The year is off to a strong start and I expect that it will only get better. Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite releases from the first half of 2014.
“Simply bad-ass” is the phrase that overwhelms my thinking every time I give this album a listen. Loveless isn’t one to pull any punches and her rocking band gets in more than a few jabs of their own. This is my kinda rock and roll.
Key Tracks: Really Wanna See You, Wine Lips, Head, Verlaine Shot Rimbaud, Somewhere Else
There has long been something magical in Mills’ writing and his latest release is no exception. Mills wears his musical heart on his sleeve, crafting songs that are filled with emotion and intensity which he then brings to life with a voice that is passionate and full of conviction.
Key Tracks: Alexandria, Rubicon, Blooms, The Sweet Hereafter, Quiet Corners
You never know what you’re going to get when a “super group” of musicians come together. Leave it to the newly formed Hard Working Americans to demonstrate how to do it right. They hit the bulls-eye twice, first with their stand-out performances and musicianship. Second, by covering a collection of songs written by some of theirs – and my – favorite songwriters.
Key Tracks: Another Train, Down to the Well, Stomp and Holler, Welfare Music
Featured Twangville coverage of Hard Working Americans: Mayer’s Playlist for January 2014, Part 1
Are you ready to rock? Well the Truckers certainly are. English Oceans finds Patterson Hood in fine story-telling form and Mike Cooley filling his songs with plenty of piss and vinegar. The results are pretty damn potent.
Key Tracks: Shit Shots Count, Primer Coat, Pauline Hawkins, Hearing Jimmy Loud, When Walter Went Crazy, Grand Canyon
Featured Twangville coverage of Drive-By Truckers: Mayer’s Playlist for Feb/Mar 2014, Part 2 and Drive By Truckers – Live at Track 29 in Chattanooga, TN
Ragan has found a way to marry his punk pedigree with the edgier side of Americana. Let’s call it rustic punk… and a mighty fine listen.
Key Tracks: Something May Catch Fire, Vagabond, Non Typical, Bedroll Lullaby, Gave My Heart Out
Featured Twangville coverage of Chuck Ragan: Mayer’s Playlist for January 2014, Part 1.
Borges returned from her musical hiatus by releasing what is arguably the best album of her career. Radio Sweetheart bristles with swagger and attitude, not to mention plenty of guitar-driven punch.
Key Tracks: Girl With a Bow, Think of What You’ve Done, The Waiting and the Worry, Start Again, Record on Repeat
Featured Twangville coverage of Sarah Borges: Happy Valentine’s Day: Radio Sweetheart from Sarah Borges , Monday Morning Video: Amy Black, Girls Guns & Glory and Sarah Borges , and More Video Fun from Sarah Borges, Amy Black and Girls Guns & Glory
While they remain true to their love of Hank Williams and vintage country, Girls Guns and Glory let their rock and roll colors fly on Good Luck. It makes for one rollicking good time.
Key Tracks: All the Way Up to Heaven, Be Your Man, One of These Days, C’Mon Honey, Rockin’ Chair Money, It’s Your Choice
Featured Twangville coverage of Girls Guns and Glory: Mass Ave – A Special Boston Playlist , Photos that Rock: Girls Guns and Glory , and Girls Guns and Glory at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse
The Oklahoma native sets a high bar for himself with an outstanding debut release, deftly mixing up a stew of country gospel, folk and bluegrass.
Key Tracks: Old Time Religion, Truck Stop Gospel, The Villain, Quite Contrary, When I Leave
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.