I will admit that I am extremely late to the Matthew Dear party. I've had his work come across my radar, most notably when he worked with Greg Ahee of the Detroit band Protomartyr, but I stupidly didn't give it much of a chance until now. I put on a promo of this CD while I was working the other day and was totally blown away by the craftsmanship of sound. I hear traces of 90s indie experimentation like Smog and the Magnetic Fields backed by sound collage skills honed by years in the electronic scene. Finding out that he helped create the Ghostly International label reminded me that you can spend pretty much all day every day learning about new music and still not know shit. Listen: https://matthewdear.bandcamp.com/album/preachers-sigh-potion-lost-album

Buy from Bluebonnet Records: CD version: https://www.discogs.com/sell/item/1591728211 Color vinyl: https://www.discogs.com/sell/item/1591781605 Black vinyl: https://www.discogs.com/sell/item/1591781740

We are a small shop so I've asked some friends and local Lockhartians to weigh in on 2020's music explorations. Chris Hoyt co-owns Loop and Lil's Pizza here in Lockhart with other Austin ex-pats, and plays music in several iterations around town. He just released an EP this year ( https://hoytvantanner.bandcamp.com/album/big-slough ) and put this together for our End of the Year roundup:

My Favorite Albums of 2020, or rather, Compared To My Daughters Favorite Meals

Jana Horn-“Optimism” for Butter Noodles

Anyone thinking the above comparison is a harsh criticism obviously doesn’t understand the magic of butter noodles. There is a simplicity in this dish that feels like a god send considering it borders on religious zealotry when it comes to kids of a certain age. The same could be said of Jana Horns album. There’s magic in its simplicity. These tracks are addictive and pleasing without overdoing the ingredients. Sometimes less is more and “Optimism” finds Jana Horn making butter noodles for my ears and heart.

RF Shannon- “Rain on Dust” for the Campfire Veggie Dog

We had our first backyard campfire this year. It was a pretty big deal. We told not so scary ghost stories and we roasted Lightlife veggie dogs over the open flame. And for me, no album comes closer to that campfire feeling than RF Shannon’s “Rain on Dust.” “Rain on Dust” feels less like an album and more like an important time, place and special moment that we forgot to take photos of. Still, it remains with us all the same. And yes, Rain on Dust came out in 2019. But 2020 has felt like such a mind suck for us and 2019 feels like yesterday and also a million years behind us.

I stand by my veggie dog comparison!

Jess Williamson-“Sorceress” for our Seasonal Gingerbread House

Sweet, colorful and balanced. How can you not compare Sorceress to a Gingerbread house! Every track builds on the previous to create something solid and beautiful with flourishes of beauty and splendor. Foundation is everything and Jess Williamson has built something rather special and worth indulging. Much like my daughter, who indulged in half the house and passed out on the couch. Am I a bad dad?

David Byrne-“American Utopia” for Nugs & Shrugs

We watched American Utopia last night and we had an absolute blast. We danced our hearts out and we also had a heartmelting moment discussing race and men wearing makeup. It might be the highlight of this garbage year. She had veggie nuggets and steamed veggies, hence the “nugs & shrugs” because she shrugged off the steamed veggies. We have a strict “try something new everyday” rule and she rejected the new steamed greens. They were pretty gross. My bad. They were steamed to death. But her “something new” she chose was watching this dude dancing around wearing, quote-unquote, ladies makeup. Long story short, I will be sporting an obscene amount of makeup in our Christmas photo this year because, and I quote, “Papa, you can look as pretty as me.” - Chris Hoyt

Deerhoof "Future Teenage Cave Artists" (Joyful Noise Recordings)

Deerhoof have been inspiring avenues for completely original rock based music for over 25 years. Their first release for 2020 is a frightening concept album for trying times. It's a very bold and creatively ambitious statement from a group that never shies away from challenges.

Future Teenage Cave Artists, by Deerhoof

Jana Horn "Optimism" (Self-released)

This record slows down time, and surrounds you with devastatingly intelligent, well-crafted lyrics. Instead of trying to describe how this record makes me feel, I'll just admire it. And it sounds wonderful anytime, day or night.

LISTEN: https://janahorn.bandcamp.com/album/optimism BUY: https://www.bluebonnet-records.com/product-page/jana-horn-optimism BUY: Jana Horn - Optimism: LP, Album For Sale | Discogs Sun Ra "Celestial Love" (Modern Harmonic)

This 2020 reissue of a particularly well recorded 1982 Sun Ra session date is a gem amongst his massive legacy. This is one of the more inviting of all the Sun Ra recordings. There's no mistaking this for the work of any other artist, but when you put on his version of Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," you might be able to convince your grandparents Sun Ra knew what he was doing.

Celestial Love, by Sun Ra & His Arkestra

Thor & Friends "3" & "4" (Joyful Noise Recordings)

International guardian angel Thor Harris' latest two offerings from his Joyful Noise residency are brimming with gorgeous tones, melodies, and focus that marks this group's signature. Guest appearances from members of Low, GY!BE, Neutral Milk Hotel, Bill Callahan, and many others contribute to the incredible flow of these two records.


4, by Thor & Friends