Nominees for 2011 SCM Album of the Year

November 28, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  115 Comments

There is nothing I take more seriously than naming what I think is the best album of any calendar year. The Album of the Year offers a guidepost for future generations to find the best music that was forgotten by the mainstream, while at the same time being a current ambassador to the mainstream to illustrate what great music they are overlooking. An Album of the Year can’t just be the best album to listen to, it has to be impactful, influential, and/or groundbreaking.

The decision of who to nominate is always difficult, but this year it seemed especially difficult because of the additional albums I could have included beyond these three. Both Rachel Brooke’s Down in the Barnyard and Lone Wolf’s self-titled album were excellent, breakthrough releases. Cody Canada & The Departed’s This Is Indian Land I thought was especially strong, though I may be alone in that thought. And there were a couple of landmark blues albums this year, Husky Burnette’s Facedown in the Dirt, and Scott Biram’s Bad Ingredients, and make no mistake, though it would have to fight an uphill battle, a blues album could win.

But in the end, if I had included one of those albums, I’d have to include them all to be fair to the requirements of all the nominees, and that would have diluted attention from the three albums that truly have a chance to win. And certainly those albums and many more will be included on the “2011 Essential Albums List” forthcoming.

Saving Country Music is a benevolent dictatorship, and I will make the end decision of the winner, but feedback will be taken into strong consideration, so please, leave your votes, comments, your own candidates, or write-in votes below. Just don’t make fun of the cheesball “2011 Album of the Year” logo I slapped together, or you comment will be disqualified.

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Austin LucasA New Home in the Old World

Of all the albums in 2011, this was the one I listened to the most. It is one of those albums where a few of the songs hit you the first time through, then after you’ve worn out those songs, the ones you didn’t like at first grow on you, and by the time those wear out, you’re favorites in the first place are renewed once again until 6 months have gone by and you never stopped listening. In this day of so much parody in music, this is such a rare feat.

A New Home in the Old World scores two guns up on every element of this album: the songwriting, the singing, the instrumentation, the production and accessibility. You can put this album on for one of your pop country friends, and they will like it, and you will too, and Lucas proved his wide appeal by appearing on Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour this summer. And it is solidly country, pure country, with steal guitars and fiddles and down home, but not apish harmony vocals, even though he comes to us from a punk music background, and through the Suburban Home Records scene.

Simply based on appeal, and our ability to hold up an album to Music Row and say, “See, there is music out there that is better, but still widely appealing, that could save your business model,” there is no better album in 2011 than A New Home in the Old World. (read review)

Slackeye SlimEl Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadosa

El Santo Grial is a masterpiece, a magnum opus, of the highest proportions. And it’s not just that this is the greatest masterpiece of 2011, it very well may be the best masterpiece that has been put out in the independent/underground country world, ever. And I’d go even another step to say there’s a good chance it will never be rivaled in that regard. The artistry, the vision, and the patience and uncompromising approach to see it through makes El Santo Grial one for the ages.

However artistry and vision is one thing, and appeal is another. Is this an album you can play for your pop country friends? Uh yeah, probably not. They’re not ready for it, and even many people who are not pop country fans are probably not ready for it. Ulysses may be the greatest novel of all time, but damn if most of us can’t make it past the first chapter. But even though El Santo Grial may not have mass appeal, I do think it could appeal to a mass variety of people by transcending genre and traditional ideas of taste, like what Tom Waits does, until it does command a big audience. And I do think there are songs here that can be picked out of the work and stand alone.  (read review)

Hellbound GloryDamaged Goods

Originally I was not going to include Damaged Goods on this list; the 2011 Album of the Year was going to be a two horse race. Don’t get me wrong, I think the album is excellent, but I just don’t know if it is their best effort. I’m not saying it “isn’t” their best effort, I’m saying “I don’t know” if it’s their best effort, like I can say about A New Home and El Santo Grial. And I have to balance that against the fact that Leroy Virgil wanted to make an album that was an approximation of their live show, which these days is fairly stripped down because of budgetary restraints.

