Here at Paste, we’ve always enjoyed inviting our favorite artists to perform in our spaces. Over the years, we’ve hosted bands in our Decatur office, at numerous South by Southwest parties, the Paste Ruins at Newport Folk Festival, and more. But this past year the new studios in our New York City office—furnished with actual tapes from Wolfgang’s Vault—served as the main location for Paste’s sessions. We hosted 176 musicians this year, and even if you didn’t catch ‘em all, here are 15 of the best Paste Videos from 2016.
15. Jon Batiste
When he’s not leading his group Stay Human on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Jon Batiste leads the way for the future of jazz, soul, R&B, and any sound you make with a melodica. Just before Christmas, the 30-year-old pianist/singer/songwriter stopped by our studios to offer a little festive soundtrack to the holidays, playing versions of Christmas classics from his new LP Christmas with Jon Batiste like we’d never heard before. —Hilary Saunders
Brooklyn indie dance-rockers Rubblebucket swung by the Paste Studio recently to play a few songs from their 2015 LP Survival Sounds, released on Communion Records. We’ve been fans of Rubblebucket for a while, featuring them in our Best of What’s Next series back in 2011. The band’s initial ska-reggae influences have faded a bit since then, replaced with more synths and electronic elements. Most remarkably, lead singer Kalmia Traver defeated ovarian cancer in 2013, returning to deliver powerful performances on Survival Sounds.
13. Matt Corby
Matt Corby graced our studio back in March with selections from his debut studio album, Telluric. The singer/songwriter hails from Sydney, Australia, where he rightfully enjoys a dedicated fan base; his fourth release, Into the Flame was certified Platinum six times over on ARIA, and his singles regularly dominate on the ARIA Singles Chart.
12. Dylan LeBlanc
Dylan LeBlanc is often touted as the “new Neil Young,” and for good reason. The singer-songwriter stopped by the Paste Studio recently, and you can see for yourself why he’s earned that title. The 25-year-old just released his third album, Cautionary Tale, on January 15. An Alabama-native, LeBlanc went back to his roots to work on his third LP. It was released by John Paul White and Ben Tanner’s label, Single Lock Records.
11. The Wood Brothers
There are many successful bands that started out as side projects and then became almost as big, if not bigger, than an artist’s main gig. This is the case with folk/roots act The Wood Brothers. Chris Wood started off by being a founding member of seminal 1990s avant-jazz group Medeski, Martin & Wood. Although Chris has always had a passion for roots music, it wasn’t until almost 15 years after the formation of Medeski, Martin & Wood that he formed The Wood Brothers with his brother, Oliver. This cover of The Band’s “Ophelia” is one of our favorite interpretations to come out of this little studio. —Ben Rosner
10. Hiss Golden Messenger
Hiss Golden Messenger’s Heart Like A Levee is steeped in the duality of frontman M.C. Taylor leaving one of his greatest loves in life—his family—only to venture off into the world to embrace his other love—music. While the album versions of these songs balance meandering guitar noodling and reverberating Wurlitzers worthy of a jam band breakdown, this stripped-down session showcases HGM’s acoustic Americana foundation. —Hilary Saunders
9. Fantastic Negrito
Xavier Dphrepaulezz has been many things in his life—orphan, drug dealer, club promoter, small-time hustler, studio musician, NPR Tiny Desk Concert contest winner, Bernie Sanders supporter, and more. But on Election Day, even after a spell away from music, the man known as Fantastic Negrito stopped by the Paste Studios to offer his latest musical incarnation, a take on mostly acoustic, dirty blues. —Hilary Saunders
8. Julien Baker
Middle Tennessee State University student/songwriter Julien Baker came to the Paste Studio recently to play us some music off of her debut solo album, Sprained Ankle (which was featured in our 50 Best Albums of 2015 last year).
Baker, who dropped the album last year, has been through more in her life than the average 20-something, and her experiential maturity is evident in her songwriting. Her lyrics are intimate, sometimes cautionary, and completely from the heart. She’s doesn’t just sing and play guitar. It’s much, much more than that. Stay tuned: this young singer/songwriter has a big future ahead of her.
