The DJs at KCBX clearly like to discover and enthusiastically share new music. Listed here are a few of their picks for the highest albums and songs of 2020.
Neal Losey, KCBX Music Director – The Morning Cup & Evening Practice
Whereas I admire everybody who did a high ten checklist, I do not actually do ’em. My mind does not work like that. All the things with me is type of simply off the highest of my head, because it occurs. I even have succumbed to being a music director for 25 years and I type of consider music by way of what I prefer to play on my present as an alternative of what I like personally. As an example, performed the Jason Isbell loads on my present as a result of I do know folks preferred it. Variety of occasions listened to at house = 0. What did I hearken to at house? A lot of Johnny Guitar Watson. So, high ten albums on the Morning Cup this yr? In all probability Khruangbin “Mordechai”, Fretland “Fretland” and Jason Isbell “Reunions.” And all the pieces else tied for fourth. Prime tune? Possibly “Lovely” by The Two Tracks.
Marisa Waddell, KCBX Program Director – The Highway Residence (high albums)
Like Neal, I’ve a tough time wrapping my head across the end-of-year high ten checklist idea. It’s simply actually laborious to select ten, once I began with three single-spaced pages of nice albums. And that’s simply stuff I play on my present. I’d put Khruangbin’s “Mordechai” amongst my private favorites, nevertheless it largely doesn’t match what I do on The Highway Residence. I need to admit, although, that I like to learn different folks’s high ten lists. I feel it’s a good way to find new music. So, right here’s what I whittled down as the highest albums from The Highway Residence in 2020, in no explicit order:
Seela Misra “ Cool”-I haven’t performed it a lot but, as a result of I found it late within the yr, however count on to listen to far more of this one from the husky-voiced, Austin-based, Canadian-born daughter of Indian immigrants. The songs on “Cool” exhibit her broad tastes and skills—with influences starting from folks and R&B to pop and nation. To high all of it off, Seela created an animated video for every tune on the album. Test this one out for the tune “Unhealthy at Good.”
Waxahatchee “Saint Cloud”-Alabaman Katie Crutchfield launched her fifth Waxahatchee album in spring, and it caught the eye of lots of people instantly, together with Barack Obama, who put her tune “Can’t Do A lot” on his year-end checklist. Her lyrics are poetry, and her melodies dig in and maintain on.
Brent Cobb “Hold ‘em On They Toes”-Irresistible, stripped-down roots nation from a philosophical songwriter with a muted humorousness and a heat, comforting voice.
Lori McKenna “The Balladeer”-This one grabs my consideration every time I hear it. Each single observe is a winner. In actual fact, it’s most likely my favourite album of the yr. Lori McKenna is aware of methods to write a tune, and has received Grammys for her talent. Even when you assume you don’t like nation music, I feel you’ll like this one.
Molly Tuttle “However I’d Reasonably Be With You”– Singer Molly Tuttle is a famous person guitarist within the bluegrass world. However there’s not a variety of bluegrass on this album. These are inventive indie folks covers of songs by a broad vary of artists from the Grateful Useless to FKA Twigs to Rancid to the Yeah Yeah Yeas. We do get to listen to Tuttle’s spectacular guitar pickin’, although, particularly on her tremendous enjoyable cowl of “She’s a Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones.
The Mavericks “En Español”-I’m biased, I do know. Virtually each new Mavericks album makes it onto my year-end checklist. I can’t resist Raul Malo’s practically operatic voice and the band’s tight, wealthy, sizzling preparations that swing like loopy. That is the band’s first album completely in Spanish.
Fretland “Fretland”-Named for its lead singer, Hillary Fretland, this younger band from Snohomish, WA presents up an extremely robust first album. It’s indie Americana/nation/folks music with highly effective vocals, stunning harmonies, typically candy acoustic and typically large fuzzy guitars, and considerate lyrics.
Raye Zaragoza “Lady in Coloration”-Right here’s one other album that I didn’t stumble over till late within the yr. However after one pay attention, I knew it will go on this checklist. It is a protest album. It’s filled with songs about being a lady (“Struggle Like a Woman”), immigration (“Change Your Title”), and what she calls “the dysfunction of American energy buildings.” Zaragoza was born in New York Metropolis, however now lives in LA. Her mother is a Japanese immigrant and her dad has Mexican and Native American roots. Her id informs her songs and he or she embodies what America is and what Americana music could be.
