ONE LAST LOOK BACK: THE TOP 10 LIST OF JOHN W. ALLMAN

Not so much a Top 10 list, as there is plenty of music I haven’t heard this year, but these 10 albums represent the discs that rarely made it out of rotation on my iPod or Spotify account. These are the albums that I turned to when I was happy, when I was caught in a blinding moment of despair, when I needed someone else’s words to articulate the emotions swirling in my head, if only to allow me the chance to breathe in, breathe out, and steady the ship.

Music has that power – to soothe, to agitate, to kickstart into action and give voice and purpose to one’s life. And these here are some pretty powerful artists, in that regard, whose songs helped define the past year of my life.

  1. Girls Guns and Glory: Sweet Nothings – This one has it all, from mournful ballads to shit-kicking rev-ups, and there’s not a damn bit of filler to be found. Best song, “Baby’s Got A Dream,” which instantly vaulted into my favorite songs of all time.
  2. Imelda May: Mayhem – Imelda May is the total package. She’s a latex-wearing, Vargas pinup with an undeniable ear for the heart of rockabilly swing. Best song, “Proud and Humble” or “Psycho.”
  3. The Horrible Crowes: Elsie – It’s no secret, I love The Gaslight Anthem, and this side project was a gift for longtime fans waiting for their follow-up to “American Slang.” Best song, “I Witnessed A Crime.”
  4. Jonathan Keevil: Bellflower (Original Motion PictureSoundtrack) – If you haven’t seen “Bellflower,” you are missing out on the best film to come out since “Fight Club.” It’s an apocalyptic love story with flamethrowers and badass Mad Max-inspired muscle cars that perfectly captures love’s intensity, from the intoxicating thrill of the first kiss to the heart-smacked gut punch of the worst breakup ever. Jonathan Keevil’s haunting soundtrack does for Evan Glodell’s film what Elliott Smith did for “Good Will Hunting.” It is simply remarkable. Best song, “Blind, Deaf Too,” “Enough” or “Babyfin.”
  5. Lydia Loveless: Indestructible Machine – Much has been made of Loveless’s destructive bent, her penchant for honestly exploring her issues with drugs and drink, and the fact that she’s barely legal and likely a candidate for the doomed 27-year-old musician’s curse. But there is no denying how amazingly talented she is, or that Loveless is as close as we’ll likely come to a 21st-century Patsy Cline. Best song, “Learn to Say No.”
  6. American Anodyne: So You Want to Be A Bullfighter – Good old outlaw country that would make Waylon proud. American Anodyne announced themselves as a force to be reckoned with on their debut, perfectly balancing a handful of rousing juke joint rockers with the social commentary of a modern-day Woody Guthrie. Best song, “Call My Brother” or “El Dorado, Dark Blue.”
  7. Kasey Anderson and the Honkies: Heart of a Dog – Singer-songwriter Kasey Anderson hooked up with the Honkies and delivered a wonderful slice of countrified rock, the perfect album for driving fast down an empty interstate, destination unknown. Best song, “Kasey Anderson’s Dream.”
  8. Jessica Lea Mayfield: Tell Me – Another younger-than-her-years songstress, Jessica Lea Mayfield can break your heart with her big, beautiful eyes or just cut it out with her incredibly sharp ruminations on the damage love can do. Best song, “I’ll Be the One You Want Someday.”
  9. The Breedings: Laughing at Luck – This brother/sister act out of Nashville, TN are the real deal, and I think they are poised to break big in 2012. Erin and Willie Breeding compliment each other perfectly on their debut, but it’s Erin’s voice that will grab you tight and not let go. Best song, “When It All Comes Down.”
  10. Jo Wymer: Living with Scars – I love Jo Wymer. This New Jersey-based mother/wife/teacher lives and rocks by a simple motto: Play it loud. And on her self-financed, independently released debut, she does just that, reaching for a brass ring that few artists are lucky to ever touch in their entire career and refusing to let go. I compared her to Pat Benatar in my review, but honestly, she’s better. Few albums in 2011 made me smile as much in 2011, and I can honestly say I never once was tempted to turn the volume down. Best song, “Dirty Secrets.”

NINEBULLETS.NET PODCAST: EPISODE 24 (SOME OF THE BEST OF 2011):

Originally, the podcast and Ninebullets Radio were supposed to (mostly) feature different songs. Then, I was asked to do an extra hour on the show at the last minute and the two ended up being extremely similar track listings. Sorry about that but look at it like this; in a week the archive of the radio show will be gone forever but the podcast is available (for better or worse) forever.

The Episode 24 podcast will ring out 2011 here on ninebullets. In preparation for this show I literally (yes, I am properly using the word) collected 50+ songs I wanted to play and set out to make a podcast. I say that so you know that this isn’t a “best songs of the year” show, so much as a “some of my favorite songs of the year” show. Some made this podcast but most didn’t…not because they were inferior songs, mind you, they just didn’t fit the flow of the show.

Believe it or not, I do try to maintain even flows throughout these things and avoid too many whiplash tempo changes. Had I made the podcast the day before or the day after I did, it probably would have turned out very, very differently. But I didn’t, and these are the songs that I chose and I’m done apologizing/explaining.