But when you take into consideration influence and appeal, it would be an injustice to leave Damaged Goods off. Austin Lucas could blow up, but Hellbound Glory would blow up if the right buttons were pushed by someone who has the power, and understands their aesthetic. Leroy Virgil could be the next Justin Townes Earle, a solid underground success story, or he could be the next Alan Jackson. I just wish he knew that the possibilities were in arms length of him, and I wish I knew how to get him that last step–not to afford him arbitrary measures of success like money and fame, but because the world needs Hellbound Glory’s music. (read review)

115 Comments to “Nominees for 2011 SCM Album of the Year”

  • wow… i gotta pick between Slackeye and Hellbound. On the interview I just did with Leroy I told him that Damaged Goods was one of the best albums of the year, but I love the Slackeye album as well. I think Slackeye’s is the most ground breaking and the most unique. Hellbound’s album is rockin, well written, and a damn good time… grrrrr… ok… i am glad I am not in your shoes… if balls to the wall I take Slackeye..

  • My top 5 include:
    Rachel Brooke – Down in the Barnyard
    Hank3 – Ghost To A Ghost/Gutter-town
    Scott H. Biram – Bad Ingredients
    The Boomswagglers – Bootleg Beginnings
    Hellbound Glory – Damaged Goods

    If I had to pick a best out of those, I don’t know if it would be Rachel Brooke or Hellbound Glory. Those five are the albums I have connected with the most this year thoguh..

    • When I think of album of the year I think ground breaking, great from beginning to end, and innovative. The Boomswagglers would be a good consideration for sure. Why they gave it away is beyond me but I’m greatful. Hellbound’s album is a break from their norm lyrically and there isn’t a song on the album that lags. SHB’s album kicks ass and Rachel’s was long awaited and awesome too but they didn’t pop out above the rest. As for the Hank3 album(s), there wasn’t much there that was ground breaking or really innovative. I thought that lyrically is was simple and thrown together. I don’t even consider Gutter-Town an album because over half of it was sounds. Slackeye Slim’s album was ground breaking, innovative, and kept you listening intently from the first note to the last word. Music is like women. We all have our favorites but we also like many kinds. I don’t diss anyones opinions because we are luck we have the luxuary of having so many options.

      • I don’t look for ground breaking so much as I do albums that connect with me. Each of those albums connected with me in a different way, more than others have this year. Even if The Boomswagglers album was a one-off record and it never gets an official release, it has songs that I love and go back to often enough to consider it on my list.

        • right on man. that is what its all about

    • I’d have to agree with Sandman’s top 5. And if we’re talking about an album that is the strongest representation of country music this year, I would suggest that it would have to boil down to either Rachel Brooke or Hellbound Glory’s releases.

      Hank3 and Slackeye have been experimental and artistic with their efforts, and that deserves a special nod..but looking at the whole picture for 2011, it’s hard to cast a vote for them for SCM Album of the Year.

      Scott Biram holds a special place in my heart, too…but as Triggerman pointed out, “Bad Ingredients” is not exactly a country album and makes it hard to vote there as well.

    • All of those album will be on the SCM 2011 Essential List for sure, though probably not Ghost to a Ghost, but Guttertown is another album I could have considered as a album of the year candidate.

      This is the problem with the Boomswagglers. I absolutely love the album, but at this point, it’s hard to say it even exists. Hillgrass Bluebilly took it off their bootleg page, and I’ll let the parties involved explain why, but the problem with The Boomswagglers from the beginning has been commitment. That is one of the reasons the album was given away in the first place. We love them because they are authentic, but that authenticity needs to be tamed, at least enough where they can honor their commitments, and right now, “The Boomswaggers” is not even the same Boomswagglers that are on that album.You can’t even get the album except from a friend or maybe a torrent site. This makes it difficult to give it awards or attention. Still, don’t be surprised if you see The Boomswagglers in other SCM end-of-year awards and lists.

      • It might be interesting if you had some poll where the SCM readers could vote on this, Trig. Present the options and let the people voice their choice…and then maybe even compare the polls to your picks? That way no one can/will gripe at you when they inevitably disagree with the outcome ;)

        • Well, people are always going to disagree with me no matter what I do, and that is expected and encouraged. The Album of the Year, Song of the Year, etc. is just another way to promote the music and get people engaged and thinking about it, and giving a little credit to the artists that really poured their hearts out this year.

