TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – The Incredible Heat Machine (Mama Bird Recording Co)
This whole chapter is an incredible heat machine, so let’s begin with all that. TK & The Holy Know-Nothings from Portland, Oregon are the culprits and responsible for creating such a damn great album.
Chris Acker – Odd, Ordinary & Otherwise (Gar Hole Records)
Next we pack our bags and move from Washington State to New Orleans just like folk-rock songwriter Chris Acker did some years ago. He was one of my favorite finds in 2020 and kept the level insanely high in 2021 as well.
The Deep Dark Woods – Changing Faces (Six Shooter Recordings)
Back to Canada where a long time favorite The Deep Dark Woods released another marvellous folk rock album. I highly recommend also checking out the music video for How Could I Ever Be Single Again?, because it’s so great and adds another level to this gorgeous song.
Caleb Stine – Life and Times of a Handyman
Moving on to Baltimore, Maryland. A new Caleb Stine album was a lovely late 2021 surprise, because I didn’t knew about it before the release date a month ago. What a beautiful poetic folk album once again. Also includes a song that you might have heard first time on the OCTA18 online festival few years ago.
Huck Notari – Strange and Beautifully
Folk songwriter Huck Notari is still criminally unknown in the bigger scheme of things, but I’ve loved his records for a decade or so. And I’m far from the only one. A new album was a pleasant surprise and full of gorgeous songwriting. My personal favorite was this beauty called Blizzard on the Freeway.
K.C. Jones – Queen of the In Between
K.C. Jones from Lafayette, Louisiana is one of the new finds of the year for me. I think I owe this one to Angela Backstrom, because I think I first picked the Heat Rises single from her FB feed and instantly loved it. Soon after the full album arrived and my feelings towards her music stayed the same. What a beautiful album.
Jesse Aycock – Jesse Aycock (Horton Records)
Travelling to Tulsa, Oklahoma to meet up with Jesse Aycock and his self-titled album. I really enjoyed the 2014 album back then, but then he got all busy with Hard Working Americans etc and the solo stuff was put on hold for a little while. 2021 brought a new and what a beauty it is. A lot of variety too. There’s that warm folk rock sound, but also mighty good pop songs. Marvellous all-around.
Rose City Band – Earth Trip (Thrill Jockey Records)
Rose City Band is not so surprisingly from Portland, Oregon. They only have the singles streaming, which is an ok way to work around the streaming services. Worked for me at least, because I did buy the vinyl from the local store (of course I try do that as much as I can with my close to minimum wage factory job anyway). Oh yeah and it’s an exceptional album full of laid-back cosmic country treasures.
Daniel Romano – Cobra Poems (You’ve Changed Records)
Back in Canada for the latest Daniel Romano adventures. I think it was a rather slow year for him. There was this awesome studio album Cobra Poems plus a live album and that excellent Kissing the Foe album on Bandcamp. Seems little though. There was probably more. Anyway, it’s all damn good as always.
Dakota Theim – Tangled Heart
Next we have a couple of fabulous pop albums that you can listen after you’ve binge watched Get Back during the holidays. First Dakota Theim from Portland, Oregon with his excellent second album Tangled Heart.
Andrew Gabbard – Homemade (Karma Chief Records / Colemine Records)
And next the new Andrew Gabbard album that was the final last minute entry to this playlist. It came out just a week ago, but I knew I was going to love so I left a spot open for it (in case wondering I did cruely left out everything that came after Dec 3, so no Neil Young, Michael Hurley or Ryan Pollie for example). But yeah, while Colemine Records might be more known for the soul treasures, its Karma Chief imprint does deliver other kind of gems too. This one is a beautiful pop album with some alt.country vibes. Ends in a Emitt Rhodes cover too. What’s not to love.
Adeline Hotel – The Cherries Are Speaking (Ruination Record Co)
Next a super lovely warm-hearted beautifully arranged folk album from Adeline Hotel. It’s only about 15 minutes, so one might question whether it’s a full-length or not. You can’t get question the magic of it though. I love every second of it. Oh and Adeline Hotel also released a rather remarkable instrumental album earlier in the year. Not to be missed either even though this one is more my cup of tea.
Natalie Jane Hill – Solely (Dear Life Records)
Then a couple of magical releases from the Dear Life Records vaults. First the remarkable sophomore album from songwriter Natalie Jane Hill. I strongly considered this even on that top 10, because it just feels so complete and beautiful from first note to last.
Wes Tirey – The Midwest Book of the Dead (Dear Life Records)
And then a long time blog favorite Wes Tirey from North Carolina gives us a remarkable double called The Midwest Book of the Dead. Listening to it all at once might be a bit too hefty one time dose, but damn if this isn’t one of the most impressive works of the year.
Belaver – Lain Prone (Niles City Records)
One of the new finds of the year for me can wrap up this fifth chapter of the year end story. Only two more to go (did I heard a sigh of relief). I first found the advance singles, because it was produced by Robert Ellis, but the songs of Belaver were the reason why I stuck around. Here It Comes, 70’s Adventure, Mount Misery, Bad Word Turn. Well too many gems to list. Often sad, always great.