Sturgill Simpson “Cuttin’ Grass”-Sturgill Simpson is proving himself to be an amazingly versatile artist who adjustments his strategy to music with each launch. His final two albums received Grammy awards within the Americana and Nation classes, and now he’s tackling bluegrass with the identical aplomb. “Cuttin’ Grass” is a really beneficiant 20 tracks with a killer band that features Sierra Hull, Stuart Duncan, and Tim O’Brien.
Secret Sisters “Saturn Return”-These are grown up songs about household, relationships (each good and unhealthy ones) and dwelling life with its challenges and rewards. The beautiful sister harmonies of Laura and Lydia Rogers are guided and supported musically by the album’s producers Brandi Carlile and her bandmates, the Hanseroth twins. And you may positive hear their affect on this report. That’s a superb factor! It’s a stupendous album via and thru.
Bonus native band: SLO County Stumblers “All of the Good Occasions”-It is a enjoyable and diverse assortment of previous time fiddle tunes and songs from very proficient gamers Casy Meikle (fiddle/vocals), Stuart Mason (guitar/vocals), Daniel Bohlman (banjo) and Jerry James (bass). Virtually pretty much as good because the music and enjoying are the notes from Meikle about every tune, its historical past and the band’s tackle it.
Janelle Youthful – The Damaged Spoke Folks Present (high albums)
In trying over my Prime Ten checklist for this yr, I’m noticing a standard theme – nostalgia. A lot of music that hearkens again to some half-known legendary musical glory days. Signal of the occasions. It was a wierd yr for music-makers. A few of these albums had been launched pre-pandemic; others had been recorded in house studios, or teams had been assembled nearly. One factor is for sure – tough occasions make for good music.
10. Jake Blount “Spider Tales-Whereas a bit tough across the edges, this album offers an introduction to a musical scholar who has dug up some coal within the type of conventional songs, and has polished and compressed every tune right into a diamond. Trying ahead to listening to extra from Jake Blount in years to come back.
9. Stuart Duncan, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, that includes Aoife O’Donovan “Not Our First Goat Rodeo”-The second outing from this free group of super-talents is a pleasure from starting to finish. You possibly can simply think about the excessive fives after each recording session – “Dang, we knocked that one out of the park, too!” A lot enjoyable listening to tremendous musicians having fun with themselves.
8. Ben Harper “Winter is for Lovers”-His first-ever instrumental album showcases Harper’s evocative lap-steel guitar for a wealthy and emotional journey to cities around the globe, from Verona to Manhattan.
7. Brent Cobb “Hold ‘Em On They Toes”-Brent Cobb feels like one of the best pal you by no means had. Properly-crafted lyrics that go manner deeper than you’d assume, with a voice like nation maple syrup over a brief stack of buckwheat pancakes.
6. Ray La Montagne “Monovision”-Self-produced, self-engineered, and he performs all of the devices. Every tune is a go to to a unique period; it’s time-travel by way of the “subsequent” button. Spinoff? Sure, however gorgeously and impeccably so.
5. Sylvan Esso “Free Love”-The decision-back right here is to one of the best digital music of the 80’s and early 90’s, however contemporary, free, and much much less structured and formulaic. Sylvan Esso is producer Nick Sanborn and singer Amelia Meath, additionally a member of Mountain Man, who can do no flawed in my ebook.
4. Possessed by Paul James “As We Go Wandering”-Konrad Wert, who performs as Possessed by Paul James, is earnest, sincere, and uncooked on this assortment of handcrafted songs, with an edgy sensibility that retains the lyrics from falling off the cliff into sentimental soup.
3. Sam Amidon “Sam Amidon”-Sam Amidon interprets conventional folks music as if he had been an ethnomusicologist from outer house, and it’s one of the best factor ever. Previously, he might sometimes be a bit mournful, however this album is lighter and brighter. Conventional tunes and canopy songs are revisited, with a cameo from Beth Orton on one observe.
