Charles Hale's Best Records of 2012

16.Cory Branan – Mutt

It seems like every review of Mutt talks about there being this style, then this style, then another, and what they never say is that every song on Mutt is incredibly well written.  Every song on Mutt is incredibly well written, I said it twice to make up for other’s neglect.


15.The Sparklers – Crying At The Low Bar

The review of this album generated a good bit of positive feedback.  I was surprised people liked it as much as they did.  It’s a really good record and because of the reaction I ended up listening to it more than I probably would have otherwise.  Thanks y’all.

Weren’t For Bars

14. Justin Townes Earle- Nothing Can Change The Way You Feel About Me Now

This record has grown on me over the course of the year.  Earle has talent and he’s not afraid to mix things up.  I don’t think this record has as much Memphis on it as most people do but it’s damn fine nonetheless.

Movin’ On

13. David Wax Museum – Knock Knock Get Up

The songwriting seemed to take a bit of a backseat on this release, compared to the two previous DWM records, but the sounds and the rhythms are top notch.  The band has seemed to receive a ton of recognition from this record and I’m confident they deserve every word written.

A Dog In This Fight

12. Todd Snider – Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables

One of the nice things on this record is that because Todd plays a lot of electric guitar his bitter venom on a couple of songs is more deadly than usual.  It’s a rough record by design and I’d march up the pyramids with Todd if he told me to.

In Between Jobs

11.Dinero – Sheep

I’m listening to this record as I type this, for the gazillionth time, and it’s still strange and beautiful and kind of makes me feel the way last year’s Cave Singers record made me feel.  Word is there is a shortish LP coming from Dinero coming in the early part of 2013.

Daddy’s Money

10.Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Live In Alabama

Yes it’s a live record and without any new originals but it’s so damn good.  I feel like I just wrote the review of this record a week ago so I don’t have any new thoughts.  Just listen to it and find the video from their appearance on Letterman, old David was pretty pumped up it.

Heart On A String

9.John Fullbright – From The Ground Up

The more I listen to this record the more I dig it.  Fullbright is young to be composing music the way he is.  He isn’t afraid to be understated and restrained but there’s plenty of punch on this Grammy nominated album.

Me Wanting You

8.4H Royalty – Where UFOs Go To Die

Their sophomore effort is such a huge step up from album one and word from the 4H Royalty headquarters in Byers CO is that another record is nearly finished and songs are being written for the follow up to that one.  When listening to UFOs pay attention to the subject matter, nobody is writing songs about the kinds of things these guys are writing about.

Virtues, Spices, & Liquor

7.Andrew Combs – Worried Man

Another debut album on my list.  His four song EP was such a teaser and Worried Man lived up.  Combs is another one of those songwriter who is compared to Guy Clarke but he’s better than all the others being compared to Clarke.  I truly hope he’s a prolific writer and that this album has found enough success that more albums come on a yearly basis.  If they do I suspect Andrew Combs will be on my best of list for years to come.

Take It From Me

6.Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

I firmly believe that these kids can make a record that can be much higher on my list.  They are so damn good already, hopefully all the success they’ve had helps them make a great record, and not the other way around.  I’m ready for whatever’s next.


5.Lucero – Women & Work

Women & Work is Lucero’s most danceable record.  It’s just fun, damn it.  It’ll never be my favorite release from them but it’s the best album they’ve made for dancing with women instead of moaning about them.

It May Be Too Late

4.Patterson Hood – Heat Lightening Rumbles In The Distance

Long gone are Patterson’s days of writing brash in your face rockers.  He’s developed into a literary rocker unafraid to present his work in calm and understated recordings.  I dig it so much because my listening preferences have happened to shift with his output.  God, I need to own this vinyl.

Better Than The Truth

3.American Aquarium – Burn.Flicker.Die

I often think of AA as the little band that could.  When I first saw them The Bible & The Bottle was fresh out and three studio albums later they’ve put out their best yet.  Does Jason Isbell turning the knobs help?  Probably, but more importantly the band has gotten tighter and tighter as the years have passed and BJ’s songwriting gets more and more consistent.  Most likely you’ve heard about AA but if you haven’t picked up Burn.Flicker.Die you’re late to the party so drink fast.

Saturday Nights

2.McDougall – A Few Towns More

I heard about this record in the Nine Bullet offices for a while before I listened to it.  Holy shit I’m glad I did.  This record is what Nine Bullets is all about.  Here’s a guy making phenomenal music that not enough people know about.  It’s not that the whole world knows about him now, but if it wasn’t for Nine Bullets I wouldn’t know about him.  Do yourself a favor.

Ask That Pretty Girl To Be My Wife

1.Spirit Family Reunion – No Separation

Their first full length is rugged but uplifting. Their songs are delivered with such fervor and unrestrained joy.  If you still believe music can make a bad day good then check out their Tiny Desk Concert. I love it, love it, love it.

