From dance pop to shoegaze, drum ‘n’ bass to classic rock ‘n’ roll, glam rock to disco house and everything in between, music in 2023 kept our bodies pumping, freak flags flying and all our feels intact.
Though the tastes of the extended KHOL family of DJs, staff and board members are complex and varied, a few albums stood out as favorites among the KHOL crew:
- Mellow island rock from Unknown Mortal Orchestra on V
- Andre 3000’s unexpected ambient flute work on New Blue Sun
- Róisín Murphy’s polarizing dance pop on Hit Parade
- Wilco’s first venture into outside production on Cousin
- Living legend rock ‘n’ roll from The Rolling Stones on Hackney Diamonds
- Death by disco house on DRAMA’s Till We Die
- Sofia Kourtesis’ electrifying flavors of Berlin and Peru on Madres
Take a spin through the playlist below to listen to 2023’s standout tracks, and read about your favorite DJs’ best-of picks on the individual links below. Here’s to an inspiring and adventurous 2023, and the excited anticipation of more music discovery on KHOL in 2024.
JUMP TO YOUR FAVORITE DJ’S PICKS
KnewJack | Emily Cohen | Tyler Pratt | Hanna Merzbach | Reed Russell | The Western Gem | Garth Gillespie | Kevin P | Ethan | Danielle | Pahl | DJ P | Eli | Big E | OHNASSI | Hunter S | DJ ECHO | Lash | Rachel | Chuck Roast | Mark B | Johnny Peanutbutter | Johnny Boy King | JR | b3playr | Werner | DJ Bloo | Studebacher | Chef Lito | Beatrix
KnewJack (Jack Catlin), Music Director | Host of “The Heavy Warmup” (Weekdays 8 – 10 a.m.)
Session Victim – low key, low pressure
When life gets hectic and requires a reassessment of your entire situation, there’s nothing quite like finding solace in the warm embrace of a record that helps you chill out and catch your breath. On “low key, low pressure,” Session Victim’s typically dance floor-focused style takes a markedly unique turn into a more heady, downtempo universe. Bouncy baselines from Berlin, punch-drunk drums and psychedelic synth candy abound on this soothing yet exciting release that exposes new textures with every visit.
Youth Lagoon – Heaven Is A Junkyard
When the Youth Lagoon show at the Center for the Arts this past summer was announced, I was admittedly unfamiliar with Trevor Powers’ discography but knew his visit to Jackson was a rare treat. Music media giant Pitchfork had just named the new record “Best New Music” and with the opportunity to interview him before the show, I was excited to dive deep into the world of Youth Lagoon. With “Heaven Is A Junkyard” in the headphones while walking around Jackson, I was blown away by how well the album’s songs synced up with the landscape of the Mountain West. The songs have a tangible sense of place due to Powers’ remarkable ability to absorb his surroundings in Boise, Idaho. With economical and poetic wordplay involving family, neighbors, junkies and grim reapers resting on top of an ethereal and propulsive sonic soundscape, “Heaven Is A Junkyard” is a whole vibe, and I am here for it. And I think you will be too
Cool Calm Pete – LOST (Director’s Cut)
Some albums come out of nowhere, make a big splash in your life and then disappear with questions of why unanswered. That’s the case with hip hop misfit Cool Calm Pete’s “LOST,” originally released in 2005 and thankfully reissued with bonus tracks in 2023. With his deep voice and thick New York accent, Korean-born and Queens-raised Peter Chung was an unexpected contributor to the underground hip-hop scene of the 2000s. Cool Calm Pete’s one and only LP’s chilled-out, head-knocking beats coupled with Chung’s snarky everyman approach were instantly attractive to both hip-hop diehards and casual listeners alike. Whether chuckling at the razor-sharp wit, marveling at the deliberate flow or rocking out to the jazzy beats you’ll be hard-pressed to not walk away from “LOST” feeling like you found something well worth your time. Now if he would only come back.
