This is NOT my best-of-year list—that survey of 100 albums is coming in a few days to paid subscribers. This is my honorable mention, an additional 50 great recordings (all styles, all genres). Each of these albums will reward your time and focus. Happy listening!
It’s also been my experience that the vast (VAST!) majority of music fans I know want only to hear the music they’ve already heard. I make playlists that subtly move them from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Otherwise, you put on Fela Kuti or Ismaël Lo or Los Mocosos and or Yerba Buena or Flor de Toloache or Junior Parker or Kurt Elling or Cake or Brave Combo and they quickly get very uncomfortable.
Bring on the new!
A problem is that back in the 70s fewer albums were released in 2 or 3 genres. And you were able to listen to Electric Ladyland or Live Dead or Santana Abraxis 25 times until you became intimate with every note and nuance. Now, with 100s of genres and sub-genres, and thousands of releases, I don’t have that kind of time. I have to work!
Nice to see Black Keys made the cut.
Thank you very much for including me on this list! I had absolutely no idea until someone emailed me after buying the album. I wouldn’t have ever imagined that an album I recorded in my bedroom would some How find its way to you… I’m still perplexed as to how that has happened. Regardless, thank you ever so much for the support!
I've become a big fan of your recommendations. Spending 40+ years working as a music and sound engineer, I always love discovery but don't have the time needed to explore the depths of the global music world. My old friend, record store manager and music journalist Steve Wilson has always been a trusted source for interesting finds and I'm glad to have a new source of inspiration and discovery. Regards, Rick Sanchez
Gotta say, I liked Raffy Bushman's "Beginner's Mind" from last year more than the album released this year. Even 2020's "Look Up" was more interesting to me (I have it on vinyl). It's just too familiar... though I can't put my finger on why, when I've really liked his 2 previous albums.
I'd add to this list:
DOMi & JD Beck's "NOT TiGHT": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANPbOxaRIO0
and, even though it's just a single
"Flowerbed" by Waldo's Gift: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyZGx8_1ams
This is great thanks. Quite the list!
This is really terrific. So glad I learned of your substack watching the Rick Beato interview.
Thank you so much for this! I look forward to listening to everything!
Cool list. I have heard of several of these musicians and there are a few whom I have met and chatted with.
wonderful list! I have just already discovered two records I didn't know...(Auburn Whisper & Octet and originals). I wonder, how are you all listening (which service? I love Qobuz; how (I like headphones; I also love my wife.....))
I have a problem. I have a challenge appreciating recorded music for what it is. I want it to be something more than it intends to be.
For example: another poster here recommended Eilen Jewell. I've seen them many times live, love how their tasteful, wistful Western country-blues songs carry me away to another place and time. Own all of their albums but pretty much never listened to them. Unless I've invested in getting into a slightly altered state of consciousness (if you know what I mean) the recorded music just doesn't grab me emotionally. I demand virtuosity, epic songwriting. Is it because I grew up listening to The Beatles and Pink Floyd and Keith Jarrett?
In a small, convivial live setting I can enjoy just about any kind of music as long as it's an authentic representation of some slice of human culture and there's some degree of musical proficiency.
Thank you Ted for sharing - the listening is wonderful
I look forward to your recommendations every year. 2 cents - but a few years ago you stopped separating out top picks. I would really like to see a return to that format- top 10 or 20 that made the biggest impression.
I have one of these albums (Magma - Black Flower). There is still a speck of cool left in me! Excellent list. When I can afford a subscription I’ll enjoy diving into the bestest of the best.
Great list Ted. Appreciate it.
Thanks. I’d love to read your 2010’s fave records, still...