Only memories now, and somehow here we are again. 2019, capping off the end of another decade.
Obviously the nonlinear space and time thing does not match with linear time. The illusion of it all, and the perception of time is a complete mind fuck. I’m constantly reminding myself to be present in the now, but I blink and it’s always tomorrow.
So let’s talk about music.
I must admit, I haven’t listened to a ton of new releases this past year. I do however play albums throughout my day, everyday. But this year was spent spinning lots of 60’s rock, for example, everything by John Mayall, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Ginger Baker (especially Cream for like a month straight, ironically before Baker’s death), Neil Young, Dylan. I must have played all of PJ Harvey’s albums a million times, Jazz, Classical, Middle Eastern, French, Afro-beat, Funk, Coladeira and Morna. My wife and I have been really diggin’ Beck’s latest album Hyperspace, as well as Them Yorke’s Anima (not to mention the short film by Paul Thomas Anderson). I also spent endless hours curating playlists for family and friends on my Spotify (DJ-R). Creating mix tapes/cds for my loved ones has always been a lifelong passion of mine. Curating playlists on Spotify has furthered my enthusiasm to artistically link songs of all shapes and sizes to another level; I almost feel like this process is cheating, but nonetheless still fun as hell.
Anyway, let’s get back to my top albums of the year list. The world wide web is an endless matrix of possibilities and hidden gems. It’s so challenging to stay on top of any music genre’s new releases. Because of the infinite opportunities of discovery, this year I’ll select 8 albums. An infinite 8 must embody a number 1, and a number one is hard to find. It must become dissected through every listen in order to climb into that unconditional slot, knowing it shall transcend all future decades. A work of art that takes time and effort to digest before reaping any rewards. My top album of the year has a lot to do with the band and their artistic creative brilliance. For me, a true artist never pays attention to outside noise. They continue to create, evolve, and create some more. For example every single Tom Waits or even PJ Harvey album will not sound alike; they just continue to grow as artists without apology, and create new sound. My 8 selections this year are all wonderful albums, but my top two are phenomenal beyond words. I hope you enjoy my list.
Now we’re in our roaring 20s. This is the year of vision. And I’ll see you with precision — 20/20!
Top 8 Albums of 2019
8 : John Garcia and the Band of Gold – Self titled
John Garcia is a legend, and he’s one of the founding fathers of desert/stoner rock. I had to double check the date, but this bad boy was in fact released early January. It’s gritty, hypnotic, heavy-stoney Garcia style. It was a great way to start off the new year.
7 : Kungens Män – Hårt Som Ben
In late May 2019, Stockholm, Sweden’s very own Kungens Män packed up their vehicles filled with instruments and provisions then drove into the woods of Värmland to spend three days in the legendary Silence Studio. There, they created an assortment of improvised psychedelic space jams. It’s got the tone of what one would imagine a soundtrack for one of Karl Ove Knausgård’s novels; somewhat Twin Peaks ‘The Pink Room’ style. Hårt Som Ben is their second released album of the year (Chef (February)). It’s experimental modern krautrock at its best. I’ve been a fan of Kungens Män for a couple of years now… Hårt Som Ben is my favorite.
6 : Blackwater Holylight – Veils of Winter
Blackwater Holylight is an all-female operation out of Portland, Oregon. Veils of Winter is filled with heavy psych riffs, gothic doom drama rock. It’s a paradox, like some kind of wicked trap. The vocals can lull you in with their sultry sound, and capture your soul to be eaten in a ceremonial ritual sacrifice.
5 : The Budos Band – V
The Budos Band is an instrumental band from Staten Island, NY. With their 5th album, they continue to blend high voltage brassy funk, with Afro-beat big band-soul, while sprinkling in doses of psychedelic kaleidoscope rock. V is a bit more ceremonial and trippy than their previous four albums. Some of their songs enter a heavier sonic exploration. For example ‘The Enchanter’ and ‘Arcane Rambler’ enter dark rhythms, with thick fuzz-fueled riffs. The Budos Band do what they do better than anyone at this point in the game.
4 : Black Pumas – Self-titled
I was leafing through vinyl at my local record shop in Boulder, CO. when I came across the Black Pumas Self-titled debut album. It was spinning on the record shop’s turntable. The groovy soul that was vibrating out of the speakers locked me in by track two – ‘Colors’. It was a mystical, life-changing connection. The whole album is so much more than it’s Marvin Gaye-esque tone. One full listen of their self-titled album, and I became hooked. The Black Pumas have a 60’s cerebral ghost sound, tone, and cadence.
3 : Devendra Banhart – Ma
Devendra Banhart is a a magnificent song writer. He’s one of the main honchos of the esoteric folk revival. His lo-fi style has always been compelling, even when he’s singing fantastical freaky tongue in cheek lyrics. Devendra is one of a kind. Ma is his most mature album to date. Each song is a vignette of earthy, groovy sophisticated arrangements linked together with intertwining narratives of nurturing wisdom. Multiple songs are sung in Spanish, and English with one in Portuguese. Ma is wonderfully balanced while suggesting unpredictable visions through life. Ma feels like a compass for life. Another thing I think is really cool about this album, is that I can’t help think of the 1977 album Amoroso by João Gilberto. Both similar in tone and flavor.
2 : The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
The veteran madman Les Claypool, and the multi-instrumental psychedelic heirloom Sean Lennon have stepped up the game this year. Emancipate yourself from the notion that you think you know what this album will sound like. Together Les Claypool and Sean Lennon are vigilante players of tune; they’re allegorical wizards of the non-world non-order. South of Reality is brilliant! It is intelligent, psychedelic, beautifully composed, and masterfully recorded. Every single song has its own personality. The song lineup is on point. The sound production and editing are phenomenal. The intertwining magical mystery voices and multilayered acid-influenced demonic noises become calculated rhythm.
I saw them live a couple of times this summer. Seeing them play at the Mishawaka Amphitheater was by far one of the most intimate live experiences of my entire life! If you’ve never heard of The Mish, it’s because it’s (somewhat) a hidden treasure. Nestled deep inside the canyon along the Pouder River in Bellevue, CO. the acoustics are pristine. I’ll speak for the one-thousand of us who were lucky enough to get tickets for this show. To see The Claypool Lennon Delirium live at the Mishawaka was a treat beyond words. Ask Les and Sean.. they’ll agree. Full Review Here
1 : Tool – Fear Inoculum
Masterpiece. No words are worthy. It’s Tool, and all they do is create Masterpiece albums.
The Ivory Elephant – Stoneface
Mdou Moctar – Ilana: The Creator
Elder – The Gold & Silver Sessions (EP)
Lamagaia – Garage Space Vol 1
Hazemaze – Hymns of the Damned