2018 has been incredibly busy with new albums in the country and roots realm, and the 2nd half of the year looks to be just as busy. So to help you keep track of it all and perhaps help separate the wheat from thew chaff, here is a handy guide to some of the top releases to anticipate, a more expansive list of confirmed releases, and a rumor mill.
The Country Music Hall of Fame has partnered with Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings to release a 36-song companion double album to coincide with what the public can expect to see and hear as part of the upcoming Outlaws & Armadillos exhibit. The track list of the album reveals just how deep the exhibit will go.
Amanda Shires, Ashley Monroe, Billy Joe Shaver, Bobby Bare, Chris Gantry, Colter Wall, Commander Cody, Country Music Hall of Fame, Dave Cobb, Doug Sahm, Gary P. Nunn, Jack Ingram, Jamey Johnson, Jason Boland, Jason Isbell, Jessi Colter, Joe Ely, John Hartford, Kimmie Rhodes, Kinky Friedman, Michael Martin Murphey, Mickey Newbury, Outlaws & Armadillos, Shooter Jennings, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Terry Allen, Townes Van Zandt, Willis Alan Ramsey
There would be no mainstream country music career for Ashley McBryde if it weren’t for the help of Eric Church. Eric Church isn’t a guy you would expect to be a big champion of country music’s women on the surface. But quietly, Church has become a champion of many of country music’s most deserving women.
Ashley McBryde, Brandi Carlile, Eleanor Whitmore, Eric Church, Jaime Wyatt, Lzze Hale, Michaela Anne, Molly Jensen, Molly Parden, Patty Griffin, Rhiannon Giddens, Sam Outlaw, Shooter Jennings, Valerie June
The songs and Brandi Carlile’s voice is what you come here for, and she delivers her fair share and more of moments that you cherish, remember, and repeat on your listening device as soon as they’re over because they’re just so damn good.
If tasked to do so, I will unflinchingly and wholeheartedly endorse that Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation—up there with Jason Isbell, Cody Jinks, John Moreland et al, even if it’s of a different breed—puffing my chest out and challenging any man willing to assert otherwise.
Reviews and opinions on the Netflix original series The Ranch starring Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, and Sam Elliot continue to be mixed, but the country music tie-ins—whether in the soundtrack, the set, or the dialogue—continue to make it a point of intrigue for many country fans.
There was nobody else like Mr. Bandana. And now that he’s gone, there will never be anyone like him again. He was a true last of the breed, and one of the few remaining authentic Outlaws who lived his own way, spoke his mind no matter the outcome or insult taken, and you will never find a more dedicated and loyal supporter of the music.
Believe it or not, you can draw a straight line between underground roots music, and Chris Stapleton becoming the most successful country music artist in the last two years in regards to awards and album sales. Let me explain how:
Reviews have been mixed for the show so far, but country music listeners may have an extra incentive to watch the program. Featured on the 10-episode series has been a slew of independent country artists who will hopefully see decent paydays and a bump in exposure. There are also ample country music references and jokes in the series.
American Aquarium, Ashley Monroe, Brandi Carlile, Cam, Corb Lund, Justin Townes Earle, Lukas Nelson, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Netflix, Shooter Jennings, The Ranch, The Turnpike Troubadours
The “South” is the setting for the songs, and where the respective artists hail from, but “Family” is what makes this record universal for all listeners. And unlike many other concept records that may only have one or two songs that can be separated from the material, every song on “Southern Family” can exist independently, and many will go on to mark top-level career contributions to the artist’s musical canon.
There’s something much interesting brewing that’s bigger than any one artist at the moment—an expansive concept record dealing with artists’ experiences growing up in the South. The project was first hinted at in April when the new Elektra deal was signed, and since then there’s been murmurings about Cobb’s concept record here and there, but now we’re finally beginning to piece together the details.
Anderson East, Brandy Clark, Brent Cobb, Chris Stapleton, Dave Cobb, Eric Clapton, Holly Williams, Jamey Johnson, Jason Isbell, Jessi Colter, John Paul White, Miranda Lambert, Mrorgane Stapleton, Rich Robinson, Shooter Jennings, Southern Family, The Southern Family, Waylon Jennings, Zac Brown
Leroy Virgil has the tragic grandeur that many songwriters only wish they could capture, and some attempt to emulate, but few have the authenticity to truly live down. Virgil has no need to cut an ear off for inspiration. Whatever troubled demons that get stirred up when the most brilliant wordsmiths go searching their innermost depths for inspiration, they are alive and well in the Hellbound Glory frontman.
Like a slow moving thunder roll, Whitey Morgan continues to tour, night in and night out, delivering crisp, throbbing performances every time that leave crowds embedded with Whitey passion in every town they tackle until the crowds are swelling, and the word is spreading about this bearded guy from Flint who refuses to compromise, who has his heart in the right place, and who puts on amazing shows.
“Billy Don Burns.” To those country fans that know the name, it looms large. But the truth of the matter is, not many know the name. They know the names of Merle Haggard and Johnny Paycheck—two men who Billy Don Burns has produced albums for. They know Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash—two acquaintances of Burns who on separate occasions, wrote touching letters for him.
When your music is better classified in every single other major American genre of music instead of country, then maybe you should consider to quit lying to your fans and the public and quit calling it country, kind of like Taylor Swift did. It’s not just that Sam Hunt isn’t country, it’s that he is the absolute antithesis of country.
Adele, Elton John, Florida Georgia Line, Hayley Williams, Kiss, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Meghan Trainor, Miley Cyrus, Morrissey, Paramore, Sam Hunt, Shooter Jennings, Swamp Dogg, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw
Remember the curious news of how Korn frontman Jonathan Davis was working on some sort of country project, and was in the studio with Big & Rich trying to hone in on the “Bakersfield” sound? Well now the story has turned even more strange. Though we still don’t have any solid details on exactly what Jonathan Davis is working on, apparently Marilyn Manson is also on board…
The autopsy and toxicology report for artist manager Jon Hensley was released to the public on Friday (7-17) with an official cause of death determined to be “Asphyxia via Choking on Food Substance” and “Ethanol Andalprazolam Intoxication.” Jon Hensley died unexpectedly on June 1st in his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Luke Bryan has called Waylon Jennings’ widow Jessi Colter to apologize after he made comments characterizing Outlaw country artists as cocaine addicts “laying in the gutter, strung out on drugs.” Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings has also commented on the situation, saying, “It’s all flush in my book.”
So to give some historical context to Luke Bryan’s characterizations, I thought we would look back and see what Willie, Merle, and Waylon felt about cocaine. Willie hated the stuff, and would fire anyone in his crew caught using it. Merle barely touched it, except for one dalliance that ended poorly. And Waylon was a professed, long-term cocaine addict who openly expressed his struggles with the drug.
The first two weeks in June 2015 were some of the darkest moments the greater independent country world has experienced in quite some time. After Jon Hensley passed away on June 1st, so did Randy Howard and a newborn of Texas artist Randy Rogers on June 9th. Then just two days later, Jim Ed Brown died. It has made the month of June a time of deep sorrow, and July as a month to pay tribute.