Some have criticized that I do not give enough coverage to mainstream traditional country acts. I don’t talk about Miranda Lambert or Jamey Johnson, or even someone like Robert Earl Keen because so many other outlets already do. My charter is to find the more obscure bands that are being forgotten by the mainstream, and shine a light on them. Even then, this year I wrote album reviews for Jamey Johnson and Taylor Swift, and I have more mainstream reviews coming, when I have time. Hopefully next year, Saving Country Music can branch out a bit and cover the more traditional mainstream acts, but it will always be on top of the smaller acts trying to get their music out there, not instead of them.
Oh and since Joe Buck’s new album may not be available to the masses for weeks, we will include it as a 2011 album.
So here is this year’s excellent list of essential albums, most of which you won’t see mentioned anywhere else.
Outlaw Radio – Outlaw Radio Compilation Vol. 1 – (review) – Don’t think of this as your regular ho-hum comp. With original music and some Song of the Year candidates, this album’s guts are as good as any’s this year.
Jayke Orvis – It’s All Been Said – (review) – Perfect example of an album that on any other year might claim the top spot, but got crowded this year by so many great albums. Farmageddon’s maiden voyage is an excellent one, and may contain a Song of the Year candidate itself.
Hank III – The Rebel Within – (review) – Alright, I mentioned Hank III’s name. So half of you tell me how everything he touches turns to gold and I don’t give him enough credit, while the other half tell me he is a washed up hack. T minus 30 days till he is free of Curb and we can actually get a fair assessement of where Hank III stands.
Lucky Tubb & The Modern Day Troubadours – Hillbilly Fever – (review) – Lucky Tubb continues to emerge as a top-shelf talent, and with two duets with Wayne “The Train” Hancock, you can’t go wrong with this one.
.357 String Band – Lightning From The North – (review) – Solid album with excellent songs. Don’t believe all the talk that the talent left with Jayke Orvis. You can like Jayke and .357 at the same time. I promise. It’s OK.
Trampled by Turtles – Palomino – (review) – An easy one to look over, but another excellent one that may have battled for the year’s best in other calendar cycles. Super fast bluegrass is like a sugar rush though, and can lack staying power.
Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers – Agridustrial – (review) – Absolutely brutal music from the dirty South by the best frontman in music and an All-Star backing band. The Shakers haven’t lost anything over the years.
Marty Stuart – Ghost Train – Still don’t have a review for this (need someone to get me a full copy), but without question this is a must have. Marty is really beginning to emerge as an elder statesman of country that still has the chops and taste to be relevant. And leads by example, instead of miring himself in bitching about Nashville or country’s direction.
Dale Watson – Carryin’ On – (review) – Surprised I don’t see more talk about this one. Dale’s voice is sublime. The straighforward Nashville production held it back a little bit, but it’s still pure country gold.
Reverend Deadeye – Trials & Tribulations – (review) – If you like the dirty stompy blues and people preaching fire and brimstone, accept no substitutes. Deadeye is gonna make Jesus hip again, or he’s gonna pass out trying.
Whitey Morgan & The 78’s –Whitey Morgan & The 78’s – (review) – Solid album, just lacked a grand vision in my opinion. Still essential though, and you won’t get any argument out of me if you name it one of your favorites of the year.
Other Real Gooduns:
Brigitte London – Bare Bones – (review) – Another that might be easily overlooked but with excellent singing and songwriting. I think of this album alongside Roger Alan Wade’s Deguello Motel, only acoustic guitar and singing, but songs that really speak to you with deep meaning.
Peewee Moore & The Awful Dreadful Snakes – The Leaving Side of Gone – (review) – I put this album in the same category as Whitey Morgan, a real solid country album that I can’t argue against, but one that lacks a grand vision. There’s some excellent songs here.
Quentin & Uriah Benefit Compilation – Y’all Motherfuckers Need Justice – For reasons that are too complicated to go into here, I never wrote a review for this, but this is a great compilation and a great way to sample some of the excellent bands in and around the Farmageddon Records family while helping out a worthy cause. Folks were wronged, and this is a small way you can help make it right while exposing yourself to some great music.
Albums Worth Mentioning, but have not had time to review or listen to yet:
Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – Buried Behind The Barn
Tom VandenAvond – You Oughta Know Me By Now
And Pete Berwick & The Shivering Denizens have new ones I need to listen to. I’m sure I’m missing some others. This has been an amazing year for music, I’ve done my best to keep up. My hand hurts from typing and link making so I have to draw the line somewhere, and that is right here.