Words by Jerry Crago
Jerry is the owner/operator of Jack’s Record Stache, a record store in Flint, Michigan. He is the co-host of Lost Joystick Network Podcast, a retro gaming podcast for Off Shelf. He is happily married with two beautiful cats.
10. Mad Max Elliott – Blue Moon Goon (Nudie Records)
Weirdo Rockabilly stuff from Mad Max. This was just so different from almost everything I liked this year. A welcome reprieve from the layers and layers of sound present in most other things represented on my list.
9. X – Alphabetland (Fat Possum Records)
I finally saw X for the first time in Detroit last year and it was an absolutely earth shattering experience for me. Despite Exene advocating for a local musician I despise running for political office, it was my show of the year. They played together only the way that a band with four decades of familiarity can. I was so pleasantly surprised that this new album can hang with any of their classic work. Thank you Fat Possum.
8. Tom Petty – Wildflowers And All The Rest (Warner Brothers)
I’m obviously cheating here, but I’m including this based entirely on the album full of extras. This is basically a posthumous Tom Petty new release. Songs cut from Wildflowers are still really good – huge shock there.
7. Pearl Jam – “Gigaton” (Republic Records)
In my humble opinion this is the best Pearl Jam album of the last 20 years. This was the year they passed every other monolith of 90s rock in my mind. They’ve been steadily good and sometimes great for 30 years now. When COVID ends there isn’t a band I want to see more.
6. Asher Gamesze – Dialectic Soul (On The Corner Records)
This record was definitely my favorite melt into the floor album of the year. It has the cosmic otherwordly elements of Lonnie Liston Smith but its certainly informed by the last 30 years of Jazz as well. Watch Asher play drums and tell me it doesn’t evoke a feeling in you.
5. Cold As Life – Demos 95-97 (Backside Records)
Detroit’s scariest band. Cold As Life were legends already when I started going to local shows in the mid 90s. This is the first official release of their early material in a very long time and it lived up to all expectations. As of this writing I believe NYs Generation Records has some copies in stock.
4. Monophonics – It’s Only Us (Colemine Records)
My favorite release from my favorite label for at least the last couple of years. I order everything Colemine puts out and I am never let down. Kelly Finnegan and company absolutely smashed this record. Smooth, soaring, dynamic soul from the best in the biz right now.
3. Chubby And The Gang – Speed Kills (Partisan Records)
The NWOBHC finally hit the mainstream (re:reviewed by pitchfork) this year, and with good reason. Check out Violent Reaction/The Flex and a bunch of other bands leading up to this if you dig Chubby. This is a punk record at its absolute best. Chubby and the Gang Rule Ok?
2. Hum – Inlet (Earth Analog Records)
Top spots for legacy bands only over here. I have loved Hum since I heard “Stars” for the first time. I was lucky enough to see them and their WALL of orange amplifiers play St. Andrews Hall in 1998 and they literally blew me back. Inlet is possibly my 2nd favorite Hum album. It is insane for band to have a 20 plus year gap and come back with something this strong-it made me so happy.
1. Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters (Epic)
To be entirely frank there is not a thing I can say about this album that has not been said, its been dissected to death by writers much more skilled than myself. I’ll say this instead, it showed up one morning on my Spotify and within a half hour I had a text from my best friend, when my wife woke up and i told her we danced in our kitchen with joy. Its not often that something comes and evokes an outpouring of feeling from everyone you know. Thanks Fiona.