Emily Cohen, Executive Director
- Everything But the Girl – Fuse
- Peter Gabriel – i/o
- Silk Road Ensemble – Phoenix Rising
- Taylor Swift – 1989 (Taylor’s Version)
- Andrew Bird – Outside Problems
Everything But the Girl – Fuse
Pretty psyched that EBTG is back at it with making music. The British duo’s 11th studio album – and first since 1999 – is right in line with their signature moody downtempo beats that I first fell in love with as a teen in the late ’90s. While musically the sound brings waves of nostalgia, lyrically the songs are more about adult angst and modern dread. “Nothing Left To Lose” sets the tone, as Tracey Thorn sings, “I need a thicker skin / This pain keeps getting in.” The groove builds up to the climax, where she pleads, “Kiss me while the world decays / Kiss me while the music plays.”
Silk Road Ensemble – Phoenix Rising
This four-song EP is a powerful introduction to The Silk Road Ensemble under its new artistic director, Rhiannon Giddens. (The renowned classical group was previously led by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.) The album opens with an ode to Giddens’ Appalachian folk roots with “Oh, Death” and ends with a power remake of Peter Gabriel’s Biko, about Steve Biko, the South African anti-apartheid activist. Silk Road is an inspiring model for cultural collaboration – and an important reminder that this sort of sharing happens even in some unexpected genres (i.e. chamber music).
Peter Gabriel / i/o
Speaking of Peter Gabriel, the British pop artist finally released i/o, an album he’s purportedly been working on for 28 years. Despite having origins in a very different time, it sounds remarkably fresh – and quintessentially Gabriel with its art pop, world beat sound. The title track is a lullaby-like tune reminding us we are all connected, in that sort of hopeful way we may have felt in the ‘90s. (There might be a theme here…?)
Tyler Pratt, News Director
Róisín Murphy – Hit Parade
Murphy’s full-length collaboration with DJ Koze is a pop music fever dream: trippy, absurd and hands-down her best album. For decades she’s been an artist who explores themes of identity in her music, fashion and performances. So it came as a shock to many in her LGBTQ+ fanbase when comments she made online about trans youth were uncovered just before the release of “Hit Parade.” While Murphy issued an apology, fans were left to digest disappointment from her remarks while simultaneously absorbing the record’s sonic masterpieces. Warped vocals combined with unconventional, spacey beats, Murphy tackles concepts of fate and astral influence in her lyrics. “Fader, “CooCool,” “Can’t Replicate” and “The Universe” are just a few standout tracks. I was able to see her perform at Portola Festival in San Francisco shortly after the album dropped. The crowd was loudly queer, decked out in costumes and vibrant colors. Murphy eviscerated a short set of extended-length songs spanning her 30-year career, showcasing her own collection of wacky, loud outfits while playing with gender and filming herself as she sang, seducing her audience. She enchanted the crowd, exuding a boisterous, sexual charisma that was met with adoration, applause and raucous dancing when she ended her show with 2005’s “Ramalama (Bang Bang)” dressed as a circus creature stomping across the stage. “Hit Parade” is a polarizing album with a reflective, mutant soundscape that suggests she may have more soul searching to do.
Barry Can’t Swim – When Will We Land?
I tend to be verbose in my electronic music reviews, because the genre fills my body with a cacophony of emotions. So for the ease of the reader: “When Will We Land?” is euphoric. Uplifting and powerful while daring you to have a joyful cry in a sea of dance lovers. Joshua Mannie serves up house, spoken word, soaring vocals and deep beats that hit you right in the soul. Prepare to be moved.
Beyoncé – Renaissance
There’s not much more I can add to the vast collection of praise out there for The Queen’s 2022 brilliant and perfect masterpiece. But she took the world by storm in 2023 with a tour unlike any other. Tickets were a sky-high price, but she poured that money into a concert experience that can’t be replicated. I had the immense privilege of seeing the Renaissance Tour in New Orleans near its conclusion. During the final tour dates, which took place during Virgo season — Bey’s sign — she asked attendees to dress in silver, and fans unwaveringly agreed en masse. In the Crescent City, no one disappointed – it was the fashion event of the year. The entire day of the show, people wore their best looks, jewels and makeup and blasted her songs non-stop. At night, we all trekked across the hot and humid town in non-breathable silver fabric, to fill the Caesar’s Superdome, a Bey Hive full of “Uncle Johnny” signs. We sweated together as she gave us the show of a lifetime – opening with four ballads, and then performing every track off Renaissance (including dance performances from Blue Ivy), and unleashing mind bending visuals, all while sharing her love and respect for Black and queer communities. It was perfection and something I will cherish for the rest of my years. 10, 10, 10 across the board.
