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 S14 EP44 2020

Monday NOV 23 2020 – When was the last time you participated in the Monday Morning Music Meeting (MMMM)?  I know it’s been awhile for most of you.  SO!  Here’s your chance to make it up.  From today (Nov 23) until Dec 20, I’ll be accepting votes for this year’s best of.

There are a couple of changes to the format of the listener polls this year.  You’ll see when you go to CP 2020 BEST OF LISTENER POLL and CP VIDEO LISTENER POLL.  Enjoy.

DONATIONS WELCOMED and deeply appreciated.  The Colorado Playlist is provided to member stations at no cost.  Your support will help to keep the program on the air as we enter its 15th season in 2021.

Middle Class Rock Star is a podcast hosted by  Andy Sydow.  Every week or so, I feature a segment featuring  a conversation Andy has with some of our scene’s top music makers and industry persons..  This week’s guest is Julia Mendiolea (Y La Bamba, Inner Oceans, College Homies!)

TOP 5 SPINS – WK ENDING NOV 21 2020

Spinitron  Designed to benefit non-commercial public and college radio stations, record promoters and artists are among those most likely to benefit from the detailed search function. Currently 11 Colorado radio stations utilize Spinitron.

220 titles  / 13 stations tracked

1. NATHANIEL RATELIFF – And It’s Still Alright LP (Feb-20)
2. DAFNA – I LOVE YOU LP (Sep-20)
3. RODNEY RICE – Same Shirt, Different Day LP (Aug-20)
4. GASOLINE LOLLIPOPSAll the Misery Money Can Buy LP (Sep-20)
5. RON MILES Rainbow Sign LP (Oct-20)

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING (MMMM)

The Mishawakais a legendary music venue, restaurant and bar located 13.7 miles up the Poudre Canyon Highway (CO 14) in the stunning Poudre Canyon in Bellvue, CO. OPEN FOR RESERVATION DINING and shows.

A REMINDER:  Please listen to ALL of the songs and rate them.  Thanks🙂

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

HOUR 1

Lothar and The Hand People – Machines – Presenting… (1968)
Lothar and the Hand People – Midnight Ranger – Space Hymn (1969)
(P) Slopeside – Lay Your Weapons Down – Edge of Nowhere (2021)
Daniel Rodriguez – Colorado – Sojurn of a Burning Sun (2020)
Porlolo– Wasting Time (I Was A Fool) – Porlolo(2018)
Everybody Loves An OutlawI See Red (2020)
CITRAOcean (2020)
Braddigan– Customs – The Captive (2007)
Acoustic Junction – Goodbye World – Strange Days (2000)
(D) The Dirty Chaos – Lines – The Groove EP (2021)

Wildermiss– Supermagical(2020)
Jeff Austin – What the Night Brings – The Simple Truth (2015)
Ron Miles – The Rumor – Rainbow Sign (2020)

HOUR 2

Gretchen Peters – Independence Day – The Secret of Life (1996)
Gretchen Peters – When You Comin’ home (feat. Jimmy La Fave) – Blackbirds (2015)
(D) Thomas Hine – Abandon – Ledgers and Stones (2020)

Esmé Patterson – All Mine – There Will Come Soft Rains (2020)
Rob DrabkinLittle Steps (2013)
(D) Douglas Mann – Burning Bridges – Black Roses on Dark Water EP (2020)

Brent Cowles – Shine – It’s Coals. (2020)
Inner Oceans – Call Through the Wire – I Don’t Mind (2017)
(D) Saint Joe – The People’s Champ – Penmanship (2020)

The Still Tide – High Wire – Run Out (2017)
The Lumineers – Life InThe City – III (2019)
Gerald Albright – Taking Control- G (2016)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

VIDEO PICK OF THE WEEK

 

CP S14 EP43 2020

Monday NOV 16 2020 – This past week I worked diligently to distill the incredible crop of music that was harvested this year from our region.  I managed to distill it down to 50 song titles from over 200 LPs, EPs and single releases for you to vote on beginning next Monday, November 23.  I also managed to build a list of 40 videos for you to vote on.  Cya next Monday.

Middle Class Rock Star is a podcast hosted by  Andy Sydow.  Every week or so, I feature a 7 to 8 min long excerpt of an hour plus long conversation Andy has with some of our scene’s top music makers and industry persons.

DONATIONS WELCOMED and deeply appreciated.  The Colorado Playlist is provided to member stations at no cost.  Your support will help to keep the program on the air as we enter its 15th season in 2021.

TOP 5 SPINS – WK ENDING NOV 14 2020

Spinitron  Designed to benefit non-commercial public and college radio stations, record promoters and artists are among those most likely to benefit from the detailed search function. Currently 11 Colorado radio stations utilize Spinitron.

208 titles  / 13 stations tracked

1. DEL SHAMENDel Shamen LP (Oct-20) *not avail online as of 11/16*
2. CARY MORIN – Dockside Saints LP (Jul-20)
2. DAFNA – I LOVE YOU LP (Sep-20)
3. RODNEY RICESame Shirt, Different Day LP (Aug-20)
4. NATHANIEL RATELIFFAnd It’s Still Alright LP (Feb-20)

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING (MMMM)

The Mishawaka is a legendary music venue, restaurant and bar located 13.7 miles up the Poudre Canyon Highway (CO 14) in the stunning Poudre Canyon in Bellvue, CO. OPEN FOR RESERVATION DINING and shows.

