As I sit working on this year’s Best of 2010, there were many others doing the same. What that all means is that you’re likely to see different best of lists at different sites, in different local publications, and on different radio stations. I’m particularly proud of this list. It was compiled by polling regional community/public/college radio folks as well as members of the press regionally, as well as selected Colorado music fans. The rankings are based on these folks providing me with their top picks of the year, as well as average spin chart rankings this past year.
If you wonder why your favorite record of the year is not ranked, or is ranked low, or doesn’t show up … blame it on two things …. 1) Our pollsters’ individual likes. 2) A lack of spins among our reporting stations. One of the things I see year after year is some kind of reticence or something that keeps Colorado releases from getting to the great stations that will and do air Colorado music … of all styles. I particularly see a lack of jazz and rock releases making their way around the network. If I could have one wish for 2011 it’s that more Colorado music finds its way to more Colorado radio stations around the state.
I have to thank some friends who have been great blessings in my life, and in my efforts to spread the great music we have here in the region. Without them, all of this is nothing. To my wife, Mrs. Goat — I love you. Thank you for indulging this old goat’s passion. KRFC Fort Collins – some of whom I’ve known since the “old days” at KCSU (we’re talking 80’s here). KRFC is where the show began, and is produced weekly. It grew from there… and has spread out to other stations throughout the state over the past three years. Thanks to KMPB (Mountain Public Radio) in Summit County, KDNK Carbondale, KOTO in Telluride, and KWMV in Westcliffe for airing the show … check their websites for day and times the show is aired.
News Stories of 2010
There is no doubt that there were some pretty fantastic news stories surrounding Colorado music and related activities in 2010. And of course, I cannot list them all … but the following are at least some of the stories that broke in the past year that I could at least recall.
- In August, the KRFC FM Board of Directors voted in favor of a resolution to have the interim general manager of the station evaluate and implement a Colorado-centric format. Details are still emerging in December and no firm action or news is expected to be forthcoming for several more weeks.
- The Mishawaka Amphitheater, long under the ownership of Robin Jones, was purchased by Spokes Buzz founder/president Dani Grant in December. She intends to maintain its legacy as a premiere performance venue in the Poudre Canyon.
- RIP…Bob Demmon, guitarist for the Boulder,CO band The Astronauts. The Astronauts charted with “Baja” back in 1963. Mr. Demmon passed away on Dec.18th at age 71
- RIP…Ray Wasinger, drummer for legendary Colorado country band the Starlite Ramblers. Mr. Wasinger passed away Sunday afternoon, September 19th, at the age of 62.
- White Guts, the stellar self released album from Chain Gang of 1974 will be re-isssued this coming spring under the Modern Art and Warner Bros. logos. The album will feature six brand new tracks.
- Colorado’s Flobots and their major label, Universal Republic, parted company amicably according to band sources, while Fort Collins based SHEL was signed to Republic Nashville.
Producer/Recording Studio 2010
John Macy/Macy Sound Studios – Denver
Grammy Award winning engineer/producer/pedal steel master John Macy earns one HUGE round of applause as Producer/engineer of the year for the exquisite albums he’s been a part of putting out in 2010.
- John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light – Beautiful Empty
- Danielle Ate the Sandwich – Two Bedroom Apartment
- Boulder Acoustic Society – Champions of Disaster
- The Congress – The Congress
- Andrea Ball – Dial Tone
- As well as recordings with Matt Morris, Los Lobos, and others.
#1 Albums for 2010
- Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore – Saints and Sinners (Oct, Nov, Dec)
- Big Head Todd & the Monsters – Rocksteady (Aug, Sept)
- the Apples In Stereo – Travellers in Space and Time (June, July)
- Great American Taxi – Reckless Habits (April, May)
- John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light – Beautiful Empty (Feb, March)
- Emmitt-Nershi Band – New Country Blues (January)
Top Albums by Genre:
- Blues– Otis Taylor – Clovis People, Vol. 3
- Bluegrass– Sweet Sunny South – Carried Off By A Twister
- Country – Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams – Sinners and Saints
- Folk – Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore – Saints & Sinners
- Funk/R&B/Soul/Hip-hop/Dance – Air Dubai – Wonder Age
- Jazz – Brad Goode – Tight Like This
- Rock/Pop– this is the most convoluted Genre in music history … full of so many shades and styles to make it incomprehensible. I’m tried to make some sense of it as it might relate to our network of reporting stations around the state.
