Originally published at moonrunnerscountry.com
Well folks, 2011 is just about gone and we've seen a lot of great releases. The great news is that 2012 is gearing up to be even better. Below are some of the albums I'm looking forward to next year along with my thoughts or the artist's comments on each of them.
Nashville honky-tonk traditionalist Alan Jackson will be releasing his next album in the spring of 2012. It will be produced by Keith Stegall and will be his first album for Capitol Records. The first single, "Long Way to Go" has been one of the few good things on country radio lately.
Bobby Bare Jr.
Bobby Bare Jr. is currently seeking funding to record his next album HERE. Bobby is planning to write enough songs for two records, but will only be recording one. The plan is for the record to be finished by the summer and then it will be self-released or released on an independent label.
Bob Wayne- Till the Wheels Fall Off
Starting in early January, Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies will begin work on their forthcoming record Till the Wheels Fall Off. Bob says that he also plans to tour North and South America and Europe extensively next year and also plans to release a short film.
Brett Detar is about to start work on the follow up to his solo debut Bird in the Tangle, which can still be downloaded for free on his website.
"At the moment," he tells me, "I'm scheduling studio time, putting the band together, narrowing down songs, and writing a few last minute contenders that will hopefully knock a few of the other songs off the record and into the B-side pile. Along with that, my first movie score is about to see the light of day as The Devil Inside comes out in the states January 6th and internationally a bit after that and features all original music that I did with my buddy Ben Romans."
Dallas Moore- Hank to Thank and Blessed Be the Bad Ones
Dallas Moore will be releasing a couple of new records next year.
"Hank to Thank is actually being considered a 2012 release even though we put it out on November 22," he says, "But the official release date is January 9. We are also entering the studio the first week of January to record the next studio record I have written called Blessed Be the Bad Ones and it is slated for release in June."
Fifth on the Floor
After releasing one of my favorite albums in recent memory with Dark and Bloody Ground, Kentucky's Fifth on the Floor will soon be recording a new record with a changed lineup, a new producer, and a couple of special guests.
"We've been working on these new songs since we got the new lineup in September 2010," lead singer Justin Wells says, "It's generally a bit darker than Dark and Bloody Ground. We've got songs that deal with outliving your family, about capital punishment, about chemicals taking your loved ones. We've got the heartbreak songs that permeate a lot of our writing. I'm very excited about a pair of songs called "Whiskey" and "Wine." Those songs were seriously inspired by bathroom doors at a local restaurant. One door is marked "M" and one is marked "W." I thought about how we're dictated by those two letters and started writing a pair of songs called "Man" and "Woman." These became "Whiskey" and "Wine." "Whiskey" is an upbeat tune dealing with a man being heartbroken over a cold-hearted woman. "Wine" is the other side of the story, from the woman's point of view. The woman is a heartbreaker because she was done wrong. I was interested in the kinda cycle of that. The extremely talented Rachel Brooke will be singing "Wine" on the record. A host of other friends will be playing on the record. XXX amigo Shooter Jennings will produce and one of Lexington's finest talents Mark Borders will engineer. We're recording at DeadBird Studios in Louisville, Kentucky"
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
In the spring Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, the long-awaited stage musical written by the odd pairing of Stephen King and John Mellencamp, will make it's debut at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. And that's not all. There will also be a T Bone Burnett-produced CD version of the musical with an all-star cast that includes Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Dave and Phil Alvin, and, of course, Mellencamp himself.
A lot of people are saying this is going to be Bocephus's best record in years and I have it from a good authority that one of the tunes is "probably the best song he's cut since 'The Pressure is On'." I've heard live versions of several of these songs and while not everybody will agree with the politics of "Keep the Change," "Don't Tread on Me" or "Never Kick a Cow Turd on a Hot Day," it's hard to argue with the feeling behind them and songs like "Class Reunion of the Blues" more than makes up for it. And look for a very special guest on the record that isn't Kid Rock.
