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

CP S12 EP33 2018

MONDAY SEPT 3, 2018 – Happy Labor Day.  We’re getting pretty close to the end of the 2018 release year, which runs November 2017 through Oct 2018.  So we have about three months until I begin tabulating your votes for the Best of show at the end of the year and the Fan Poll for the year.  By the time we get to the end of the “new model” year, I will have shared nearly 300 new tracks with you from here in Colorado.

Contenders for this year’s BEST OF include new and or upcoming new titles from mainstays and obvious contenders such as DeVotchka, Gregory Alan Isakov and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats as well as up and comers  like Oxeye Daisey and Gingerbomb.  Your votes matter, so don’t forget to let me know whether to KEEP or DELETE in the MMMM below.

Debuts this week include new and/or upcoming new releases from alt-rockers Augustus and CITRA – and Americana/alt-country from Matt Rouch & the Noise Upstairs.  There’s also a new cut from the previously debuted David Starr albumSouth and West.”


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


VIDEO PICK OF THE WEEK

NEW ARTIST ALERT:  well, she’s not exactly a new artist, but she is relatively new to Colorado.  Turns out award winning NYC vagabond musician/painter Elli Perry has at least temporarily settled down in Fort Collins.  The music video for her song “Burn The River Down” won the award for Best Sound at the New York Independent Film Festival in May.  She’s been in Fort Collins since February according to sources there, and it’s rumored she may be interested in staying a while… as in set down some roots in our Colorado music scene.

NEW TIMES UPDATE

  • 88.9FM KRFC Fort Collins has moved the show from Saturday night at 8PM to Thursday mornings from 6-8AM.
  • KSUT Ignacio/Durango has added HR1 of the show and moved the time from 7PM Saturday nights to 10PM-12AM Saturday nights

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING

What you’ll find below are new songs on the show this week … listen  and let me know which ones you think I should keep in the Colorado Playlist, and which I should delete.

NOTE:  In order to be included in the MMMM poll, the band/artist must have an embeddable file on Soundcloud, BandCamp, Reverbnation or YouTube.

PLAYLIST S12 EP33

(D) = debut of lp, ep or single
(N) = new cut from previously debuted lp or ep

HOUR 1

Hillbilly Hellcats “Rockinest Cat In Town” from Our Brand (1998)
Electric Swingset “TV” from Inebriated Witchdoctor (1996)
(N) David Starr “Maybe You’re Not the One” from South and West (2018)

SHEL “Enter Sandman” from Just Crazy Enough (2016)
Chris Daniels & the Kings “What a Day” from Funky To the Bone (2015)
Bob Rea “The Law” from Southbound (2018)
RL Cole & the Hell You Say “Mary” (2018)
Churchill “War Within” from War Within EP (2013)
Fierce Bad Rabbit “Time Machine” from Maestro & the Elephant (2013)
Oxeye Daisy “Where Your Mind Goes” from Oxeye Daisy (2018)
(D) Echoes In Reverie “Now, Cut the Hesitation” from Echoes in Reverie (2018)
Edison “Take Me Home” from Lion’s Heart EP (2018)
Garrett Sayers Trio “Diatribe” from Thinkbox (2017)

HOUR 2

Acoustic Junction “Whereabouts Unknown” from Acoustic Junction (1996)
(D) Augustus “I Got Something for That” (2018)

 

Kyle Emerson “In My Mind” from Dorothy Alice (2017)
Blue Rider “Lightning” from Year Of The Horse (2016)
(D) Matt Rouch & the Noise Upstairs “Already Yours” from Half-Expected Hearbreak (2018)

The SIR Band “Wading” from So Cold (2018)
Paul Galaxy & the Galatix “Road Dog” from Slingshot (2004)
Sixteen Horsepower “Single Girl” from Folklore (2002)
Ivory Circle “See You Through the Stars” from Scalene EP (2018)
(N) CITRA “That’s What She Said” from Mr Copacetic EP (2018)  
Wildermiss “Keep It Simple” from Lost With You (2017)
Paul Kimbiris “Song of Summer” from May Day EP (2018)
Jeff Jenkins Organization “Happy Together” from The Arrival (2015)