Top Whatever’s of 2021

Way back in 2011 I attended the grand opening of Darkside Records in Poughkeepsie, NY. Since then, they moved to a new, larger location in Poughkeepsie, added tons of new products to their selection, host loads of events, and just overall have become everything good about music retail. Obviously, I follow them on social media, and each January the staff share their top albums of the previous year. They also encourage their customers to share their top picks and then they share them on Darkside’s social media accounts.

For the past few years I’ve wanted to participate, but when I sit down to consider the best albums of the previous year, I realize I hadn’t even listened to 10 new albums, let alone enough new music to proclaim some of them my favorites. So, when 2021 started, I vowed to make listening to new albums a priority and it worked. I listened to 25 new albums in 2021, and picked my favorite ten. And here they are in no particular order:

Stunna GirlStunna This, Stunna That – Essential Track – “Still Smoke”

As soon as I heard “Still Smoke” I was hooked. I still listen to this song nearly daily. “Axel F” by Harold Faltermeyer/”Rockit” by Herbie Hancock has never sounded so bad ass.

Dropkick Murphys Turn Up That Dial – Essential Track – “Queen of Suffolk County”

I’m not going to claim that the Dropkick Murphys did something revolutionary on Turn Up That Dial, however if you like what they do, their 2021 album keeps it going.

WeezerVan Weezer – Essential Track – “Hero”

Can Weezer ever top their debut album? It’s been a much-debated topic in coffee houses everywhere, or at least where I get coffee. The fact is, Weezer is at their best when they keep the touchstone of their debut sound with fun tweaks. The Van Weezer album does that. No, it still isn’t better than the blue album.

Paul WellerFat Pop Vol. 1 – Essential Track – “Shades of Blue”

If you’ve never heard of Paul Weller, get on it. He has a prestigious legacy as being a man who can write a song.

St. VincentDaddy’s Home – Essential Track – “Pay Your Way in Pain”

St. Vincent is a talented and versatile artist. Her 2021 album Daddy’s Home continues her catalog of wickedly impressive work.

AshnikkoDemidevil – Essential Track – “Daisy”

I wish I had saved the tweet to share because shortly after Demidevil released someone on Twitter said they loved how Ashnikko basically released an album saying she wanted to get laid, and um, no lies detected. The album is a trip, and although “Daisy” is what roped me in, I would remiss if I didn’t mention her biting, reimaging of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” as “L8r Boi” or her humorous ode to men not being able to locate a clitoris with “Clitoris! The Musical.”

Liz PhairSobberish – Essential Track – “The Game”

Real talk people, I didn’t anticipate enjoying Liz Phair’s latest album, but damn if I didn’t listen to it repeatedly after taking it for a spin. If you want to recapture the Lilith Fair vibe without feeling dated, this is the album to check out.

Richard ThompsonLive from London – Essential Track “Turning of the Tide”

Richard Thompson is a legend and to be fully transparent I should tell you that he could probably release an album of him singing tax codes and I would rate it as a top album. If you know, you know.

Sleigh BellsTexis – Essential Track – “Locust Laced”

I cannot articulate how much I loved the Sleigh Bells 2010 album Treats, other than to say, a lot. Every album they’ve released since then never really recaptured that magic I felt from their debut album, until Texis. And although I’ll readily admit that it isn’t as good as Treats, the fact that it’s closer than the others makes it a noteworthy release to me.

Lil’ Nas X Montero – Essential Track – “Montero (Call Me By Your Name”)

I suspect Montero will be on a lot of top albums of 2021 lists, and it’s not because of his courage for being an openly gay man in hip-hop, and not because of his amazing music videos, it’s because Montero is just a really good album.

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring to your attention a few artists I’ve fallen in love with in 2021 who didn’t release full albums, but did drop great singles.

Carolesdaughter – “Please Put Me in a Medically Induced Coma” – they also released a great cover of “Creep” and a super catchy tune called “Trailer Trash”.

Ki Storii – “Whole ‘Nother Level”

CupcaKKe – “Huhhhhh”

So, what did you listen to in 2021? Let’s talk about it on The Magical Buffet’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Also, check out Darkside Records!

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Peace and Spiritual Warrior Workout

This is a review that is WAY past due. OG Magical Buffet interviewee, and crazy well-known new age artist Paul Avgerinos is back with not one, but two albums!

First is “Peace.” This instrumental album was created to aid the listener in finding comfort and relaxation. This 10-track album is for those who enjoy meditation with music, massage therapists looking to create a cocoon of bliss for their clients, and anyone who just wants to close their eyes and exhale.

