January 13, 2021

Josh's End of 2020 List

Kaelin Ellis - After Thoughts (Spotify)

Sango - Da Rochinha 4 (Spotify)

Andrew Wasylyk - Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolidation (Spotify)

Letherette - Mander House, Vol. 2 (Spotify)

Alf Alpha - Arboelda (Spotify)

Khruangbin - Mordechai (Spotify)

Cut Copy - Freeze Melt (Spotify)

Machine Drum - View of You (Spotify)

Vinyl Williams - Azure (Spotify)

Freddie Gibbs - Alfredo (Spotify)

Aesop Rock - Sprit World Field Guide (Spotify)

Caribou - Suddenly (Spotify)

Desmond Cheese - Live Near Amsterdam (Spotify)

January 12, 2021

Ben's End of 2020 List

It has been a year. Here is my list of ten albums I listened to through this mess.

1. Laura Marling - Song for our Daughter - There is a brief moment of Sheryl Crow. But, this is the best folk album in a world overflowing with folk albums. Her ELO rating is just through the roof.

2. Sault - Untitled - This counts for both albums ("Black Is" & "Rise"). Every song feels like I've heard it before. Its comforting and jarring at the same time. 


3. Lupe Fiasco - House - Listened to this for months. An EP that covers dinosaurs and shoes, impossible to go wrong. I really love SHOES (feat. Virgil Abloh).

4. Gil Scott-Heron & Makaya McCraven - We're New Again - A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven - A rabbit hole of a story. 

5. Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher -  Could easily be No. 1 

6. Jaguar Sun - This Empty Town - Somehow captured a feeling that lasted for the second half of 2020. Its that space of time from the end of Summer through the middle of Fall. Like the beautiful orange mid-day photos when the sun was blocked out by smoke.


7. John Prine - Tree of Forgiveness - Listened to a ton of John Prine this year. Not just his most recent album, but pretty much everything. My daughter recognizes his songs at this point. One of my favorite 2020 songs was "How Lucky", a duet off Kurt Vile's new EP, Speed, Sound, Loneliness. Brings tears every time.


8. Run the Jewels - RTJ4 - Big name drops album just in time to play at the protests.

9. Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters - This belongs in a museum.


10. Dominic Fike - What Could Possibly Go Wrong - Ear candy  

January 11, 2021

Alex's End of 2020 List

1. Live streams - While enjoyable, a rather poor substitute.  But then again, back in the day, I thought EDM was a poor substitute, so what do I know. One upside, the free Dead & Co. livestreams back when the pandemic started gave me a chance to experience them. I guess Mayer really is that good...I fought the good fight to keep disliking him, but eventually he won me over. Like I said, he’s really good.

2. Loss of a guitar god- ah, Eddie Van Halen - ’Jump’ was one of my first 3 45’s...back when you could get 3 for $.99 at Sam Goody (My mom wasn’t crazy about the kid angel with the cigarette on the cover but still let me get it).  His death gave me a chance to go back through some of VH’s back catalog...been a very long time since I’d listened to some of that stuff.  Also reminded me of some of my other favorite ‘Eddie’s: 1. Eddie Hazel (I still remember the first time I heard Maggot Brain...chills.  And much like Hendrix took Watchtower and made it his own, Hazel owns California Dreamin 2. Eddie Hinton- he should have a patent on the term ‘blue eyed soul’ 3. There’s also Eddie Murray, but that’s for another thread (Go Orioles).

3. Loss of ‘the every man’s Dylan’- John Prine was so much more bad-ass than most...even if he looked like a guy that worked at your local hardware store. Was good to reconnect with his music in a more profound way this year


4. Dolly Parton saves the world - what has she not done in her life?  Steals her man back from that hussie Jolene and then helps fund a pandemic vaccine.  Mix in some Linda Martell next time you’re in a Dolly mood, you won’t be disappointed.