- Alternative adult contemporary – Jeff Finlin – The Tao of Motor Oil
- Hard/loud/metal/punk – Tickle Me Pink – On Your Way Down EP
- Indie/alternative – Fierce Bad Rabbit – Spools of Thread
- Roots-rock/alt-country/jamband – Great American Taxi – Reckless Habits
- World– African/International/Reggae – Robert Marcey w/ Familyman Barrett – Wailin for Justice
TOP RECURRENT TITLES from 2009 – There is a certain amount of cross over from year to year. Records that came out in Sept or Oct hang around for several months into the next year. These recurrent hits gain enough spins and votes to chart in the year’s best of, but since they made it onto the previous years Best of list have to be counted differently … this is the best of the class of 2009 that stuck around and picked up enough votes to matter for the best of 2010.
- Euforquestra – Soup (world, reggae, and funk)
- Aakash Mittal Quartet – Videsh (jazz, world, India)
- Martin Gilmore – Martin Gilmore (bluegrass, folk)
- Yonder Mountain String Band – The Show (rock, jamgrass)
- Emmitt-Nershi Band – New Country Blues (bluegrass)
TOP 20 2010
#1 – ALBUM of the Year – Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore – Saints and Sinners (Remington Road)
Genre/Style: Folk, americana
Sample Tracks: New Boots, Losers, Dead and Lonely
Added: August 2010
Notes: 3 months at #1 should be enough to land in the #1 best spot of 2010, but it sure didn’t hurt that 98% of our respondents had it in their top 10 also. This is what happens after 25 years of marriage, two kids in college, and myriad personal awards and accolades .. . can ya say YOWZA BABY!? This certainly deserves winning Album of the Year for 2010.
2. Nathaniel Rateliff – In Memory of Loss (Rounder)Genre/Style: Rock, folk, modern, alternative
Sample Tracks: Early Spring Till, Brakeman, Whimper and Wail
Added: March 2010
Notes:Nathaniel Ratefliff had an amazing run of success during 2009 and 2010, leaving behind one band (Born In the Flood) slated to be signed to a major rock label, only to be picked up by Rounder Records for the more folk/rock oriented approach he was taking with an entirely separate set of players. Amazon.com selected In Memory of Loss as the number one album in 2010 that you might have missed
3. Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams – Sinners & Saints (self) Genre/Style: Country, alternative country, retro
Sample Tracks: Tear It Down, Pill Poppin Country Weirdo, Sinners & Saints
Added: August 2010
Notes: After debuting at #3 in our September issue, the Hi-Beams road this one to #2 in statewide airplay for two consecutive months, right behind Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore, before settling in at #4 in December.
4. Danielle Ate the Sandwich – Two Bedroom Apartment (self)Genre/Style: Folk, modern
Sample Tracks: Two Bedroom Apartment, El Paso, 17 & 53
Added: June 2010
Notes: Popularity wins when spins don’t. Since it debuted in our July issue, Two Bedroom Apartment more or less settled down in the middle of the pack in spins statewide, peaking at #10 in September. The album gained top five status in the Best Of by virtue of those who voted her… she’s got crazy loyal fans for sure, especially along the Front Range.
5. Fierce Bad Rabbit – Spools of Thread (self)Genre/Style: Rock, indie/alternative
Sample Tracks: All I Have Is You, Everything’s Alright, Love Doesn’t Run
Added: September 2010
Notes: One of the most popular and exciting new rock bands to emerge out of Fort Collins in the past few years, FBR’s last two releases, their debut and this one, have been favorites at stations like KRFC and KCSU (Colorado State University). If this record were to make it onto playlists at rock friendly stations like KRCC (Colorado Springs), KOTO (Telluride) and KDUR (Durango) it could hang around near the top of the spins charts for many months to come… it’s at least five tracks deep.
6. Paper Bird – When the River Took Flight (self)Genre/Style: Folk, americana
Sample Tracks: Lost Boys, Dead As a Dead Man’s Bones, Colorado
Added: July 2010
Notes: Paper Bird continues to be one of the region’s most loved and popular americana/folk bands. The album stayed in the mid-chart region for the past several months, before breaking into the top ten in December. As the year ends it seems to be picking up steam. Look for increased chart activity in the first few months of the new year.
7. Otis Taylor – Clovis People, Vol 3. (Telarc)Genre/Style: Blues, trance blues
Sample Tracks: Little Willie, Hands On Your Stomach, Harry Turn the Music Up
Added: May 2010
Notes: Otis is literally a living legend among contemporary Colorado musicians, with a history that goes back to the 70s. He has released ten albums in the past decade, all of which have been consistently good. Coloradoans Ron Miles, Larry Thompson and Otis’ daughter Cassie are all featured performers on the album along with Gary Moore on guitar.