2. Mapache “From Liberty Avenue”-This album, too, is a shot of nostalgia, however right here it’s the two-part harmonies that recall the echo of a well-known previous. These guys are out of Southern California, and these sun-drenched tunes are heat, vivid, and well-crafted.
1.That is the Package “Off Off On”-Kate Stables is That is the Package. An exception to my different picks, this album has nothing to do with the previous and all the pieces to do with the longer term. Her music is progressive and surprising, and the instrumentation surprises: woodwinds and banjos, brass and piano, all backing her clear, melancholy voice. It has been three years since 2017’s Moonshine Freeze, and it positive has been well worth the wait. You’ll discover that this assortment of songs – some indignant, some pensive, and a few filled with driving power – will seep into your consciousness across the edges, and also you’ll discover new sides with every pay attention
Monica Fiscalini – Jukebox Revival (high albums)
File beneath California Youngsters: Jesse Daniel “Rollin’ On” and Jaime Wyatt “Neon Cross” do their nation influences proud.
File beneath The Pacific Northwest’s The Band: Western Centuries “Name the Captain”. They had been alleged to play Reside Oak 2020. Subsequent time?!
File beneath Canadian Born, however born for Americana: Whitney Rose “We Nonetheless Go to Rodeos” and Tami Neilson “Chickaboom!” are a bit of bit nation, a bit of bit rock and roll and an entire lot of fab.
RIYL interconnected quick tales: Andy Shauf “The Neon Skyline”. Indie Pop, I suppose.
Comes again swinging after a case of COVID: Sturgill Simpson, “Cuttin’ Grass, Vol. 1.”
Nashville author nails it behind the mic: Waylon Payne “Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me”
They wrote a tune for everybody: “Texas Solar” on an EP from Khruangbin and Leon Bridges was an instantaneous traditional.
Early adapter: Dale Watson didn’t miss a beat when he began streaming his “Hen S#!+ Bingo” stay from Memphis on Sundays. Followers from around the globe tune in to talk, wager on the successful plop and listen to Dale and his socially-distanced band honky tonk all afternoon.
Tom Di Santo – Communicate Low (high albums)
(no explicit order)
Thelonious Monk “Palo Alto” (recorded in October of 1968 however simply launched in 2020)
Artwork Blakey and the Jazz Messengers “Simply Coolin’” (recorded in 1959 however simply launched in 2020)
London Grammar “Californian Soil” (will not be out there on vinyl till 2021, however has been launch digitally this yr)
Al Di Meola “Throughout the Universe”
Natalie Haskins “Puhidua” (New Occasions Music Awards Album of the Yr 2020)
Chick Corea “Performs”
M. Ward “Migration Tales”
Leon Bridges with Khruangbin “Texas Solar” EP
Laura Joines – Citizen Sound (high songs)
Arlo Parks “Damage”-British singer-songwriter and poet from West London
Binki “Wiggle”-Pennsylvanian who mixes pop, indie, dance, hip-hop, R&B and extra into his personal distinctive mix.
Bakar “Hell n’ Again-Bakar melts indie, rap, rock, and punk into the identical musical pot.
Magnificence Faculty Dropout “Make it By the Evening”-Magnificence Faculty Dropout is a brand new band based mostly in Los Angeles (full disclosure: producer and guitarist Bardo Novotny, who grew up in SLO, is Laura’s son).
Goth Babe “Moments/Tides” and “Finish Summer time” Griff Washburn—aka Goth Babe—lives in his camper within the Pacific Northwest the place he writes mellow songs that evoke his vagabond life-style.
Jelani Aryeh “Stella Brown”-Different R&B musician from San Diego
Remi Wolk “Disco Man”-New artist from Palo Alto, California
Position Mannequin “Discover me” and “Blind”-Sincere new music from Tucker Pillsbury, higher identified beneath the moniker ROLE MODEL
Sault “Wildfires”-Sault is a British music collective that makes a combination of R&B, home and disco.
Verzache “Discuss”-Zach Farache is a singer, songwriter, producer and instrumentalist based mostly in Toronto.
