A week ago, give or take, the columnists and reviewers of No Depression received a note from Stacy Chandler, our chief for all things web related and self-described “killer of spam, keeper of the style guide, friend of good music and the good people who make it and listen to it,” letting us know that if we wanted to send her a top ten list of our favorite roots music titles for 2018, she’d be pleased to do something with them. What exactly she planned to do with them I didn’t know, and since I normally don’t participate in such things because I covet my status as the world’s largest collector of half-empty glasses, I deleted the email. Then I changed my mind.
Many of you know that in addition to writing for this website I also aggregate articles primarily about roots music and its weak-kneed country cousin Americana, posting several times each day on multiple platforms. Over the past few weeks I’ve stumbled upon and read endless lists for best rock, folk, indie, Americana, roots, blues, jazz, country, K-pop, hip-hop, live, and reissued albums of the year. While in the past I’ve just skipped or skimmed over them, this year was different.
While new album releases have dipped from a previous high of 130,000 titles per year to a more manageable 75,000 in 2018, when you’re not actually purchasing music because you’re accessing it through the stream at $9.99 per month, the act of finding and listening to new stuff is like having a giant crack addiction. After you the fill up the tank you still want more. And you can have it. Which leads me to why I’ve been searching through all these lists for things I’ve missed or never knew existed, and then adding them into my library with facial recognition and the flick of a thumb.
I’m not just looking for new music, but also books, films, Scandinavian television series on Netflix, the latest discounts on electronic gadgets that I have zero interest in ever buying, celebrity hairstyle transformations and facts about Dove Cameron, whose first kiss at age 17 was with Luke Benward. Not a clue as to who either of them are, but they must be important. I’ve also come across the ten best record stores in America, the best all-in-one turntables, the 13 best blues guitarists in the world, best concerts of the year, ten best music festivals of the year, seven English classic songs to sing out loud with children, and the best song from every Journey album (which is a bit presumptuous if you ask me).
Publishing your own personal list for other people to see and judge, unlike casting a vote in a poll by secret ballot, seems akin to standing naked in front of your tenth-grade public speaking class, and that just sucks. As you can tell by the photo above, I chose to utilize a rather simple system that I discovered on a Pinterest list of ‘easy home projects for the indecisive person’. And that’s me. Because in the day to day and by and by, my favorite music is usually whatever I’m listening to in the moment. So with that said, and in absolutely no particular order, here are a few of my favorite albums for 2018.
Sarah Shook and The Disarmers – Years
John Prine – Tree of Forgiveness
Pharis and Jason Romero – Sweet Old Religion
Joshua Hedley – Mr. Jukebox
Marissa Nadler – For My Crimes
I See Hawks In L.A. – Live and Never Learn
Milk Carton Kids – All The Things That I Did and All The Things I Didn’t Do
Lindi Ortega – Liberty
The Jayhawks – Back Roads and Abandoned Motels
Brandi Carlile- By The Way, I Forgive You
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed at my own site, therealeasyed.com. I also aggregate news and videos on both Flipboard and Facebook as The Real Easy Ed: Americana and Roots Music Daily. My Twitter handle is @therealeasyed and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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