Hellbound Glory- 'merica
Shooter described this album to me as being like "a new Merle Haggard record for the disenfranchised, fucked up youth." That's good enough for me. Furthermore, the band says that this is a "shitload of new songs" about real America that will either come out in chapters or volumes.
The Imperial Rooster
New Mexico badasses the Imperial Rooster are currently writing new material and plan to hit the studio before the end of the year. Some tunes you might hear from them by 2013 are "Soldier Boy Johnny," "Pine Box Hell," "Overunderstimulated," "Too Much Blood on Our Hands," "Santa Cruz," "April," "Skilly Boom Billy Flop," and "The Shit Song."
Jimbo Mathus- Blue Heeler
After releasing one of the best albums of 2011 with Confederate Buddha, Jimbo Mathus will be hitting the studio in February to record Blue Heeler, his second album for Memphis International Records. Eric Ambel will produce the album at Mathus's own Delta Recording Service in Como, Mississippi. Jimbo says, "This is gonna be the best batch yet." And with song titles like "Hatchie Bottoms," "Fake Hex," "Writing Spider," "Self" and "I Wish the Man Would Get His Shit Together," I'm certainly eager to hear it.
Justin Townes Earle- Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now
Critically acclaimed songwriter Justin Townes Earle will be releasing his fourth album Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now on March 27 and he has indicated in interviews that this record will have something of a Memphis soul vibe.
Joecephus & the George Jonestown Massacre
This one's a bit different. Where I could in this article, I reached out to the artists wherever possible and asked them what their new album was all about. Joecephus & the George Jonestown Massacre singer and guitarist Joey Killingsworth told me he was listening to quite a bit of Black Oak Arkansas, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, Black Flag and Joe Walsh when writing their next album. He says he wants it to have a "modern '70s rock record vibe" with experimentation, instrumentals, and a few straight-out country songs. He also compared it to the Butthole Surfers' Independent Worm Saloon. Then he sent me several rough tracks from it and after hearing "Prescription Savior," "Love Song #666," "Watch it Burn," and "Middle Finger Blues," I can safely say that this is one to look forward to. By simply perfecting what they've done on previous albums, these guys are about to drop their best record yet.
Joey Allcorn- Nothin' Left To Prove
Country music renaissance man Joey Allcorn will be releasing his third album next spring, titled Nothin' Left to Prove.
"It's the same musicians as on All Alone Again," he says, "Lloyd Green on steel. We're not done cutting everything yet, but it's more of a natural progression. It's not drastically different from my other albums, but 50 Years Too Late was sort of '40s and '50s country. All Alone Again sounded like '50s and early '60s. This one is more '60s country sounding. It's still got old school type country songs. I don't want to reinvent the wheel. The guys in that '40s-'60s era already perfected it. But the title Nothin' Left to Prove is about how you have these guys in pop country, some of the guys like Shooter called out [with "Outlaw You"], who want to prove how badass or outlaw they are. And the thing is, there's people in the underground doing the same thing. The song is basically about, who gives a shit? This is just a hillbilly record."
After releasing the single "Life Ain't Fair" in September, New Orleans singer-pianist Josh Charles is readying his next album for release early next year. The album will feature ten songs co-written with acclaimed old school Nashville songwriter Milton Brown and will be a mixture of old school country, New Orleans blues, and Southern rock. Josh is backed on the album by Marty Stuart's Fabulous Superlatives, Al Perkins, and members of Bruce Springsteen's horn section.
Last False Hope- Methlehem
After an EP, a split with Nellie Wilson & the Hellbound Honeys, and several tracks contributed to various compilations, Chicago bluegrass punk band Last False Hope will finally release their first full-length album on 2012 with Methlehem.