Take a moment to enjoy the first single from the album:

The second album to discuss is “Spiritual Warrior Workout w/ Deepak Chopra.” This isn’t the first time Avgerinos and Chopra have partnered up. You may remember that back in 2019 I shared that the two had collaborated to create “Musical Meditations on The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.” The “Spiritual Warrior Workout” is crafted to provide an hour long “high-vibration” soundtrack to your workout. The songs feature Chopra speaking affirmations.

I honestly cannot decide how I feel about this one. The music is beautiful and upbeat; however, I find the spoken affirmations to be jarring sometimes. This album will be an acquired taste. It won’t be accompanying any of my workouts soon, but perhaps it will yours.

Try out the track “Observe Workout” from the album:

You can learn more about Paul Avgerinos and his music on his website.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates!

Auroral Magic

It’s no secret that I love music, and I enjoy a diverse variety. However, I will admit to never being on top of the new age music scene. Fortunately, from time to time someone will reach out to me and make sure I listen to something. So, a big thank you to Windy for emailing me about this one!

Today we’re looking at, or at least listening to, Michigan artist Chakuna Machi Asa’s new album “Auroral Magic”. I’m not familiar with this artist, so do not as me if that is her actual name. She draws on her Nordic/Scandinavian ancestry in her music, so um, yeah. Personal identifiers aside, “Auroral Magic” is a wonderful journey. I listened to the whole album on an overcast day with scattered storms and it fit that mood perfectly. “Auroral Magic” is atmospheric and cinematic. I guess what I am saying is that it would make an excellent soundtrack? Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m trying to say. Chakuna Machi Asa blends piano, nature sounds, chants, and strings to create a magical album. At the end of the say, shouldn’t any new age album feel magical?

You can listen/watch the video for the title track here:

You can learn more here

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This past Friday a single was released from Shunia’s forthcoming album. I listened to it at work and it was so uplifting and had such a great energy to it that I decided to share it! The song is “Sa Re Sa Sa” and it’s from Shunia’s self-titled album that is releasing January 15, 2021. They worked with Tony Award-winning producer Jamshied Sharifi on it.

Here’s the video:

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

You can learn more and stay up to date on further releases at

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Have you been spending more time at home? Well, you should be, there IS a pandemic going on after all. I should be using this time to accomplish loads of things, but honestly, I’m not. Sure, some people are learning new skills, or getting shape, but there is nothing wrong with just maintaining. That’s pretty much what I do…. maintain.

An odd, but welcome development is that I have been all about watching documentaries. In a world of limitless new entertainment content, for some reason I have settled on this. I have been watching loads of them, from various streaming services. In case you have been looking for a diversion from your usual entertainment I thought I would highlight the tons of documentaries I have been watching.

Remastered: Devil at the Crossroad (Netflix)
Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to become the greatest bluesmen to ever live. This fantastic documentary dives into the life, death, and legend of Robert Johnson, who was one of the greatest bluesmen to ever live.

Kathy Griffin: A Hell of Story (Amazon Prime)
I have ALWAYS loved Kathy Griffin, and this “docu-comedy” just makes me love her even more. Follow the fallout from the publication of the infamous photograph of her holding Trump’s severed head and into her comeback. All of it culminates with a fantastic stand up special that is not to be missed!

Bill Nye: Science Guy (Netflix)
An intriguing look behind the scenes of Bill Nye’s life. It covers his roots as the “Science Guy” to his strong second act of becoming the public face of science in the climate change debate. What’s nice about this documentary is that it shows Nye as a human being, prone to ego and fear as well as a kind-hearted proponent of science.

Tickled (Hulu)
This documentary begins with the directors attempting to make a film about the world of “competitive endurance tickling”. Believe it or not, it gets jaw droppingly weirder from there. Welcome to the unintentional conspiracy film you never knew you needed.

The Brink (Hulu)
This film follows Steve Bannon from getting booted from Donald Trump’s administration through his attempt to create an international super group of nationalist world leaders, and the United States mid-term elections. It is presented judgement free, but trust me, you will judge him.

Get Me Roger Stone (Netflix)
Some people love to be the villain, and Roger Stone is one of them. This neutrally presented documentary will leave your jaw on the ground…. or else you might not have a soul.

Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski (Netflix)
A genius sculptor, the underground comix scene, Nazis, redemption, the nature of language, and more are to be found in this riveting documentary. Hands down an amazing story. It is hard to encapsulate, you will just need to trust me when I say, watch it.

Have you seen any of these? If you have, or watch some of them, leave me on comment on The Magical Buffet’s social media letting me know what you though!

