Top 5 album picks of 2016

As each year comes to a close, I’m left to reflect on the incredibly rich plethora of music that has graced my ears. This music reaches my ears in many ways. It comes from friends, acquaintances, musicians I’ve never heard of whom I hope to meet and hear live someday, and PR agents from all over the world, to name a few. Just like last year, I reached out to two of my favorite similarly music-adoring fanatical friends: Mark Levy of Bozeman’s own Ranges and Brian Haviland, a decade long friend who still finds time to talk music with me despite our geographical distance, his demanding job and his new (more?) demanding job as a father.

A little late this year but better late than never, here are the top 5 albums (5.5 from Mark because he can never stick to only 5) and the greatest song from each album, according to Deann Snyder (MFL), Mark Levy (Ranges) and Brian Haviland (Alaska-based music-loving smarty pants father).

Here is a playlist of all the favorite tracks as well:


Brian Haviland (from favorite to 5th favorite)

1.Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest

Fav track: “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”

2.The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey

Fav track: “Orange Monkey

3.Human Performance by Parquet Courts

Fav track: “Human Performance”

4.A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead

Fav track: “Burn the Witch”

5. Next Thing by Frankie Cosmos

Fav track: “If I Had a Dog”

Mark Levy (in no particular order)

1. Hypercaffium Spazzinate by Descendants

Fav track: “Shameless Halo”

2. Magma by Gojira

Fav track: “The Cell”

3.Real by Lydia Loveless

Fav track: “Out on Love”

4.United Crushers by Polica

Fav track: “Someway”

5. The Impossible Kid by Aesop Rock

Fav track: “Blood Sandwich”

5.5 Heaven or Somewhere In Between by Kitten

Fav track: “Knife”

MFL (in no particular order)

1. Beneath a Yellow Moon by I Have a Tribe

Fav track: “La Neige”

2. Jumping the Shark by Alex Cameron

Fav track: “Holding Roses”

3. Dance Sunshine, Dance by Another Juggle

Fav track: “Not Now”

4. Shoo by Lionlimb

Fav track: “Just Because”

5. Feet First by Nive and The Deer Children

Fav track: “Are You Ready”


Night & Day: An evening of Bozeman-grown music and art – Friday July 10th

Friday July 10th is going to be a spectacular evening for art and music here in Bozeman. As part of the downtown Bozeman Art Walk, Night & Day, a collaborative event between Thousand Arms, three local bands and many local artists, will take place at The Foundry and Masonic Temple. This event is the living, breathing interpretation of night & day through the eyes, ears, hands and tools of musicians and artists from our very own Bozeman community. Ranges, Modern Sons and Liv are the local bands who will be performing and over 20 artists will also be showcasing their work at the event. The evening starts at 6pm with the art in The Foundry and will be followed by the performance upstairs, at The Masonic Temple where local beer will be provided by Bridger Brewing. The art is free to view but the musical event upstairs is $10. Tickets are available at Bozeman’s own, Cactus RecordsThe Facebook event has all of this information and more. Ranges is Mark Levy (born and raised New York, NY), Wilson Raska (Montana native) and CJ Blessum (Montana native). CJ owns and runs The Low Country, a recording studio in Amsterdam, MT and where all of the musical guests for Friday’s event recorded their interpretations of “night and day.” I had the pleasure of talking to my dear friend, Mark Levy who plays the drums in Ranges, about Night & Day. This is a special occasion for Ranges, as it’s their first live performance.

MFL: This is a pretty anticipated gig considering Ranges has never played live! What sort of preparation have you fellows done for this event in order to allow Ranges to play live?

Ranges (Mark Levy): The prep for the gig has been fun. We had to add three more musicians (Joey Caldwell, Ethan Demarais and Mario Miner) to help fill out the sound. Our recordings have so many layers we needed more players. We also have a backing track for some piano and midi beats. We synced that up with visuals that will be showing behind us on a large screen.

MFL: A 24 minute song is in store, I hear. What is it called and how did the idea arise for a 24 minute song?

Ranges (ML): The 24 min song is called Night and Day. Each minute represents an hour. That concept was discussed first, then writing and recording the 24 min followed.

MFL: Along those same lines, can you elaborate on the writing process for the 24 minute song? Were there moments of hesitation where you were 20 minutes into the 24 and you wanted to scrap the whole thing and start over?

Ranges (ML): CJ had a basic structure on guitar clocking in around 24 min. The original idea was solid. We had enough parts so editing was easy enough to do. The song fades in and out so we have it at exactly 24 min.

MFL: How much collaboration has there been with the other bands and artists involved in the Night & Day event? I know Modern Sons and Liv will be playing as well.

