Words by Jerry Crago
Jerry is the owner/operator of Jack’s Record Stache, a record store in Flint, Michigan. He is a contributor and was the co-host of Lost Joystick Network Podcast, a retro gaming podcast for Off Shelf. He is happily married with two beautiful cats.
10. Various Artists – Licorice Pizza Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Republic Records)
I am using a loophole to talk about the movie a bit. This year I watched over 250 movies for the first time and this was the best of the bunch. A beautiful, well paced 1973 time capsule with a PERFECT soundtrack. I am using the WINGS song here because I assumed I never liked Wings, but here we are.
9. Chubby And The Gang – The Mutt’s Nuts (Partisan Records)
The follow up LP from my favorite NWOBHC outfit. As always you get a melodic but still ripping album full of labor anthems that make you want to kick you boss.
8. Quicksand – Distant Populations (Epitaph)
The new Quicksand offering knocked me back. Not that I don’t expect great things from any new Walter S offering, but this record far outran their previous offering, Interiors. Hard and heavy riffing from the kings of post hardcore.
7. Durand Jones and the Indications – Private Space (Colemine Records)
This was a grower for me. Hearing the initial single (Witchoo)from this album left me befuddled. What happened to my beloved DJATI? Have they gone full disco pop? The answer was a resounding no. I even grew to love Witchoo within the context of the album. We have very mature record here, with songs vacillating from pop to more familar neo soul, doing so seamlessly.
6. Negative Approach – Tied Down Demos (TAANG! Records)
The classic hardcore LP, an elusive animal. Detroits greatest export Negative Approach achieved such a feat in 1983 with their Tied Down LP. These demos were released on an LP this year and I’ll be damned if they aren’t just as good if not better versions of the songs I love. An affirmation of the age old question “Is there anything left to mine worthy of pressing?”
5. The Screamers – Screamers Demo Hollywood 1977 (Superior Viaduct)
Speaking of things left to mine worthy of pressing, here we have a nearly 45 year old demo that had scarcely seen the light of day. The Screamers were part of the very early LA punk scene revolving around the Masque. Absolutely outrageous and art-damaged as any self respecting LA punk band should be.
4. Turnstile – Glow On (Roadrunner Records)
I was so late on Turnstile and I have no excuse. I’d heard all their previous records and liked them well enough. However, I scoffed at the notion they were the next big thing…Well here we are, they are the big thing. Late Night television appearances, magazine covers and huge tours should be the norm going forward for Turnstile. I know this because I own a record store and I have NEVER had as many disappointed customers as when I sold all my copies of this LP and went back to look and to find out they’d sold through an entire pressing (13k plus copies?) in less than a week. I know I’m not talking much about the music but it’s fantastic. Tight modern hardcore that can groove, performed at a very high level.
3. Amyl And The Sniffers – Comfort to Me (ATO Records)
Amyl claims the number one spot on my “most disappointing show cancelations of Covid” and the number three spot here. This is my highest rated punk album for a reason. Its a fantastic collection of songs and lyrically just a step forward. If you like punk rock, any form of it, you should like this album.
2. Floating Points Pharaoh Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises (Luaka Bop)
It seems almost passé to mention this album so highly on this list, but its a sincere opinion. The horn floats above a complex but comforting atmosphere of sound. This years best “melt into the floor” album. Pharaoh still has it in his 80s. While this is not my all time favorite recording of his, its an absolute testament to his talent and to his person that he is still moving and growing as an artist 50 plus years into his career.
1. Joshua Ray Walker – See You Next Time (State Fair Records)
I have to thank my friend DJ Radtke for turning me on to Joshua Ray Walker this year. If i’ve been annoying the hell out of you at any point in the last few months it has been either blabbering about Licorice Pizza or JRW. This album concludes a trilogy and if you have any interest in country music I cannot recommend it enough. Walker’s voice soars above the music. Whether lovingly referencing his home state, telling stories about loss and alcohol dependance, or making reference to his immense stature, Joshua Ray Walker writes the poetry of rural America.