7. Silversun Pickups
Singer/guitarist Brian Aubert and bassist Nikki Monninger of Silversun Pickups stopped by the studio last month to play a few acoustic songs for us. The Los Angeles-based band released its fourth album_ Better Nature_ last July, and “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)” shows how well Silversun Pickups tread between alternative and emo.
6. Kamasi Washington
Tenor sax master Kamasi Washington lit up the Paste Studios in March with this performance including “Malcolm’s Theme” and “The Next Step” from his 2015 masterpiece The Epic. Bassist Miles Mosley had a chance to stretch out on the third tune “Fair As Equal,” with the sound rounded out by trombonist Ryan Porter and vocalist Patrice Quinn.
We’ve loved JOHNNYSWIM since 2014, proclaiming them (even then!) the Best of What’s Next. The day before performing at the Macy’s Day Parade, the husband-wife duo played a few selections from their new album Georgica Pond, proclaiming in our cozy studios, “We’re gonna soft-rock your faces off!” —Hilary Saunders
4. Lake Street Dive
Whether they’re performing a Michael Jackson cover on a Boston sidewalk or jamming out to an original track at the Paste Studio, Lake Street Dive has one hell of a presence as a unit. The best part of the multi-genre quartet is everything works together seamlessly. Bridget Kearney, who wildly plucks at the upright bass, earned recognition in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition in 2005, subsequently gathering the wherewithal for the band’s debut release. The two Mikes bounce along at their respective instrumental stations as lead-vocalist Rachael Price pulls it all together as the unifying agent of the group. Price leaves the gravitas behind for some spunkiness, closing her eyes and waving her hands about with flair.
The band’s energy is only natural considering their lively tunes of their newest LP, Side Pony. The 12-track installment features jazz-infused pop, twinkly xylophones, and the soulfulness of a diva in charge. “Who doesn’t like a side pony?” Price asks jauntily. While the hairstyle might only make a comeback in Fuller House this year, her vibrato has a way of coaxing us into agreement. — Mady Thuyein
We actually premiered this song from PALMAS’ debut EP To The Valley back in September of last year. But when the East Coast surf band stopped into our New York offices to perform it live, the tune took on a cleaner air with frontman Kurt Cain’s vocals less drenched in reverb and effects. But the great mystery of this session is still drummer Pat Degan fighting with a parking meter and bringing it upstairs.
2. The Districts
Philadelphia is a hotbed for indie music. With bands such as Tom Hamilton’s American Babies and Good Old War hailing from the city of brotherly love, there’s a blossoming population of great rising artists from the largest city in Pennsylvania. Enter The Districts, a garage/roots rock band currently signed to Fat Possum. Like the two aforementioned acts, The Districts hail from the Philly area and combine traditional garage rock with modern influences. Their profound and sudden popularity recently managed to get them the opening slot at The Rolling Stones’ Quebec tour stop.
The Districts’ sophomore release A Flourish and a Spoil managed to peak at No. 7 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Their music is noted for its aggressive guitar tones and a vintage, fuzzy sound. The vocals of frontman Rob Grote are bellicose, while the lyrics have a sense of dire meaning to them. Their garage rock revival sound is akin to contemporaries such as Royal Blood and Black Pistol Fire, while also containing influences of older acts such as The Sonics and The Remains. The Districts will soon become one of your favorite bands as well, as their garage rock sound is appealing to multiple generations of rock fans. —Ben Rosner
Led by dual lead singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, Lucius’ girl-group power and infectious vocal harmonies caught our attention in 2013, the year their stellar debut Wildewoman was released and we featured the band in our Best of What’s Next series. They’ve played for us numerous times before, but we were thrilled to get a firsthand look at some of the new songs. Back in February, the band stopped by to play old and new favorites “Born Again Teen,” “Dusty Trails” and “Madness.”