2020 Sucked, But the music didn’t

It was a wild ride for me in 2020. Some may have read I was one of the unlucky ones who contracted COVID-19 and got hit hard. I’m still on the road to recovery but am looking at life differently these days. After not being able to breath on my own, being in a medical induced coma and having strokes from the labor on my heart I have learned to focus more on presences in this thing called life. As always music was a salvation and a motivator. So Here is to a better 2021 folks. Just keep breathing.

So… My list

10) Kind – Mental Nudge  (Ripple Music)

This album took a bit to grow on me. It kinda slipped through the cracks. I discovered it again on a spotify playlist and it really hit me. Killer grooves and badass tones. The track “Trigger Happy” is a highlight.

Kind Bandcamp link

9) Mountain Tamer – Psychosis Ritual (Heavy Psych Sounds)

These dudes have been on my radar since the Santa Cruz days. I also got lucky and caught them on tour with Mondo Generator and Doors To No Where at Loaded in Hollywood a week after I moved there years back. It was a fantastic show and the Tamer boys slayed.  “Psychosis Ritual” smashes big time. Its doom psych and groovy with all the right feels. The boys in Mountain Tamer are on the rise! Highlight track is “Death In The Woods”

Mountain Tamer Bandcamp Link

8) Mondo Generator – Fuck It (Heavy Psych Sounds) 

It really is a shame for Mondo on the timing of the release of this album. It really is one of the best records they have put out. No doubt front man Nick Oliveri is an absolute legend and “Fuck It” only adds to his legacy. Mondo right now has an incredibly strong line up and I hope when the dust settles Nick keeps this lineup and gives us another album. Highlight track is “Kyuss Dies!”

Mondo Generator Bandcamp

7) Brant Bjork – Self Titled (Heavy Psych Sounds)

Like Nick and Mondo, Brant was really hurt by this album coming out during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a really rad and groove driven album that is simple and tasteful. The solo effort shows what Brant does best. Just hits a mellow groove that is styled and jives. Brant is definitely an ambassador of stoner rock and he may just also be an ambassador of cool. I really enjoyed this album. Highlight track is “Duke Of Dynamite” 

Brany Bjork Bandcamp Link

6) King Buffalo – Dead Star 

King Buffalo’s 6 song EP Dead Star blew me away. In fact the last thing I was working on before I got sick was an interview with frontman Sean McVay. I hope to revisit that soon. Dead Star is a beautiful and adventurous record. The King Buffalo dudes should be very proud of Dead Star. Great tones, great production and amazing use of dynamics and tension. I highly suggest you listen to this album top to bottom and enjoy the ride. Highlight track is “Eta Carinae”

King Buffalo Bandcamp link

5) Slift – Ummon (Stolen Body Records)

This 3 piece from France went full on beast mode on this record. It is a masterpiece full of magic and skill. The craft of the musicianship is unreal. It rocks hard with bits of pysch and jazz mixed in. The guitar has a bit of that old surf guitar vibe going on and I dig that. Put this record on. Crank it and get lost in it. So much going on. Highlight track is “Citadel On A Satellite”

Slift Bandcamp Link

4) Elephant Tree – Habits (Sheep Tooth Records)

Everything about this record is amazing. These dudes crushed and have become one of my favorite bands. Habits really helped me get through the grind of Covid recovery and push myself in rehab. It was a very pleasant escape from reality and I hope one day to see Elephant Tree live. I also hope this record gets more recognition and the credit it deserves. It’s heavy with depth and great melodies.   Highlight track is “Bird”   

Elephant Tree Bandcamp link

3) Big Scenic Nowhere – Vision Beyond Horizon (Heavy Psych Sounds)

This was actually my most played record of the year. The guitar tones move me. This music speaks to my soul. The super group led by Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) and Gary Arce (Yawning Man) are onto something very special. What I really love about Big Scenic Nowhere is that they push the boundaries of their sound. You can hear the desert roots but they don’t hold back. They play with soundscapes and don’t limit themselves into a cookie cutter stoner rock format. The songs are beautiful and timeless. I hope we get more and more music from Big Scenic Nowhere. They also just released a 3 song EP titled “Lavender Blues” that is great. Highlight track is “Shadows From The Alter”

Big Scenic Bandcamp link

2) All Them Witches – Nothing As The Ideal (New West Records) 

Love that All Them Witches went heavy on this one without losing that woody blues vibe. This record has a great feel and amazing tones. The vocals and the lyrics also shine. All Them Witches seem to get better and better and I love how diverse they are album to album without losing that All Them Witches vibe. This band is truly inspiring. I can’t wait to hear what they do next. Highlight track is “Enemy Of My Enemy”

All Them Witches Bandcamp Link

  1. Lowrider – Refractions (Blues Funeral Recordings)

I waited 20 years for this band to surface with new music. The wait was more than worth it. Holy shit this album thumps. Killer riffs, grooves and arrangements. Even though Lowrider only had one full length and a split under their belt I put them up near the top of the stoner rock mountain. Refractions only solidified this for me. I have a feeling Lowrider made the top of a lot of 2020 best album lists. As they should have! Highlight track – “Sernanders Krog”  

Lowrider’s Bandcamp link

So that is my list for 2020. Hope you all have wonderful holidays and take health and peace into 2020. Below is My 2020 playlist that includes bands from my top ten along with some other tracks I dug.

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