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


This week I went out to the new release tree and gave it a shake to see what might fall out. The result was a sonic Thanksgiving feast. Matter a fact, I got so many new tracks I wasn’t able to get to them all this week which means next week will basically be an all new release show too. This show features brand new tracks from; Chris Knight, Old Crow Medicine Show, Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg, The Bohannons, Magnolia Mountain, Kasey Anderson and former .357 String Band member, Joseph Huber…Ninebullets Radio: Next month’s Americana radio programming, tonight.

If all of this sounds like something you’d be willing to invest an hour into then put some ears on the archived stream of the show and thanks for tuning in.

Below is the playlist for June 21, 2012 [Artist – Song – Album]

01. Todd Farrell – Nine Bullets (shortened)
02. Earl Dibbles Jr. – The Country Boy Song
03. Lucero – Hate and Jealousy – That Much Further West
04. The Bohannons – River Above – Unaka Rising
05. Big Kettle Drum – Bad Girl – Big Kettle Drum
06. Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg – Shake It – Painkillers
07. Chris Knight – In The Meantime – Little Victories
08. Kasey Anderson – Some Depression – Upcoming Album
09. Andrew Combs – Big Bad Love – Upcoming Album
10. Old Crow Medicine Show – Bootlegger’s Boy – Carry Me Back
11. Joseph Huber – Fell Off the Wagon – Tongues Of Fire
12. Magnolia Mountain – The Old Ways – Town and Country
13. The Sparklers – Gingham – Crying At The Low Bar
14. Micah Schnabel – American Static – When The Stage Lights Go Dim
15. Red Fang – Prehistoric Dog – Red Fang

Bold = Request

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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 77: aired 06.21.2012


There was a time when genuine rock bands landed on major labels, received amble promotion, and found success on radio.  I am just old enough to remember this time.  Bands like Cracker and Drivin’n’Cryin’ weren’t huge everywhere but found considerable audiences in various parts of the country.  This was before the consolidation of radio stations and record labels.  It’s in this era that The Sparklers probably could have found similar levels of success.  Their second album, Crying At The Low Bar, harkens back to the quality rock of the late eighties and early nineties without sounding dated or retread.  Two songs from Crying At The Low Bar (“Gingham” & “Falling Apart Makes”) were recently featured on Von’s Americana Mix Podcast, which is where I first heard of them.

Never Underestimate The Moon” is the kind of song every 14 year-old discovering rock’n’roll should listen to.  It has interesting sounds and a catchy melody and enough rock to displease overbearing parents.  Most importantly the song’s title and chorus is the kind of thing a 14 year-old mind could ponder throughout the school day.  What The Sparklers prove throughout the album is that they can write a song.  Standouts include “Gunfire and Confetti” and “Weren’t For Bars” but their website describes the album as a song cycle and for once that’s exactly how I feel about it.  While each sounds uniqe enough the songs drift out of one into another with an emphasis on mood and feel.

There’s a whole lot to like about this record.  I would suggest you listen, buy, like on facebook, tell your friends, make an illegal copy for your younger cousin, thank me.

The Sparklers – Gunfire & Confetti
The Sparklers – Gingham
The Sparklers – New Used Vintage

The Sparklers Official Site, The Sparklers on Facebook, The Sparklers on Spotify, Buy Crying At The Low Bar