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Catchgroove’s 2021 Favorites

January 1, 2022

When I look at my favorites of 2021 I see a nice mix of old favorites and new (to me) artists. I am not sure if there is a theme or not, but I see a thread: jams. I don’t pretend that this is a best of list, merely my favorites, formed by, my not particularly broad, musical taste. Here is the top 10 followed by “honorable mentions” in no particular order:

#1 Tedeschi Trucks Band featuring Trey Anastasio – Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’) link. I like it better than the original.

#2 Pat Metheny Side Eye V1.IV NYC. I had the privilege of seeing Metheny’s hot young trio twice: once before the pandemic and once recently. This recording is the best souvenir I could have. link

#3 Prince Welcome 2 America link. The vault excavation continues – this time its a whole album that is so on point politically for our times, that it turns out the purple one was a prophet!

#4 Bob Dylan Springtime in New York link. Dylan’s much maligned 80s work is fleshed out and recast for the genius chapter of his catalog I always felt it was. This is the Dylan I was experiencing in real time in my early 20s.

#5 Goose Ted Tapes 2021 link. A new band to me. Instrumental space jam.

#6 The War On Drugs: I Don’t Live Here link. Do yourself a favor and listen on a good pair of headphones.

#7 Steven Wilson – The Future Bites link. This the first album by Wilson or any of his other projects (e.g, Porcupine Tree) that I have listened to. It has opened a wonderful rabbit hole. It sounds like a modern Moody Blues or Pink Floyd.

#8 Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Raising The Roof link 14 years after Raising Sand, the pair have reunited with producer T-Bone Burnett for a sequel and proof that Raising Sand was not a fluke.

#9 Floating Points/Pharaoh Saunders & The London Symphony Orchestra Promises link. Very cool concept: electronica musician joining forces with legendary octogenarian jazz musician backed by a symphony orchestra. It totally works.

#10 Brandi Carlile In These Silent Days. A worthy follow up to her breakthrough. link

Honorable Mentions– in no particular order:

Bluesound Node 2i link. In the streaming age a dedicated streaming device (a streamer) is a must have component for an audiophile. Life changing seems a little dramatic, but this has been a great addition to the big boy stereo. I have to admit I listen to more hi-res streams than LPs and CDs now. It brings the convince of an iPhone Bluetooth connection with the audiophile quality of a computer hooked to a DAC. Tidal MQA is the service of my choice.

Daniel Lanois – Heavy Sun link. This is Lanois’ (producer of Bob Dylan, U2, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, Emmylou Harris, and Robbie Robertson) take on gospel music. It is featuring the Hammond organ of Johnny Shepherd, sometime organist at Zion Baptist in Shreveport, Louisiana. Not surprising, Lanois does not play it straight. His take on gospel music has hints of reggae and electronica. As the kids like to say: pretty dope.

Charles Lloyd & the Marvels – Tone Poem link. Lloyd’s late career resurgence with jazz/Americana continues. Get it on vinyl – Blue Note’s Time Poet series highlights how great the medium can be.

Greta Van Fleet – The Battle At Garden’s Gate link. I could care less that they are derivative. It’s only rock ‘n roll and I like it!

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Way Down In The Rust Bucket link. A fantastic live album from a warm up show for the Ragged Glory tour (1990).

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Barn. I have not had a chance to give this album a proper review. You can’t go wrong with Neil and the Horse. There are a few clumsy political songs but overall tasty.

Lucinda Williams Lu’s Jukebox series. Lucinda is the perfect person to cover Petty and Dylan. link. Not available on streaming services.

Kacey Musgraves Star Crossed. Another worthy follow up to a big album. link

Billie Eilish Happier Than Ever link. How does the biggest teen pop star in the world follow up a huge record? With a wonderful adult album that is an artist step forward.

John Mayer Sob Rock. Mayer brilliantly embraces yacht rock. Hidden in the sugar are tasty guitar licks. link

Gary Louris Jump For Joy. Louris and The Jayhawks have always had a soundboard fader where they slide between Americana and the British Invasion. This release is a slide towards the British Invasion. If you like McCartney, you will like this.

Black Keys Delta Kream link. The album celebrates the band’s roots & features songs by R.L. Burnside & Junior Kimbrough. The opening track is the blues standard “Crawling King Snake” (a hit for John Lee Hooker, but the Keys take a Junior Kimbrough approach).

Pat Metheny John Scofield I Can See Your House from Here reissue link. Originally digitally recorded (88.2 kHz/24-bit) in 1994, Blue Note remastered it for vinyl and somehow made it better.

Ron Miles Rainbow Sign link. This is a 2020 release, but I did not discover it until 2021. There are so many great jazz artists that never get heard. Thank goodness I got to hear this album.

Adele 30 – The first cut sounds like schlock, but the rest of the album is brilliant. She has had 4 great albums in a row.

Jackson Browne Down Hill From Everywhere – I continue to be amazed that classic rockers continue to put out quality material in their 70s. Nothing new here, just a craftsman continuing to craft excellence.

Jerry Garcia Band – this 1991 album is one of my favorite albums. Link. Finally reissued on vinyl this year. It was supposed to be a Record Store Day release, but quality issues forced it to be pulled. But it finally made it to market by year end.

Arlo Parks Collapsed Sunbeams link. I don’t like having to label music, but it is a useful way to explain what an artist or band sounds like. For Arlo Park I would call it “folk soul.” It has the intimacy and simplicity of folk music and some subtle funk and hip-hop vibe to give it soul.

FINNEAS – Optimist. I had no interest in this (producer solo albums typically suck) until I listened to an interview/podcast with him and he was fascinating. I gave it a listen and it was good. I shared it with my wife and her take was it sounded like a combo of Harry Styles and Father John Misty. Pretty perceptive take – FINNEAS is a huge FJM fan.

Black Crowes Shake Your Money Maker 4 LP Super Deluxe Edition I am a Crowes fan and picked up the CD back in the day when this was a huge album. This reissue includes the original album, 3 never-before-heard studio recordings; 2 unreleased demos from the band’s early incarnation as Mr. Crowe’s Garden; B-sides; a spectacular, high-energy 14-song unreleased concert recorded in their hometown of Atlanta, GA in December 1990; reproductions of an early Mr. Crowe’s Garden show flyer, setlist and tour laminate; a 4″ Crowes patch; and a 20-page book with liner notes by David Fricke.

Patti reminded me, no reprimand me, about the importance of live music! Transcendent. Link.

That’s a wrap for 2021.

  1. Some good ones here Catch. Will have to try out a few I dont know. U always come through.

    • Thanks! Just moved into our new winter home in Phoenix. Will have to see what the desert does to my Midwest sensibilities. My wife and I have lived in Minneapolis for all our 63 years. First time living out of a 10 mile radius.

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