So, here are some of my favorite tracks of 2011 in podcast form. Everyone be safe over the long weekend, nurse your hangovers with the hair of the dog and college bowl games, and we’ll see you come 2012 (the final year of our planet?). . As always, below you’ll find the track listing for the show. Please tell your friends and Facebook/Twitter followers about it, I’ll greatly appreciate it.

Track Listing:

01. Frank Turner – I Still Believe (from England Keep My Bones)
02. The Decemberists – Down By The Water (from The King Is Dead)
03. Old Man Markley – Letterman (from Guts ‘N Teeth)
04. The Porter Draw – Davey (from California Widow)
05. Chuck Ragan – Nomad By Fate (from Covering Ground)
06. Matt Woods – Beating Down My Door (from The Matt Woods Manifesto)
07. Have Gun Will Travel – To The Victor Go The Spoils (from Mergers & Acquisitions)
08. Lauderdale – Moving On (from Moving On)
09. Kaleigh Baker – The Weight Of It all (from The Weight Of It All)
10. JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – Want More (from Want More)
11. Glossary – A Shoulder To Cry On (from Long Live All Of Us)
12. The Builders & The Butchers – All Away (from Dead Reckoning)
13. Deep Dark Woods – The Places I’ve Left Behind (from The Place I Left Behind)
14. Chuck Allen Floyd – Hard Times (from Schedule A)
15. American Andyne – Bastard Sons Of The New Depression (from So, You Want To Be A Bullfighter)
16. Grayson Capps – Highway 42 (from The Lost Cause Minstrels)


Download this episode (right click and save)

PLAYLIST: NINEBULLETS RADIO 12.29.11 (FAVES OF 2011 SHOW):

Last night’s show was a special, 2 hour, edition of Ninebullets Radio featuring some of my favorite tracks from 2011. I hope y’all enjoy it. Have a safe New Years and we’ll see you next week.

Ninebullets Radio is a radio extension of the blog ninebullets.net that airs every Thursday night in Tampa, Florida on WMNF 88.5 FM at 10pm Eastern. The show is archived for one week after it’s original air date and is available for streaming here. Also, don’t forget to head over to Facebook and like the Ninebullets Radio page.

Below is the playlist for December 29, 2011.

The first 1/2 of this week’s show was actually the last hour of The Postmodern Hootenany. You can listen to this portion of the show via this stream.

01. Scott H. Biram – Open Road
02. Chuck Allen Floyd – Hard Times
03. American Anodyne – Bastard Sons of The New Depression
04. Hellbound Glory – Bastard Child
05. Isaac Hoskins – Load Up That .45
06. The Only Sons – Standing Water
07. Mealaena Cadez – Clay Pigeons
08. Gillian Welch – The Way It Goes
09. Robyn Ludwick – Hollywood
10. Joe Pug – Speak Plainly Diana
11. Ha Ha Tonka – Made Example Of
12. Kingsley Flood – I Don’t Wanna Go Home
13. Old Man Markley – Letterman
14. The Decemberists – Rox In The Box

This 1/2 of the show is available via the standard Ninebullets Radio stream.

14. The Decemberists – Rox In The Box
15. Builders and the Butchers – All Away
16. Frank Turner – I Still Believe
17. Chuck Ragan – Nomad By Fate
18. Matt Woods – Beatin’ Down My Door
19. Eilen Jewell – Queen Of The Minor Key
20. Nikki Lane – Gone, Gone, Gone
21. Caitlin Rose – Shanghai Cigarettes
22. Have Gun Will Travel – Dream No More
23. Damion Suomi & the Minor Prophets – Camel
24. Kaleigh Baker – Train Gone By
25. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – Scandalous
26. JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – Want More
27. Grayson Capps – Highway 42
28. Jon Snodgrass & Frank Turner – Happy New Year

Bold = Request

P.S.: If you like this show, do me a favor and post about it on your Facebook/Twitter/Blog. It’ll do a lot to help these bands reach new ears…and in the end, that’s what this is all about. It’ll also help bring the existence of the radio show to more people’s attention & the more people there are listening/paying attention to the show the more likely it is to stay on the air.

Episode 52: aired 12.29.2011

The Top 10 List of Hoss

This is not a list of the Top 10 albums of this year. This is a list of the top albums that touched me this year, that I couldn’t stop listening to, that spoke to me or grabbed me in some way and wouldn’t let go. Some are from 2011, and some aren’t. I’m winging it, so just try to enjoy.

14. Kronos Quartet – Floodplain (2009)

Get your butt on Spotify or whatever music service you use and check out this album. More specifically, listen to track #5, Wa Habbi (Beloved). To me, the violin is the very voice of the devil and it embodies all the pain and suffering and angst and torture that life has to give, and this song, the way the violin is played on this song, does something to me that is very hard to express in simple words. Listen, if you get it you get it, if you don’t, then you’ll find it somewhere else, I’m sure. The Kronos Quartet is simply amazing. If you get a chance and haven’t already, acquaint yourself with their music….if you like string quartets and constantly push and challenge the conceptions of what a string quartet should be doing.

