DECEMBER 31, 2018 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!  2018 was amazing.  You set a five year record for most visits and views for a month, and a five year record for the year.  I also saw a record number of LP/EP entries, SP (single) releases and videos. I logged in over 135 LPs and EPs and over 100 videos.

TOP 10 2018

10.  Oxeye Daisy – Oxeye Daisy

Hands down – WINNER = Best New Artist/Band + Most likely to break out in 2019.  This was one of the most exciting new finds of 2018.  It immediately recalled early 80s New Wave, with a healthy dollop of  the glitzy sugar pop of Colorado bands like Dressy Bessy and the Apples In Stereo.  “Where Your Mind Goes” was a TOP 5 single on the show this year.

9. Brent Cowles – How to Be Okay Alone

It’s always wonderful to see a young artist grow in a scene, and then breakout to national acclaim.  2018 saw the release of his solo full length debut for Dine Alone Records (The Lumineers, Jimmy Eat World), and a national tour in support of The Head & the Heart, and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats.  Great to see talent emerge – ya know?  I’ve been told that his new record in 2019 will do what “S.O.B.” did for Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats …

8. Tia Fuller – Diamond Cut

Another Colorado native (Aurora) and former CU grad student, Tia is now teaching at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.  She’s also been a member of Beyonce’s all female band.  Diamond Cut is Tia’s 5th solo release since 2005 – and the one that finally landed her a Grammy nomination for BEST JAZZ INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM.

7. John Grant – Love Is Magic

The Colorado Playlist has a history of honoring Colorado musicians who may have been born here or raised here or moved here, as well as those who have stayed here or moved on.  Raised in Parker, CO, John Grant’s Denver based The Czars (1994-2005) was an important and influential part of the scene.  John left to live in NYC in 2005 and then eventually moved to Iceland where he resides today.   Love Is Magic is John’s 5th solo effort since 2010.  It’s also his most crafty.

6. 40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

I didn’t live in CO in the early 70s when Magic Music was popular on the CU campus and at the first few Telluride Bluegrass Festivals.  I came on the project via my friend and Magic Music alum Chris Daniels, who brought me into the fold a few years ago when the band reunited for an album.  Since then the documentary has received critical praise and awards.  ***full disclosure = I worked as a member of the album’s promotional team.***

5. DeVotchKa – This Night Falls Forever

I’ve found that you either really really like DeVotchKa or you don’t. There aren’t a lot of folks in my circle who go “meh.”  This is the band’s first studio since the exceptional 100 Lovers (2011).  Their highly sensual fusion of alternative rock and European gypsy influences is fully embodied on this album, leaving me to wonder where they go from here.  This is most certainly a DeVotchKa album for the fan who really really likes their vibe.

4. Gregory Alan Isakov – Evening Machines

An annual headliner now at Red Rocks, Gregory’s newest album once again gives credence to the critical praise Isakov has received over the past several years.  Gregory is a farmer.  On Evening Machines he muses about the earth, and the stars and being silent “digging for secrets deep in the ground.”

3. Leftover Salmon – Something Higher

A Colorado legacy band, LoS has 30 years of festivaling under their band belt – with original founding members Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman leading the way.  Enlisting Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) as producer, the band stretches their unique polyethnic-cajun-slamgrass into new shapes.

2. The Wood Brothers – One Drop of Truth

It was really  hard to not pick this as album of the year.  After all, not only was it among the most played at radio statewide and nationally, it also earned a Grammy nomination for Americana album of the year for these native Boulder brothers.

1.  Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – Tearing at the Seams 

There really isn’t much doubt that this album deserves BEST of 2018 honors.  No other Americana record this year got as many spins at radio nationally, or in Colorado. More a band  record than an individual effort, the Night Sweats not only boil and simmer, but easily touch on the “whimper and wail” side of Nathaniel’s lyrics and voice.