Hanna Merzbach, Reporter/Producer
Greta Van Fleet – Farewell For Now
In the closing track on their new album, “Starcatcher,” Greta Van Fleet delivers the Zeppelin-like sound they rose to fame on. The band of twenty-somethings balances a slow build with solos from the guitarist and belting from the lead singer. Though this album hasn’t garnered the band quite as much hype as previous releases, this track brings it all home for me.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – What if I
I pretty much love everything Nathaniel does. He’s able to convey so much emotion in each of his releases whether it’s with his band the Night Sweats or his solo releases.
Daisy Jones & the Six – Regret Me
This song is off the album from the show “Daisy Jones & the Six,” one of my favorites this year. I’ve loved getting to know the backstory (fictional) of the songs from the show. For some reason, this album pumps me up while running. I put this song on during the final stretch when I sprint to the finish.
Reed Russell, Development Manager
- Missy Elliott – Bomb Intro / Pass That Dutch
- Feng Suave – Noche Oscura
- Shakey Graves – Roll the Bones
- Charley Crockett – Jamestown Ferry
- LNDN DRGS – Funk It Up
- The Steeldrivers – Blue Side of the Mountain
- Curren$y ft Action Bronson – Scarab 38
- Fred again.., Skrillex & Four Tet – Baby again..
- Sparky Paul – LSD
- Bubbles – Bidibodi Bidibu
Charley Crockett – The Man from Waco
I’ve never been to Waco, which sits by the Brazos River in central Texas, but Crockett has painted it in my mind as a place populated by cottonwood trees, long black sedans and small town gossip. His songs evoke heartbreak, nostalgia and old fashioned dreamscapes which come together as legs of his journey from humble roots to the mainstream music scene. It is without a doubt my favorite traveling music because it inspires lonesome reflection to the sounds of blues and country guitar, thumping bass and piercing lap steel.
The Western Gem (Zoe Curran), Social Media Coordinator | Host of “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” (Thursdays 8-9:30 p.m.)
- Susanne Vega – Tom’s Diner
- Masarima – Freak Like U (Club Mix)
- Skatebård – Volpi Polari
- Robyn – Ever Again (Soulwax Remix)
- Don Laka – Stages
- Confidence Man – Holiday (Tame Impala Remix)
- Yasauki Shimizu – Umi No Ue Kara
- Office Gossip – Say It
- Jennifer Loveless – Fall in Love
- Crazy P – Heartbreaker
Garth Gillespie , Board Member
- Grian Chatten – Chaos For The Fly
- Wednesday – Rat Saw God
- Strange Ranger – Pure Music
- Ratboys – The Window
- bar italia – Tracey Denim/The Twits
- Maple Glider – I get into Trouble
- The National – Laugh Track
- Yves Tumor – Hot Between Worlds
- The Lewers – 518A
- Slowdive – everything is alive
- Caroline Polachek – Desire, I want To Turn Into You
- Spiritual Cramp – Spiritual Cramp
- Sigur Rós– ATTA
- Daughter – Stereo Mind Game
- Squirrel Flower – Tomorrow’s Fire
- Heartworms – A Comforting Notion EP
- bdrmm – I Don’t Know
- Geese – 3D Country
- Rose City Band – Garden Party
- Protomartyr – Formal Growth in the Desert
Kevin P (Kevin Pusey) | Host of “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” (Sundays 4-7 p.m.)
- Futurebirds – Ghoulin’ Around
- Foo Fighters – But Here We Are
- Wilco – Cousin
- Lucinda Williams – Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart
- Inhaler – Cuts and Bruises
- Neil Young – Chrome Dreams
- Deer Tick – Emotional Contracts
- Hiss Golden Messenger – Jump For Joy
- Margo Price – Strays
- Yo La Tengo – This Stupid World
Futurebirds – Ghoulin’ Around
Futurebirds released this fun, energetic album for only Halloween 2023 and then it vanished. It should be available again next Halloween. To see the band play these songs live is simply amazing.