          I’m not sure how I would set up a poll here, but I think the message board might have a poll module I could set up. I’ll look into that.

      • The Guttertown disc is one that has really grown on me since release. I love Move Them Songs, I Promised, Dying Day, The Low Line, I’ll Be Gone and Fadin’ Moon. It’s more than I thought I would like upon first listen. It’s not as good as the second disc on Straight To Hell, but it’s still great.

  • Everyone that knows me knows of my love for Hellbound Glory and they are correct. I usually see Hellbound about once a month due to living so close to them. They are a great bunch of guys and a hell of alot of fun to party with. I thought I was going to know all the songs off Damaged Goods well before it came out, because of hearing them play unreleased songs live. I had two songs I loved hearing live and couldn’t wait until the album to have them to listen to all the time. When I saw the album cover with a bunch of song names I didn’t recognize I was pretty shocked. Then I started wondering what sound we were going to hear on the new album, was it going to be different than the band I see play. Then I got my hands on the album and was blown away. Everything I love about Hellbound Glory was there and as good as ever. It was everything I wanted and more out of a new Hellbound album. I was blown away, that album was played nonstop until my wife couldn’t even take it anymore.
    But El Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadosa by Slackeye Slim gets my vote. The first time I put that album on my jaw hit the floor, it remained there until the album was done spinning. Everything on this album commands my attention. Once I start it there is no turning it off until it is done. I have to hear it all the way through everytime. There is no down time on this album that you want to walk away from. I was pretty sure this album was getting my vote as “album of the year” since I heard it. I believe this album is so far ahead of anything else going on right now.
    I cast my vote for Slackeye Slim.

  • For me it is Santo Grial. In any genre, it is my favorite of this year. People think music today is not as strong as music in years past. I would say with all the outlets available to artists today (bandcamp, reverbnation, myspace, etc) it is far more likely to find groundbreaking music from a “nobody” then a signed artist. What Slackeye Slim has done is make art, made something without the listeners consideration. Made an album that he needed to put out. It was in him. That album is a masterpiece that in time will be appreciated with each listener. It may never see a stage, but it will always last in history, at least by people with decerning musical taste, as a landmark album.

  • Slackeye Slim gets my vote. Out of all the albums mentioned above it’s the only one that grasped my attention from start to finish.

  • Out of the three nominees i would have to say hellbound glory for me. i think i listened to it about fifty times since it came out. i don’t think there has been another like that for me since maybe hank’s straight to hell. I don’t think I have even made it all the way through Ghost To A Ghost/Gutter-Town. Like Blake I don’t think most of it could even be considered music.

  • I’d have to go with Slackeye with the picks provided.

    My personal top 5 was disrupted this year. I thought for sure Slim Cessna’s Auto Clubs “Unentitled” was going to be my #1 hands down, but then I got a hold of Willem Makers “Agapao” and it just blew me away. I know both these albums would be hard pressed to make the SCM Album of the Year as neither are very country.

    For what it’s worth:

    1. Agapao – Willem Maker
    2. Unentitled – Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
    3. El Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadosa – Slackeye Slim
    4.Del Gaucho – Lucky Tubb & the Modern Day Troubadours
    5.Chris Thile & Michael Daves – Sleep With One Eye Open

    • “Unentitled” by Slim Cessna was certainly an early front runner for Album of the Year for me, and is a great offering. In the end it was probably held back by being a little obscure, and not very country. But it’s a 2011 standout nonetheless.

      • Actually on reconsideration, I’d have to scratch my #4&5 and replace it with a superb late-comer. Cerebral Southern Rock…

        4. Briarwood – Wooden Wand & the Briarwood Virgins

        The cover of Big Mouth USA is outstanding!!/woodenwand?sk=app_178091127385

        5. Del Gaucho – Lucky Tubb & the Modern Day Troubadours

        • Bumhead gets my vote for best name of the year!

          • Thanks Carla! Y’know, it’s feels good to be appreciated after ya put in the effort.

  • Slackeye Slim ;)

  • Joe gets my vote! Viva El Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadosa – Slackeye Slim. Looking forward to seeing him live at Farmageddon MF 2012 hold on!!!

