Started writing this in my journal but figure it’s probably something share-worthy, here’s a quick look at what I listened to in 2021. Planning on using last.fm this year to better track this stuff.
Earlier this year during lockdown I picked up a very nice used American Telecaster. I love it. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum from my Gibson 335. They both have their place in my playing/songwriting. Anyway, picking up the tele got me listening to way more tele players including a lot of Kenny Vaughan and Marty Stuart.
Reading a bunch of Kenny Vaughan interviews, he kept mentioning Hollywood Fats, Roy Nichols and Roy Lanham so I did a lot of digging on their playing over the past year.
Somewhere in that dive on tele players, I came across Ripley Johnson who is not at all like Kenny Vaughan but as soon as I heard him playing with his Rose City Band, I immediately went over to the Thrill Jockey website and bought all of the Rose City Band albums on vinyl. There’s something that reminds me of the more melodic exploration/noodling of Jerry Garcia’s playing in Johnson’s playing and I love his tone and the sound environment of the Rose City Band albums so he was a really welcomed accidental discovery this year. He reminds me a bit of William Tyler, too, but maybe more accessible or less demanding than Tyler who I didn’t listen to as much this year as I did in 2020.
I listened to the Jerry on Jerry audiobook this year which I highly recommend for any fans of Jerry Garcia and his playing. So much good material in there and it’s Jerry’s actual voice on the interviews so that’s a joy, too. He mentions this fiddle player, Scotty Stoneman, in a couple of the interviews and that ended up being a very useful vein to mine on the streaming services and it yielded a live show where he’s playing with Clarence White though you can’t hear Clarence too well on the recording. Still great listening and I could hear that sense of abandon and really long melodic phrases in Stoneman’s playing that Jerry was so drawn to.
I continued my deep dive into Bahamas. During a break in covid my son and a friend of mine headed up into NY to see Afie Jurvanen at Webster Hall and it did not disappoint even though it was a solo show and it would have been great to see him with a full band but, man, what a great player/performer/songwriter. I’ve gone back to his Live to Tape videos on YouTube so many times this year.
Also listed many times to Sierra Ferrell’s Long Time Coming. Great songwriting, fantastic performances. Such a listenable ablum, i should buy the vinyl version if its available (or would if they were not all sold out!). Her album deserves to be sold out, all killer, no filler!
Also, waded a bit into the Hiss Golden Messenger waters. I heard Way Back in the Way Back on our local 90.5 The Night radio station on my way to a gig. Immediately after hearing it on the radio I fired it up on Spotify and listened to it about 5 times in row. Love the guitar tone on the outro solo. I listened to a few albums and spun Quietly Blowing It many times and while they were all good, nothing grabbed me like that first song.
Same is mostly true about The War on Drugs latest, I Don’t Live Here Anymore. I spun that album quite a few times. I’m not sure if it’s because of a lack of hooks or just my lack of attention but nothing from those repeated listening really stuck with me though when I fire it up when I’m putting the dishes away in the kitchen, etc, there is a really nice comfortable familiarity to the album so it may just be taking a while for it to stick.
My son had been telling me about King Gizzard for months now and every time I put them on I just wasn’t feeling it. Until I heard their latest release, Butterfly 3000. Perhaps my favorite album of 2021. I love everything about this album from the songwriting to the sonic landscape. It’s all so new and fresh to my ears and melodic, too.
John Mayer Sob Rock. A few tracks on this really stuck with me and I love the whole shitpost vibe of the album and the sounds are just incredible and are like a nostalgia bath for the ears.
I have no idea how I landed on this album but I must have listened to it 25 times this year and still find it to be one of my favorite to listen to when I’m up before dawn waiting for a reasonable hour to start making coffee: