CP “Best” Albums of 2020

During the week Dec 26 2020 – Jan 02 2021 I’ll feature a playlist generated by Colorado Playlist listeners and fans who voted for their favorite songs and videos from 2020. You have until December 20th to vote.  Today I’m reflecting on a handful of albums (well, two handfuls).

The Colorado Playlist, Expressly & Explicitly Colorado from the 60s to Today: the biggest hits from the biggest hitmakers and award winners to some of the freshest new talent emerging from around the Centennial state.

Following that dictate, here are my picks for “Best” albums (LP/EP) of 2020.  Each album link goes to the full length album on YouTube.

We can dispense with the suspense of counting down from #10 to #1.  The first album off my lips when someone asks me what’s the best Colorado album of 2020 is Nathaniel RateliffAnd It’s Still Alright.  It’s been #1 for me since the day I first heard it.

Nathaniel writes and sings through the prism of his pain; whether from the pain of his personal struggles with alcohol, or his divorce, or the death of his friend and record producer Richard Swift who passed away from alcoholism. This record is about “…acknowledging the heaviness of all of that and moving forward and still finding joy,” according to Rateliff.

And It’s Still Alright as well as the title track were nominated for “Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year” at the 2020 Americana Awards in September.


The biggest hits from the biggest hitmakers and award winners to some of the freshest new talent emerging from the Centennial State – in no particular order.

Superstars and hitmakers are sometimes from right next door and we don’t find out until they’re in the hitmaker / major award discussion.  It seems like every year we have at least one Colorado entry in the Grammy Awards and other major music award programs.

Highlands Ranch native / Rock Canyon High School graduate Ingrid Andress is this year’s entry with several major award nominations, including Grammy nominations for Best New Artist, Best Country Song (More Hearts Than Mine) and Best Country Album for her debut, Lady Like.

2020 Nominations: 

      • Academy of Country Music AwardsNew Female Vocalist of the Year.
      • Country Music Association AwardsNew Artist of the Year
      • Country Music Association Awards – Song of the Year – “More Hearts Than Mine”
      • CMT Music Awards – Breakthrough Video of the Year“More Hearts Than Mine”

The music scene in Colorado may be focused on Denver/Boulder and Fort Collins areas, but Paonia and Cedaredge artists produced two of the “best” Americana singer-songwriter albums of 2020, The Unending Alteration of the Human Heart from Gabrielle Louise and David Starr‘s Beauty and Ruin respectively.

A graduate of the Berklee School of Music, like Ingrid Andress, Gabrielle’s 9th album since 2006 further solidifies her quiet folk credentials. The album, best suited for quiet snowy nights by a fire, easily falls into the hallowed ground furrowed by fellow Colorado native female songwriters like Jill Sobule, Laura Veirs and Sera Cahoone. *This record was serviced to Colorado radio stations and djs by Rocky Mountain Music Network, LLC which I own and operate*

Thirty-three miles further west,  Cedaredge multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter David Starr, (Starr’s Guitars) once again enlisted part-time Colorado resident musician and friend John Oates to arrange and produce his 8th album, a collection of songs inspired by Of What Was, Nothing Is Left, a novel written by his grandfather in 1972. The album features guest appearances by John Oates and award winning Americana singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale.

Heading east back into the metro, Americana-country fans will find plenty to love on the rough hewn twang of Same Shirt, Different Day, the sophomore effort from Littleton resident Rodney RiceSame Shirt got enough national airplay to hit top-forty on the Americana Music Association radio airplay charts and #1 on the RootsMusicReport Colorado album chart. *This record was serviced to Colorado radio stations and djs by Rocky Mountain Music Network, LLC which I own and operate*


If you listen to my show (and you do, right?) you know I close out nearly every (99%) hour with an instrumental jazz track.  My jazz album of the year nod goes to Ron Miles‘ Blue Note debut, Rainbow Sign.  The album features fellow Colorado native musician, guitarist Bill Frisell, who was directly responsible for introducing the original recordings for this album to Blue Note Records President Don Was.


My dj roots, spinning dance music in clubs and on TOP 40 radio in NoCO from the 1970s through the early 90s, informs my long lasting love and appreciation for modern EDM and R&B albums like the epic Brain Chemistry, the Right Brain, Left Brain dual EP release from pop singer-songwriter Kayla Marque, and the more R&B/Soul oriented EDM release Free Your Mind from Big Gigantic, their first studio album in over three years.