Foo Fighters – But Here We Are
Foo Fighters released this album after the accidental death of drummer Taylor Hawkins. It’s a collection of heartfelt songs expressing the pain, sadness, anger and sorrow of the band losing their best friend. Dave Grohl’s daughter, Violet, makes her debut on “Show Me How.” I predict this album will win the Best Rock Album Grammy Award.
Neil Young – Chrome Dreams
Neil has always paid incredible detail to sound and recording. His 44th album is a reissue of songs he recorded on acetate disc during a very productive time of his life between 1974-1976 … one of my favorite timelines. Hardcore fans are already familiar with these songs, as they were leaked out on bootlegs over the years, but to hear alternative versions and songs from that period is still refreshing.
Ethan Oxman | Host of “OX Radio” (Mondays 5-7 p.m.)
Danielle Carozza | Host of “The Ebb and Flow” (Mondays 7-9 p.m.)
Fred again.. – Entire Catalog
If 2022 was the year of Beyoncé’s “Renaissance,” then 2023 was the year of Fred again’s … entire discography. I first heard Fred again.. in the final scene of the film “Triangle of Sadness” and was immediately hooked on the beat of “Marea (we’ve lost dancing).” I was late to the game on this one but I like to think I’m making up for lost time by keeping this artist on repeat for the past year.
Pahl (Alex Blackwelder) | Co-host of “The Fondue” (Tuesdays 5-7 p.m.)
DJ P (Peter Henderson) | Co-host of “The Fondue” (Tuesdays 5-7 p.m.)
Nicholas Payton – DRIP
This was the first album I heard from Nicholas Payton, and I was immediately hooked. This album is more jazz fusion forward and the drums and bass really set the tone for the entire rhythmic hook of the record. Fun listening!
Billy Strings – Me / And / Dad
Strings goes back to his roots on this album and teams up with his father who he grew up pickin’ with. The tracks on the record are some old school bluegrass tunes and Billy Strings puts his own spin on them with blazing guitar work and soulful singing. This album is a great honor of Strings’ family roots in bluegrass country.
Eli Bernstein | Host of “Left Of The Dial” (Tuesdays 9-11 p.m.)
Black Belt Eagle Scout – The Land, the Water, the Sky
Katherine Paul, who performs as Black Belt Eagle Scout, is part of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, whose lands are in coastal Washington State. This impossibly lush, big-hearted album looks back in an ode to her family, ancestors, and the land that raised them, while also gazing forward to what it means to lean on a people’s collective consciousness and the natural world in this era of societal and environmental upheaval. Listen to the churning guitars on opener “My Blood Runs Through This Land” or the keening climax on “Don’t Give Up” and try not to imagine yourself becoming one with the forest.
Key track: “Don’t Give Up”
Lonnie Holley – Oh Me Oh My
“Oh Me Oh My” is a musical victory lap for Lonnie Holley. Born poor and coming of age in the deeply segregated South of the 1950s and ‘60s, Holley forged a career as an outsider artist who became beloved for his sculptures and installations made partly with found materials. He embarked on a music career in the early 2000s, and (of course) proved a genius at that as well. This album fuzes spoken word, chants and orchestral arrangements into a whole that’s as complex, autobiographical and thought-provoking as his visual art. Plus, the guest list is impeccable: Michael Stipe, Moor Mother, Bon Iver and more lend their talents to another inimitable work by an American legend.
Key track: “I Am A Part Of The Wonder”
Yves Tumor – Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume (Or, Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
Usually it takes me a couple of listens to fully appreciate an album, no matter how strong it is. Not so with this one: As soon as I’d gotten through the initial handful of tracks on “Praise A Lord,” way back in March, I knew I’d be writing about it for this year-end list. Yves Tumor got their start composing experimental electronic music, and they still retain the restless inventiveness of an artist who’s constantly exploring new ways to push their sound forward. Still, to put it simply, “Praise A Lord” flat-out rocks. This is a glam record with an avant-garde electronic pedigree, filled with coruscating guitar solos and helmed by a masterful bandleader performance by Tumor.
