What was Good this Year and Some Great Things to Look Forward to Next Year
In my opinion, 2009 was a great year for music. Not the mainstream stuff, mind you, or even much of the indie/underground stuff, but if you really knew what you were looking for, you could stumble onto a classic.
This is my first post here and in order for you to get better acquainted with my musical taste (which I describe as eclectic), here are my top 10 albums of this year:
1. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers– The Live Anthology
2. Deer Tick– Born on Flag Day
3. Neil Young– Fork in the Road
4. Kris Kristofferson– Closer to the Bone
5. Bob Dylan– Together Through Life
6. Neko Case– Middle Cyclone
7. Loudon Wainwright III– High Wide and Lonesome: The Charlie Poole Project
8. James McMurtry– Live in Europe
9. Jerry Lee Lewis– Mean Old Man (EP)
10. Roseanne Cash–The List
With that in mind, please take a look at some of the things I am excited about next year. You may even get excited about them too. Who knows?
First, off the ultimate all star project: Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. Its’ co-creator John Mellencamp says the listening experience will be akin to listening to “an old radio show with music” (and dialogue by Stephen King). Just take a look at some of the cast: Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Roseanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Dave and Phil Alvin (of The Blasters), and Will Dailey. And of course appearances by Mellencamp and King.
Speaking of Mellencamp, he also has a new album out next year entitled No Better than This, his second produced by T Bone Burnett, who is, in my opinion, the best producer in the business. Mellencamp’s last album Life, Death, Love and Freedom was the best music of his career and this one could be even better. It was recorded totally in mono at historic locations throughout the United States, such as the legendary Sun Records, the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio (the site of the final recording sessions by Robert Johnson, and the First African Baptist Church, an integral part of both the Underground Railroad and the Civil Rights Movement. You can find various videos of the song “Save Some Time to Dream” online (perhaps the best being the professionally-recorded ones from Farm Aid or the Tribute to Myles Brand). Another song from the album “Someday the Rains will Fall” has been released on John’s website.
Another thing to look forward to in 2009 is the debut EP by Steamtrain Mary, the California roots rock band led by John Fogerty’s two young sons. You can hear some of their music on their myspace page. In their music, I hear hints of Fogerty and CCR (of course), but even more than that of The Doors and Neil Young. Are they as good as their father’s band? Of course not, but then again I do not know of any band who is (and no, I am not forgetting about The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. However, Steamtrain Mary (reference to “Proud Mary”, possibly?) is one of the best new bands I have heard in a while.
Also on the horizon is a new album by Steve Earle produced by Rick Rubin. I like Rubin, but I do not think he is particularly consistent. For every amazing album he does with Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, or Neil Diamond (who has his third album produced by Rubin out next year), there is a suckfest with Limp Bizkit or Justin Timberlake. I think he is an immensely talented producer, but only when working with talented artists. Therefore, there should be no problem with this album.
Next year will also see the release of The Big To-Do, the new album by the Drive-By Truckers. I have yet to hear anything from it, but anything from the Truckers is fine with me.
Also next year, we will be getting the first full-fledged Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers album since 2002 (Highway Companion was a Petty solo album). Petty said of the album, “It’s blues-based. Some of the tunes are longer, more jammy kind of music. A couple of tracks really sound like the Allman Brothers — not the songs but the atmosphere of the band.” And judging by what I heard on The Live Anthology, these guys are awesome at “jammy” music. Can’t wait to hear it.
Which brings me to the last thing I am looking forward to next year: Black Ribbons, the new album by Shooter Jennings and his band Hierophant. The album has been described as “The Allman Brothers meets Pink Floyd” and it is described as a rock concept album. The first single, “Wake Up” will be available as a download starting tomorrow. While some may be yelling, “treason” (or “Judas”) at this, I am happy for Shooter. I loved Put the O Back in Country, but Electric Rodeo was even better. It found him going for a more southern rock feel. His last album, 2007’s The Wolf seemed like a last stab at mainstream Ca$hville success. We also must not forget that his rock band, Stargunn was once touted as one of the best up-and-coming new bands. Shooter is a talented singer and songwriter who I think can pull off just about any genre. Eventually, he will make another country album, but who knows what he will do before or after that? He’s the type who needs to experiment. Let’s enjoy hearing him do it.
Well, that’s all I have for you today, but I look forward to posting here in the future. Merry Christmas.