Well, I guess it’s my turn. Kasey and RSV have already dropped their faves of the year (here and here) on y’all, so there’s just no avoiding it for me now. This year was particularly difficult due to the sheer amount of great music that came out, and had I made this list tomorrow it would certainly change. That said, you can edit forever but eventually you have to settle on something and call it your list. So, with out further ado I am gonna steal RSV’s formatting and get this show on the road:
20. Eilen Jewell – Sea of Tears
19. Those Darlins – Those Darlins
18. Strawfoot – How We Prospered
17. Justin Townes Earl – Midnight at The Movies
16. Malcolm Holcombe – For The Mission Baby
15. Jon Snodgrass – Visitor’s Band
14. Ben Nichols – The Last Pale Light In The West
13. Cam Penner – Trouble and Mercy
12. The Fox Hunt – America’s Working So We Don’t Have To
11. William Elliott Whitmore – Animals In The Dark
Top 10 (with mp3s) are under the cut…
Can you really call a collection of unreleased outtakes, largely from a version of the band that no longer exists, a Top 10 of the year? Fair question. Now go listen to their cover of “Rebels” and “Play It All Night Long” and get back to me. Largely culled from the sessions that gave birth to The Dirty South, The Fine Print reminds DBT fans of why we love them, and hopefully reminded them that it’s still okay to rock. We’ll find out come March.
Drive-By Truckers – When The Well Runs Dry
Rev. Marcus from Strawfoot recommended these guys to me after catching them at a show one night, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Their bio claims they “don’t pay homage to old America, they channel it through desperate story-songs that latch onto your brain and demand immediate attention.” I couldn’t sum it up any better. A definite “must hear” for fans of O’Death.
The Builders and The Butchers – Raise Up Your Weary Hands
Look at that, three spots into the top 10 and it’s an Alaskan dominated list so far. I was turned onto Matthew Dean Herman’s music thanks to Evan from The Whipsaws and then had the pleasure of meeting him when I was up in Minneapolis for this year’s Deep Blues Festival. I have played this album for everyone from my parents to my boss to my drinking buddies, and everyone falls in love with it immediately. It’s stayed in constant rotation on my iPod this year and if you’re a fan of The Whipsaws, The Drive-By Truckers, Centro-matic and music of that ilk (which you are or you wouldn’t be here), then I bet it can find heavy rotation on yours, too.
Matthew Dean Herman – Blackbird
Next we go to the first of three Florida bands to make my list. Am I biased? Maybe. Is the album awesome? Definitely. Moving away from the Lucero-esqe country sounds of their previous album, One Damn Thing To Redeem, and more towards a twang-tinged straightforward rock ‘n’ roll sound of, say, Two Cow Garage, Truckstop managed to avoid the sophomore slump and made a great rock album in the process. It’s available for whatever you feel like paying for it, so go get a copy of it for yourself.
Truckstop Coffee – Ghost or an Angel
Another Florida band, and the third Suburban Home band, to make the list. IMO, The Takers embody the definition of “Florida Country”, which is to say they’re as much rock and roll as they are shit kickers and twang, and Devon (singer) has been known to drink enough to make any Floridian proud. It was a big year for these guys and I hope they can maintain that momentum. They are one of the hood ornaments of the awesomeness coming out of Florida these days.
The Takers – Curse of a Drunk
Nobody is more surprised than me to see a Chuck Ragan album on my list, but the quality of this album is impossible to ignore, regardless of your status as a fan or non-fan of Chuck. I can’t find a single fault with Gold Country, and since it’s release it’s been one of my favorite cds on the iPod. Easily his best effort to date, and if this is the direction he continues to go then 9b might turn into a de facto Ragan fan site.
Chuck Ragan – Get ‘Em All Home
OMG! Major label! Horns! A tour bus! What’s happening to our beloved little band from Memphis? In a word; nothing. After all the hand wringing and pantie wadding was done, what were we left with with 1372 Overton Park? Another awesome Lucero album with some of the best songs they’ve ever written, that’s what. And typing any more seems like it would be a disservice to the band.
Lucero – Darken My Door
This is one of those albums I wish I could convince everyone that they needed to hear. It’s so delicate and at times absolutely perfect. It could be said that I am being overly influenced by the hat tips and landmark references to the town(s) I live and play in, and that could be the case, but I’m gonna say it isn’t. Matt and company have truly made a great album in Postcards From The Friendly City. Easily the best local album of the year, but I genuinely feel it is a Top 5 of the year, too, regions be damned.
Have Gun Will Travel – Salad Days
Two years ago I was pretty worried about Scott. It seemed like he was going out in a blaze of glory and then, in his darkest moment, he seemingly rose from the ashes a changed man. His shows went from drunken disasters to some of the best shows I’d ever seen, and on the heels of that came Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever, his best album to date. Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever was, produced and recorded entirely in Scott’s home studio, and his decision to leave some of the mistakes in the mix gives the album the feel of a live SHB show, minus the between-song banter. SW/LF drives home the point that while the one man band might start with Bob Log III, that shit ends with Scott H. Biram and any doubters just might get a whiskey glass thrown at them on the wrong night.
Scott H. Biram – Time Flies
There it is. Right there. RSV and I have both selected the same album as our favorites of the year without even knowing what the other was choosing, further cementing my decision of asking him to become a regular 9b contributor as a good one. There is an honesty to this album that I find utterly captivating. RSV called it an “acoustic bombshell” and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Micah’s songwriting abilities are getting to the point of being unfair to the others bands in these genres. And while When The Stage Lights Go Dim probably isn’t an album for all occasions, it is, imo, the album of the year. Bare. Under-produced. As real and honest as Lincoln. You can’t look that kind of shit in the eye and remain unmoved. And if you can, well, you probably don’t belong ’round these here parts.
Micah Schnabel – American Static
And with that. We’re taking the rest of the week off. I like to echo RSV by saying thanks to all of you. The commenters, the lurkers, the bands making the music, the labels releasing it and the people pushing it on us. Hopefully 2k10 will be as prolific as this year was.