Key track: “Heaven Surrounds Us Like A Hood”
Big E (Robert Emerson) | Host of “Blues With A Feelin’” (Wednesdays 5-7 p.m.)
- Lil’ Jimmy Reed w/ Ben Levin – Back To Baton Rouge
- Bobby Rush – All My Love
- Steve Howell – Gallery of Echos
- Johnny Rawls – Walking Heart Attack
- John Primer: Live At Rosa’s – Teardrops for Magic Slim
- Douglas Avery – Take My Rider
- The Rolling Stones – Hackney Diamonds
- Lucinda Williams – Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart
- Mitch Woods – Friends Along The Way
- Larry Taylor and The Taylor Family with The Soul Blues Healers – Generations of Blues; West Side Legacy
OHNASSI (Ford Hebard) | Co-host of “Something Else Radio” (Wednesdays 9-11 p.m.)
Hudson Mohawke & Nikki Nair – Set the Roof
This track is a certified banger, it incorporates so many styles and vibes into one cohesive tune. This was the track of the summer for so many people.
Anz – Clearly Rushing
Anz has been on a tear over the past couple of years with consistent dance-floor-moving, innovative sounds. This release on Hessle Audio will be heating up dance floors for years to come.
Omar S, AF13, John FM – I Love Your Girlfriend
This song has the soul of an oldie rolled into something new. This song will stay stuck in your head for months, be careful.
Hunter S (Hunter Singleton) | Co-host of “Something Else Radio” (Wednesdays 9-11 p.m.)
Calibre – Shelflife 8
13 tracks of all killer, no filler. Funky, liquid, deep drum and bass, and jungle equally suited for DJs rinsing out gun fingers in the rave or cerebral home hi-fi listeners. Jungle/drum and bass are going through a worldwide revival and making long overdue inroads into the mainstream electronic and dance scenes in the United States. Calibre’s recent release harkens back to true mastery of the genre in long format studio releases by the likes of LTJ Bukem, Goldie, Squarepusher and others. Jungle is Massive.
DJ Rashad – Double Cup (Re-Release)
10 years later, DJ Rashad’s (RIP) seminal LP is as relevant and powerful as the day it was released. Synthesizing the lineage from Chicago house OGs like Frankie Knuckles to Ghettotech while incorporating 2000s rap samples and hyper speed club stutters from the scenes of Baltimore & Jersey, this is THE gold standard for Chicago Juke/Footwork.
Handsome Tiger – First People
Vancouver homie Handsome Tiger blends influences from his Anishinaabe Métis and North African heritage to release an epic album of global bass mixed with Indigenous voices and drums. This is the future of decolonized global beats.
DJ ECHO (Brandon Whitesell) | Host of “Dimensional Sound Groove” (Thursdays 5-6:30 p.m.)
- Matthew Dear – Bunny
- Matthew Dear – Backstroke
- The Juan Maclean – Happy House (Matthew Dear v Audion Remix)
- Richie Hawtin – Consumed In Key
- Sofia Kourtesis – Madres
- Nightmares on Wax – CLUB E.A.S.E.
- Fela Kuti – Expensive Sh*t
- The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention
- Beastie Boys – Ill Communication
- De La Soul – Buhloone Mind State
Lash (Delya Shock) | Host of “Easy Street” (Thursdays 6:30-8 p.m.)
Israel Nash – Ozarker
Israel Nash flew forwards on an airport escalator while “spinning these wheels” backwards with the album “Ozarker.” For me these songs are a place of ease, peace, movement, felt personal frustrations, freedom and stretch-your-arms-out release! Or dangle your arms down and dance around … chill and look out the window, kick the horse to run. Part frustration and freedom. It’s drive-across-the-country-and-back music.
Yard Act – The Trench Coat Museum
YARD ACT! Yes … more please! “The Trench Coat Museum.” Watch the video. I think this will go down as a classic song for them. The creativity and history … ahhhhm can we say museum? Where is my Utopia??? I’m ready for the new release to see what they’ve conjured up this time.
