Back by popular demand, it is once again my joy to present to you, faithful readers, my annual vacation reading and listening list. Each year is an opportunity to revisit old favorites while exploring new artists. Geography, as always, plays a significant part in the selection of the list. If, for example, we were traveling to the Southeast, Band of Horses & Alabama Shakes might make the list along with Flannery O'Connor & Walker Percy. If traveling to the Northeast, it might be St. Vincent & Philip Roth. As it is, Colorado demands its own unique set of artists--those who capture the expansiveness of the American West. And so, dear readers, here 'tis...
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise & Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne
Centennial by James Michener
Halfway to Heaven by Mark Obmascik
Colorado 14er Disasters: Victims of the Game by Mark Scott-Nash
Toughest People to Love by Chuck DeGroat
The Black Keys--Turn Blue
Parquet Courts--Sunbathing Animals
--Neither of these qualify under the criteria briefly outlined above (geography, expansiveness), but they drive well.
U2--Under a Blood Red Sky, Wide Awake in America, The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, Rattle & Hum
--The quality, the consistency, and the longevity of these albums is remarkable. They never get old. Driving through western Nebraska with TUF, clouds in the sky patterned in the likeness of a Georgia O'Keefe painting...it is a sublime experience.
The Head and the Heart--(eponymous), Let's Be Still
--These are albums about the West, sunshine, and hopefulness. A great band.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros--Up From Below, Here
--Their hippy-drippy second album, especially, conveys the art, expansiveness, and simplicity of folk/craft art in the West.
The Temper Trap--Conditions
--A great summer album.
Yo La Tengo--Fade
--Easy, melodic, and perfect for late night drives through Wyoming.
The War on Drugs--Lost in the Dream
--A layered, complex rock album.