Listen to Kayla’s Right Brain first if you want to listen in the order each EP came out. Right Brain is “…the lighter half of Brain Chemistry. This is my dreamy side.” Marque explainsLeft Brain showcases Kayla’s “…darker space…”

If you preconceive what you think you’ll hear, Brain Chemistry should dispel your preconceptions of what a modern R&B based pop album can sound like.  Kayla’s got mad musical DNA.  Her uncle is Denver native and EWF alum Larry Dunn.

Big Gigantic‘s R&B/soul oriented Free Your Mind succeeds due to the steady EDM, funk, soul and jazz arrangements by founders Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken with emotionally uplifting soul vocals from artists like Pell, Felly, TOBi, Jennifer Hartswick, Louis Futon and The Funk Hunters.

Had they been able to tour there’s no telling just how popular this album would have become.  The album has amassed over 20MILLION plays on Spotify (as of Dec 10, 2020). #roadtripmusic


Over 160,000 plays on Spotify, along with favorable reviews and online debuts from Billboard, American Songwriter, Glide Magazine and other national and local publications set up Whitacre‘s debut album Seasons for national success.

Produced by Denver’s Joe Richmond (Tennis, Churchill), four of the album’s first five songs are radio friendly anthems that fit comfortably alongside contemporaries like the Lumineers and Avett Brothers.

Speaking of Tennis.  Patrick and Alaina formed their own label, Mutually Detrimental, in 2018, and their Five-Points Denver based recording studio where they  produced three outstanding female voiced albums for 2020, including their latest, Swimmer.

Instead of relying on outside producers for their 5th release, they self-produced, moving their retro sixties influenced pop into richer and more expansive production elements and arrangements and moving the duo forward as credible national level producers in their own right.


That’s it … I could of course pick more than 10 to share with you, but these are the ones that rose to the top of the list.  I hope you enjoy each one of these exceptional “Best Of” Colorado albums from 2020.

Happy HOLLYDAZE.
Chris “K” Kresge
aka goat
Founder/President
Rocky Mountain Music Network, LLC
The Colorado Playlist

Float Like A Buffalo – Driveway Show Review 8/8/20

Live music is happening in Colorado.  No, it’s not like it was.  There are no rooms packed elbow to elbow, there are no festivals, and this is no Red Rocks or any of the other exceptional outdoor live music venues we typically enjoy every summer.  But there is live music.  

Over the past two weekends I’ve driven over a thousand miles in-state, during which I saw or heard live music taking place in the Poudre Canyon, Grand Lake, Snowmass, Basalt and Buena Vista.

This past Saturday my girlfriend Claire and I hosted a driveway concert at her house in suburbia Brighton with Float Like A Buffalo. At nearly 100 degrees the driveway was hot, and obviously (since we were social distancing) not too many people could be seen, though a few brave souls did hang with us.

The band works hard to fit locally into the spaces carved by the pure funky-soul of the Motet, the jazz infused funk of Euforquestra, and the big horn ska of 12 Cents for Marvin among Colorado’s top tier of horn driven bands.

They do drive some ska inspired music. They do some soul driven music and they do have moments where they exert themselves in the jazz vein. But you’d really have to go back to the late 60s/early 70s bands like Pacific Gas & Electric, Ides of March and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to authenticate Float Like A Buffalo as a horn driven rock band.

One of the songs in their set is being recorded as a single, which I hope is a September release. As I sat and drifted into the music, the groove and essence of the performance took me back to the 1969 CTA debut, and that band’s stellar cover of the Steve Winwood classic I’m A Man… a song Float Like a Buffalo would do an admirable job covering themselves.  

They’ve already played a COVID restricted summer of yard and driveway shows and will be a part of Levitt In Your Living Room on AUG 12.  Next,  they hope that 2021 affords them an opportunity to play to audiences in other states, and around ours (much more likely).  Whoever gets to see them is in for a treat.  

CP S14 EP05 2020

Monday Feb 9, 2020 — A few days early, I know, but Happy Valentine’s Day, a holiday originally established in the 5th century CE as a feast honoring the Christian martyr Saint Valentine who died in the 3rd century CE.  It wasn’t until the 15th century CE that the holiday became associated with romantic love.  And now here we are in the 21st century.