Stephen Sanchez – Angel Face
The first time I heard “Be More” by Stephen Sanchez, I was like “What? What song is this from the ‘60s that somehow I’ve not heard! Was it in “Grease”… why not? NO! This guy is abSOLutely cranking out an Elvis voice with dark, dark, deep heart shaking smokey love. His album “Angel Face” will make you wish you had that cigarette again and that young, old love. = Top listens are “Be More” and “High.” Damn, does anyone have a whiskey and a cigar?
Rachel Cohn | Host of “Rolling Heads Named Dave” (Thursdays 9:30-11 p.m.)
JW Francis – Swooning
“Swooning” was my summertime anthem. Biking to the farmers market/People’s Market to this song felt like a movie moment!
Bob Dylan – Most Likely You Go Your Way (and I go mine)
One of my favorite spite-driven Dylan songs, I love the accordion and other instruments in this song. Oh and also the lyrics, duh.
Chuck Roast (Chuck Hattemer) | Host of “Double Wide” (Fridays 5-7 p.m.)
Tash Sultana – MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne)
For a modern live album, Tash Sultana pulls all the plugs on this release. Literally, she’s a solo act on stage and is recording all the sounds you’re hearing on this album herself. Not to mention the angelic vocals. No wonder her live performances have secured her a Live Roots Act of the Year award from the National Live Music Awards and a Rolling Stone Global Award. Hailing from Australia, Tash Sultana breathes new life into Australian psychedelic rock with this release. Check out the track ‘Pretty Lady’ and send yourself into the galaxy.
strongboi – strongboi
It’s always fun to be a part of an artist’s first self-titled album. Alice Phoebe Lou and Ziv Yamin, the two musicians behind strongboi, bring the chill with dreamy vocals on their freshman release. This album takes me back to the old days of the future beats genre, recalling the early sounds of Kaytranada but with a 2023 indie vocal twist. The pair layers psychedelic beats with moving rhythm — a perfect album for the flow state or a long rainy drive. Check out the tracks “fool around” and “ugi” on this album.
Pat Reedy – That’s All There Is (And There Ain’t No More)
Songs with rich stories are an outlier in much of today’s music. But alas, good old Americana or bluegrass quenches the storytelling thirst, and Pat Reedy does not disappoint. On this album, indulge yourself in the praise and controversy of the Nashville music scene with “Nashville Tennessee at 3AM” (including a shout-out to Sublette County!) or get jiggy with the fiddle on Reedy’s track, “Wedding Ring.” Pat Reedy is an act you want to see live, to get even more of the story from a man who train-hopped across the U.S. with a dream in sight. Best live show in Jackson this summer!
Mark B (Mark Byall) | Host of “By All Means” (Fridays 7-9 p.m.)
- Scott McMicken And The Ever-Expanding – Shabang
- Bobby Harden And The Soulful Saints – Bridge Of Love
- Atmosphere – So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously
- The Ladies Of – Coming Out Of Our Tenderness
- WITCH – Zango
- NAS – Magic 3
- King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – PetroDragonic Apocalypse, or, Dawn Of Eternal Night: An Annihilation Of Planet Earth
- Aesop Rock – Integrated Tech Solutions
- The Sextones – Love Can’t Be Borrowed
- Sun Room – Outta Their Minds
Johnny Peanutbutter (Daniel Huckel) | Host of “Mixed Jam” (Fridays 9-11 p.m.)
Johnny Boy King (John King) | Host of “Rock N’ Blues” (Saturdays 12-2 p.m.)
JR (Jim Ramo) | Host of “Night School” (Saturdays 2-4 p.m.)
Van Morrison – Accentuate The Positive
Great to see some of the classic rockers delivering new material. Van Morrison’s album is a collection of rock and roll covers and is a lot of fun.
b3playr (Andrew Clark) | Host of “Cellar Door” (Saturdays 4-7 p.m.)
Andre 3000 – New Blue Sun
A departure for the fashionable half of Outkast, Andre “Three Stacks” Benjamin came to the conclusion that he’s too old for hip hop at 48. That said, this instrumental album is extremely mature and fresh.