Laura Joines – Pickin’ Up the Tempo (high songs)
Bonny Mild Horseman “Deep in Love”
Brent Cobb “The World is Ending”
Chris Stapleton “Beginning Over”
Drive-by Truckers “twenty first Century USA”
Gillian Welch “Peace within the Valley”
Jake Blount “The place did you Sleep Final Evening”
Lillie Mae “Brightest Star”
Margaret Glaspy “Stick with Me”
Sunny Conflict “She simply do not care”
Waxahatchee “Cannot Do A lot”
Rick Mathews-Freedom Jazz Dance (high albums)
Pat Metheny “From This Place”
Joshua Redman “RoundAgain”
Wynton Marsalis & JALC Orchestra “The Ever Fonky Lowdown” (no less than learn the libretto)
Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela “Rejoice”
Ron Miles “Rainbow Signal”
Invoice Frisell “Valentine”
Jake Reed “Reed Between the Traces”
Harold Lopez Nussa “Te Lo Dije”
Christian McBride Massive Band “For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver”
bonus: “Blue Observe Re:imagined”-Compilation of covers of traditional Blue Observe artists carried out by present UK scene jazz abilities.
Craig Russell-KCBX In Live performance (high songs and works)
To see Craig’s feedback about every choice under alongside along with his translations of some lyrics, click on right here.
1. Pablo Alborán, “Cuando estés aquí,” (Everytime you is likely to be right here) Nominated for Finest Pop Track at Latin Grammys, 2020—a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. David Chesky, The Abreu Dances, esp. the “Abreu Dance No. 1.” Chesky Data.
3. Diego Torres (feat. Catalina García), “Amenece,” (The Solar Arises) launched Aug 28, 2020.
4. Kany García & Nahuel Pennisi, “Lo que en tí veo,” from Mesa para Dos, Could 27, 2020.
5. Nahko and Drugs for the Individuals, “Honor the Earth,” from Take Your Energy Again.
6. Carlos Vives and Rubén Blades, “No Estás Solo: Canción para los Enfermos” (You Are Not Alone: A Track for the Critically Sick).
7. Chris Brubeck, “Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra” with guitar soloist Sharon Isbin and The Maryland Symphony Orchestra, dir. by Elizabeth Schulze, on the CD Affinity: World Premiere Recordings [of] Brubeck, Brouwer, Lauro, Tan Dun, Danielpour, on Zoho.
8. Callie Bennett, “Hope,” (that includes Larry Dunn), from the album Awake, Come up, Shine. A single, launched on Aug 15, 2020—a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
9. Twin Flames, “Giants,” on their album Omen. The tune’s chorus applies completely to the COVID-19 disaster.
10. Pitizion y Greeicy [Rendón], “No Pasa Nada” (Nothing to Fear About), cool video carried out on cell telephones throughout the pandemic. Premiered. Could 4, 2020. WOW.
David Figueroa – Trotamundos (high albums)
Tony Succar “Raices Jazz Orchestra”
Pacific Mambo Orchestra “The III Aspect”
Natalia Lafourcade “Un Canto Por Mexico: Vol I”
Harold Lopez Nuna “Te Lo Dije”
Seu Jorge / Roge “Evening Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Periods”
Checo Acosta “El Rey De Carnaval”
Natalie Greffel “Para Todos”
Silvia Iriondo “Pasionarias”
Muerdo “Fin De La Primera Vida”
La Conquista Del Espacio “Fito Paez”
Jim Dee – World Spin (high albums)
Les Amazones D’Afrique: Amazones Energy
Groupe RTD “The Dancing Devils of Djibouti”
Dhafer Youssef “Sounds of Mirrors”
Andy Zink – World Spin (high albums)
Natalia Lafourcade “Un Canto por Mexico, Vol.1”
Hamilton de Holanda “Canto da Praya”
Fabiano Do Nascimento “Preludio”
Wooden Brothers “Kingdom in my Thoughts”
Lionel Suarez “Cuarteto Gardel”
Oumou Sangare “Acoustic”
Dafins Prieto Sextet “Transparency”
Chick Corea “Performs”
Invoice Frisell “Valentine”
Khrunangbin & Leon Bridges “Texas Solar” EP
A number of KCBX music hosts have been on hiatus from their exhibits this yr, because of the pandemic, however they’re nonetheless enthusiastically listening to new music. Three of them despatched in lists:
Sal España – Past the Fringe (high albums)
