The Southern rock side of the country music space is blessed with some serious stalwart bands that have been around for years. At the same time, just like with every genre of music, the flux of bands breaking up and legends passing means there’s always room for fresh faces and new perspectives on the music to help keep it vital.
Just like Saving Country Music’s Song of the Year candidates, this is not just about entertainment, this is about putting together words, music, and in this case, a visual representation, that can shake the viewer out of their daily routines and make them realize something that previously was either lost or never discovered about themselves or their world.
A song can change a life, and a song can change the world. And if you’re a real music fan, you know this to be true because you’ve felt it, and seen it yourself. We’re not looking for fanciful ditties that get stuck in your head here. There is a time and a place for those, but that’s not here. We’re looking for songs that barrel you over.
Songwriting is what becomes the ultimate takeaway from Jeff Shepherd and the Jailhouse Poets. As you listen deeper into the album, the writing continues to mature, and mature more, and becomes more vulnerable and personal until the final song “Son” virtually has you in tears. From lost love to personal tragedy, Jeff Shepherd is uninhibited in sharing and unburdening his heart in these songs.
Fans have waited since October of 2013 from a new Matt Woods video he’s been teasing for a while, and today he premiers the visual accompaniment to “Ain’t No Living”—the opening track from his critically-acclaimed album With Love From Brushy Mountain released in 2014. It’s being released in conjunction with Woods embarking with Southern rock band Fifth on the Floor as the opener on their farewell tour…
Lexington, Kentucky-based Southern rock / sometimes country band Fifth on the Floor is breaking up, according to a missive sent out by the band today (1-6-15). Led by songwriter and lead singer Justin Wells, Fifth on the Floor was seen by many as one of the most promising upstart Southern rock bands of the last decade, releasing three albums over the eight year span of the project.
In 2014, you had two previously-unknown women release towers of country music brilliance in Tami Nelison’s Dynamite! and Karen Jonas’s Oklahoma Lottery. You had folk blues songwriter Charlie Parr deliver a masterpiece in his instrumental triumph in Hollandale. You had the Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit feature what very well would had been considered an Album of the Year on any other year…
2014 has revealed itself as the “Year of the Dark Horse” when it comes to compiling the greatest albums released in the last 12-month span. Tami Neilson, Karen Jonas, Charlie Parr, Matt Woods? Who’s heard of these people outside of their respective fan bases? And meanwhile the realm of mainstream music can’t field one candidate, unless you want to count First Aid Kit.
2014 Album of the Year, Charlie Parr, Don Williams, Doug Seegers, Dynamite!, First Aid Kit, Hollandale, I'm A Song, Jason Eady, Jim Lauderdale, John Fullbright, Joseph Huber, Karen Jonas, Kelsey Waldon, Matt Woods, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, Oklahoma Lottery, Reflections, Stay Gold, Sturgill Simpson, Tami Neilson, With Love From Brushy Mountain, Zoe Muth
At the end of the “Deadman’s Blues” video (spoiler alert), it shows Matt passed out, and being resuscitated unsuccessfully by paramedics. The downward spiral the video portrays very much mirrors the real life stories of many musicians, and almost mirrored that of Matt Woods. “Apparently, blood pressure isn’t like pinball. High scores are frowned upon,”
Compared to albums, making picks of songs is such a tough, arbitrary business. This year seems especially tough, not because the field isn’t strong, but because many of the best moments are coming from unlikely sources, including a cadre of cover songs that despite the spirit of the “Best Songs” approach being about original compositions, seem almost criminal to omit.
Bob Wayne, Dierks Bentley, Don Williams, Eric Church, First Aid Kit, Hellbound Glory, I'll Be Here In The Morning, Jason Eady, John Fullbright, Karen Jonas, Kirsty Lee Akers, Leroy Virgil, Liberty Bell, Lonely Island, Matt Woods, Melody Williamson, Miranda Lambert, Parker Milsap, Red Eye Gravy, Streets of Aberdeen, Sturgill Simpson, Take Me Back, The Promise, The Secret Sisters, The Wall, There's No Country Here, Turtles All the Way Down, Willie Nelson, Willie Watson, Zoe Muth
2014 so far has been an interesting year for album releases for sure. Some names we were hoping big things from like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Eady delivered in big ways. Other dark horse names we’d never heard of like Karen Jonas came out of the woodwork to stun. Some names like Don Williams and Charlie Parr put out surprising albums that have to be considered high water marks of their career.
Best Albums So Far, Charlie Parr, Dalight & Dark, Don Williams, First Aid Kit, Hollandale, Jason Eady, John Fullbright, Joseph Huber, Karen Jonas, Matt Woods, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, Oklahoma Lottery, Reflections, Songs, Stay Gold, Sturgill Simpson, With Love From Brushy Mountain, World of Strangers, Zoe Muth
“Deadman’s Blues” went on to be named Saving Country Music’s Song of the Year in 2013, and received similar praise from other attentive periodicals. Matt Woods did what every songwriter yearns to do whenever they put pen to paper: make a deep, emotional connection with the rest of the world. But “Deadman’s Blues” was just one song. Would he, could he match it in a full album?
What any authentic music artist wishes to accomplish when they sit down to write a song is to convey the true emotion, story, and inspiration behind that song without any loss of detail or dilution of feeling. But of course this is easier said than done. Interpreting complex human emotions into words is a difficult enough task in itself…
The modern-day music video is a really strange enterprise. Lots of money is spent by artists, and sometimes labels to produce something special; something that really represents the spirit of a song well. But when you look at what people watch, especially when it comes to independent musicians, many times it’s the fan video captured on a consumer-grade piece of technology that draws the most interest.
Caitlin Rose, Elephant, Eric Church, Follow Your Arrow, Fred Eaglesmith, Jason Isbell, Johnny Cash, Josh Abbott Band, Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney, Lindi Ortega, Matt Woods, Only A Clown, Sturgill Simpson
When you sit down to assemble a list of candidates for Song of the Year, you almost start to tremble in the face of so much creativity, inspiration, and insight, and grow humbled by how fortunate we are to live in such a bountiful time for music. Candidates for Song of the Year can’t just be songs we enjoy, they are songs that make you change the way you see the world, or change the way you see yourself.
2013, Adam Hood, Alone In Memphis, Ashley Monroe, Austin Lucas, best songs, Brandy Clark, Brennen Leigh, Brian Keane, Caitlin Rose, Charlie Robison, Deadman's Blues, Disappear On Down The Line, Drinkin', El Camino, Elephant, Hank3, Holly Williams, I'll Sing About Mine, Jason Isbell, JB Beverley, John Moreland, Josh Abbott Band, Lindi Ortega, Matt Woods, Noel McKay, Shane McAnally, Song of the Year, Stripes, Sturgill Simpson, Tin Star, Valerie June, Wade Bowen Songs About Trucks
We ask a lot of our independent country and roots artists. We want them to release new music early and often, even though it stings them in the pocketbook to record. We want them to play our stupid town, even though it is way out of their way and the turnout will be light. We want them to perform in small, intimate venues, even though it’s not financially feasible for trying to take care of themselves, or God forbid, raise a family.
For many up-and-coming country artists, simply getting to meet their country heroes is thrill enough. Getting the honor of portraying them in a big theatrical production? That is the thrill of a lifetime. Adam Lee of Kansas City’s Adam Lee & The Dead Horse Sound Company is getting that very chance by apprising the role of Johnny Cash in the musical “Million Dollar Quartet.”