2019 is here ladies and gentlemen, and soon your ears will have a fresh new bounty of new releases in the country, roots, and Americana world to feast upon. In such a crowded landscape and with so many releases to choose from, having a road map certainly helps. So in that spirit, here are Saving Country Music’s top picks.
The Cactus Blossoms
The one thing you can point to that makes a song decidedly not country is the presence of electronic drums. The human operated element of country music is one of the last great differences between country and the rest of popular music, and more frequently electronic beats have been creeping into the pop country soundscape.
If you love to get your Everly Brothers vibe on, there’s just about no better modern alternative than brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey, known collectively as The Cactus Blossoms. These Minneapolis-based blood brothers have announced they have a new album on the way called ‘Easy Way.’
Netflix released the latest season of its comedy drama ‘The Ranch’ on December 15th, and just like the first three seasons, country music plays a big role in both the dialog and the soundtrack. Apparently the creators want to make discovering the songs part of the fun of the series, because they keep their soundtrack close to the vest.
Amanda Shires, Blitzen Trapper, Brenda Lee, Brothers Osborne, Conway Twitty, Eric Church, Jason Isbell, Mandolin Orange, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert, Netflix, Patsy Cline, Ricky Nelson, Sam Outlaw, Sara Watkins, Sturgill Simpson, The Cactus Blossoms, The Ranch, Thomas Rhett
Music, and country music specifically plays a big role in the series, not just in the soundtrack, but in many of the jokes told, and in the titles of each episode. Many other musical Easter eggs are placed throughout the series for music fans, such as posters on the wall, and albums in the local bar’s juke box.
It has once again come that time of year for reflecting back on some of the best albums released in the last 12 months or so, not to treat country music as competition per se, but as an exercise undertaken with the intent of expanding your musical knowledge in hopes the gaps that formed due to the busy lives we all live get filled in with joyous little music projects.
Austin Lucas, Blackberry Smoke, Brandy Clark, Cody Jinks, Courtney Marie Andrews, Dori Freeman, Doug Bruce, Honest Life, I'm Not The Devil, I've Got a Way, Jack Ingram, Justin Wells, Kelsey Waldon, Like An Arrow, Lori McKenna, Luke Bell, Mark Chesnutt, Midnight Motel, Nick Dittmeier, Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters, Sturgill Simpson, The Bird & The Rifle, The Cactus Blossoms, Tradition Lives, Unsung, You're Dreaming
As was said in reference to the Best Albums of 2016 So Far, it has been fairly slim pickings for the first part of the year for finding music that really touches the heart, and has the fortitude to last beyond the calendar year. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions, and 2016 already boasts a number of serious, gut-punching songs.
Austin Lucas, Brandy Clark, Chris Stapleton, Dori Freeman, Dry Up or Drown, Evan Webb and the Rural Ramblers, Heaven Sent, Jeff Shepherd, Lew Card, Lydia Loveless, Parker Millsap, Ryan Scott Travis, Since You've Gone to Heaven, Someday, The Cactus Blossoms, Wrong Side of the Dream
With no disrespect meant to the albums highlighted here, which represent the exception and not the rule, 2016 has begun where the second half of 2015 left off, where it feels like country and roots music across the board is out of ideas, and the search for music that truly enlivens the spirit is becoming harder. Nonetheless, there are still some excellent albums out there worth highlighting.
If there’s any knock on their sophomore release Your Dreaming, it’s that it’s almost too similar to the Everly Brothers, resulting in a mark against them on the originality scale. But even though this may sound like sacrilege to some, I’m not sure even The Everly Brothers ever put out an album this oceanic in depth and reach cover to cover.
Who will be releasing new albums in 2016? What are some of the most-anticipated projects? What are the rumors swirling out there about new albums that may be released in the coming year? Here’s a rundown of upcoming projects from artists recommended by Saving Country Music that you can look forward to in 2016.
Aubrie Sellers, Austin Lucas, Brandy Clark, Brothers Osborne, Buddy Miller, Caleb Caudle, Dave Cobb, Don Maddox, Hank Williams Jr., Hayes Carll, Holly Williams, Jack Ingram, Justin Timberlake, Loretta Lynn, Lorrie Morgan, Lucinda Williams, Marty Stuart, Rachel Brooke, Randy Rogers Band, Sturgill Simpson, The Cactus Blossoms, The Infamous Stringdusters, Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Waco Brothers
You’re Dreaming will be blood brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum’s third album, complimenting their self-titled debut release from 2011, and Live at the Turb Club from 2013. The new record will include ten original compositions, and will be produced by JD McPherson—an old-school throwback rock and roll-inspired artist himself.
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 was the time, and the beautiful Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin was the place for the 2nd Annual Ameripolitan Music Awards. Socialites and artists from all over the United States, and a few from foreign lands made their way to the Texas capitol for the festivities.
Amber Digby, Ameripolitan, Big Sandy, Chris Casello, Dale Watson, Elana James, Hot Club of Cowtown, James Burton, James Hand, James White, Joe Ely, Johnny Bush, Paramount Theatre, Paul Pigat, Ray Benson, Redd Volkaert, Rosie Flores, Sarah Gayle Meech, The Broken Spoke, The Cactus Blossoms, The Derailers, Wayne Hancock
Once again the Ameripolitan Awards, founded by Dale Watson, and championed by many hard working individuals and artists wanting to shine a spotlight on under-appreciated but highly-deserving roots music, was a rousing success. However one oversight that was completely predictable, and highly inappropriate was the appointment once again of SiriusXM DJ Mojo Nixon as the Master of Ceremonies.
So who could step up of in the country music vocal duo space who could duel with the heavyweights of the mainstream, and offer more substance to that category like The Civil Wars did? Of course there will only be one Civil Wars and nobody will be able to replace them completely, but here are some ideas who could have a similar impact.
Bruce & Kelly Show, Bruce Robison, Carolina Story, Dave Rawlings, First Aid Kit, Gillian Werlch, Jayke Orvis, Kacey Musgraves, Kellie Willie, Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison, Mandolin Orange, Shovels & Rope, Simon & Garfunkel, T Bone Burnett, Taylor Swift, The Cactus Blossoms, The Church Sisters, The Everly Brothers, The Lovin Brothers, The Milk Carton Kids, The Secret Sisters, The Urban Pioneers
Saving Country Music was out and about Austin, TX and its outskirts over the past week or so as part of the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) gathering, pounding the pavement and looking for the next country music artist worthy of your ears that you may never otherwise hear about. In the coming months I look forward to taking some of these discoveries and sharing them with you.
American Aquarium, Brooklyn Country Cantina, Hurray For The Riff Raff, J.D. Wilkes, Legendary Shack Shakers, Lukas Nelson, Mickey Raphael, Nikki Lane, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sam Doores, Shovels & Rope, South by Southwest, Sturgill Simpson, SXSW, The Cactus Blossoms, The Defibulators, The Deslondes, The Dirt Daubers, Tim Easton, Willie Nelson, Willie Watson