13. Adele – 21 (2011)

Many people will say “overplayed, mainstream schlock” when I list this album. Well, those people can eat it. Adele simply has an amazing voice and this album has two songs that slay me – Lovesong, one of the best Cure covers ever and Someone Like You, which almost always makes my heart hit the floor whenever I hear it. If you can’t get over yourself and appreciate a truly gifted singer, then you’re missing out.

12. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest (2011)

It’s always good when an artist that you love and respect goes back and finds their roots, finds the things that made you fall in love with them in the first place, and then brings them back and makes them relevant again. Gillian and David did that on this album. They went back to doing what they do well – tell devastatingly honest stories with soaring harmonies and amazing musicianship. However, they didn’t just go and make an album just like one they might have made 10 years ago, they brought everywhere they’ve been and everything they’ve learned since the beginning and tapped into it to make an album that hearkens back to their roots without forgetting about the miles of road they’ve traveled in the meantime.

11. The Red Romance – EP (2007)

Ok. This EP is 4 years old. So what? I just found these guys and ALL of these songs were in constant rotation all year long and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere soon…mostly because I don’t even think this band exists anymore. Hah! Power pop that hearkens back to 70s R&B and soul and The Commitments and, well, just about anything you can think of. These songs have serious hooks and are hard to deny. They aren’t deep, they don’t solve all of the world’s problems, but they’re upbeat, well done, and damn fun to listen to.

10. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (2011)

Being a Seattle guy, I’ve frequently found that people assume I have some predetermined allegiance to all things Nirvana….well, screw that. I’ve never been a big Nirvana fan, and I didn’t jump on the Foo Fighter bandwagon until this most recent album, and even then, I did so timidly. With that being said, now that I’ve found the Foo Fighters I’m not letting go and, frankly, this album fucking rocks! However, I don’t think the album really starts until the 5th song…but after that, it’s solid power-rock done well, with ripping riffs and unyielding vocals, meaningful lyrics and the appropriate level of angst.

9. Young the Giant – Young the Giant (2011)

Pure pop fluff…but damn, sometimes there’s just nothing better than pop fluff! I can’t put my finger on what it is that attracts me to these guys, but they’re always in my playlist and I never get tired of listening to a good 5-6 tracks off of this album, which is more than I can say for some other albums that were supposed to be the bee’s knees this year.

8. Glasvegas – Euphoric Heartbreak (2011)

I was cautiously optimistic about the sophomore offering from this Glasgow outfit. Their first album is still among my most favorite, and I wasn’t sure how they’d be able to follow it up. Euphoric Heartbreak doesn’t disappoint and stands out as one of the albums that really touched me this year. Their particular brand of ethereal, poignant indie-rock speaks to me, it encapsulates all of the heartbreak and sorrow I’ve ever felt in my life and lays it out there for me to lap up like warm milk. Their haunting melodies wrap me in a warm, familiar melancholia that is comforting, that tells me I’m not alone in this world and that I’ll never be forgotten.

7. Mariachi El Bronx – Mariachi El Bronx II (2011)

Who doesn’t love hardcore punk bands doing side projects that involve trumpets and really big ass bass guitars?? These buys bring it as a punk band, and then deliver it as Mariachi El Bronx. I love it when musicians explore different genres and styles and are not afraid to push the boundaries of their ability. I never get tired of listening to these guys!

6. Shearwater – Golden Archipelago (2010)

It was a daunting task, following up their Rook release, for that, to me, was a masterpiece of gloom and doom and honestly expressed emotion. At first, this album didn’t speak to me too much….but then I found it slowly creeping up on me when I least expected it, tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me to feel, to embrace and be comfortable with the all of the deep, dark secret places where emotions and fear live. High tremolo nights and the fearful heart-swoosh of freefalling into oblivion, sweet nothingness.

5. Drag the River – Bad at Breaking Up (2009)

In keeping with the punk-rock bands expressing themselves through different genres, here’s another album I came late to but have latched on to like a blood-starved leech. These guys just do what they do damn well. They’re like an old diner that serves the world’s best comfort food, you’re not going to get filet mignon with some fancy-shmancy French sauce, but what you do get is going to be good and it’ll sustain you for a long, long time. They never get old and I can listen to this album from beginning to end without once reaching for the skip-ahead button.

4. Glossary – Long Live All of Us (2011)

Standout album by one of the most kick-ass bands out there, plain and simple. Put on your aquarium platforms and sombrero with chi-chi balls all a-dangling and get down with your bad self – FlyGuy ain’t got nothing on these guys. Love, love, love this album. Not many albums actually make me want to get up and dance – I think dancing is for crazy people – but this one, well, I’d at least do some serious toe-tapping to it! These guys are deserving of much more attention than they get, and I’m hoping that changes soon.

3. Airborne Toxic Event – All at Once (2011)

Not embarrassed about this one. These guys are an amazingly talented band and I’ve been a fan for quite some time now. Their songs inspire me, move me, make me want to get up and get things done…while also reminding me of the dark side of human nature in a hopeful and optimistic way.