Hiatus Kaiyote – Mood Valiant
These guys are so much fun. I can’t wait to hear whatever comes out after this 2021 release.
The Beatles – Now and Then
Left over from the 1996 session that saw new singles (“Real Love” and “Free As A Bird”), this song was left unfinished and unreleased. Using the latest “AI” technology to isolate John Lennon’s vocals, this track sounds polished and new.
Mike Werner | Host of “The Desert Grind” (Saturdays 7-9 p.m.)
Cleophüzz – Mystic Vulture
Cleophüzz was a band from the west of Quebec, Canada. I was introduced to them on their 2018 album “Wizard of Phuzz.” Their latest album “Mystic Vulture” is a complete masterpiece. They have managed to weave together a tapestry of beautiful desert and heavy psych rock. The secret weapon of this album is the use of the cello which smooths out the fuzzy guitar and perfect drumming of the band. Keeping with a Western soundtrack, the lead vocals have a gritty harshness that blends in with the music nicely. The first track, “The End,” could have been a signal that the band had called it quits. Unfortunately, the band broke up soon after the release. This album is stunning and can be appreciated by anyone who loves music.
Fire Down Below – Low Desert Surf Club
It is hard to believe that this band is not from any of the deserts on planet earth. The band Fire Down Below is from Ghent, Belgium, which is quite the opposite environmentally and culturally. But their music sounds like it could be directly out of Southern California and the Mojave Desert. Their new album “Low Desert Surf Club” is a groovy, harmonious improvement over their last two albums. Every song flows into each other seamlessly and will make you want to finish the entire album. It’s super fun and will have you feeling pumped up and positive.
Love Your Witch – A Journey into the Unknown
Here is a group that on the outside seems wild but on the inside they are softies full of love. Love Your Witch of Tel Aviv Yafo, Israel is a desert/stoner/thrash/punk band. Their first couple of albums are harsh but showcase good music that will destroy you in a good way. What stands apart from their older albums and their latest, A Journey into the Unknown, is they prove how talented they are with instruments and their singing. Mor Gal, their lead singer and guitarist, shows that he can sing melodies that are more on the “love song” side of things rather than just screaming into the mic. This album is a standout and game changer in the crowded world of desert/stoner rock.
DJ Bloo (Evan Ballew) | Host of “Rocket Sauce” (Saturdays 9-11 p.m.)
- Nation of Language – Strange Disciple
- Slaughter Beach, Dog – Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling
- Slowdive – everything is alive
- Florry – The Holey Bible
- MJ Lenderman – And the Wind (Live and Loose!)
- Slow Pulp – Yard
- King Krule – Space Heavy
- Hotline TNT – Cartwheel
- feeble little horse – Girl with Fish
- Wednesday – Rat Saw God
Studebacher (Bill Helm) | Substitute DJ
- Julian Lage – Layers
- Chris Botti – Vol 1
- Samara Joy – Linger Awhile
- Pete Escovito – Lifetime Anthology
- Meshell Ndegeocello – The Omnichord Real Book
- Brad Meldau – Your Mother Should Know
- John Scofield – Uncle John’s Band
- Eliane Elias – Quietude
- Incognito – Into You
- Jason Moran – From the Dancehall to the Battlefield
Brad Meldau – Your Mother Should Know
Meldau covered Beatles tunes on this release. The extensive improvisation on songs so familiar to most is a true delight and very accessible.
Julian Lage – Layers
A real “tour de force.” Julian has upped his game with a switch to a new label and collaboration with his most trusted sidemen. The interplay between the players is outstanding.
Chef Lito (Karl Schmidt) | Substitute DJ
Beatrix Goldstein | Substitute DJ
Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
This album is in one word: incredible. Although it’s over 10 years old, Kendrick’s lyrics can be consistently interpreted as poetry. Kendrick has such a unique voice and really delivers his own style of rap to the world.
Easy Star All-Stars – Dub Side of the Moon
“Dark Side of the Moon” is one of my favorite albums, but Easy Star All-Stars’ reggae take on the album brings Pink Floyd’s songs to another level. The reggae versions and the creative names make this album so sick to me.