Ranges (ML): The other bands were just told they have 24 minutes of time and they had to write songs based on the night/day theme. No musical collaboration. Other than that, all bands were recorded at The Low Country studio. All the recordings will be available on one disc at the event. The art show at the foundry earlier in the evening was presented the same way to artists. Do whatever medium you do, just base it on your interpretation on the night/day theme. Some of the art I’ve seen looks incredible so far.


MFL: Are there any other events in store for Ranges this summer or fall?

Ranges (ML): As of right now, this is the only live gig this summer. If an opportunity presents itself to play another gig, I’m sure we would do it. We already have plans to record another album. It will be based on the concept on which the band started. Montana.

Today, I laid on my bed with my eyes closed and listened to Ranges’ track, ‘Night & Day.’ It put my entire day into perspective. It shrank down every hour to a single minute. Days go by so quickly as it is but some how, taking 24 minutes out of my busy day to listen, just listen, to a day in a song, made time slow down for me. I was forced to focus on every sound that came into my ears. I tried to correlate the minute in the song with the hours in the day. It made me grateful for the fact that our days are 24 hours and not 24 minutes. Life flies by as it is. Maybe there is a planet somewhere in another solar system with 24 minute days.All I know is I’m happy to be on planet Earth, in Bozeman, MT.

Listen below to a clip of my favorite part of ‘Night & Day.’ It occurs at about 18:10 or 6:10 pm if you prefer to look at it that way:

Please join myself and others Friday, July 10th for this experience.

Additionally, I posted about Ranges a couple other times. Click here and here to check out those posts.

Another treat from Ranges featured in a video by Adam Brummond

I’m so delighted to hear Ranges once again, paired with scenes from the outdoors. I can’t imagine a better backdrop for their soundscapes than the overwhelmingly stunning landscapes of Bozeman, MT and beyond. Check out this video by Adam Brummond out of L.A. with the track, “Silence in the Face of Evil is Itself Evil”, off of Ranges most recent EP, ‘Bonhoeffer’:

The footage was taken in Chugach Mountains which are located northeast of Valdez, Alaska. It kind of makes you want winter to come back, doesn’t it?

I featured Ranges in a post a few months ago. If you’re curious, check it out by clicking on any word in this sentence! 

Word on the street is, Ranges will be playing live in Bozeman this summer for the first time ever, so keep your ears and eyes peeled for dates. I don’t mean their first time live IN Bozeman, I mean their first time LIVE for an audience ever.

Ranges: music for your soul, body and mind

So, as most of you probably know, I don’t ski…Well, I didn’t ski. Now, I’m trying. I’ve spent much of the last week attempting cross-country skiing and yesterday I spent the day trying to remember how to downhill ski. Yes, I spent the first 25.5 years of my life in Montana NOT SKIING. I know this sounds crazy but there are others out there like me. But, I’ve spent some time trying it out and attempting to understand why everyone likes it so much. I get it. I don’t know if I’ll ever “get it” the way most avid skiers do because I’m not an adrenaline junkie and I don’t have a need for speed but, I sure have started to appreciate winter more in the last couple years. Before my friends started taking me out ice climbing, downhill skiing and cross-country skiing, I just looked at the snow and appreciated it’s beauty but now I’ve found that I like actually playing in it!

Anyway, the entire point of this post is to connect the local band, Ranges, with my stunning winter day yesterday. One of my girlfriends spent the entire day skiing greens with me up at Big Sky and I by the end of the day I was starting to feel pretty OK! As we got back into Bozeman, the gentlest, fluffiest snow started to fall and “Antares” off of their sophomore album,’Solar Mansions’, came on. I could not ask anyone to have composed a more perfect piece to summarize the sound, sight and ambiance of the snow falling. Ranges’ music is reflective, simple on the ear but complex in composition and a soundtrack to nature. Ranges is CJ Blessum, Mark Levy and Wilson Raska of Bozeman.

‘Solar Mansions’ was premiered this summer at the Museum of the Rockies in the Taylor Planetarium. Part of the entire experience was that visuals, scenes from “Planet Earth”, were paired perfectly with every rise and fall in the music. The song would build slowly while an under-sea scene was displayed above you in the planetarium: vibrant schools of fish, manta rays and coral. Then, as the song reached its peak, a shark whale engulfed the screen with it’s speckled body and it felt as if you really were hovering below this incredible creature.

Check out this article in The Bozeman Daily Chronicle from this summer.

I apologize for this being such a long post but I think everyone has a place in their lives for this music. And, support these fellows. They are a group of hardworking, talented and creative beings. Their new EP, ‘Bonhoeffer’, was just released this past December as well. You can purchase all of their music on Bandcamp.