As the new year approaches, I’m getting more and more excited about what 2010 holds. So, I’m going to do a quick run down of some of the records I’m looking forward to in 2010…..and then my favorites of 2009.
Joe Pug- Messenger
This is probably my most anticipated release for 2010. Pug’s 2008 EP Nation of Heat took the blogosphere by storm. His unique songwriting found on both the EP and various live bootlegs floating out there in cyberspace makes him- for my money- the best of the latest crop of singer-songwriters. Messenger will be his debut LP, to be released on Lightening Rod Records (Jason Isbell, James McMurtry) on Feb. 16, 2009. You can stream two songs on his site here. The title track seems indicate that Pug is going for a more full band approach on this one. To these ears it resembles another talented Chicago songwriter’s best records- John Prine.
Drive-By Truckers- The Big to Do
Patterson has promised us a rock record. There IS a god.
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals- Medicine
Rumor had it that the Vermont rockers 4th record was going to be released late in 2009. It had a lot of early buzz on it too, perhaps because of the high profile T-Bone Burnett producer selection. But, evidently the T-Bone sessions were scraped as Potter and company teamed up with Dave Matthews Band producer Mark Batson (DMB, Maroon 5, Dr. Dre). Let’s hope the resulting record is awesome regardless of the producer. Notably, the T-Bone sessions were recorded without a Nocturnals bassist. The band was recording between the departure of long-time player Bryan Dondero and the recent acquisition of Catherine Popper (Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Norah Jones, Michael Stipe). Both Popper and new rhythm guitarist Benny Yurco contributed to the new sessions, which I considered a plus.
Adam Carroll & Michael O’Connor- Hard Times
This record is slated for release on January 1st, 2010. These two Texas singer-songwriters have produced a brilliant thematic project that chronicles the lives of- as they put it- gulf coast losers. The writing, singing, and playing is seamless and American in every sense of the word. This is a sleeper album, highly recommended.
Chip Robinson- Mylow
You may remember Chip from his days of fronting the badass Raleigh, NC band the Backsliders, who along with a certain other Raleigh, NC band (rhymes with Iskytown) revived alt. country in the late 1990’s. The Backsliders always leaned a bit more honky-tonk than Ryan Adams former band, but they were just as rowdy. Robinson hasn’t been heard on record for more than a decade, but his solo debut Mylow sounds like he never left. Though I’ve only heard two songs, Mylow sounds a tad leaner and slightly less twangier than most of the Backslider’s catalog. However, one this is certain; Robinson hasn’t lost his way with a lyric, hook, or song.
Okay. Enough of that, here are my favorite records of 2009.
LUCERO, 1372 Overton Park
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, Midnight at the Movies
– I can’t hardly wait to see what this Earle does next.
AMERICAN GUN, Devil Showed Me His Hand
-South Carolina’s best alt. country band knocks another one out of the park.
LEEROY STAGGER, Everything Is Real
-Leeroy is a badass. If you haven’t checked this Canadian songwriter out, you are missing out.
SLAID CLEAVES, Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away
DAVE RAWLING MACHINE, A Friend of A Friend
-The Return. Lives up to ridiculously high expectations.
TODD SNIDER, The Excitement Plan
-Todd Snider is hilarious. This album may not have had the sonic punch of its predecessor, but Snider- as always- has the songs.
SOMETYMES WHY, Your Heart Is A Glorious Machine
-The sirens of folk music. Supergroup extraordinaire.
MICAH SCHNABEL, When the Stage Lights Go Dim
-Two Cow’s frontman makes a folk record. And unsurprisingly, it rocks.
PATTERSON HOOD, Murdering Oscar (and other Love Songs)
-I love Patterson Hood. This solo record can sit right next to any of the Trucker’s records with pride.
SAM BAKER, Cotton
-Its tough to define Sam Baker, other than by mysticism. His records are like lightening bolts sent from God.
ZACH & THE RED WAGON, s/t
– Zach Seibert has always had a way with words. His debut solo record puts the best rustic Americana backing to them yet.
DANNY SCHMIDT, Instead the Forest Rose to Sing
-“Grandpa Built Bridges” alone is worth the price of admission.
MARK OLSON & GARY LOURIS, Ready For the Flood
-Who didn’t want to see these two reunite? Though not quite the revelation that Hollywood Townhall was, Ready For the Flood was a welcome acoustic record from the best harmonizers in alt. country.
SONS OF BILL, One Town Away
-These VA boys are going to be a band to watch. “Joey’s Arm” is one of my favorites of 2009.
WRINKLE NECK MULES, Let the Lead Fly
-One of alt. country’s most underrated bands. Let the Lead Fly continues their streak of raucous brilliance.
GUY CLARK, Somedays the Song Writes You
-One of america’s greatest living songwriters was on a tear in the last decade and he closes with one of his best. Check out my favorite “Hemingway’s Whiskey”.
JASON EADY, When the Money’s All Gone
-Another Texan, but this one slips some blues and soul into his country music.
ANDY FRIEDMAN & THE OTHER FAILURES, Weary Things
-Epic album. Check out “Freddy’s Backroom”- another favorite song from ’09.
JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT, s/t
-I haven’t been as enamored with this record as much as other people. I do find myself spinning quite a lot though. At times I think its brilliant.
THOSE DARLINS, s/t
-Shit kickers for sure.
THE TAKERS, Taker Easy
-It’s the curse of a drunk to love bands like this.
THE AVETT BROTHERS, I and Love and You
-Another one that I didn’t love as much as others. Definitely a step forward for the boys from North Carolina, would like to have seen some of their more frantic string band stylings though.
ANTHONY DA COSTA, Not Afraid of Nothing
-Da Costa was already one of my favorite songwriters, but Not Afraid of Nothing makes him an ARTIST to watch out for.
CONOR OBERST & THE MYSTIC VALLEY BAND, Outer South
-Say what you want about Conor Oberst (and trust me, it will have all been said before), this record rocks and rolls and for some of us that is enough.
About the author: Specializes in Dead, Drunk, and Nakedness..... Former College Radio DJ and Current Craft Beer Nerd