2. Only Living Boy – Hide Nothing (2011)

Kick ass band. If you’re a sissy, don’t listen to these guys, cause your feelings WILL get hurt. I have not stopped listening to this band since I immersed myself in them to write my review about this album. When I find myself getting too mucked up in all the melancholic bullshit you’ll find elsewhere on this list, all I have to do is listen to this album to get myself out of it. So grow a pair and take a listen to these guys.

1. The Black Hand Gang – EP (2011)

I can’t get these guys out of my head…or my heart. I didn’t want to like these guys, there’s only so much Scottish you should allow in your life, but goddamn, I cannot walk away from them. Their soaring melodies and musicianship draw me in, their sound mesmerizes me, I’m completely entranced and I don’t’ know why but I don’t really care because I just love their music, their feel, their sentiments, their everything. This Glasgow quartet embodies everything that Americana music is and has been, without being American. Beautiful.

AUTOPSY IV’S FAVORITE 10 ALBUMS OF 2011 (today):

I’m stopping 20 miles short of calling this list a “best of” list. As the stacks upon stacks of cds in my computer room would show, there’s so much music from 2011 I didn’t hear that it’s impossible for me to gloss this list anything other than a collection of some my favorite albums from the year. Everything on the Essential Listening list is worthy of your money and ears but as a blog owner I am obligated to bring you one of these lists at the end of every year so here is mine as I felt the order would be, today:

20. Ha Ha Tonka – Death Of A Decade
19. The Only Sons – American Stranger
18. Fifth On The Floor – Dark and Bloody Ground
17. Cam Penner – Gypsy Summer
16. John Moreland & The Dust Bowl Souls – Everything The Hard Way
15. James Leg – Solitary Pleasures
14. Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside – Dirty Radio
13. Michael Dean Damron – Plea From A Ghost
12. Scott H. Biram – Bad Ingredients
11. Grayson Capps – The Lost Cause Minstrels

Top 10 (with mp3s) are under the cut…

Continue reading “AUTOPSY IV’S FAVORITE 10 ALBUMS OF 2011 (today):”

ROMEO SID VICIOUS' TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2011

First I want to say that this was one of the hardest top lists I have ever done. Some of these don’t deserve to be ranked any lower than the ones above them. While I didn’t write as prolifically this year as I did others what I wrote about I really and truly loved. And then the other folks ’round these parts wrote about good stuff too. But the end of the year breeds top lists so I have been struggling for the past couple of weeks to actually rank these albums. I honestly will be doing some of these fine folks a disservice by putting a number next to their album but that’s the nature of top lists. It is what it is. This is my top ten for 2011, for this moment, as I write this post. I can assure you that it would turn out different tomorrow. Not the album, those would all stay the same, but the order would change. This year I am going to go against the grain a little bit and start with my current number one at the top of the list and end it all with a nice little compilation of songs from each artist. As much as I hate ranking these, because I love every one of them, here goes…


Number One: Austin Lucas – A New Home In The Old World

Original Post
A NEW HOME IN THE OLD WORLDThis album has rocked my world since the Day I picked it up. I love all of Austin’s work and he is one of the few artists I can honestly say has gotten better with each release. A New Home In The Old World is an amazing effort in which Austin steps outside of the box of his first releases and plugs in. The tracks on this album with an electric guitar are amazing and live they will blow you away. I was lucky enough to see Austin twice this year, once with The Revend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and once with Glossary and he blew me away each time. I got to take two of my kids to the show with Glossary for their first live music experience and I am pretty sure it changed their world. Austin gave us a great album and is one of the most genuine folks I have had the pleasure of meeting. While I hated ranking some these this album earned the top spot on my list without any question.


Number Two: Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground

Original Post
I said in my review of Covering Ground that this could be one of the defining Americana abums of the decade and time hasn’t changed my mind one little bit. This is one of the best albums I have ever heard. It stays in constant rotation and is as much a sing along as any other album I have. I cannot stress enough that this Chuck’s best work to date and you need it in your collection. This is whikey music for sure and we all know how I feel about whiskey music. In case you don’t here’s the run down: Played loud and alone with the whiskey straight and the lights down low. As far as I am concerned this is the best whiskey drinkin’ music of the year. And I don’t take that kind of statement lightly.


Number Three: Shane Sweeney – The Finding Time/Micah Schnabel – I’m Dead Serious

Original Shane Sweeney Post
Original Micah Schnabel Post
The Finding TimeThere is no way in hell I could rank one of these above the other. Hell ranking the top two has just about killed me so far. I can’t tell you how many times I have rewritten this post. I couldn’t rank one of these above the other so I gave them both number three. The really strange part is that it’s not because it’s Shane and Micah. These are two completely different albums. Aside from both being dark there is not a lot in common. However they are both fucking amazing in their own rights. I got some flack for mentioning I thought the music could have been stronger on I’m Dead Serious but I didn’t mean that it wasn’t a totally amazing album. In fact I rather hope it’s place on my top ten list I'm Dead, Seriousshows that while I did offer some criticism I didn’t feel it wasn’t a strong album. Micah’s lyrics tear me apart every time I listen to it. And then we have The Finding Time which is one of the most honest albums I have ever heard in my entire life. The style of production and Shane’s unbridled honesty makes you feel like you are sitting in his goddamn living room listening to him tell you his life story. So yeah it may be easier to write about these two in the same slot because of the TCG link but I promise you these two albums are equally amazing regardless of that link. These kids are making art here and you damn well better pay attention to it or you will get left behind. Whether it’s solo or as TCG there is no mistaking the genius that these two bring to the table. If don’t own the both of these then there is something very seriously wrong with you and you should probably seek professional help.


