Monday DEC 26, 2022 – it’s that time of year, when all the “best of” lists are put out. As you might know I also work at 105.5 The Colorado Sound, KJAC, Greeley/Denver. The annual “best of” staff post there went up last week, and among my ten favorites, four of the following five #COMUSIC “best of” were included.
Yeah, of course I could go with the obvious picks: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and the Lumineers each put out stellar albums that have ruled the Colorado radio charts every single month of the year and have maintained favored listening positions at my desk and in my car.
Here are five that represent some of the best of the rest of Colorado in 2022, fit my “best of” sentiments and shared favored listening status with the aforementioned superstars this year.
Americana Country Album of the Year
Emily Scott Robinson – American Siren – I got introduced to Emily late in the year, a full year after American Siren was released. The Telluride resident and winner of the 2019 Telluride Troubadour Award wrote the songs for her debut on John Prine’s Oh-Boy Records during the COVID isolation of 2020. Relying on minimal and effective instrumental arrangements allows Emily’s smooth voice and her story telling to shine through.
Comeback/Emerging Artist of the Year
Jazz Album of the Year
MaryLynn Gillaspie – Secret Language – A Grammy nominee with the Boulder based vocalese band Rare Silk in the 80s, MaryLynn earns my Colorado Comeback Artist of the Year pick after a 25-year absence. Then she goes and writes lyrics to Herbie Hancock’s Dolphin Dance and covers King Crimson in the same breath. Nice. Secret Language also gets my pick for Colorado Jazz Album of the Year.
Funk/Soul Album of the Year
Lettuce – Unify – the final part of a trilogy recorded at Colorado Sound recording studio in Denver, none other than the infamous Bootsy Collins glorifies the groove and lends his endorsement with his contribution. The first album in the trilogy, Elevate, earned the band a Grammy nomination.
Rock Album of the Year
Mike Clark and the Sugar Sounds – Moon Rock – The alter-ego of Mike Clark’s acoustic roots band The River Arkansas, the Sugar Sounds explore psychedelic rock and soul ala 1968. Just in time for folks to explore both the music and the fungi (legally).
Urban-Alternative Album of the Year
N3ptune/Rusty Steve – Renaissance – There’s a term bouncing around the radio world called Urban-Alternative. If this album doesn’t define that term, I don’t know what does. Ruggedly polysexual and at times crossing into politically aggressive language, Denver’s N3ptune makes the boldest lyrical and musical statement of the year in Colorado. Rusty Steve adds the kind of guitar styling that speaks to the gods of shred.