Whatever we’re calling this post Bro-Country era in popular country music, the bespectacled Hardy has a heavy hand in it, both as a primary song contributor to Morgan Wallen and others, as well as a performing career that continues to swell in popularity.
‘Ace’ not only seeded the Grateful Dead’s legendary live shows with some important cuts, it deserves to be in the conversation for one of the band’s best studio efforts. With some exceptions, the album was the Grateful Dead band backing Bob Weir.
George & Tammy turned out pretty spectacular generally speaking, with some very serious caveats that for some viewers ultimately turned out to be fatal to their viewership. There is a reason that almost every single professional review of this series was glowing in its praise, but some fans balked.
Billy Sherrill, Charlie Justice, Earl "Peanutt" Montgomery, George & Tammy, George Jones, George Richey, George Riddle, Jessica Chastain, Logan Ledger, Michael Shannon, Nancy Jones, Tammy Wynette, Tyler Mahan Coe, Zachariah Malachi
Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland from Hamilton, Canada have been taking their combined love and acumen for country music, and applying it to albums that are decidedly not predominantly country. But “I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying” is where this Canadian duo delivers a straight up country record.
Don’t let the baby face of Myron Elkins fool you. You pipe up Factories, Farms & Amphetamines, and it’s like you’re immediately ferried off to some faraway, ramshackle roadhouse set in 1970s sepia, with some 70-year-old cat in polyester butterfly collars crooning out stories of blood and bruises.
Over the Christmas/New Year holiday, Morgan Wallen’s “You Proof” set a rather landmark achievement by becoming the first radio single in country music history to spend 10 weeks at #1—a record that despite the song’s country lyricism as a heartbreak drinking song, can only be regarded as dubious.
It is in the pursuit of searching deep for the unheralded, but deserving songwriters of the region that one will stumble upon Virginia’s Cody Christian. Originally from the tiny town of Powhatan, you don’t need a biography of Cody Christian’s life story to get clued into what he’s all about. It’s all spelled right out in the songs.
Similar to the Song of the Year category in 2023, the top finalists for Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year were so close, it only seems fitting to count them down from #4 to #1 just to take another opportunity to reinforce the best stuff once again. But there is a #1, and it’s one for the ages.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Saving Country Music’s most comprehensive guide to music in a given year, known as the Essential Albums List. Starting with the first 20 albums that are deemed the “Most Essential”—meaning they were right on the bubble of being Album of the Year nominees…
49 Winchester, Adam Hood, Alex Williams, Alma Russ, American Aquarium, Benjamin Tod, Brennen Leigh, Courtney Patton, David Quinn, Hellbound Glory, Jenny Tolman, Kelsey Waldon, Kimberly Kelly, Matt Daniel, Stacy Antonel, Sunny Sweeney, Teague Brothers Band, The Wilder Blue, Tony Logue, Willi Carlisle
Picking the Saving Country Music Song of the Year winner has been especially excruciating here in 2022. Not only was there a strong field of initial nominees, no less than four songs emerged as front runners in the voting and discussion, with all of them basically receiving similar counts in the comments.
Sometimes you stumble upon a great song, album, or artist, and boom, you have some tasty musical morsel to enjoy henceforth. Or sometimes you fall so far down a musical rabbit hole, an entire new world of music unfolds right there in front of you, with decades of material to go back and listen through.
The Saving Country Music Artist of the Year is not about who sold the most tickets or left the biggest footprint, or who shattered the expectations and possibilities of independent artists that are not played on mainstream country radio. It’s about the artist who most embodied the spirit of of the idea…
Memphis Kee out of Austin is looking to revitalize that approach of taking the robust songwriting of guys like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, and applying it to music that’s just as much akin to grunge as country. Memphis Kee calls it “Shred Dirt” in tribute to the Red Dirt sound of the Texoma region.
It was in the hills and hollers of Appalachia where country music originally came into being, and it’s those same hills and hollers of Appalachia that are birthing old souls with young bodies that are rising up to save country music. They’re fulfilling the hunger for honesty and authenticity that is lacking.
Let’s highlight some of the bands on the brink, that probably should be headlining festivals and big events themselves, and very well may be in the coming years. These are the artists and bands you better get out to see before like many of your favorite headliners, they end up only playing arenas.
American Aquarium, Big Richard, Billy Strings, BJ Barham, Charles Wesley Godwin, Charley Crockett, Cody Jinks, Hogslp String Band, MIke and the Moonpies, Molly Tuttle, Sierra Ferrell, Sierra Hull, The Vandoliers, Them Dirty Roses, Turnpike Troubadours, Tyler Childers, Zach Bryan
Full of original classic country songs that sound like they’re recorded 60 years too late (in the best of ways), it is a breath of fresh air compared to many of today’s modern country monstrosities, and a worthy introduction to an artist we hope to hear much more from in years to come.
Everything that all other bands frustratingly whiff on, Rattlesnake Milk hits dead center. With a simplified four-piece lineup, and no desire to elicit help from guest performers or overdubs, Rattlesnake Milk accomplishes with so little what so many other bands fail to accomplish with so much more.
Every year to make sure the best titles in mainstream country don’t get overlooked, and to encourage the quality in the mainstream to rise to the top, we run down the best mainstream country albums to compliment the Album of the Year nominees. Some years there is overlap.
There was most certainly a time in country music—and even in it’s more open-minded and less commercially-concerned cousin of Americana—where not fitting neatly within the gender binary would be a significant burden on the attention you would receive for your music. 2022 is not that time though.
Aaron Lewis, Adeem The Artist, Giovanni “Nooch” Carnuccio III, Hank Williams III, Hank Williams Jr., Jake Blount, Jason Isbell, Kyle Crownover, Louvin Brothers, Review, Rufus Payne, Shane McAnally, Tyler Childers, White Trash Revelry
Alright, so we’ve already run down the most sad, sappy, and poetic songs of 2022 in the Song of the Year nominees. Now it’s time to crank it up a notch and to showcase the songs that are just so damn enjoyable to listen to, we can’t stop. These are the songs that burrow deep in your ears and won’t come out.
Whether you’re an adventurous traditional country music fan willing to cross enemy lines to seek out some of the best of the mainstream, or the mainstream country fan who insists on seeking out the country music of substance that the radio and awards tend to ignore, both paths will lead you to Randy Houser’s new album.
Infinite apologies if you came here looking for your next favorite boot scooter, because that’s not what Song of the Year is all about. There will be a Single of the Year category coming up too. But what we’re looking for here is the most unabashedly slow and sentimental sad bastard songs possible.
The real life stories of certain country music artists are sometimes even more intriguing and dramatic than the dramatized stories they tell in song. This was certainly the case for George Jones, Tammy Wynette, and their tumultuous marriage and working relationship.
2022 is a very unique year when it comes to albums to consider, since there are no clear front runners as we’re used to. No specific album or albums feel like undeniable masterpieces, but the albums at or near the top of the heap are so numerous, it’s painstakingly hard to delineate them from each other.