Highly recommend this one.

Selected track: “Weekend”


Blonde / Frank Ocean

Blonde is a masterpiece, plain and simple. It’s poetically brilliant and every single song on this album, which is a big one, is nothing shy of beautiful and moving. Blonde carried me through one of the hardest periods of my life, for that I’m extremely grateful.

Selected track – “Godspeed”


Overgrown Path / Chris Cohen

Chris Cohen has been a very influential artist to me since the release of this album. He has a gentle sound that is still complex in instrumentation and I am a sucker for his singing. His latest record, As If Apart, is equally great however, this first album was and is very special to me.

Selected track – “Rollercoaster Rider”


Capacity / Big Thief

Big Thief has certainly become a well known name over the last few years, and rightfully so. Adrianne Lenker’s songwriting is truly special and their take, or reimagining, of folk rock and the vulnerability of their music is very unique. Buck Meek (guitarist) also released a fantastic album this year that I’d recommend to any Big Thief fan.

Selected Track – “Black Diamonds”


Lost In The Dream / The War On Drugs

The War On Drugs have been a big influence to me. Lost In The Dream is a huge and beautiful album full of wavelike ambience and power. I’ll also point out that their live performance is unreal and I’d highly recommend seeing them play if you get a chance.

Selected Track – “In Reverse”


Bitte Orca / The Dirty Projectors

I have always been swept away by the Dirty Projectors experimental, mathy approach to pop music. They certainly have a sound that is hard to mimic, and David Longstreth has a completely unique and impressive singing style.

Selected Track – “Useful Chamber”


Wakin On A Pretty Daze / Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile is such a interesting character. I had never really heard someone like him before when I was originally shown music of his from Smoke Ring For My Halo, another brilliant one of his. It took me sometime to acquire the taste for it, but when I did I fell absolutely in love with his layered guitar playing and storytelling.

Selected Track – “Goldtone”


In Rainbows / Radiohead

First, to all other diehard Radiohead fans, don’t hate me for putting this as the Radiohead record for me because really it could be almost any of them. However, In Rainbows has always been one I come back to and enjoy revisiting. I hardly feel the need to explain why Radiohead is incredible, but I couldn’t really put it to words even if I wanted to. If for some reason you haven’t listened to them, this would be a great one to start with. The best part is if you decide you like them, they’ve got like five more records at least that are equally amazing.

Selected Track – “House Of Cards”