"This will be the first recording we have ever done where we actually take our time with things," says band leader Jahshie P. "I know that sounds weird, but we are really into releasing stuff that we always rush to meet deadlines. Some of the songs on the full length are already a year old and we have been playing them live at all the shows. We have set aside what we think are the songs that best represent LFH and kept them off of the other releases. This album will dig much deeper into hardcore, metal, punk and bluegrass than we ever have in the past. We are excited to push the boundaries and show folks what we really got. The lyrical content will also be quite different, staying away from the drinkin' and druggin' themes for the most part and representing the darker side of life and love. Expect some more guest vocal appearances as well, such as Jorge from the Casualties and Leroy from Hellbound Glory among others."
The always-busy Lonesome Wyatt is planning several releases next year. In late spring or early Summer, we'll be hearing a new Those Poor Bastards album. On the same day, Wyatt will be releasing a Western novel that ties into the album. Then in the fall, he will be releasing a solo album composed entirely of supernatural story songs.
Luther Dickinson- Hambone's Meditations, etc.
North Mississippi Allstars singer and guitarist Luther Dickinson gave me the lowdown on several new records coming out this year, including his second solo album following 2009's Grammy-nominated Onward and Upward.
"Everything I've been doing besides NMA has been acoustic," he says, "My heart is really in acoustic guitar. I am releasing my first instrumental acoustic solo guitar record on Byrdman/Songs of the South. It's called Hambone's Meditation. I grew up on John Fahey, but Jack Rose inspired me to finally pursue solo instrumental guitar. Hanging out with my infant daughter, still reeling from dad's passing, writing the music was as natural as breathing. Also, I have been asked to do a 78rpm release for Tompkins Square which I am thrilled about! It will be a medley of southern melodies. There is also an amazing, as yet untitled, folk record coming out featuring Amy Lavere, Shannon McNally, Valerie June, Sharde Thomas (Otha Turner's granddaughter), and myself. How did I get this lucky? This record makes me cry, it is so Southern."
But fans of Luther's work with NMA or the Black Crowes shouldn't be concerned. Luther and brother Cody are gearing up to release what should be an interesting rock record.
"Cody and I have a band, tentatively named London Mississippi," he says, "with our old friends from London, James and Rob Walbourne and Carwyn Ellis. When it comes to roots music, we see more eye to eye with these guys than anyone we have ever played with. We are going back to London in January for the third and final session. When we all get together it feels the way a real band should- like-minded folk who inspire each other to play rock 'n roll. It feels like the band I always dreamed of being in."
Another source tells me that Memphis International will soon be releasing a posthumous album from Luther's father Jim Dickinson, but Luther says he can't comment on that.
Outlaw Radio Compilation Vol. 2
Coming in March, unreleased, exclusive tracks from CW Ayon, Aran Buzzas, Ted Russell Kamp, Owen Mays, T. Junior (of the Honky Tonk Hustlas), Izzy and the Catastrophics, Leroy Virgil (of Hellbound Glory), Pearls Mahone, Phil Hummer & the White Falcons, Cletus Got Shot, Dogbite Harris, Roger Alan Wade, Mikey Classic (of the Goddamn Gallows), J.B. Beverley, Nellie Wilson & the Hellbound Honeys, Ol' Red Shed, the Calamity Cubes, James Hunnicutt, Derek Dunn (formerly of the .357 String Band), Joey Allcorn, and a special collaboration between Shooter Jennings and Last False Hope. Beat that.
Missouri rockers Powder Mill have recorded their next record, produced by Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and Hill Country Revue, and band leader Jesse Charles Hammock II was kind enough to give me the full story behind the recording.