I Am Following The Sound


It’s Friday and you probably don’t want to work which is totally understandable so we’ve brought distractions:

  • All the fellas in Lucero talk tattoos at Tattoo Artist Magazine.  Would you allow Ben to jam a needle in your arm after a show?  I’m pretty damn sure I wouldn’t.
  • The music Gillian Welch makes is as comfortable as your favorite hoodie.  Here’s an article about the making of The Harrow & The Harvest.  Read it.
  • NPR is more than just the radio.  They have a shit ton of killer content on the web.  The Tiny Desk Concerts are one of the best.  Here’s one from one of my favorite new bands The David Wax Museum.  And yes, that’s some animals’ jaw bone she’s playing.
  • Music In The Hall is one of the cooler things that happen in Oxford MS.  Local bands and folks coming through town sit down and play stripped down.  It’s like MTV Unplugged but better.  Here’s Patterson Hood & Jay Gonzalez playing a few numbers.
  • Are you familiar with this Lucero song?  I’m not but I want to here it again and again.

Alright, now get back to work.  It ain’t five o’clock yet.

PATTERSON HOOD – MURDERING OSCAR (and other love songs)

Last week saw the release of Drive-By Truckers’ co-frontman Patterson Hood’s second solo-album, Murdering Oscar (and other love songs). I believe the album also marks the first on DBT’s new label (their own), Ruth Street Records.

The album was produced by Patterson and long-time DBT producer David Barbe. Joining Patterson on the album are most of his Truckers bandmatesa as well as Don Chambers, Will Johnson and Scott Danbom of Centro-matic & South San Gabriel. Patterson’s father, David Hood, also joins him on cd for the first time ever.

Like Patterson’s first solo album, Killers and Stars, there aren’t any “new songs” on Murdering Oscar, and some are almost driving age. Murdering Oscar was written at two different times with two different Patterson Hoods doing the writing. The story goes like this, part of the album was written in the early nineties as a bitter Patterson was going through a shitty divorce. Then sometime in 2004 Patterson found an old cassette with those demos on it liked them enough that he decided to finish the album. Now, some 10 years later, life is shining on Patterson, so instead of trying to find those dark places in his mind, he juxtaposes the bitterness of a decade past with the positivity of his current station in life. So finally in January of 2005 he gathered the folks mentioned above and recorded the album…after which it promptly sat on a shelf until now.

The results are pretty typical Patterson for me. I barely liked any of it on the first listen and as it continued to play in my car different songs began to grow on me, which is how a lot of Patterson’s DBT tracks play out for me. The guitars on the album do hold a familiar raw sound that the past few DBT albums have been sorely missing and there are a couple of tracks on here that would fit perfectly on any Truckers album (Heavy and Hanging), but as a whole this isn’t where a DBT/Patterson newcomer should start.

Patterson Hood – Heavy and Hanging
Patterson Hood – The Range War
Patterson Hood – Murdering Oscar

Patterson Hood’s Official Site, Patterson Hood on myspace, Buy Murdering Oscar (and other love songs)


Patterson Hood sent out an email recently that contained a lot of interesting information I thought I’d pass along:

  • Patterson’s second solo album, Murdering Oscar (and other love songs) is available for pre-order. One of the available pre-order packages includes an autographed 180 gram vinyl album, a digital download and a signed (by Wes Freed) and numbered giclée of the album artwork.
  • Summer dates are scarce but Patterson hopes to take his merry band of Screwtopians (David Barbe, Will Johnson, Scott Danbom, John Neff and Brad Morgan) on a coast to coast tour somtime later this year. (PATTERSON! YOU GUYS REMEMBER WHERE FLORIDA IS?????)
  • July 7 will see the DVD release of the Trucker’s appearance on PBS’s Austin City Limits. The DVD contains the complete show (only approx. 1/3 aired) which features on of the last ever performances of “18 Wheels Of Love”, featuring the full monologue and the sequel monologue. (I NEED A COPY OF THIS!)
  • On Sept. 7, DBT’s former label, New West Records, will be releasing The Fine Print (A Collection of Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008). The album will contain many hard to find tracks such as “George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues”, “Rebels”, “Play It All Night Long”, “TVA” and the original version of “Goode’s Field Road”. (FINAL MONEY GRAB BY NEW WEST OR LEGIT RELEASE? THE REST OF THE TRACKLIST WILL TELL)
  • And finally, sounds like the band is in the studio this month recording the as of yet untitled follow-up to Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. They hope to release it sometime in early 2010. (HOPEFULLY THE LABEL CHANGE WILL LEAVE THE BAND FEELING ENERGIZED)

Drive-By Truckers – 18 Wheels of Love
Drive-By Truckers – The Great Car Dealer War