Number Four: Prison Book Club – Prison Book Club

Original Post
This self titled effort is by far one of my most played albums. The opening strains of the very first track seem to put me in just that mood, you know the one, the mood where you want to go down to your local hole in the wall, knock back eight or nineteen PBRs and try to lay some whup ass on the biggest SOB in the joint. The only bump in the road was the rework of Heart Of Lead off of their first album and even that’s just a little bump. This is rock and roll in all of its glory. These kids, members of The Fox Hunt and The Demon Beat, put together something that truly shows the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This album, as well as their first, will melt your face right off at 100 paces. It is as good as rock and roll comes these days.


Number Five: Glossary – Long Live All Of Us

Original Post
Let’s just keep the face melting vibe going with number five and get some Glossary on the list. These kids from Murfreesboro know how to rock and after seeing them live I can guarantee that face melting is their stock and trade. I love me some rock and roll and Long Live All Of Us delivers that in no uncertain terms. But what I love about Glossary is that their rock and roll backs up some of the most amazing songwriting floating around our little genre these days. These guys aren’t afraid to tackle any given subject and give it their all while they do it. When I saw them with Austin Lucas the little kids at the show couldn’t hold still and every last one of them got up in front of the band and rocked out. It put the hipsters at the show to shame. Little kids showing hispters how music should be enjoyed warmed my heart. I just want to thank Glossary for being able to see that and this is the perfect space to do that. Keep rockin’ it kids!


Number Six: Michael Dean Damron – Plea From A Ghost

Original Post
With my penchant for honest music including Plea From Ghost was a no-brainer. As far as soul baring goes Michael Dean Damron really comes in second to none. The pain and suffering he can convey in his voice is enough to make a tea totaller crave that bourbon burn. This one gets cued up for those late-night-family-bed-looking-back-at-my-life-through-the-bottom-of-a-whiskey-glass nights. But even if you aren’t someone that gets all whiskey-pensive this is still an damn good album and it’s one you should already own. I seriously doubt Mr. Damron will ever cease to amaze me with his writing, his voice and his music. This is likely the most heartbreaking album to come out this year and I love every single note of it.


Number Seven: The Von Ehrics – Two Foot Stomp

Original Post
This was one of those that came out of nowhere, a band I had never heard of, an album that sat around unlistened and when I finally got it it grabbed me by the throat and made me regret putting it off as long as I did. Two Foot Stomp is a perfect blend of punk mentality, Texas twang and a little bit of soul. I still feel like I didn’t do it justice in my original write up and know I can’t fix that in the space I am allowing myself for this list. Suffice it to day that it is some of the best music to come out of the Texas/Red Dirt/Whatever-the-hipsters-in-ironic-cowboy-hats-are-calling-it-these-days scene. It gives me hope that a scene I loved for years isn’t going to drown in frat-boy-country.


Number Eight: Scott H. Biram – Bad Ingredients

Original Post
It’s hard to say something that hasn’t already been said here on 9B about the venerable Mr. Scott H. Biram. The original review garnered some opinions that Bad Ingredients wasn’t one of Birma’s stronger works and I can’t disagree more. There wasn’t any phoning it in on this one. In fact this is my second favorite SHB album. It’s got everything I have come to expect from this man. Honestly I can’t not sing along to I Want My Mojo Back (I really wish there was a karaoke version of that one). This record was one of the high points of my year. I am really glad I managed to wrestle this one away from AIV for the review. I still haven’t managed to see SHB live but it’s on my list of things to do in 2012 even if I have to drive to Austin to see the boy.


Number Nine: The Heelers – The Devil On Your Shoulder

Original Post
I can’t lie and say that having this many Texas kids on my list doesn’t make happy and The Heelers are no exception. So I am not entirely sure whether this one came out in late 2010 or early 2011 but I reviewed in February so it goes on my 2011 list. A Brent Best produced (see: Two Cow Garage as well) band these guys write and play music that is just fun to listen to. Possibly my favorite line of the year comes from this one: …And the barkeep’s prettier than any I’ve see what the hell is she doin’ in here/Givin’ courtesy laughs to piss poor jokes and serving lonely me one beer…. You can tell that Isaac Hoskins has done some time in the same sort of bars I am still serving time in and I love him for that.


Number Ten: Brandon Adams And The Sad Bastards – Self Titled

Original Post
BRANDON ADAMS AND THE SAD BASTARDSHaving started the year pretty down on the Red Dirt scene this was one the albums that left me having a little bit of faith coming out the other side. It’s dark, it’s raw and it demands to be taken with whiskey. This little group from Texas really carved out its place on my playlist. I love me some soul baring, gritty music and this satisifes that need quite sufficeintly. To be honest this one deserves a higher place on the list but the nature of lists means that albums have to be at the bottom. I couldn’t just rank them all as ties and have a top three so it is what it is. You really should have this one in your collection if you don’t already.


