Saturday, January 12, 2013

Top 13 Albums of 2012

13) Caroline Herring - Camilla
Steel-guitar drenched, socially conscious country-folk doesn't get much better than this, and Herring's voice is transcendent. 

12) Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson - Wreck & Ruin
Heavy on banjo, fiddle, and excellent songwriting, this married Australian duo is more in touch with American country music than just about anything you'll hear on mainstream country radio.

11) Trampled By Turtles - Stars and Satellites
The Turtles ease up on the ferocity (though its still here) and focus on great songwriting, creating modern, melancholic folk-bluegrass that is timeless.

 10) Steep Canyon Rangers - Nobody Knows You
Bluegrass that has it's foot planted solidly in tradition but is nowhere close to being shackled by it, this album from the group that has a "side job" as Steve Martin's touring band is full of stunning musical precision and modern songwriting craft, and isn't afraid to take a few risks along the way.

9) Alan Jackson - Thirty Miles West
The only thing one can say about this album is that it's neo-traditional songwriting and sound at its very best; in other words, it's pure Alan Jackson, classic and enjoyable as ever.

8) Punch Brothers - Who's Feeling Young Now?
This group is otherworldly when it comes to playing their instruments (you can most appreciate this with an excellent pair of headphones), and mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile's songwriting only gets better.

7) The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter
The Avetts are ones to surprise with every album, smartly reigning in the piano-drenced anthemic quality of I and Love and You and trading it for what they do best: acoustic country-folk with excellent lyricism and pop sensibilities.

6) Chris Knight - Little Victories
Chris Knight rocks out and reigns in in equal measure on his latest album, solidifying the truth that he is one of the most underrated artists and songwriters working today.

5) The Honey Dewdrops - Silver Lining
This modern Appalachian folk album is riddled with beautiful harmonies and restrained yet skillful instrumentation, not to mention it takes balls to end an album with an instrumental and an old traditional sung acapella.

4) John Mayer - Born and Raised
Mayer self-reflects, gets personal lyrically, and surprisingly eases up on the guitar-solo breaks that used to color each of his songs, on this album inspired by the sounds of seventies classic rock and modern Americana. (FULL ALBUM REVIEW HERE.)

3) Ryan Bingham - Tomorrowland
Bingham wanted to experiment with the sounds he could get from a guitar on this album, approaching it as a kid who just discovered the instrument would, and Tomorrowland not only straight-up rocks but also contains poignant, introspective songwriting that's unsurprising to hear coming from the guy who penned "The Weary Kind."

2) The Trishas - High, Wide & Handsome
As good as this album is, you'd think these ladies from Texas had been playing and writing together for years upon years and not just two or three; a truly stunning achievement. (FULL ALBUM REVIEW HERE.)

1) Turnpike Troubadours - Goodbye Normal Street
I can't imagine 2012 without this album. This is country music that takes its cues from the best of old country, bluegrass, and rock and roll. Lyrically clever and deep when it's called for, Evan Felker is a poetically-inclined songwriter with something to say, and one of the best heart-on-your-sleeve vocalists I've ever heard. Keep your eye on these genre-defying fellows.

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