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates!

Musical Meditations on The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

Old school readers will recognize the name Paul Avgerinos. He is the Grammy winning new age musician who has been kind enough to be interviewed for The Magical Buffet on and off since 2007. When he emailed me about his latest project, I thought it would be of interest.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Deepak Chopra’s 1994 New Age classic NY Times bestseller, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”, Avgerinos has teamed up with Chopra and Grammy winner Kabir Sehgal to release “Musical Meditations on The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”.

In “Musical Meditations on The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”, there is a summation of the essential meaning of each law, followed by a meditation on the essence of that law with guidance on integrating this wisdom into your life and being. Newcomers to this material will find an accessible path to understanding and for those familiar with the material, it’s a pleasant refresher course. There is also a bonus Mindfulness meditation included.

Here’s a little taste for you:

Fat Man Blues

Review by James Garside

Would you sell your soul to the Devil? At what price? How about if you knew you were dying and didn’t have long to live? It’s not like the dead have anything left to lose. But if the Devil’s so interested in your immortal soul that he’s willing to offer you anything in return then maybe, just maybe, someone’s getting fucked on the deal.

Hobo John is a terminally-ill English guy, with a troubled past, whose bucket list is all about the blues. He’s a blues aficionado on a journey across Mississippi to see what is considered by many to be the birth place of the blues. Delta Blues came from the Mississippi Delta and is one of the earliest styles of blues music.

On a drunken night in Clarksdale Hobo John enters into a Faustian pact with a devilish character, called Fat Man, who makes him an offer that he can’t refuse. In exchange for his life, which is at its end anyway, he must cross over to the afterlife of the Mississippi Delta to record blues artists both famous and unknown from the 1930s.

It’s a real ‘devil at the crossroads’ moment but, unlike Vegas, what happens at the crossroads doesn’t stay there. To begin with Hobo John has a blast hanging out with the souls of dead musicians but working for Fat Man is dirty business, with untold consequences, and there’s always a price to be paid.

There’s much more to the story, including twists and turns that I don’t want to spoil here, but the plot isn’t really the point. It’s all about the music. You don’t have to be a blues fan to enjoy the story but you’ll sure as hell learn a lot about the blues along the way.

Robert Johnson fans will especially get a kick out of it as they catch references to songs like “Crossroad Blues,” “Me and the Devil Blues,” and “Hellhound on My Trail.” Legend has it that in the Deep South in the 1930s Robert Johnson met the Devil at the crossroads and sold his soul to become the greatest Delta Blues artist that ever lived.

The author may spit at me for saying this but, at least structurally, the book has much in common with Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. In that book the story is used as a way to give you a history of philosophy whereas here a similar conceit is used to give you a taste of the blues. Just enough to wet your whistle — like drinking whisky straight from the bottle.

Richard Wall writes like a motherfucker. I mean that in a good way. He’s clearly passionate about the blues and has a deep knowledge of music history and blues lore. I’d love for the novel to be released as a dramatised audiobook with an accompanying soundtrack featuring Delta Blues songs hand-picked by the author.

Fat Man Blues is a wild ride. It’s violent and bloody in parts but the writing is tight and visceral and remains faithful to, and worthy of, the music that inspired it.

You can buy the book here ( or here in the U.S.) and check out his other work at

About James Garside:
James Garside is an independent journalist and writer. You can find him at his website and chat with him on Twitter.

They Will Have to Kill Us First

I was tardy to the party on getting the word out on this one. It opened in Los Angeles on April 1, 2016, however it is continuing to pop up around the United States. Keep your eyes open for this one!

Timed to coincide with Music Freedom Day 2016, BBC Worldwide North America released Johanna Schwartz’s timely and powerful feature documentary “They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile”.

Music is the beating heart of Malian culture, but when Islamic jihadists took control of northern Mali in 2012, they enforced one of the harshest interpretations of sharia law by banning all forms of music. Radio stations were destroyed, instruments burned, and Mali’s musicians faced torture, even death. Overnight, the country’s revered musicians were forced into hiding or exile, where most remain — even now. But rather than laying down their instruments, these courageous artists fought back, standing up for their freedoms and using music as a weapon against the ongoing violence that has ravaged their homeland.

“They Will Have To Kill Us First” is director Schwartz’s debut feature, and follows Songhoy Blues and musicians Kharia Arby, Fadimata “Disco” Walet Oumar, and Moussa Sidi as they each deal with the unfathomable situation in different ways. Telling the story of the uprising of Touareg separatists, revealing footage of the jihadists, and capturing life at refugee camps where both money and hope are scarce, Schwartz and her indefatigable, mainly female, crew chart the perilous journeys to war-ravaged cities, as some of Mali’s most talented musicians set up and perform at the first public concert in Timbuktu since the music ban.