  • slackeye slim!!!! he is one of the most original artists ive ever heard. that album is flawless!

  • I vote strongly and ferociously for Slackeye Slim. I have a soft spot for concept albums, even though this one has several cuts that could stand alone (Vengeance Gonna Be My Name gets my vote for song of the year) El Santo Grial is genre defying, though. Even my mainstream-country -loving wife loves this album.

  • Slackeye Slim – El Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadosa :)


  • Slackeye Slim – El Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadosa!
    makes you want to eat beans around a campfire made from hell’s flames

  • Slackeye Slim gets my vote as well.

  • El Santo Grial: La Pistola Piadosa by Slackeye Slim is, by far, my favorite album of 2011. I loved their debut Texas Whore Pleaser, but this year’s album sounds like they actually accomplished what Joe Frankland was hoping for with his band’s previous effort. It at times crosses generational boundaries and sounds as though it borrows elements from genres only found in foreign lands, reaches way back and extends far forward, all the while staying more true to the integrity and reputation of authentic country music than could be accomplished this year by the strong and varied output by the blood of country music legends.

    That’s not to say that there weren’t other great albums released, however.

    Down in the Barnyard really is typical Rachel Brooke, and that ain’t a bad thing. Any album of Rachel Brooke quality is at least worthy of the nomination. She certainly didn’t hold anything back on this record, not that you’d ever expect her to. You should add an award category next year recognizing the artist whose writing and singing comes closest to Rachel’s quality. Call it the “You Ain’t Quite Rachel Brooke, But You’re Still Really Good” award.

    The Departed’s This is Indian Land is decent, but it’s not of the quality I expected it to be from a band that contains half of Cross Canadian Ragweed and is rounded out by a handful of other well respected and admired Red Dirt Texas musicians.

    Scott Biram’s Bad Ingredients is just plain badass. It’s true SHB, yet is takes a step forward and to the side just a bit. The sax, for example, included in “I Want My Mojo Back” breathes new life into a tune I’ve heard Scott play numerous times while I thought it really couldn’t get any better. But he went Cab Calloway on it, made “Mojo” his “Minnie the Moocher” and delivered an overall album that’s sure to stir old and new fans alike. And while it might be considered by some to be too blues or too rock for a country genre album of the year award, whatever percentage of country you can identify in it makes it far better an album than just about any other “country” album released this past year. However, I can also honestly say that as an entire album, I still prefer 2009’s Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever and consider Bad Ingredients definitely worthy of a nod, but not the win.

    I could go on and on and break down each artist and album, but I just got notification that dinner’s ready and I’m currently so hungry I could eat out a horse. So, I’ll just reiterate my original statement that Slackeye Slim’s El Santo Grial: La Pistola Piadosa is the most deserving candidate for Saving Country Music’s 2011 album of the year award.

  • Slackeye Slim for sure, but I wonder: Why isn’t Slim Cessna’s Auto Club’s new album “Unentitled” on this list?

    • Unentitled is an excellent album, got a positive review here, and will certainly make my 2011 Essential Album list. Only a few albums can be nominated, and only one can win.

  • slackeye slim gets MY VOTE=:)
    a gifted artist who has paid his dues…..!

  • Hellbound glory ..all the way

  • Hellbound Glory all the way.

  • Hellbound Glory’s got my vote, saw them live recently and left impressed, and wanting more.

  • Slackeye Slim!

  • Give me Austin Lucas or give me death!

  • The Boomswagglers album is/was lo-fi genius. it’s what i imagine listening to on a half working jukebox,nursing a warm budweiser in a rickity shit shack of a bar in the middle of bum fuck southern nowhere during the dust bowl era. nobody has made quite possibly the most vulgarly authentic sounding C&W album like The Shack Out Back in 50 years and it’s a goddamn shame it never got a proper release. thats my pick for AOY and my recommendation to anyone who ever wants to hear real ass kicking hillbilly country music.

    • plus..i clearly need to get that Slackeye Slim album by the sounds of it.

    • I love the The Boomswagglers album, and I considered listing it here. But it’s hard to nominate an album that one could argue isn’t even out. Hillgrass yanked it from their bootleg page, and I find it hard to consider it seriously for an award when I can’t even point people to where they can get it.