That is probably the hardest top list I have ever had to come up with. To be honest I really wanted to add more to it but due to familial Christmas obligations I am down to the wire on time. I hated making this list and not includng William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs, Brothers Through The Hill – Adeliade, and Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones (Although Frank is probably on enough top lists that he won’t be missed on mine). I don’t even know that I would rank these albums the same if I started writing this post today (It took me five days to complete this one) and I really feel like most of these could have tied for higher slots on the list. I really think that next year I am just going to give you all an alphabetical list of my favorite albums of the year and not bother ranking them because it honestly doesn’t feel right. So for what it’s worth this is my list. There are many like but this one is mine. If only it were accurate. Make sure to stay tuned because I am putting together a mix tape of songs from all of the 9B crew’s top lists.

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for making 9B one of my favorite places on the web and giving me the chance to tell you about the music that I love. Remember if you don’t enjoy your NYE drinking in moderation at least have a designated driver or call a cab.

OSTROV's TOP 10 OF '11

Top 10 Albums:

25. J. Mascis – Several Shades of Why

24. Ruby Coast – Whatever This Is: They made their first EPs while still in high school, but their first LP is mature, polished, and a blast to dance or drive to. (free music alert)

23. Algernon Cadwallader – Parrot Files: Rips off Cap’n Jazz the way Colossal ripped off American Football. The first midwestern emo analogy on ninebullets? I dunno.

22. Tin Armor – Life of Abundance: Smiths meets Big Star, a gorgeous and fun album that fans of Frank Turner will love.

Tin Armor – Plain Limbs

21. Bomb the Music Industry! – Vacation: How do you like your Brian Wilson worship–from tip-toeing nerds like Animal Collective or from the endlessly savvy band geeks of BTMI who actually have something to say? (free music alert).

20. Elway – Delusions: Rock from Fort Collins CO, think Arliss Nancy played for punx in basements instead of drunx in bars.

19. The Underground Railroad to Candyland – Knows Your Sins: Horrible band name, amazing sound. What a “teenage symphony to god” sounds like these days.

18. The Decemberists – The King is Dead: Without changing all that much, they expanded their appeal to a whole different kind of pretentious people. Those swayed by this album, check out Meloy’s flawed-but-lovely college country band, Tarkio.

17. Tommy Stinson – One Man Mutiny

16. Austin Lucas – A New Home In the Old World

Austin Lucas – Darkness Out Of Me

15. Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground

Chuck Ragan – Wish On The Moon

14. Joey Cape’s Bad Loud – S/T Demo

13. Sharks – The Joys of Living 2008-2010: They’ve toured with Ragan. For fans of Gaslight, Social D, Psychedelic Furs.

12. Jon Snodgrass & Friends – Tri-State Record, or Five-State Record, depending on where you live or how much you like imports

Jon Snodgrass & Friends – Campaign

11. Josh Small – Josh Small’s Juke

Josh Small – Everyone’s Daughter

10. Laura Stevenson & the Cans – Sit Resist: Brilliant pop that swings between indie and roots rock. Glorious voice.

9. Matt Woods – The Matt Woods Manifesto: A better album than Steve Earle’s.

Matt Woods – Port St. Lucie

8. Shane Sweeney – Shane Sweeney – The Finding Time

Some Hope, Somewhere

7. Guy Clark – Songs and Stories (Live): Document of how great his recent songs really are. How does a band still have this much fun 30 years into the game, after they’ve already mastered it? This could be what Lucero sounds like in 20.

6. One Hundred Dollars – Songs of Man

5. Wild Flag – Wild Flag: Two of the best guitarists in the world and, by far, the best drummer.

Wild Flag – Something Came Over Me

4. P.S. Eliot – Sadie: Alabama lo-fi college rock. They’ll be broken up by the time you read this. Seriously. I’m sad. (free music alert)

3. State Champion – Deep Shit

State Champion – Bottom Of The Bleak

2. Madeline – Black Velvet

1. Glossary – Long Live All of Us

Top 10 Lyrics:

8. “This is why we fight, this is why we lie awake…” ~ Colin Meloy/The Decemberists, “Why We Fight“: Because he didn’t finish the line with “at night.” The whole album is a textbook on restraint, which is so much more exhilarating than excess.

7. “My sister lost a friend over something like an invitation.” ~ State Champion, “Old Green Room”

6. “My heart aches, but only on the third beat.” ~ Madeline, “Hurry Up, Pronto

5. “Like a Roman, you lived it.” ~ Jon Snodgrass, “Weighing in on St. Michael“: Simple and beautiful and never sung before.

4. “Never trust a hotel clock!” ~ Joey Cape, “Montreal“: That’s how you make a road song relatable. Take note, touring bands writing only about touring.

3. “I know your pain and share your pain, let’s have soup together.” ~ The Pack a.d., “8

The Pack AD – 8

2. “If there’s two things that I hate, it’s having to cook and trying to date. Busting ass all day to play hurry-up and wait.” ~ Jason Isbell, “Codeine“: A response to the Pack a.d. line.

