Because Songs Matter


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…

10. Lauderdale – Moving On

They sound nothing a like but for the same reasons you Like Lucero, you’ll like Lauderdale. I said this was one of the best albums of the year back in September and time has proven me correct (for once).

Lauderdale - Moving On     

09. Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

England Keep My Bones opens with this perfect mixture of the classic Tim Barry/Chuck Ragan punk folk meets Irish bar anthem opener that is the 1:30-ish song “Eulogy”, which immediately mixes into the Tim-meets-Gaslight Anthem “Peggy Sang The Blues”, and if you aren’t already trying to figure out where England Keep My Bones fits into your [year end list] by the time the (as I’ve declared) Americana National Anthem “I Still Believe” starts, then you’re just not as in tuned to the main vein of awesome as I am.

Frank Turner - I Still Believe     

08. Have Gun, Will Travel – Mergers & Acquisitions

No sophomore slump here. The boys of Bradenton keep the upward trajectory established with Casting Shadows Tall As Giants and Postcards From The Friendly City in tact by releasing the best album in the state of Florida this year.

Have Gun Will Travel - Dream No More     

07. Joe Pug – Live At Lincoln Hall

Seventeen tracks. Not a single one of them new. Doesn’t matter. This album illuminates everything that is awesome about Joe Pug’s music and talent and I knew it would be on this list before I finished my first listen of the album.

Goosebumps. This CD gives them to me.

Joe Pug - Messenger     

06. Jason Isbell – Here We Rest

Cliff notes version goes like this: Jason Isbell released a new album. It has 11 tracks that crush. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. The more I like it, the more I knew it had to be on this list.

Jason Isbell - Alabama Pines     

05. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

I’m not a Decemberists fan. In fact, I’m probably what the kids these days call “a hater” when it come to The Decemberists. That said, The King Is Dead is a really fantastic and catchy album that’s been in constant rotation since it was released.

The Decemberists - Down By The Water     

04. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – Scandalous

Scandalous is a sex record. I can’t think of any plainer way to put it. You got a party where folks are being a little too uptight and sticking in their own social circles? Pull out a bottle of vodka and put Scandalous in the cd player but be careful, ‘cause if you let bitch play on repeat someone will probably end up getting fucked in your bathroom.

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – She’s So Scandalous     

03. The Builders and The Butchers – Dead Reckoning

While the topics of death, good, evil, the grey areas in between, gods, devils and the end are similar, to label The Builders and The Butchers a mere Southern Gothic band is a disservice. Like Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, they’re bigger than that. These guys are busy crafting a genre all their own while we (bloggers) are desperately trying to shove them into some familiar box. Well not me, I’m gonna pour a glass of whiskey, put on some headphones and let the tension build as these stories and their songs wash over me.

The Builders and The Butchers – All Away     

02. Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground

Covering Ground is one of those albums that proves you don’t need moster riffs, overdubbed guitars and double bass drums to make an album that’s heavy. I think Romeo summed it up best in the original review so I’ll just quote him; “If you were to ask me to pick a defining track from Covering Ground I don’t think I could do it. Every track on this one is strong and worth listening to. When Chuck belts out these songs his voice drips with whiskey, cigarettes and too many nights on the road which makes it easy to completely get lost in the stories he’s telling. When he croons a ballad it seeps into you in a way that precious few artists can hope to accomplish. The vocals are frankly hypnotic on some of these tracks. When you toss in Jon’s fiddle playing you get some haunting tunes that stand their ground with the rockers.

Chuck Ragan - Nomad By Fate     

01. Glossary – Long Live All Of Us

I remember reading an interview with Adam Duritz of The Counting Crows back when August And Everything After came out. He talked about how they brought the songs that made that album into the studio and they were all rock and roll songs. The producer listened to the songs and told them the songs were too good to date with the sound of the time so he locked them away in a room full of vintage instruments and made them rewrite the music. The goal was to make an album that was timeless. That couldn’t be dated sonincally. In my opinion, that’s what Glossary did with Long Live All Of Us. Not only is it the best album of the year. It’s an album that I am fairly confident I’ll still be listening to 10 years from now.

Glossary - A Shoulder To Cry On     


  1. RP RP
    December 29, 2011    

    surprised GoGo Boots didn’t crack your top 20

  2. December 29, 2011    

    I knew Frank would be on your list this year. 😉

    Like your 2011 list. I just got American Stranger (last week) and as I am a pedal steel girl at heart it is awesome. I didn’t realize Jason had a new album out so I am off to pick it up.

  3. Phineas Phineas
    December 29, 2011    

    Solid List, and I’m not that surprised that gogo boots wasn’t included……………….this might just be me but a lot of the songs stop playing halfway or part of the way through, I’ll try it in explorer (in chrome right now). They download the full files if I click the download link, but I’m having some sort of issue with streaming them. I’ll check in explorer and see if that’s the problem.

    Looking forward to the Podcast!


    • December 29, 2011    

      Phineas, I think it’s a site issue. The hosting company has been struggling a little this post week.

  4. December 29, 2011    

    your brief review of the Black Joe Lewis is my kind of review. It isn’t about what happens in the music but what happens because of the music. well done boss.

  5. Damian Damian
    December 29, 2011    

    I love Frank Turner, and I’ve been following him since I accidentally stumbled upon Camp Fire Punk Rock a few years back… With that said, I think his new album is a huuuuge dissapointment. I like it, but it just feels like a filler album pushed out by the record company to capitalize on the steam from the Social D tour. I think its pretty mediocre and doesn’t live up to the standards of Poetry and Love Song and Ire.

    But that’s just my two cents… Good choices regardless.

    • Scott Scott
      January 20, 2012    

      I tend to agree this album was weaker than his others… that said, mediocre FT is still pretty damn good.

  6. E E
    December 30, 2011    

    No Slim Cessna’s Auto Club?

    Anyway, thanks for being my favourite music blog these past three years or so!

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