      It’s a dilemma, and I am heartsick this great music is in such a limbo.

      • no..i get it,these guys are nuts. im sure even getting these 10 songs out of them took a monumental effort. recording Shack probably was more of an excuse to sit around and get loaded then it was to create a masterpiece and win awards. fortunately it did turn out to be brilliant and hopefully one day they throw it on vinyl or a cd for us fans who wont stfu about

        • I’m glad I took the time to download it when i did. I love this album and I’m glad I’m not alone.

  • Looks like Slackeye Slim is pretty much cleaning up as far as user comments go. Can’t say I disagree. It’s a hell of an album, and out of the three either it or Hellbound Glory’s should take AotY in my opinion. I probably need to listen to it again, but I don’t really remember the Austin Lucas album standing out to me all that much…

    Also Trig, your “2011 Album of the Year” logo looks totally stupid. Just sayin. :)

  • Mi vote is for Slackeye Slim!!

  • Damaged Goods is a great album. Hellbound Glory for sure!

    • Of the three above-mentioned albums. I haven’t heard Austin Lucas, though it sounds like I need to. My personal album of the year at this point is Rachel Brooke “Down in the Barnyard”. There’s still another month of this year left, but I can’t imagine if Hellbound Glory didn’t knock Rachel off the top spot that anyone else will!

  • Have you listened to Down the Hatch by The Damn Quails?

    • I have requested a review copy. It is on my radar.

  • Hellbound Glory! then that damn mysterious, Boomswagglers album I keep hearin about. I have to spend more tie with the Slackete Slim album… and get it fir that matter….. HBG….. cmon Trigger….

    • yeeesh, sticky keys

  • Of the three, I only have the Austin Lucas album in my possession, although I should get my copy of Damaged Goods soon. Right now, I’d say Mr Lucas’s album is at the top of my 2011 list. Great, great album.

  • I want to put in a vote for Austin Lucas. It is my job to know the music patterns of folks, and I can say with confidence that the majority of people commenting so far have not even heard Austin’s album. I know that Slackeye Slim and Hellbound Glory are much more familiar around these parts, but it is my job to scan all around for the best music, in the mainstream, in Red Dirt, on the West Coast, the Texas singer/songwriter scene, wherever. And in my opinion, “A New Home in the Old World” is one of the best 3 albums all year, if not the best. I’m glad Hellbound and Slackeye have such robust support, but Austin Lucas deserves attention as well. Do yourself a favor and give the album a sniff.

    • Triggerman, I remember your interview with Austin where he said that he thought of himself as an Americana artist, or something like that. Also, he professed his admiration for Gillian Welch, who is pretty much the reigning queen of the genre. Now, I think I might be more Americana friendly than the average SCM reader, which might help to explain my enthusiasm for this album. The fact that this is my current favorite of the year means I rank it ahead of Gillian Welch’s The Harrow and the Harvest (which I loved) and is a strong indicator of how special this album is to me.

      • I think Austin Lucas is more attracted to the Americana world because of the emphasis on songwriting, and the the greater likelihood of the fans listening to the lyrics. And he may tell you his album is more Americana, but I would have to respectfully disagree. I think it is solidly country, pure country, that also has excellent songwriting, which in my opinion is a country element as well, just one you will not find represented in the mainstream. One of the reasons I included it on this list is because of how country it is. I think folks around here might be unfamiliar with the name, and Lucas maybe a little unfamiliar with the folks, and how there ARE hard country fans that do listen to lyrics, and how they are represented right here on SCM.

        • I agree it’s mostly very much country, with a couple exceptions (Thunder Rail, The Grain). Either way, I love this album.

        • No disagreement here. Some artists that are identified as Americana are more country than others. Artists such as Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Gillian Welch/David Rawlings and Elizabeth Cook sometimes get lumped into the catch all Americana genre, but to me they are country artists and are among my favorites.

        • AGREED. Austin Lucas came from nowhere (to me) and was enjoyable. But not to the level of Hellbound.

          The Slackeye bandwagon is scaring me. I tried to listen to that album but to me it was merely a concept-ambience album of inspired by Native American Indians, Flamenco flourishes, campfires and cattle drives. Musically, however, I wasn’t terribly impressed.