And, of course, none of this has anything to do with Colorado music – except for the songs that have been or are being published this week honoring the date – and the intentions.

I often get asked when will be the next time I’m out performing or emceeing an event.  Yesterday, and three more times this month I’m emceeing the Winter Folk: Music & Photography Showcase, along with my friends from 105.5 The Colorado Sound.

This month long showcase of Colorado and national talent benefits Future Arts Foundation which serves to “…provide Colorado schools with instruments and allow us to host free youth arts workshops to the children of Colorado teachers, first responders, and military members.”

Gasoline Lollipops, Whippoorwill, SHEL, Bonnie & the Clydes and Josiah Johnson (the Head and the Heart) are just some of the great acts that kicked off the first weekend.

VIDEO PICK OF THE WEEK

I’m very happy to be premiering a new song and video from Andy Sydow in time for Valentine’s Day.  The Colorado native is dropping his newest song “Still my Girl” on February 13th.  “Still My Girl” is a story of finding flaws and imperfections in a significant other to be what you love most about them.

Influenced by the likes of Tom Petty and Anders Osborne, Andy started his career as a singer songwriter after working as a dueling piano player.  His last release in 2018, Reasons for Departure, brought positive reviews from press outlets including Pens Eye View and No Depression. It was also nominated for an LA Music Critic Award and two Colorado Playlist Best of 2018 Awards.  Andy can be found playing at some of Denver’s top-tier venues, including the Bluebird, Gothic and Ogden.

At Bohemian Foundation, our focus is on building community …by coming together to create and enjoy music.

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING (MMMM)

You make a big difference in what gets played on the show.  Every week I share some or all of the new music … (D) (N) … played on the show with you here.  You rating gets factored into my decision in what to maintain in the show’s “for airplay” library.

(D) = debut LP/EP or single
(N) = new track from previously debuted LP/EP
(P) = Colorado Playlist premier / not available online

Let me know if there’s something you think I should play. Email coloradoplaylist@gmail.com

HOUR 1

Sugarloaf – Texas Two Lane (1975)
(D) Alexa Wildish – Magic Hours – Alexa Wildish EP (2020)

David Starr – Maybe You’re Not The One – South And West (2018)
The String Cheese Incident – Can’t Wait Another Day – Song In My Head (2014)
(N) Whitewater Ramble – This Ol’ Guitar – Pseudonymous (2020)
Coal Town Reunion – 1984 – Stories We Tell (2019)
Zuba – Planet Of Love – South Of Eden (1998)
Philip Bailey – Won’t Waste Time – Love Is Real EP (2010)
(P) Write Minded – Questions (2020)
CITRA – Static Erratic – Mr Copacetic EP (2018)
The Yawpers – Reunion – Boy in a Well (2017)
Zed – Confunksion (2020)

HOUR 2

Tommy Bolin – Sweet Burgundy – Private Eyes (1976)
(D) Andy Sydow – Still My Girl (2020)

Dayton Stone & the Undertones – Hypnotist – Dayton Stone & the Undertones (2018)
Gabrielle Louise – Love On The Rocks – If The Static Clears (2016)
(P) The Shamen – Come Back Mountain Jill (2020)
Taylor Scott Band – Curiosity – All We Have (2019)
Acoustic Junction – Oh Me Oh My – Strange Days (2000)
Drag The River – Having A Party – Bad At Breaking Up (2009)
Gingerbomb – Company – Wildfire (2019)
(D) Mama Magnolia – Take This Love (2020)

Jackson Emmer – Home Is On the Road – Diamond Ranch Vol. 1 (2019)
Danny Shafer – Jesus, Tonto And Springsteen – Weddings, Floods And Funerals (2015)
(D) Head for the Hills – Omotola (2020)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

 

CP S13 EP45 2019

MONDAY NOV 18, 2019 –  this was a weekend to go out to some local shows …  Whippoorwill with Courtney Hartman, the Elephant Collective and friends, and Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene.  Read the review here.

I got a few messages this week from listeners who wanted to know how they could stream or download the show.  There’s no way to allow for a download, unfortunately, but you can stream the show.  105.5 The Colorado Sound archives two weeks worth of the program.

