What a year for music. There was a lot of good stuff, so much so, that for the first time my year end list is going to 25. Take that Nigel Tufnel! Examing the bunch as a whole I seem to have a love for loud distorted rockers interspersed with catchy folk rock and an appreciation for genre throwback sounds done with modern freshness. These albums were the backdrop of my year living and loving life.
1. Efren - Write a New Song
This is balls out rock and roll out of Atlanta, GA. The distortion is cranked and the smart, fun songs are in your face. This record was the soundtrack of my summer. Many a barbeque was had playing this loud on the driveway. I repeatedly surrendered in a good way to this musical journey.
2. Allen Thompson Band - Salvation in the Ground
In a year that saw the passing of Levon Helm, this album was very welcome. It evokes some of the best stuff The Band ever did and sprinkles in a little 70s Neil Young, all while maintaining a contemporary joy. I especially dug this one in the car.
3. The Lumineers - The Lumineers
The Lumineers are a joyful bunch, raucous and celebratory, all while singing tales of struggling and sometimes seedy characters making their way in the world. Catchy and poignant. A great, great album.
4. Tyler Lyle - The Golden Age and the Silver Girl
I took a chance on this album and boy am I glad I did. Stripped down acoustic rock that transports me to the beach, contemplating the universe with a smile on my lips. I listened to a lot of music this year and I kept coming back to this one more than I ever would’ve imagined.
5. Langhorne Slim & The Law - The Way We Move
This record is a more recent discovery, but man it hit me powerfully. It has a raw sound, jumping with energy. There are impassioned vocals delivering great stories. The single “The Way We Move” is like a zen anthem. And the song “Someday” says a lot powerfully in just 87 seconds. The record is full of joyful surprises I didn’t see coming.
6. Hacienda - Shakedown
This San Antonia outfit brings no nonsense rock to the forefront. They lay down a rocking groove and show they have great chemistry. This album is so good I often found it was over before I knew it as time flies when you’re having fun.
7. Ryan Bingham - Tomorrowland
I’ve been a longtime fan of Ryan Bingham. He’s always blazed his own path and I never know what to expect. That’s a great quality. This is a cranked up rocker with attitude. At times the attitude is layered in strings which is wild and cool. He’s knocking at the door with this record and you better answer, motherf*&$er!
8. Japandroids - Celebration Rock
This is raw and rocking. The production is top notch. Sounds come in and out while grabbing your collar and never letting go. It’s nice, too, that the message is happy and upbeat throughout. This one is meant to be played very loud.
9. Bob Mould - Silver Age
Bob Mould brings out the distorted guitar again and it sounds great. It’s got the moxy of Sugar, just 20 years later. The album puts the pedal to the metal and reminds me of all that Bob has given to rock and roll over the ages with a fresh sheen. This one is a lot of fun to listen to.
10. Imagine Dragons - Night Visions
I really like the musical pictures Imagine Dragons paint. They are masterful in the studio creating whole worlds without ever losing the joy of a song with a simple hook. It’s catchy and deep at the same time.
11. Dr. John - Locked Down
It is good to have the doctor back in.
12. Delta Spirit - Delta Spirit
Driving, vibrant and eclectic “Delta Spirit” delivers an indie album that rocks enough to keep me on board.
13. Ponderosa - Pool Party
Ethereal, epic soundscapes painting tapestries for the ears.
14. Nick Waterhouse - Time’s All Gone
Old school R&B evoking the 60s, a pleasure to bring back to life.
15. John Hiatt - Mystic Pinball
John has a bite to him this time around that adds to his usual gruffness
and great songwriting.
16. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
Retro, yet contemporary and oh, what a voice!
17. Vintage Trouble - The Bomb Shelter Sessions
This LA outfit is full of spunk and energy delivering blues, retro soul.
18. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
It’s like Van Morrison and Marvin Gaye had a baby and named him Michael
19. World Famous Headliners - World Famous Headliners
It’s always good to hear Big Al Anderson, even better when it’s with
musicians of this caliber.
20. ZZ Top - La Futura
This is the best thing ZZ Top has done since Degüello so enjoy.
21. Dwight Yoakam - 3 Pears
With so much bad contemporary country, it’s great to hear a great country record.
22. Bob Dylan - Tempest
Even at his age, he ain’t done yet being relevant.
23. Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten
Catchy, rocking pop numbers are always welcome.
24. The Infamous Stringdusters – Silver Sky
Modern day bluegrass virtuosity that rocks.
25. Help Me Devil – Lokanta Hell
A rockabilly throwback with guts and grease for good measure.