          But I liked his Whore Pleaser album.

  • Slackeye Slim. No ifs, ands, or buts.

  • One title that I thought for sure would make this list is “Wake Up Sinners” by The Dirt Daubers…

    • Agreed!!!

    • Another excellent album that will certainly make the 2011 Essential List. And one I’m afraid a lot of folks are overlooking.

  • Though all these albums are a pleasure to listen to in many ways, my vote is for Slackeye Slim.

    Now I have been playing a great deal of Damaged Goods, and Im a huge fan of Hellbound Glory. And especially all the acoustic after partys with Leroy and the guys.

    I can say that the album, El Santo Grial: La Pistola Piadosa, is not a collection of random songs, different contrasting stories, or a worn out line. (which in some cases is just fine)
    Its ground breaking, in this underground country roots rushing river, Slackeye Slim has written songs with God in a way that has not been done before. This intrigues me. He has carried the same twisting tale through out this adventurous journey through the eyes of the key element of judgement day. In no way am I pushing my beliefs, however, this masterpiece speaks to me in that way.

    The musical element, and timing, Slackeye Slims commanding low voice, and of course the story’s structure is why I feel this album should be rewarded the title. Even if it never was included on the list!

  • Austin Lucas “A New Home in the Old World” – A voice to be reckoned with and album worth repeated listening. You have only to listen to him on the slow ballads to realize Austin has a rich, moving voice that stands out from the crowd!

  • i sampled each LP. austin lucas – i liked ‘nevada county line’ and ‘sleep well’. the rest all sounded the same and i don’t care much for his voice. slack eyed slim – i enjoyed most of the cuts but ‘a song called love’ in particular. if only for it’s mothers of invention quality. hellbound glory – is your basic stuff and i liked it. ‘lost cause’ and ‘she left me in modesto’ in particular. my pick just from the samples? slack eyed slim by a mile. i might even buy it.

  • I’m not gonna make a decision, I’ll leave that up to you. I’m gonna sit here and savor the awesomeness of our choices. This is not a presidential election where we have to choose between a turd sandwich or a giant douche. This is not the CMAs where God-only-knows what kind of corporate decision making is done at the sausage factory. I feel like a queen sitting in front of her collection of jewels deciding which one to wear. It’s a wonderful problem to have.

    • turd sandwich or a giant douche. good stuff. lol.

  • Left Lane Cruiser – Junkyard Speed Ball
    William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs
    Slackeye Slim – El Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadosa
    Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I
    Scott H. Biram – Bad Ingredients

    • Fuck Yeah! Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I! Can’t get that album outta rotation! Good pick!

  • I’s too old fer bein anybody’s groupie or anything, but I’d fer sure put Slackeye Slim’s pledge pin on my uniform, if ya know what I mean.

  • it looks like i’ve got to add Slackeye Slim and and Austin Lucas to a towering pile of stuff i need to get and/or start listening to.

    my vote though, and the reason that i have so much catching up to do, is Goddamn Gallows 7 Devils. i got it at Muddy Roots, and i’ve been listening to it non-stop (Hellbound’s been working their way into the rotation lately, though).

  • My top 5:
    Boomswaggler bootlegs. This has got to be my favorite album in recent memory. I didn’t know hillgrass took it off their site but everyone should find a way to listen to it.
    Double Down-Ugly Valley Boys. I’m surprised no one else mentioned this one. It’s a close 2nd for me.
    Damaged Goods-Hellbound glory. Haven’t stopped listening to this since it came out.
    Hank3-Ghost to a ghost/guttertown. At first I was disappointed, but this is one that I like the more I listen to it. “Devil’s moving in”(yes, I know the lyrics are the same as angel of sin) and the first half of “Ray Lawrence jr.” are always playing in my head. And while I never really have the time or patience to make it all the way through guttertown, there are some real gems in there too.
    Rachel Brooke-Down in the Barnyard. Not really the type of country I’m usually into, but her voice is haunting and this one stayed with me.
    I didn’t think that “7 devils” was from this year but that one would definitely make the list.

    • but to be fair, I haven’t hear El Santo grail or Mr. Lucas’ album

  • I believe you’re missing Sunday Valley – To The Wind and On To Heaven!!!!