I’m still trying to get details, but a post over the weekend caught my attention – it has been rumored that Colorado legend and future Colorado Music Hall of Fame artist, Hazel Miller, has opened a restaurant / blues and jazz focused music venue in Parker called Blu Note Parker.


COLORADO PLAYLIST / SPOTIFY

Don’t forget you can review CP 2019 releases, as well as the CP from the 60s to Today … AND I just added CP 2020 Releases with this week’s new releases.


Weekly Colorado Spins Music Report 

Roots Music Report is the only publication that allows djs and radio stations around the state to post up their weekly spins.  The chart is updated every Monday and normally has 15-30+ songs showing up the weekly updates.

Week Ending Nov 16, 2019

    1. The Lumineers – III
    2. Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene – City of Love
    3. Taylor Scott Band – All We Have
    4. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – Tearing at the Seams
    5. Jeff Scroggins & Colorado Over the Line

NEW ADDS – RMR Colorado Album  Chart

    • Mark OblingerHigh Water Line
    • Lucas WolfFalling Into Place
    • The RemindersUnstoppable
    • WhippoorwillGood To Be Around
    • Kelly AugustineLight In the Lowlands

At Bohemian Foundation, our focus is on building community …by coming together to create and enjoy music.

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING (MMMM)

You make a big difference in what gets played on the show.  Every week I share some or all of the new music … (D) (N) … played on the show with you here.  You vote to KEEP or DELETE gets factored into my decision in what to maintain in the show’s “for airplay” library.

(D) = debut LP/EP or single
(N) = new track from previously debuted LP/EP
(P) = Colorado Playlist premier / not available online

Let me know if there’s something you think I should play. Email coloradoplaylist@gmail.com

HOUR 1

Tommy Bolin – Dreamer – Energy (1972/2009)
(N) Whippoorwill – Eventide – The Nature of Storms (2020)

Silver and Smoke – Sting Like A Bee – 30P EP (2018)
Strange Americans – No Punches – Borrow You, Brother (2017)
Leftover Salmon – Songs You’ve Left Unsung (2020)
Whitacre – Seasons – Seasons (2019)
Dressy Bessy – Who’d Stop The Rain – Electrified (2005)
Born In The Flood – If this thing should spill – If this thing should spill (2007)
Jurassic Mark – Older Guys – Jurassic Mark (2019)
(D) Jackie & the Racket – Left To Make the Bed – Tough Luck Cowboy (2020)

The Wood Brothers – Laughin’ or Crying – One Drop of Truth (2018)
Reno Divorce – She’s In Love With the Avenue – Ship of Fools EP (2016)
Keith Oxman – (I’ve Got) Beginners Luck – East of the Village (2017)

HOUR 2

Tommy Bolin – Shakin’ All Night – Live at Ebbets Field 1974 (1997/1974)
(D) Wood Belly – Can’t Get Behind – Man on the Radio (2020)

Gregory Alan Isakov – Chemicals – Evening Machines (2018)
Otis Taylor – Ten Million Slaves – Recapturing The Banjo (2008)
(N) The Still Tide – Keep It (2020)

The Samples – Turning Point – Indian Summer (2019)
The Apples In Stereo – Same Old Drag – New Magnetic Wonder (2007)
Five Iron Frenzy – We Own the Skies – Engine of a Million Plots (2013)
The Yawpers – Dancing on My Knees – Human Question (2019)
(N) The Reminders – Unstoppable – Unstoppable (2019)

Rob Drabkin – It’s A Beautiful Day – Beautiful Day (2018)
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – I Need Never Get Old – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (2015)
Jason Klobnak – Through Her Eyes – Friends and Family (2018)

YOUTUBE THIS WEEK

VIDEO PICK OF THE WEEK

the Drunken Hearts have become of the top touring bands out of Colorado today. What once started out as a purely acoustic singer-songwriter project has evolved over the past handful of years into a traveling electric Americana tour de force playing notable festivals such as Electric Forest (MI), FloydFest (VA), Vertex (CO), Fayetteville Roots Fest (AR), Hangtown Music Festival (CA), Bohemian Nights at New West Fest (CO), Northwest String Summit (OR), and the band’s very own YarmonyGrass (CO).