Jason Isbell – Codeine

1. “I cannot even do one sit-up, sit-ups are so bourgeoisie.” ~ Stephen Malkmus, “No One Is (As I Are Be)

Top 10 Daytrotter Sessions (pony up):

5. Cheap Girls

4. Naughty By Nature

3. Sharks

2. Frank Turner

1. Caitlin Rose

Top 10 Books (that I haven’t read yet):

3. Diane Keaton – Then Again

2. Bob Mould – See A Little Light

1. Chris Bachelder – Abbot Awaits

Top 10 Web-Comic Strips (of the handful that I follow):

2. Liz Prince – Alone Forever #42:Aloneth Forever

1. Mitch Clem – Nothing Nice to Say #450: “Jaded Asshole!

♥. Liz Prince – “I Don’t Know How to Say Goodbye

Top 10 Guitar Hooks:

1. Oh No Oh My – “Again Again

Top 10 Things Ever:

1. Drag the River name-your-own-price digital store. Finally hearing the b-side of the out-of-print Gabba Gabba Hey Buddies!

Top 10 Things Coming Next Year:

8. New albums from Gaslight Anthem, Cheap Girls, Sharks, Menzingers, Hot Water Music, Magnetic Fields, John K. Samson (of the Weakerthans), Teenage Bottlerocket….

7. The Promise Ring reunites and releases rarities album.

6. Tim Barry left Suburban Home, but if he had to go somewhere else, Chunksaah Records, run by The Bouncing Souls, is the sweetest destination. Barry’s first album on his new label is due next year. The Bouncing Souls themselves are going into the studio with Bill Stevenson and should have a record out in 2012, as well.

5. This year, Craig Finn of the Hold Steady shacked-up in Austin, listened to some Nick Lowe, saw Alejandro Escovedo live (a Texas rite), and recorded. So his solo album next year has a chance to be incredible or just the same.

Craig Finn – Rented Room

4. The DTR full-band album that was supposed to be built off the 2010 DEMOnS sessions?

3. The long-homeless Cory Branan album to “drrrrrop this Spring?”

2. Lucero – Women and Work

1. Franz Nicolay – Do the Struggle: Prepare for the next Sign ☮ the Times

CHARLES HALE'S 10 RECORDS THAT MADE 2011 TOLERABLE, ETC.

11. William Elliot Whitmore-Field Songs:  Songs about working and struggling and grasping to the only piece of fucking dirt that yours and some SOB trying to cheat you out of it.  Thanks WEW.  I’m taking bullshit handyman work over the winter just so I can afford to eat Burger King and drink a couple of Miller High Lifes every once in a while, so I’m a disciple of these songs.  I wonder what the farmers in Iowa do in the wintertime to survive.  Is the suicide rate higher then?  He’s singing about surviving here, that’s what you sing about when you know it’s not a guaranteed kind of thing.

10.  David Wax Museum-Everything Is Saved:  I’m writing this two and a half days before Christmas and I’m 2000 miles away from anyone I share blood with.  That and other real life bullshit is why “The Least That I Can Do” is my favorite song of the year.

9.  Hayes Carll-KMAG YO-YO: Hayes Carll is a goddamn wiseass but he’s my kind of wiseass.  I’d bet we drink for the same reasons.  It’s safe to say his year’s gone better than mine because this record isn’t as full of downtrodden and broken spirit as much of his earlier work.  Good for him.

8.  Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Here We Rest:  It’s entirely possible that two years from now this will be my favorite album from 2011.  It’s cozy, like snuggling up with an old dog cozy.  My dog is only two and a half so I’m not talking about snuggling with him.  I’m talking about breaking into your house while you’re away and snuggling with your dog.  I’ve done it.  If you don’t believe me ask your dog.

7.  Lauderdale-Moving On:  I’m probably the same age as the fellas in Lauderdale but they kinda feel like a little brother.  Like I’ve been away from home for a while and when I got back my little brother was drinking beer, not in an obnoxious drooling all over yourself and pissing people off kind of drunk, but the let’s go wander around kind of drunk.  I can tell my little brother’s been introduced to whiskey and I wish I’d been the one to pour his first.

6.  The Head & The Heart-Self Titled:  My favorite debut of the year.  This is a good mood, riding down the road with the windows down kind of record.  It’s 9 degrees outside right now and I would call my mood good so if you’re one of those well-off fucks with a fancy phone pull it out and make some notation to listen to this record on your Spring Break trip with all your friends.  It’ll sound amazing then.

5.  The Low Anthem-Smart Flesh:  I’d like to be all snarky and smug in this paragraph but the truth is I basically fell in love with Josie Adams when I saw The Low Anthem earlier this year in Denver.  She’s the band’s secret weapon.  If you read this Josie please don’t write, I don’t want to find out you’re not as badass as I imagine you to be.  There’s a blog about one of the band members making some kind of giant moth sculpture.  I wish they would hurry up and finish with that project so they can make another record.