    Here are my top 10 favorites for this year:
    1. Sunday Valley
    2. Hellbound Glory
    3. Turnpike Troubadours
    4. Hayes Carll
    5. Larry and His Flask
    6. Pistol Annies
    7. Seasick Steve (If you don’t know who this is..check him out)
    8. The Boomswagglers
    9. Austin Lucas
    10. Slackeye Slim

    • I liked the Sunday Valley album, I’m not sure it is Album of the Year material, but I have a strange feeling their next one might be. And don’t worry, Sunday Valley will be featured prominently in one of the end of the year lists.

    • that new Seasick Steve album is fantastic. the man hasn’t made a bad record yet imo. it’s to bad he doesn’t get stateside more often,i’d love to catch one of his shows.

  • I gotta put in a vote for Austin Lucas. Another great release of the 2011 that I still listen to constantly is Turnpike Troubadours’ “Diamonds and Gasoline”. You ever get a chance to listen to that one Triggerman?

  • For me, the ladies win the year. It’s a toss up between Rachel Brooke’s “Down in the Barnyard” and (although Trigger didn’t like it) Eilen Jewell’s “Queen of the Minor Key.”

  • I’m surprised that “Leavin’ Yesterday” by John Howie Jr and The Rosewood Bluff hasn’t garnered more attention. I know it hasn’t been out all that long and John hasn’t been able to do much touring in support of it yet, but I think it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard in years. I’m a huge fan of John’s former band, the Two Dollar Pistols, who had a very successful run in the late 90’s through the mid 2000’s- and I think “Leavin’ Yesterday” tops the Pistol’s stuff. The songwriting is great and heart-wrenching, the playing is fantastic (Nathan Golub’s pedal steel work is incredible), and John’s voice is one of the greatest in country music today. The vocal delivery on “Downhill” is truly goosebump-inducing. This album tops my personal list. Although, all of Trig’s nominations are spectacular as well. But John and The Bluff feel kind of like a modern day Gram Parsons to me- in that their music is full of authenticity and has strong ties to its roots while still sounding modern and original.

    • Sounds like I have a new album to pick up! :D

    • John Howie’s latest Rosewood Bluff album is really good. Picked it up at one of the shows.
      But Andy is being modest. The Driveline album is good also. Looking forward to the next one!

      I like how everyone is adding their own ideas of best albums. Gives me stuff to look for that I’ve missed along the way.

      • Well thanks, Cap’n! And it’s not that I’m being modest- I just don’t think our first album is an “album of the year” candidate. Don’t get me wrong- I’m proud of it and think it’s good- just not album of the year good. But the Bluff record really is my favorite thing that came out this year!

        We go back into the studio in January to record the next one, so I’m setting my sights on a hopeful 2012 nod by SCM. Gotta aim high…

        • Of course, even if I did think our album was good enough, I still wouldn’t be a big douche and come out and say “What about MY record?!”

  • Been unemployed for the past 2 months so I haven’t benn able to afford/hear the Hellbound Glory album or many others yet… I love the Lydia Loveless album and Whitmore’s “Field Songs”. I really dig the Scott H. Biram but it’s so blues driven… Hank3’s releases are cool but don’t flow the way an album should, in my opinion. I still listen to them a ton though and would guess that certain tracks would be Song Of The Year contenders. Also liked “Dead Dog on a Highway” by The Dad Horse Experience – best party album of the year!

  • Austin Lucas is where it’s at!

  • Austin’s album shows real growth and a willingness to take risks in light of his previous, more acoustic records. His songwriting continues to mature and become more direct and focused and his voice is… well… it’s Austin.

    My vote is for A New Home in the Old World.

  • “El Santo Grial : La Pistola Piadosa” ~ SLACKEYE SLIM gets my vote! So many talented Artists collaborated on this stellar 2011 release.Joe Frankland obviously, singer/songwriter Graham Lindsey who is genius in his own right as well as Joe Perreze. Amazing work from start to finish!
    VIVA LA FARMAGEDDON RECORDS NRO!!!( I had to put that out there too.)

  • Austin Lucas!!