A REMINDER:  Please listen to ALL of the songs and rate them.  Thanks 🙂

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

HOUR 1

Dean ReedOnce Again (1960)
Dean ReedI Ain’t Got You (1960)
Erinn Peets-LukesSmall Town Hero (2018)
The Subdudes – Lost Religion Blues – Lickskillet (2019)
Brent Cowles – Lift Me Up – Cold Times (2017)
Down Time – Hurts Being Alive – Hurts Being Alive (2020)
FoxfeatherThe Rules (2020)
Yo, Flaco! – American Music – Goin’ at it (2002)
Dianne Reeves – Testify – Bridges (1999)
(D) Dafna – Let U Go – I Love You (2020)

Zach Heckendorf – Lust & Wonder – Lust & Wonder (2019)
Leftover Salmon – Places – Something Higher (2018)
Paul Mullikin – Quintet – Just a Tuesday – Time Is Now (2014)

HOUR 2

Jill Sobule – I Kissed A Girl – Jill Sobule (1995)
Jill Sobule – Where Do I Begin – Nostalgia Kills (2018)
(D) DragondeerManifest (2021)

Audible – Imagine Stanford – First Contact (2019)
Otis Taylor – Hands on Your Stomach – Clovis People, Vol. 3 (2010)
Augustus – Kick the Doors Down – Color TV and Tall Tales (2020)
Lola Rising – More Music – Moving Forward (2020)
Shanna In A DressA Face Like Yours (live) (2020)
(P) Sarah SlatonGet Up (2021)
Dan Fogelberg – She Don’t Look Back – Exiles (1987)
(N) Ron Miles – Binder – Rainbow Sign (2020)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

VIDEO PICK OF THE WEEK

CP S14 EP41 2020

Monday NOV 02 2020 – Dear Friends,

Rocky Mountain Music Relief was founded in 2017 to help musicians and music industry personnel in times of environmental and financial crisis; exactly where we find ourselves today.

As a self-employed member of our music community in Colorado I know the trepidation we’re dealing with personally. Of course, none of us ever figured we’d be here, in this place. No one could have ever imagined this scenario.

If you’re a fan, and you can help, please do.  Every $15 donation receives a #COmusic mask.

If you are a professional musician or music industry person in Colorado and you’ve lost your income due to COVID or any of the fires in Colorado, Rocky Mountain Music Relief would like to help.

We are a small non-profit. Our board of directors is made up of Colorado musicians, music industry personnel and music patrons who care. We have limited funds, but we’d like to help as best we can.

Aid qualification: you must have been gainfully employed in the music industry in Colorado in some capacity either as a musician or in production and lost your job and income as a result of COVID or the fires.

You can find applications for aid at https://rockymountainmusicrelief.org/

Deadline for applications is Nov 7.

I know it’s not much, but on behalf of the board of directors I hope it helps in some small way.
Chris “K” Kresge
Rocky Mountain Music Network
Rocky Mountain Music Relief

TOP 5 SPINS – WK ENDING OCT 31 2020

Spinitron  Designed to benefit non-commercial public and college radio stations, record promoters and artists are among those most likely to benefit from the detailed search function. Currently 11 Colorado radio stations utilize Spinitron.

200 titles  / 13 stations tracked

1. CARY MORIN – Dockside Saints LP (Jul-20)
2. GASOLINE LOLLIPOPS – All the Misery Money Can Buy LP (Sep-20)
3.  RODNEY RICE – Same Shirt, Different Day LP (Aug-20)
4. NATHANIEL RATELIFF – And It’s Still Alright LP (Feb-20)
5. MUSKETEER GRIPWEEDMore Than Ever LP (Oct-20)

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING (MMMM)

The Mishawaka is a legendary music venue, restaurant and bar located 13.7 miles up the Poudre Canyon Highway (CO 14) in the stunning Poudre Canyon in Bellvue, CO. OPEN FOR RESERVATION DINING and shows.

A REMINDER:  Please listen to ALL of the songs and rate them.  Thanks 🙂

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

HOUR 1

Braddigan – Walk On (feat. Josh Garrels) – The Captive (2007)
Dispatch – May We All – Phase 1 (2020)
(N) Jon Snodgrass – Bad New Lands – Tace (2020)

Acoustic Junction – Oh Me Oh My – Strange Days (2000)
The Wood Brothers – Laughin’ or Crying – One Drop of Truth (2018)
(D) Schama Noel – Sunrise – Eternal Feels, Vol. 2 (2020)

Chadzilla – No More – In My Skin (2020)
Finnders & Youngberg – Nebraska – FY5 (2011)
Yonder Mountain String Band – Just The Same – Yonder Mountain String Band (2006)
(D) Illenium – Nightlight – Nightlight (2020)

Lucy Daydream – Red – Awake & Dreaming (2019)
The Motet – Rich In People – The Motet (2014)
Tony Exum JrMy Name is Tony (2019)

HOUR 2

Tinkers Punishment – kill daisy – Tinkers Punishment (2000)
Shovels & Rope – C’Mon Utah! – By Blood (2019)
(D) Ingrid Andress – More Hearts Than Mine – Lady Like (2020)

Rob Drabkin – It’s A Beautiful Day – Beautiful Day (2018)
Brent Loveday & the Dirty Dollars – Shut Up and Drive – Hymns for the Hardened (2019)
(D) Wesley Schultz – My City of Ruins – Vignettes (2021)

Bison Bone – Drinking To Do – Find Your Way Out (2020)
Beast – Floating (Down By The River) – Beast (1969)
Zephyr – Sun’s a Risin’ – Zephyr (1969)
(D) Zach Heckendorf – Stronger Than I Once Was – HAWK TALK (2020)

The Reminders – Unstoppable – Unstoppable (2019)
Big Head Todd & The Monsters – Wipeout Turn – New World Arisin’ (2017)
Paa Kow – African Lady – Cookpot (2017)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

VIDEO PICK OF THE WEEK