4.  Drive-By Truckers-Go Go Boots:  You ready to fight?  This is the best truckers record in a long time and some folks have gotten so used to sub-par outputs that they don’t notice when a great fucking album shows up.  They finally found the sound they were looking for since they wrapped The Dirty South.  Stop your bitching about it not being Decoration Day.  It’s their 9th studio album and when the cannon of DBT songs is complied “I Do Believe,” “Used To Me A Cop,” “Everybody Needs Love,” “Pulaski,” and “Mercy Buckets” will all be included.  MB being one of the five best songs Hood has ever written.  Disagree?  I’d be ok with punching you in the mouth.

3.  Brown Bird-Salt For Salt:  Everything that needs to be said can be understood by noticing that dude is wearing a Mastodon T-shirt in this video.

2.  Cave Singers-No Witch:  This record still freaks me the fuck out.  There was something about procreating to it in my review and I’m still not sure where that notion comes from but maybe The Cave Singers are aliens or ancient warriors from the Garden of Eden.  Seriously, what are the sounds on this record that spook me, how did they make them?  Why does he have to howl while he sings?  Is there possession involved?

1. Glossary-Long Live All Of Us: Has any band in our little neck of the music landscape released three successive records as badass as Glossary’s last three since the SRO, DD, TDS trilogy?  I think not.  There are literary quality lyrics about sinning and quests for redemption.  Buy the damn record and help the little band that could move from the bars to the clubs.  This record makes me wanna dance.  Do you wanna dance? 

Most Disapointing Record:  My Morning Jacket-Circutial

Favorite Book: Donald Ray Pollack-The Devil All The Time (but I read a bunch of books, here’s the whole list)

Favorite Shows: Langhorne Slim/Pineross, Proud Larrys.  The Low Anthem, Larimer Lounge.

Favorite UFC fight:  Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua 

SEAN'S LUCKY 13 OF 2011

Why 13, you ask? Well, it’s my favorite number and, conveniently, it is also the number of albums that grabbed my attention this year. Plus, I like the title of “Lucky 13” for my list.

13. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire. This is the album I’ve turned to all year whenever I’ve been in the mood to chill. Perfect for sitting back with a bottle of scotch. (Sound pretentious enough?)  On a side note, Ryan did a couple excellent covers of my music idol, Bob Mould, this year: Black Sheets of Rain (Live on Letterman) and Heartbreak a Stranger (Bob Mould Tribute Concert)

Ryan Adams – Chains Of Love

12. Foster and Lloyd – Its Already Tomorrow. This album out jangles The Byrds. The title track and “Lucky Number” are the best power-pop songs I’ve heard in years.

Foster and Lloyd – Lucky Number

11. R.E.M – Collapse Into Now. I doubt if R.E.M could have left after a better album, short of retiring after Automatic For The People (a valid argument). “Discoverer” may be their best opening track since “Begin the Begin” off Life’s Rich Pageant. “Uberlin” may simply the best song they’ve recorded in the past 10 years.

R.E.M. – Uberlin

10. Hayes Carll – KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories). Hayes gets the most attention for his romps and stomps, but his songwriting really shines on the slower songs.  “Another Like You” is a cleaver give and take with Cary Ann Hearst.

Hayes Carll – Stomp and Holler

9. Drive by Truckers – Go-Go Boots. One of the things about doing these lists is you go back to revisit albums from earlier in the year that you got burned out on. Sometimes you realize they weren’t as good as you thought. Other times they sound even better on the second “first” listen. This is the latter.

Drive-By Truckers – The Weakest Man

8. Have Gun, Will Travel – Mergers and Acquisitions. Pretty much everything Autopsy said.

Have Gun Will Travel – Freightliner

7. Dave Alvin – Eleven Eleven. No better CountryRockBlues album released this year. Like his songwriting, Dave’s baritone is as strong as ever. How did I overlook reviewing this? Gonna have to rectify that after the first of the year.

Dave Alvin – Johnny Ace Is Dead

6. The Decemberists – The King is Dead. I’m one of those who never got into The Decemberists before this album. But, being a REM-head since the mid-80s, it is in my DNA to adore this one. “Down By The Water” another of my songs of the year.

The Decemberists – Calamity Song

5. Jason Boland and The Stragglers – Rancho Alto. A true country album in every sense of the word. If anyone is carrying the “traditionalist banner”, it’s Jason. This album is proof. “Farmer’s Luck” ranks with Mellencamp’s “Rain on the Scarecrow” as one the great songs describing the troubles of the American farmer. “False Accuser’s Lament” is a prime example of Jason’s vivid storytelling.

Jason Boland & The Stragglers – False Accuser’s Lament

4. The Damn Quails – Down the Hatch. See review

The Damn Quails – Me and The Whiskey

3. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Here We Rest. Top notch songwriting, great band, great album. “Codeine” is one of my songs of the year, although “Go It Alone” might be the song that got the most play as it has helped me get through my separation and pending divorce.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Go It Alone

2. Hellbound Glory – Damaged Goods. Anyone from Nashville that calls themselves “Outlaw Country” needs to listen to this and then hang their heads in shame. Review is upcoming next week.

Hellbound Glory – You Better Hope You Die Young

1. John Moreland and the Dust Bowl Souls – Everything the Hard Way. See review

John Moreland and the Dust Bowl Souls – Christian Rock

Bonus: Jody Booth – Nashville. Perfectly describes the corporate music machine in 2011.