105.5 The Colorado Sound & the Colorado Playlist Present:

FOR MORE SHOWS SEE COLORADOSOUND.ORG

WEEKEND MUSIC REVIEW NOV 17 2019

Friday night we attended the Whippoorwill album release show at Washington’s in Fort Collins.  The show featured recent North Carolina transplant, Courtney Hartman.  

Saturday night I emcee’d Strings and Stories featuring members of the Elephant Collective in Longmont, presented by the Future Arts Foundation.

After that show ended at a very reasonable 9:30PM, we drifted over to Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids for a late night dinner and to catch up with good friends, Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene. 

 We didn’t stay long at Oskar Blues.  As usual, the Crime Scene brought a full house, and a rockin’ band to the stage.  Despite a replacement drummer, the band continues to show why they’re one of the best blues based roots rock and roll bands in our scene. The driving energy that comes off the stage is palpable.

The Strings & Stories concert series features national and local musicians in a very intimate and stripped down atmosphere. Musicians will play songs from their catalog and tell their stories. Proceeds from each concert will provide an instrument to a local school in need.”

The Elephant Collective is a production house, artist development agency and music media platform founded by Dango Rose (Elephant Revival). They offer production, collaborative songwriting, and personalized coaching services focused on career growth for musicians. 

The Elephant Collective set featured former founding Elephant Revival members Dango Rose, Sage Cook and Bridget Law, along with two friends, newcomer Bob Berrick aka Kingdom Jasmine and Jonny Miller aka J Robert Miller from the Lonesome Days.

Dango, Sage and Bridget performed songs from the Elephant Revival catalog as well as songs from their own personal collections.  Each told stories behind their songs.  Sage’s often humorous off-tangent stories proved to be a hit with the sold out audience in the small Firehouse Arts Center performance room.

On the other side of the stage, the very pregnant (35 weeks) Bridget law owned the audience with an angelic (albeit breathy) voice, and stunning violin work.  Bridget also recently released an album with her husband’s Tierro Band.

Strings and Stories is one of the region’s rare actual listening events, and it’s all for a great cause.  Future Arts Foundation is also producing the Bluebird Music Festival next April.  The final S&S show is December 14th, and it’s SOLD OUT… sorry.

Album release shows are very often the most exciting shows a band from our region performs.  Typically, and the case here, it’s when the greatest number of local fans come out in celebration.  Whippoorwill’s crowd and a strong contingent of Courtney Hartman supporters nearly filled the nine hundred seat Washington’s FoCO (a Colorado Playlist sponsor).

Courtney did an adequate job as the opening act, her quiet presence on the stage and intricate compositions perhaps better suited for smaller, quieter, more attentive audiences.  She showed her admirable guitar skills also during Whippoorwill’s set.

Whippoorwill is essentially a trio, featuring Patti Fiasco leader Alysia Kraft (guitar, vocals), Staci Foster (guitar, banjo, harmonica, vocals), and Tobias Bank (drums, vocals).   The band was rounded out on stage with the album’s producer, J.Tom Hnatow from Kentucky on keyboards and pedal steel, along with the session bass player.

A seasoned leader of the high energy alternative country-rock band Patti Fiasco, that has opened for the likes of Bon Jovi at the Pepsi Center, Kraft’s presence dominates.  She prowls and stalks the stage with externalized emotional energy, throwing ball buster level kicks and holding her shimmering silver electric guitar like she’ll seriously mess you up if you try to take it from her.  Everything about Alysia screams “big stage persona.”

Her partner in music and life, Staci Foster, is the internalized muse – and the perfect quiet complement to Alysia’s highly kinetic stage presence.  Staci’s demurely reserved presence is amplified by an equally timid and delicate voice, contrasting suitably against Alysia’s upfront rock and roll attitude.

Drummer and vocalist Tobias Bank fills in all the required spaces, vocally and rhythmically.  Together with Kraft, the three core members of Whippoorwill presented themselves as one of the best country inspired vocal trios on the Front Range today.

There’s little doubt Whippoorwill will be one of the better drawing bands in Northern Colorado in 2020, with Alysia Kraft further cementing her legacy as one of the top female entertainers in our state from over the past decade, regardless of the band she fronts or shares the spotlight with.