5. Grammys once again doing their best to slide into irrelevance - Fiona Apple puts out maybe the album of the year and Dylan puts out a classic...Grammys shrug.  The Weekend, who should prob be nominated multiple times in the same category is completely snubbed.  Sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.  All three are great listens.

6. Playing for Change - I can’t believe I didn’t find this series sooner.  Best find of 2020. Watching the kids dance to Ripple played by musicians from all over the world, a definite highlight of the year.       

7. Favorite album of 2020 - Caught it from the Rye.  I literally want to be friends with Tre Burt (why won’t he respond to my Facebook messages??).  Also add in Under the Devil’s Knee...a protest song written in response to racial injustice that sounds like it could be a Woody Guthrie cover.

8. Most recent discovery - The Shave Experiment by Q.  Surprised how much I like this.  Expect big things from him in the future.

9. The reboot of High Fidelity on Hulu - Amazing job they did here...the fact it didn’t get picked up for a second season is either a blessing promising the series won’t outlast it’s charm or yet another of 2020’s curses. I’m leaning towards the latter. 

Ok, so there you have it...my stream-of-conscienceness musings on 2020.  A ton of stuff I left out, but the best is always what you don’t have to think too hard about.  So with that, I’ll raise my glass (Dewar’s) and...cheers.

Jesse’s End of 2020 List

Vinyl - At the beginning of the pandemic we bought a sectional couch and moved the TV into the basement and the record player upstairs. It transformed the room, our evening, and our pandemic lives as my boys were relegated to the basement for video games and movies. Although it quickly became clear that there were some holes in my vinyl collection - notably all my wife’s favorite albums. That obviously had to change.

Comfort Music - With all the shit that went down last year -- and STILL MOTHERFUCKING GOING ON!!!!!! -- I keep falling back on old favorites to get me through the day, raging along to Algiers, family singalongs to the Head and the Heart, drinking to Frightened Rabbit, drinking to Yola, drinking Blitzen Trapper, and running to just about everything, especially classic/retro soul. Apparently, I can run for miles fueled by Otis Redding, Black Pumas, Los Coast, and Benjamin Booker. 

Algiers - There Is No Year - Speaking of Algiers, their new album was pure fire, even before 2020 really got going. Along with fellow Atlanteans Run The Jewels, Algiers catalog was at the center of my social justice playlists.

Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM - 2020 needed a punk album and was the one for me. Just the right mix of singalong, politics, humor, quiet/loud, and indie structural shifts to make it fun, engaging, and of the moment. Plus, Ellis I love to scream along to the title track.

Sunbathe - Somewhere In Between - I’m a longtime fan of Maggie Morris’ Genders and solo work, and this might be her finest. I just love the rolling reverb soaked wistful and longing lyrics. While she may be tired of drinking her feelings, I certainly needed it to moderate mine. Any other year, I would have gone to all her Portland shows.

DEHD - Flower Of Devotion - A wonderful recommendation from Larson! If I described some of the bonkers vocal hooks, you might not check it out, but just know it’s damn catchy, and it all works. One of a couple socially distant musical connections this year that filled me back up.

Girlhood - Girlhood - A late add that I picked up a brief mention on Hanif Aduraquib’s Instagram, and if I focused on the influences - 90s R&B, Sade, 90s British dance music, I probably won’t have listened, but it is so good. Try not to dance along to the closer!

Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud - First introduced to her one of these end of the year lists and love her last two albums. It’s been on heavy rotation all year.

Sturgill Simpson - Cutting the Grass - At the top of the list in a year full of cover songs and live albums. Although technically not either, the new bluegrass versions bring new life to some of my favorite songs. Maybe in 2020, artists and fans just needed to hear music they already loved a little bit differently.

KaiL Baxley - Beneath The Bones - A delicious mix of soul, gospel, blues and Americana. His smokey vocals pull it all together whether strutting across the floor or hunkering by the campfire. It’s practically soul food for me.