8. Great American Taxi – Reckless Habits (Thirty Tigers)Genre/Style: Rock, roots rock, jamband
Sample Tracks: One of These Days, New Millennium Blues, Get No Better
Added: February 2010
Notes: I grew up on country-rock in the late sixties and early seventies. It’s no wonder I love this record so much, as it’s full of the sounds of the south and the mountain west. It has been a favorite also of our wonderful network of reporting stations throughout the year, anchoring the springtime at # 1 for two months and only failing to make the monthly top thirty once in eight months.
9. Boulder Acoustic Society – Champion of Disaster EP (self) Genre/Style: Folk, americana
Sample Tracks: Shelter, Champion of Disaster
Added: September 2010
Notes: this ep was a stunner. it shows a side of the Boulder Acoustic Society they hinted at in their 2009 Punch release but are only now fulfilling. Expect this one to continue gaining in spins as we enter the new year.
10. Sweet Sunny South – Carried Off by a Twister (2Dolla Reccas)Genre/Style: Bluegrass, americana
Sample Tracks: Ghost of Gram, You Never Even Knew My Name, Mississippi
Added: April 2010
Notes: There have been rumors swirling among some in the americana/bluegrass scene for several months that SSS was calling it a day, allowing members to focus on outside projects like Honey Don’t and Hard Pressed. It been a successful run of four albums for this band, with this one in particular leading the way in popularity among the RMMN reporting stations…. making it the #1 Bluegrass album for 2010.
11. The Apples In Stereo – Travellers in Space & Time (Yep Roc) Genre/Style: Rock/Pop, Indie/Alternative
Sample Tracks: Dream About the Future, Dance Floor, No One In the World
Added: April 2010
Notes: the Apples haven’t been an active participating member of the scene here in Colorado on a regular basis for many years. Now based out of Kentucky, Robert and the crew continue to show love for the city and the state from whence they came. It’s nice to see homegrown acts grow up, move on, and stay popular in their hometown.
12. Musketeer Gripweed – Dyin’ Day (self) Genre/Style: rock, jamband, blues, funk
Sample Tracks: Dyin’ Day, River Risin’
Added: September 2010
Notes: Debut album. We might call this revivalist-rock. Hard working band with a highly energized gospel rock blues vibe that is beginning to gain significant cred around the state. This is the surprise debut hit record of the year…. between the mad crazy loyal fans and the increasing airplay statewide, expect this one to stick around a while. “The final word must go to frontman Jason Downing, whose vocal performance is nothing short of incredible… This really might be the album of the year.” – Conor Hooley Scene Magazine Jan 2011. “…what makes the album so good is that it’s not a copy. Somehow, while paying solid homage to the Crowes and other bands like them, Musketeer Gripweed has found their own voice. And it’s a powerful one, indeed.” – Local Love – Marquee Magazine – Jan 2011
13. Grant Gordy – Grant Gordy (self) Genre/Style: bluegrass, nu-grass, neo-acoustic
Sample Tracks: Blues for Dawg, Goodbye Liza Jane, Diggin’ Hargreaves
Added: April 2010
Notes: a bluegrass “purist” friend of mine said this isn’t bluegrass. Don’t tell that to David “Dawg” Grisman, for whom Grant is the lead guitarist, and for whom Blues for Dawg was written. Incorporating elements of the neo-acoustic movement, including classical and jazz motifs, this instrumental album has consistently been one of the most popular at RMMN reporting stations in 2010. The album was picked by Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s senior editor, Scott Nygaard, as one of their Essential Albums of 2010.
14. Elephant Revival – Break in the Clouds (Ruff Shod) Genre/Style: folk, transcendental-folk
Sample Tracks: Feathers Rise, Rhythm of the Road, Barefoot Friend
Added: November 2010
Notes: Break in the Clouds represents the maturation of the “transcendal-folk” sound the band has been developing since their 2009 debut. As it came out in November, I expect to see this record continue to gain in spins for 2011, potentially making it one of the top re-current releases in next year’s Best of edition.
15. Jeff Finlin – The Tao of Motor Oil (Bent Wheel) Genre/Style: Rock, alternative adult contemporary
Sample Tracks: East by West, Hands Off the Wheel, Stones Must Roll
Added: July 2010
Notes: Jeff is a well established Fort Collins singer-songwriter, once signed to a major label, who has traveled the country and England over his years in the business. “Tao” represents yet again Jeff’s ability to weave stories with visually graphic and stunning lyricism. A mid-charter for most of the past six months, if for no other reason than more stations don’t have the album in their collections.
16. John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light – Beautiful Empty (Free School) Genre/Style: Rock, alternative adult contemporary
Sample Tracks: Same Scar, In My Neighborhood, Love Is A Shark
Added: December 2009
Notes: John has left us with an amazing array of recordings over the past decade, with his alt-country-folk-rock group Rainville to two solo efforts and now this one with Blinding Flashes of Light that not only showcases John’s voice and songs, but the equally compelling and stunning Jess DiNicola as his vocal partner. Beautiful Empty sped to the top of the spins charts for two months in 2010. You can read more about my thoughts here.