  • I agree with the slackeye slim nomination.the power of Drake savage is far reaching. Rachel Brooke down in the barnyard and lonesome Wyatt’s Heartsick would have been my other nominations.also smile by the beach boys but that’s another story.

    • That Heartsick is a real doosey. A real soul-melter. I hope Triggerman at least gives it a review.

  • Austin Lucas NEW HOME IN AN OLD WORLD is THE one! Buy the album, treat yourself & your loved ones. Signed, Professional Listener

  • Biram!!!

  • I know this isn’t exactly in the wheel house of SCM, but:

    Jackson Taylor and The Sinners- Let the Bad Times Roll was released 2011.
    Blind Boys of Alabama- Take the High Road was released in 2011.
    * This is more gospel country, but solid country nonetheless.

    And I’d put Jackson Taylor up there against HBG any day and wouldn’t be surprised if Leroy has taken some notes/tips from Jackson. Similar feel to their music.

    • I completely agree… Jackson Taylor’s new album is awesome. I wonder why that guy doesn’t get more attention here on SCM?

      • There are hundreds of local, regional and national artists, and there no way one site or one man can cover them all. Many folks get mad that something isn’t covered, or assume it is because of an issue of taste, when a lot of times it is an issue with time or knowledge.

        I will try to obtain Jackson Taylor’s latest album.

        • Certainly understandable Trig. I guess I am just surprised he does slip through. Being he has been around for sometime, is from your neck of the woods (TX), and has been towing the line for years for real country/honkytonk music and puts out nothing short of that.

          It would be more an effort to ignore him more than to find him.

  • Slackeye Slim’s La Pistola has my vote!

  • La Pistola!

  • Hellbound Glory vote here … such strong songwriting will always win me over.

  • HBG…I’m overseas in the oilpatch so I can’t get to shows, family, nuthin’. Downloaded the day it came out and I’ve listened to it every day. I put it on, close my eyes, and it takes me home. That’s what a record should do.

  • I’m biased. Leroy and the guys from Hellbound are bad-ass, genuine, and a blast to party with. Outside of that though, this album, as do all of HBGs albums, truly draws the listener in, and keep them there. Juggalos — that listen to ICP and all things Psycopathic — turned their heads to ask what awesomeness was coming from my speakers, and stayed tuned for several tracks! The appeal and potential is overwhelming. Damaged Goods is *one* of the best country albums I’ve had the pleasure of owning…ever, not just in 2011. My vote, hands down, goes to Hellbound.

    Triggerman – thanks for giving them the credit they deserve. Your site is definitely being noticed and is growing in popularity and credibility everywhere. Maybe you’ll help to push Leroy out of the shadows.

  • I am still loving Ugly Valley Boys, Double Down. I think it has something so tuned into the soul of real country..I hope they will be around with more offerings to feed that need for a long, long time.

    • That’s a great album and certainly will make the 2011 Essential Albums list.

      • I didn’t mean to forget Willy Tea…He is amazing as well and good food for the soul! Many Thanks.

  • hey i think most people forgot about “Professional Sinners” by Charley Horse
    I would put that Dad Horse and Hellbound Glory in my top 3.

  • My vote’s on Slackeye Slim.

  • All good, but I vote for Austin Lucas.

  • Austin Lucas.

  • How can you say Slackeye Slim is more country and less obscure than Slim Cessna’s Auto Club? I don’t know why everyone loves Slackeye Slim so much. You can tell he is improving on this album he actually tries to sing instead of just talking. Though I do find his music refreshingly different with his subject matter and lyrics it lacks talent.

    • I can say that because it’s an opinion, though I’m not sure I did say that. I think they’re both pretty obscure and difficult to call country in a traditional sense. I think “Unentitled” is great, gave it a top review, and it was probably my favorite album of the first part of the year.

  • Slackeye Motherfucking Slim…that album beat the shit out of every preconcenived notion and convention of ANY subgenre of Country. Amazing amazing amazing…

    The others you mentioned (Rachel Brooke and HG especially) are up there as well…but Slackeye Slim has to be the go-to for this year.

  • Slackeye Slim…hands down.

  • […] off, I want to give recognition to the other two candidates for the Saving Country Music 2011 Album of the Year. Austin Lucas‘s album A New Home in the […]

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