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

COLORADO TOP 30 NOVEMBER 2020

December 1, 2020 -EDIT DEC 02 2020 … Before I posted up yesterday, I forgot to link the releases to their respective YOUTUBE location.  That’s now done.  Enjoy.

By now it should come as no surprise the incredible success of Nathaniel Rateliff‘s solo LP And It’s Still Alright.  Not only did it bounce back to #1 this month, but I’m 100% positive it will be #1 for 2020.

New Artist to Watch For, Dafna, a student at CU Boulder, DEBUTS at #2 thanks mostly to it being the most played Colorado release at Indie 102.3 this past month. Colorado supergroup Del Shamen, featuring members of the Subdudes, Hot Rize/E-Town and Firefall debuts at #4 with their self-titled debut.  Debuting at #8, Ron Miles Rainbow Sign is the first JAZZ album to land at #1 in a WEEKLY TOP 5 (wk end 11/28)

Those of us in the arts are the epitome of “small business.” My hope is that you’ll support musicians, artists, and local community radio this holiday season. Your support is 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.

There are over 20 FM and LPFM (low power FM) non-commercial public/community and college stations in Colorado.  I track spins at 11 of those stations thanks to Spinitron, developed to benefit non-commercial public and educational terrestrial radio stations in the US, and offering advanced search functions for artists and agents.

TOP 30 TITLES NOVEMBER 2020

  • ALL TITLES LINKED TO RESPECTIVE YOUTUBE PAGE
  • DATE OF RELEASE = Oct 2019-November 2020
  • (xxx) = OCTOBER 2020 position
  • 220 titles / 13 stations tracked

(7) 1. NATHANIEL RATELIFF – And It’s Still Alright LP (Feb-20)
(D) 2. DAFNA – I LOVE YOU LP (Sep-20)
(1) 3. CARY MORIN – Dockside Saints LP (Jul-20)
(D) 4. DEL SHAMENDEL SHAMEN LP (Oct-20)
(2) 5. GASOLINE LOLLIPOPS – All the Misery Money Can Buy LP (Sep-20)
(3) 6. RODNEY RICE – Same Shirt, Different Day LP (Aug-20)
(D) 7. ZACH HECKENDORFHAWK TALK LP (Sep-20)
(D) 8. RON MILES – Rainbow Sign LP (Oct-20)
(31) 9. RON MILES – Rainbow Sign LP (Oct-20)
(D) 9. NAT TATESongs for the Trees LP (Oct-20)
(D) 10. ZEMBURecall EP (Mar-20)
(D) 11. FERN ROBERTSMeet Them At the Door LP (Oct-20)
(D) 12. JOHN LENSINGTalk to Me SINGLE (Sep-20)
(D) 13. SYDNEY CLAPGolden Air SINGLE (Aug-20)
(15) 13. VALDEZ – Saint Munchausen SINGLE (Sep-20)
(D) 14. ROSSINIParty People SINGLE (Sep-20)
(-) 15. WILDERMISSSupermagical SINGLE (May-20)
(13) 16. LAST CALL ROMANCE – Double Funeral, Vol. 1 EP (Dec-19)
(33) 16. MUSKETEER GRIPWEEDMore Than Ever LP (Oct-20)
(50) 16. JOHNNY & THE MONGRELSCreole Skies LP (Jul-20)
(D) 17. SARAH SLATONGet Up SINGLE (Nov-20)
(18) 18.ALRIGHT ALRIGHT –Crucible LP (Oct-20)
(-) 18. BRENT COWLESIt’s Coals. LP (Sep-20)
(38) 18. DANIEL RODRIGUEZSojurn of the Burning Sun LP (Jun-20)
(D) 18. DOUGLAS MANNBlack Roses on Dark Water LP (Nov-20)
(D) 18. SAINTJOEPenmanship LP (Feb-20)
(15) 18. WOOD BELLY – Man on the Radio LP Jan-20
(-) 18. ANDY FRASCO & THE U.N.Keep On Keepin’ On LP (Apr-20)
(55) 19. KING CARDINALBluebird Day SINGLE (Aug-20)
(-) 20. ESME PATTERSONThere Will Come Soft Rains LP (Mar-20)

CP S14 EP45 2020

Monday Nov 30, 2020 – I cannot recall the last time a jazz record landed at #1 in the weekly or monthly Colorado radio spins chart, yet there Ron Miles sits with his latest called Rainbow Sign. Is it among your TOP 10 favorites of 2020?  Make sure you vote by December 20 at CP 2020 BEST OF LISTENER POLL and CP VIDEO LISTENER POLL.  Enjoy.

Those of us in the arts are the epitome of “small business.” My hope is that you’ll support musicians, artists, and local community radio this holiday season. Your support is 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..

TOP 5 SPINS – WK ENDING NOV 28 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. RON MILES – Rainbow Sign LP (Oct-20)
2. ALRIGHT ALRIGHT Crucible LP (Oct-20)
3. NATHANIEL RATELIFF – And It’s Still Alright LP (Feb-20)
4. BLAKK MANTRAWelcome to El Rey Blvd EP (Sep-20)
5.  CARY MORIN – Dockside Saints LP (Jul-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.

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

The AstronautsThe Hearse (1964)
Boenzee Cryque – I’ve Never Known A Girl (1969) 
(P) Andy Eppler – Much Less Under – Broke Down Deluxe (2021)
Safe Boating is No Accident – Dye My Love – Bonus Features (2014) 
WhiteWater Ramble – Hollow (feat. Chris Pandolfi) – Hollow (2018)
(D) Jenny ShawhanLike A Charm (2021)

Boot Gun – Still Life – Take What You Got (2020)
Melissa Axel, Modern Tuba & FriendsSleigh Ride In Bora Bora
Jinx Jones – Bopalena – License To Twang (2001)
Cate DowneyBoulder (2020)
(P) Antonio Lopez – The New Warrior – Roots and Wings (2021) 
The Yawpers – Reason to Believe – Human Question (2019)
GRiZ, Big GiganticGood Times Roll (2015)
(D) Adam Bodine – Swamp Stomp – Scenes of Changery (2020) 

HOUR 2

Beast – Spaceman – Beast (1969)
Zephyr – The Radio Song – Going Back To Colorado (1971)
(D) Chandler Holt & Lauren StovallWinter’s Night Waltz (2021)

Daniel Rodriguez – Brother John – Sojurn of a Burning Sun (2020)
Plum – Love Is In the Air – Light Years Dark Years EP (2016)
Jayme Stone – Future Promise – Awake, Awake (2020)
The Still Tide – Keep It – Between Skies (2020)
Alex Rhodes – Break My Heart – Hometown Rootage (2020)
(D) Everybody Loves An OutlawBlood On A Rose (2021)

Hello Dollface – Say – Warrior Of Light (2015)
The Wood Brothers – Happiness Jones – One Drop of Truth (2018)
Jon Wirtz – Watching The World Wake Up – Tourist (2013)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

VIDEO PICK OF THE WEEK

 

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