1. Sparks “A Regular Drip Drip Drip-Virtually 50 years in, Ron & Russell Mael launch what’s arguably their best album.
2. Malfet “Alban Arthan”-Luscious gothic atmosphere from Los Osos.
3. Jim Ottaway “When Eternity Touches Time”-An exquisite mixture of digital types from Australia.
4. Jon Durant & Robert Jurgendal “Throughout the Night”-Spacey guitars and world textures.
5. Invoice Nelson: Outdated Haunts-Legendary British multi-instrumentalist’s newest mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks peppered along with his trademark guitar work.
Leslie Thompson – Pickin’ Up the Tempo (high albums)
Jason Isbell “Reunions”
Monophonics “It is Solely Us”
“On the Highway, Tribute to John Hartford” (numerous artists)
Sarah Jarosz “World On the Floor”
Joshua James “Goals of Karen”
Felicia Lewis – Evening Practice substitute host (high albums)
Giveon “Take Time”
Gregory Porter “All Rise”
Unbelievable Negrito “Have You Misplaced Your Thoughts But?”
A few of our DJs play virtually completely previous releases. Listed here are a few of the older songs and albums that attracted them this yr:
John Walsh – Pacific Normal Time (high songs)
“I get alongside with out you very properly” Nina Simone
“Guess who I say right now” Nancy Wilson
“I ought to care” Nat King Cole (remastered)
“Skylark” Aretha Franklin
“Singin’ within the Rain” Jamie Cullum
“If I ought to lose you” Nina Simone
“I am glad there may be you” Ella Fitzgerald
“If I solely had a mind” Robbie Williams
“Within the wee small hours of the morning” Curtis Stigers
“When you might see me now” Sarah Vaughan
Carl “Sonny” Leyland – Rhythm Retrospective (high songs)
1. Coleman Hawkins Swing 4 “The Man I Love”
2. Crimson Nelson (& Clarence Lofton) “Cryin’ Mom Blues”
3. Little Donnie Bowshire “Rock & Roll Joys”
4. Artwork Tatum “Tatum Pole Boogie”
5. Will Bradley Trio “Down The Highway Apiece”
6. Roosevelt Sykes “The Honeydripper”
7. Don Byas “Annie Laurie”
8. New Orleans Feetwarmers “Sweetie Expensive”
9. Chuck Berry “Oh Child Doll”
10. Bud Powell “Tea For Two”
Dan Wardlow – Audio Aftermath (high albums)
Here is a Prime Ten Listing for Audio Aftermath Radio … given this system’s retro perspective, the latest of those albums is 47 years previous! They’re albums that I have been drawn to in 2020, and which have impressed units of music on this system. Introduced right here in no explicit order:
Genesis “Promoting England By The Pound” (1973, the band at its zenith with peak performances by vocalist Peter Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett)
Bonnie Raitt “Bonnie Raitt” (1973 debut album, units the stage for an incredible profession)
Caravan “In The Land Of Gray And Pink” (1971, epitomizes the whimsy and wit of the Canterbury music scene)
Chris Farlowe “The Final Goodbye” (1969, a compilation by one of the best of the “blue-eyed” English soul singers)
Cream “Contemporary Cream” (1966, as a result of Clapton, Bruce, and Baker…)
Dave Alexander “The Dust On The Floor” (1973, a lot under-rated blues pianist from Marshall, TX)
Joanne Vent “The Black And White Of It Is Blues” (1969, a giant proficient voice in blues who pre-saged singers like Eva Cassidy)
Love “Endlessly Adjustments” (1967, typically when a band is on the cusp of a breakup they make their finest music)
Small Faces “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake” (1968, an unfathomable fairy story idea album with components of psychedelia, metallic, and bold studio manufacturing)
Jimi Hendrix Expertise “Electrical Ladyland” (1970, a farewell from a genius)