"It will be five years together come 2012," he says, "We recorded our first four albums at our studio over her in the Ozarks, Trumble Hill. This place was just a few mics and such in an abandoned church tabernacle in the beginning. So for our fifth record, we decided to let someone else 'share the blame' as we like to say, but decided it would have to be a place way back in the sticks just like here at home. I had the good fortune of working with Jim Dickinson on a few projects at his Zebra Ranch studio in Mississippi a few years back and during that time we became pals and I got to know his sons Luther and Cody as well. I got in touch with Cody just to feel him out and see if he was available, because the man works his ass off...Anyhow, Cody called me back one day after he had spoken with his mother, who is one of the finest people to walk the earth. She apparently showed Cody a note Jim had left before his passing. The note was a list of people he considered kinfolk or a part of the Zebra Ranch family with applied rates and such or 'kinfolk prices' as Jim liked to say. Cody got back with me pretty quickly and that's when I learned that Jim had wrote my raggedy-ass name down at the bottom of that list. Cody and I knew right then that Jim had put this thing in place a long time ago and there was no question on where it had to be done. Still blows my mind that James Luther Dickinson thought enough of me to write my name down on that piece of paper and I hope to make him proud."
"We have already started working on the recording," he continues, "and plan on a late summer release in 2012. One highlight so far is last session I sang a duet with Jimbo Mathus on a song Fred Friction and I wrote called "Mississippi Showboat." Jimbo on slide guitar, Cody on piano, and Eric Carlton from the Tri-State Coalition on accordion. And of course, the Reverend Robert Earl Reed came down for spiritual guidance. It feels really good so far, like we are where we are supposed to be."
Rachel Brooke- Late Night Lover
Rachel Brooke will release perhaps the first great release of 2012 with her 7" Late Night Lover which is coming out January 3rd. Here's what she had to say about that release and others that may come out next year:
"Late Night Lover is a very lofi, four song release. The 7" is meant to be heard on your record player, please. I have included a digital download, but I don't see why anyone would want that. It's one complete package and it's the sound I've always wanted. Everything about the release is meant to be natural: the songs, the photography, the vinyl. I have my original handwritten lyrics included in it- the version I used to record right out of my notebook. I think that music should have a feel to it. I think that a lot of people mistake anything with an electric guitar and a fast drum beat as "good". But a lot of it is missing something real, whether they realize it or not. I just hope people get it. As far as the rest of the year, I am planning on touring in the spring, then heading into the studio to record a new album, completely analog again. This one will be very different to what I've done in the past. It's the opposite of Late Night Lover, as it will have a full band sound throughout. But don't get me wrong, it still has a nice bit of soul to it. Other releases are in the works as well. I'm involved in a few other projects, but I don't want to say too much about them now. I hope to have 2-3 new projects done this year. No rest."
Ray Wylie Hubbard- The Grifter's Hymnal
Texas songwriting legend Ray Wylie Hubbard will be releasing his next album The Grifter's Hymnal in 2012.
Robert Earl Reed- Something Wicked
Mississippi singer-songwriter Robert Earl Reed is working on the follow-up to last year's Carlene.
"The record will be recorded at Delta Recording Services," Robert says, "and produced by Jimbo Mathus and Justin Showah. Expect a Southern Gothic look into the realm of the underbelly of life, love, and the struggle to exist in the rough-hewn South."
Roger Alan Wade- The Last Request of Elijah Rose
Roger describes his next album, The Last Request of Elijah Rose, as "the prequel to Deguello Motel," which, in my mind is one of the finest singer-songwriter albums in decades. Look for Roger to preview some of the tracks from Elijah Rose at SXSW, where he will be performing in a showcase along with Billy Joe Shaver, Shooter Jennings, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Hellbound Glory, and Rachel Brooke.
Shooter Jennings- Family Man and The Other Life
On his first records since 2010's rock concept album Black Ribbons, Shooter enlists the help of a new band and delivers his two best albums yet. Family Man drops in March, with The Other Life coming later in the year.
"These are two records that have been very important in my evolution as an artist," he says, "Making the step to connect with Erik and the new band and producing the record myself really opened me up to what I wanted to hear from myself and really only left one expectation for me and my music. Previously I think I always let other people's expectations around me rule me a little and with the step away (Black Ribbons) and the return (Family Man) I was really able to take a breath and be the man I really wanted to be and say the things I really wanted to say. I'm very proud of this record and I feel like I've cracked open a whole different inspiration for songwriting inside myself. And it's all country. I know I've got another Hierophant record in me, but for now and for the years to come, I look forward to mapping my problems and questions out in country songs and singing them for my audience: the rats in my kitchen."
