The Other 10 From 2012
Because I narrowed the focus for my 2012 top ten, excluding live albums and those that were not mainly original work, and because I adopted pretty arbitrary boundaries for what Americana/alt country includes, I left out a lot of music that would otherwise have competed for a place on the list. Here’s ten of those:
10. Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien, We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This. No they’re not. They’re usually great and this record, recorded live 5 or 6 years ago, is excellent. Good mix of their material and covers. To hear better acoustic music you’d have to go to Telluride this coming summer. Have a listen:
9. Various Artists, This One’s For Him, A Tribute To Guy Clark. This record has received tons of recognition and deserves all of it. Great songs and a cast that looks like the Americana Music Hall of Fame. [This one actually has a release date of late 2011, but I consider it a 2012 record. That’s when I first heard it. Who cares, it’s my list. And it’s the “other 10” list, anyway. I can put it in here if I want to. Can’t I?]
8. Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream. I know the Grammy people disagree but I just don’t have Bonnie Raitt on my Americana list. She’s a rocker, even if the rock she did intersects well with the Americana genre. Genre aside, good is good, and she’s good. So is this record, her best in a while. Here’s a live version of Used To Rule The World:
7. Chuck Prophet, Temple Beautiful. He’s not country or folky enough to make my other list but this record deserves notice. And if you scan the votes on the No Depression reader poll, you’ll see this tribute to San Francisco on a lot of Ballots.
6. Alejandro Escovedo, Big Station. You say Chuck Prophet and I often think of Alejandro Escovedo and vice versa. Mr. Escovedo’s 2012 offering is a nice follow up to Street Songs of Love – both records have this Texas rocker at the top of his game (Prophet was involved in both). Here’s a live version of Sally Was A Cop:
5. The Mastersons, Birds Fly South. Somehow Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson managed to record a record while maintaining a hectic schedule of touring for themselves and comprising a large part of Steve Earle’s Dukes and Duchesses. Not quite pop, not quite rock, maybe a little folk, this record of interesting songs, voices and instrumentation by two extremely talented people is worth checking out.
4. Whitehorse, The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss. Speaking of two extremely talented people, this Canadian couple (Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet) are something special. I saw them live at the Americana Music Association and was blown away by their unusual performance style. But the songs are very solid singer songwriter stuff, probably with an indie feel. Official video for the first track on the record:
3. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Live From Alabama. The closest thing to a “best of” package you’re going to find from Mr. Isbell at this point, done live in two nights (Birmingham and Huntsville) earlier this year. Nice record, which gives you a feel for what it’s like to see him live. Get it, but go see him live anyway. He tours all over, no excuse for missing this guy. Danko/Manuel from the Birmingham set:
2. Ryan Montbleau, For Higher. One of the best performers from New England travels to New Orleans and records an excellent studio album with greats of the Crescent City music scene. Mr. Montbleau’s voice is a finely tuned instrument and he plays it well on this record of originals and several key covers, including songs by Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers and Eddie Hinton. Here’s Montbleau performing the Bill Withers tune:
1. Jamey Johnson, Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran. Mr. Johnson’s record of Hank Cochran songs will Make The World Go Away. This Ain’t My First Rodeo but I’d Fight The World to hear I Fall To Pieces … you get the idea. All-star cast helping out on this one helps make it even better. Real music is what this is. Here’s Mr. Johnson with Alison Krauss on Letterman doing Make The World Go Away:
Mando Lines is on Twitter @mando_lines.