17. Blue Canyon Boys – Mountain Bound (self) Genre/Style: bluegrass
Sample Tracks: No Worries In My Pocket, Rocky Mountain Bound, Don’t Change
Added: July 2010
Notes: One of the most popular and celebrated bluegrass bands in Colorado today, on this, their fourth release in the last five years, the boys show off six new originals and eight bluegrass/country classics. Winner – 2008 Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition.
18. Romano Paoletti – Story of a Lifetime (self) Genre/Style: country, folk, americana
Sample Tracks: Ragtime Blues, Can You Run, Can You Canoe
Added: February 2010
Notes: Produced by bass player extraordinaire Eric Thorin, Romano’s debut is full of some of the region’s top session players, including Sally Van Meter, Betse Ellis, Caleb Roberts, Eben Grace, Todd Moore, John McVey, Mollie O’Brien and others.
19. Dovekins – Assemble the Avery (self) Genre/Style: folk, americana, bluegrass
Sample Tracks: Walks So High, On the Dells (He Smells, She Repels), Waltz (Dictionary_ I)
Added: June 2010
Notes: Assemble the Avery makes the TOP 20 almost SOLELY on the voting of our panel this year – the album has failed to make a significant dent on the spins chart in 2010.
20. Air Dubai – Wonder Age (self) Genre/Style: hip-hop, pop, r&b
Added: October 2010
Sample Tracks: Restless Youth, I Know How, Ten Weeks
Notes: I’m stoked that it made the top 20. I got turned onto this band at a Westword event prior to this year’s Westword Music Showcase in June. I don’t expect to hear this record at most of our RMMN reporting stations, but for those that do air it – PROPS! This is a fun, young, hip, sexy r&b dance record, more likely to be heard on a commercial TOP 40 station (or one of the RMMN college stations like KDUR or KCSU), than a Rocky Mountain public radio station used to airing more acoustic/roots oriented content.
THE REST of the TOP 50
21. Robert Marcey w/ Familyman Barrett – Wailin for Justice (Dread I) Reggae
22. Big Head Todd and the Monsters – Rocksteady (BIG) Rock, alternative adult contemporary
23. Snake Rattle Rattle Snake – Snake Rattle Rattle Snake (self) Rock, indie/alternative
24. Railbenders – Like A Wheel (self) Country
25. Runaway Express – Howlin’ At the Moon (Raven Records) Folk, americana
26. Patti Fiasco – No Bridges (self) Rock, alt-country
27. SHEL – Try to Scream (Mad King Records) Folk, neo-acoustic
28. Colcannon – Three Days In May (Oxford Road) Celtic
29. Head for The Hills – Head for the Hills (self) Bluegrass
30. White Water Ramble – All Night Drive (self) Bluegrass
31. The Knew – The Knew’s Pulperia (self) Rock, indie/alternative
32. Chuck Pyle – The Spaces In Between (Zen Cowboy) Folk
33. Beautiful Loser Society – The Long Slow Decline (self) Rock, alt-country
34. Brad Goode – Tight Like This (Delmark) Jazz
35. Long Road Home – Live from eTown Hall (Argus Records) Bluegrass
36. Andrew Vogt – Cats Afoot (Drew’s Blues) Jazz
36. The Heyday – Till We See the Sun (self) Rock, alt-country
37. Bobby Walker – Way Back When (BWM) Blues, R&B
38. Lonesome Traveler – Looking for a Way (self) Bluegrass
39. Haunted Windchimes – Honey Moonshine (Blank Tape) Folk
40. John McVey – Unpredictable (self) Rock, alternative adult contemporary
41. Adam Bodine Trio – Blue Mud (AB Creations Co) Jazz
41. Greg Harris Vibe Quintet – Glass Gold (GHM) Jazz
42. Wire Faces – Wire Faces (Bocumast Records) Rock, indie/alternative
43. Jerry Palmer – Cherry Picking (Richland Plains Records) Instrumental, Folk
44. Megan Burtt – It Ain’t Love (self) Rock, alternative adult contemporary
45. Gabrielle Louise – Mirror the Branches (self) Folk
46. The Congress – The Congress (self) Rock, alternative adult contemporary
47. Tickle Me Pink – On Your Way Down (self) Rock, hard/loud/metal
48. 30db – One Man Show (SCI Fidelity) Rock, jamgrass
49. Chris McGarry – And the Weary Eyes Reply (self) Folk
50. Fred Hess Big Band – Hold On (Dazzle Records) Jazz
50. Whiskey Blanket – No Object (self) Hip-hop