After last year's spectacular album South of Nashville look for some solo work from the Honky Tonk Hustlas frontman.
"I've started to work on a solo record," he says, "I haven't decided how I'm going to release it yet or even how I'm going to pay for it all, but I hope to have a solid release out by the end of the year. I also just finished a song called "Too Broke to Die" for the upcoming Outlaw Radio Chicago compilation [see above]. I was lucky to be able to work with great musicians and it turned out really well. I'm pretty excited about it. The subject matter might be kind of dark for a compilation, but that's me I reckon. In the meantime, I'll still be playing shows around the Montgomery area and also will be reaching out to do more touring in 2012. I'm hoping for a big year."
Ted Russell Kamp- Night Owl
Ted Russell Kamp, the bass player for Shooter Jennings & the .357s and Hierophant and a great singer-songwriter in his own right, is close to completing his next album.
"The new record I am working on will be called Night Owl," he says, "It will be a consistently mellower album than I have done before. Definitely in character with the ballads and moodier tunes on some of my previous records, but none of the fun, funk party tunes or the Southern rock-inspired ones. The most upbeat tunes have a 'Lay Down Sally,' groovy, but still subdued, vibe. I have been recording it in the same way as I have the last few records: basic tracks in L.A. with the same engineer Mark Rains. Mark engineered Put the 'O' Back in Country, Electric Rodeo, and The Wolf. That is how we met. Now he has his own studio called Station House and he worked with me on Poor Man's Paradise and Get Back to the Land, as well as some of the records I have been producing in the past few years. Then I have been overdubbing at home as well as on the road. Hotel rooms and living rooms. Then I have been mixing with Mark in L.A. and I have also done a few sessions in Nashville at a great studio called 16 Tons."
"Some of the players are the same as on my previous records and some are new, still with a healthy dose of me playing lots of the instruments. Eric Heywood from Ray LaMontagne's band is playing pedal steel on a few tracks. 'Rowdy' Jason Cope from Jamey Johnson's band is on some along with Brian Whelan who has been on my last few records. He has been on the road with Dwight Yoakam the last few years."
"There are some more acoustic tracks on this one," he continues, "featuring acoustic guitar, mandolin, accordion, bass and vocals. That is one of the things I missed fromGet Back to the Land, which had no acoustic songs. But it still has lots of Hammond and Wurlitzer and a lot of the ingredients and influences of my older records. I may even have a solo acoustic version of 'When the Radio Goes Dead' as a bonus track. I am really proud of how it's coming along. I think my songwriting is getting more concise and even though I'm sticking to the mellower vibe, I am really proud of the arranging and artfulness of the recording. I think I am just getting a little better every year."
Ted says that he is still saving up money to finish the record and may launch a Kickstarter campaign sometime soon.
On his sophomore album, which will be recorded early next year, up-and-coming Kentucky artist Tyler Childers takes a giant leap forward as a songwriter and a performer. I've heard some live bootlegs and this is the real deal, folks.
"I'm planning on coming out with a second album of stuff I've been working on," he says, "I'm also wanting to do a little traveling and playing this summer if everything goes as planned. I recently ran into some pretty cool folks and started playing with them, so I'm hoping a band comes out of it. I turn 21 on June 21st and my buddy said that 2012 is supposed to be my golden year or some shit like that, so I'm hoping he's right. However, he also says if you tell somebody your dream before you eat breakfast it'll come true and I've never had much luck with that."
Whitey Morgan & the 78s
The Michigan honky-tonk group has a couple of albums coming soon, including a live album and an acoustic record.
The Texas blues-rock legends will be releasing their first studio album since 2003's Mescalero in April or May.
In closing, 2012 will be a great year full of more great releases. And these are only a few of them. Also, look forward to a lot more coming from XXX, including a great showcase at SXSW. Happy new year and God bless.