35) Lera Lynn - "Out to Sea"
- Six minutes in pedal steel heaven.
- The comeback single was about as good as anyone could have hoped for. Did you know three geniuses playing acoustic instruments could rock this hard?
- The subtlest melodies are the ones that get under you skin the most. Here is (some gorgeous) proof.
- Classic synth-pop. Every pop chorus should be this good.
31) Chatham County Line - "Should Have Known"
- Still one of the most underrated bands in bluegrass. Then again, simply calling them bluegrass doesn't really do them justice.
- Prince brings the straight funk on this track. If it don't get you moving, you ain't alive.
- So fun and dark it almost feels wrong: "If I ever get to heaven it's a doggone shame."
- Great storytelling. Watch out. The chorus'll get ya: "A 30 year old photograph still sits upon the chest / Of me in a suit and tie and you in a wedding dress / Before the drought, in a wedding dress."
- "You say that you're watching the birds out the window / Well I got a bird you can watch / You ain't gotta act like you're borrowing eggs / Just to see if my dishes are washed / What's it to you if it's Wednesday at noon / And I've traded my iced tea for scotch." Good Lord, I love this woman.
- Kickass Canadian country music: "Just before dark, the trees turn to silhouettes / The world gets too pretty for my petty regrets."
- One of my favorite voices: "People 'round here, they're tougher than most / Oh we wrestle the devil 'til we give up the ghost."
- Sounds like good early 00s McGraw. One of his best in a couple years.
- A Civil War soldier writes letters to his beloved about why he feels called to the war, about his "deathless" love for her, and about how his own fate will probably be death.
- If you're asking me, this is one of the greatest songs ever written (thanks, Herb Pederson). A staple of the Seldom Scene live show--replete with audience sing-alongs and slow dancing--I'm glad we got another version of it on their latest album.
- Terrific, intricate picking. Perfect harmonies. As if we should expect anything less from this married duo.
- With a gentle double-banjo nudge, this duo reminds us that really living is going by the wayside.
- Fiddle, banjo, and steel guitar, all up in the mix on a mainstream country song. And it's a great one.
- I've thought this song was amazing since I first heard it on Shelley's folk collaboration with Daniel Martin Moore Farthest Field, and this version gives it new life.
- Discovered this gem during the end credits of an episode of Bojack Horseman. Understated, existential pop music.
16) Willie Watson - "Mexican Cowboy"
- Whens someone plays clawhammer banjo like this, it's like my heart feels the capacity love again.
- A Coldplay song for folks who don't think they're Coldplay fans.
- The Dusters have always done their own brand of bluegrass, and you won't believe some of the sounds in this nostalgic number are made with bluegrass instruments.
- A drinking song that puts everything that modern country drinking songs have become (let's pass out, catch diseases, and do it again tomorrow night!) to shame. Recalls Merle Haggard's best, honestly.
- One of the best pop songs of the year. Is it summer yet?
- I'd never heard this brilliant Townes Van Zant song before, but I can't imagine anybody singing it better than the Gentle Giant.
- Perfect representation of how fun this album is, and also contains what is unquestionably one of my favorite lyrics of the year: "This is the ballad of trying to grow flowers / so life will seem like it has meaning and stuff / and finding out all of those beautiful flowers / will never be anywhere close to enough" AND "This is the ballad of drinking rye whiskey / distilled in a barn that burned down around it / Find myself saying what I should be thinking / you're figure is flawless, I'm so glad I found it.
- Everything about this song is a sonic eargasm.
- We need a full album of OCMS/Bob Dylan collaborations already.
- There was a big hubbub amongst some of Simpson's fans on his Facebook page over his use of the word "goddamn" after he performed this song on Conan. Which is sad mostly because that performance was simply nasty.
- The Nickel Creek guitarist gets seriously practical about religion: "You say He's fair and wants everybody there / But heaven won't be home for us all / If you say that there are souls He won't repair / the God you serve dropped the ball." Amen, brother.
5) Lana Del Rey - "West Coast"
- Has there ever been better use of a tempo change?
- Imagine these lyrics sung perfectly: "I wanna make you feel how I feel when I'm listening to love songs / I wanna take you to the peak everything that you are."
- Copeland's signature pristine pop-rock, but watch out for that funky-sweet R & B flourish when the chorus hits.
- A beautiful, emotional tribute to a fallen friend and road crew member.
- Sounds like a wall-of-sound pop song that could have been released in the 60s. Brilliantly catchy and sentimental.
John Mayer - "XO"
Gangstagrass - "Keep Talking"
Eli Young Band - "Just Add Moonlight"
St. Vincent - "Digital Witness"
Ronnie Dunn - "Peace, Love, and Country Music"
Puss N Boots - Down By the River (live)
Water Liars - "Cannibal"
Robyn Ludwick - "Longbow, OK"
Skyline Motel - "Language of Love"
First Aid Kit - "Cedar Lane"
FKA Twigs - "Two Weeks"
Drive-By Truckers - "Natural Light" (had to throw a Cooley song on here)
Fire Mountain - "Be Your Eyes"
Pat Green feat. Lyle Lovett - "Girls from Texas"
Jim Lauderdale - "Neon Hearts"
Futurebirds - "Power of the V"
The Dirty River Boys - "Down by the River"
Chvches - "Get Away"
Zoe Muth - "Little Piece of History"
Hooray For Earth - "Say Enough"
Doug Seegers - "Pour Me"
Adam Hood - "Whole Lot of Hard Work"
Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison - "Carousel"
Parker Millsap - "Truckstop Gospel"
The Delines - "He Told Her the City Was Killing Him"
Kelsey Waldon - "The Goldmine"
Foster the People - "Coming of Age"
Eric Church - "Talladega"
Strand of Oaks - "Goshen '97"
Sons of Bill - "Bad Dancer"
Foo Fighters - "Something From Nothing"
Kendrick Lamar - "i"
The Band Perry - "Gentle On My Mind"
The Stray Birds - "Best Medicine"
Weezer - "Back to the Shack"
Frontier Ruckus - "Sad Modernity"
Glass Animals - "Flip"
Cody Johnson - "Holes"
Balsam Range - I Spend My Days Below the Ground"
Wye Oak - "Before"
Red June - "Black Mountain Night"
Phantogram - "Fall In Love"
Robert Ellis - "TV Song"
Eternal Summers - "The Drop Beneath"
The War On Drugs - "Under The Pressure"
Stoney Larue - "Blending Colors"
Little Big Town - "Faster Gun"
I Draw Slow - All Souls"