Co-written by Schwartz and Andy Morgan, renowned journalist and former manager of Grammy® Award winning band Tinariwen, “They Will Have To Kill Us First” is produced by Sarah Mosses of Together Films and executive produced by Andre Singer (The Act of Killing) alongside Stephen Hendel, Victoria Steventon, OKAY Africa and Knitting Factory Entertainment.

“They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile”, features an original score by Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and a commissioned soundtrack featuring Songhoy Blues, Kharia Arby, Fadimata “Disco” Walet Oumar, Moussa Sidi and many more.

To learn more and see where it’s playing, visit:



While contemplating what to say about Paul Avgerinos new album “Grace” I decided to look up the actual definition of the word grace on

1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action
2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment
3. favor or goodwill.
4. a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior:
5. mercy; clemency; pardon:
6. favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.
7. an allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied:

verb (used with object), graced, gracing.
14. to lend or add grace to; adorn:
15. to favor or honor:
to grace an occasion with one’s presence.

And yes, I found myself thinking, yes, I could feel most of these being evoked when listening to the album. With titles such as “Serenity”, “Guru’s Grace”, “Angelic Presence” and “Always Blessed” it’s not hard to imagine. “Grace” is a soothing, relaxing journey. What I enjoy the most is that each time I listen I’ll notice something I hadn’t heard before; a smooth drone buried in the background, or a playful twinkle flitting throughout a tune.

It should be noted that not only will listeners hear the talents of Avgerinos, but the album also features Grammy winners David Darling, Laura Sullivan and Ricky Kej!

Here is the song “Grace Is” from the album:

“Grace” from Paul Avgerinos is perfect for quiet reflection, yoga, meditation, work (I listen to it while writing), and I suspect much more. Consider giving it a try.

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah

I learned of an interesting exhibit going on at the National Museum of Jewish American History that I thought was fun and interesting. Something that those of you in Philadelphia may want to check out this holiday season.

The history of Hanukkah and Christmas songs and the Jewish musicians, artists, and songwriters who wrote and performed them is the focus of the National Museum of American Jewish History’s newest installation, ‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah, opening November 4, 2014. The installation combines a cozy living room setting with modern technology to deliver a compelling story about the blending of the American and Jewish musical season, the soundtracks of religious holidays, and the musical standards we know today.

Featuring well-known artists such as Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman, Bob Dylan, the Ramones, and Lou Reed, as well as Christmas gems by the likes of Jewish salsa giant Larry Harlow, and Jewish stage and screen icons Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson, this multimedia installation will set to music American Jewish efforts to invent, re-invent, and celebrate a season marked by family, gift-giving, food traditions, and well-loved music—across multiple faiths.

“The Christmas music industry, as a quintessentially American enterprise, provided a way for Jewish songwriters, many of them immigrants or children of immigrants, to feel American. By showing how an outsider community can enter mainstream American culture, Christmas songs highlight a classic American Jewish narrative,” says Ivy Weingram, associate curator of NMAJH and co-curator of ‘Twas.

In a gallery styled as a cozy living room, visitors will be able to enjoy interactive song and video platforms, as well as images of holiday-related artifacts from the Museum’s collection of 30,000 objects, delivered on curated iPads accompanied by text and graphics of holiday celebrations. In addition to the audio visual component of the installation, visitors will have hands-on access to record albums, a wide selection of books on American popular music and Jewish history, and kids’ toys and books.

A ‘Twas-themed self-guided tour highlighting holiday-related objects in the permanent collection will also be available.

The installation is inspired by the critically-acclaimed 2012 music compilation produced by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, which draws on jazz, folk, rap, Latin, and Klezmer musical styles. “At the Idelsohn Society, our goal has always been re-examining the Jewish-American musical past in new contemporary contexts,” says Idelsohn co-founder, Josh Kun. “Collaborating with NMAJH offers a rare opportunity to do this in a premier Museum setting where these songs and their commentaries on Jewish life, identity, and ritual will take on new meanings with new publics.”

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah will build on the cutting-edge interactive media for which the Museum has been widely recognized. This family-friendly, seasonal installation will run through March 1 and is designed to be enjoyed by visitors of all backgrounds.

For those of you who are interested, I have the “‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah” musical compilation CD in the “I Recommend” widget on the site here. It’s also available for download through Amazon.