Dec 22, 2016

Farce the Music's Top 20 Albums of 2016

 Our "Best Albums of 2016" was voted on again this year by all Farce the Music contributors: Jeremy Harris, me (Trailer), Matthew Martin, Kelcy Salisbury, Kevin Broughton, Robert Dean (and friend Chad Barnette as a tiebreaker).

1. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth
I’m probably in the minority, thinking this record is better than the blockbuster MetaModern Sounds in Country Music. Then again, the Grammy folks grew a brain and made it an “album of the year” nominee in addition to best country album. Sturgill does it his way again, while telling the Nashville suits to pound sand. He’s the baddest ass in music, and we should all thank him. -Kevin Broughton

If you were turned off by this album's not completely inherent country-ness, I highly suggest you revisit this one with an open mind.  This may not be Sturgill's best album, but it's damn close.  Every song from start to finish is a homerun, making the album as a whole quite the emotional powerhouse.  And, of course knowing the context of the album- written as a love note to his son- only helps the listening experience.  "Call To Arms" is probably now my favorite Sturgill song and by the time I got to this song on the album, I couldn't sit down.  Such a barn-burner, such a wonderful way to end a wonderful album. -Matthew Martin

Behold world, Sturgill has done it again. Buy A Sailor’s Guide To Earth right now and help us throw gasoline on the establishment while Sturgill Simpson is the preaching madman we’ve all been waiting for. Let his church welcome all those who are lost and share his message: get weird, or die tryin’. -Robert Dean

2. Cody Jinks - I'm Not the Devil
Another genuinely great country album in a year when the “neo-traditionalists” are gaining traction. Packed with spiritual themes, this record should be an exemplar to any bros out there who’d like to try something real for a change. -Kevin

There's really not a best song on Jinks' 2016 album. It's a steady and moving collection without a single droop in quality, much less a weak moment. Jinks is blessed with a wonderful voice and possibly even better songwriting talents. He'll be a star in this realm of music for years to come. -Trailer

 3. Lori McKenna - The Bird & The Rifle
We had a casual poll about 2016 music a month or so back. Lori McKenna led the way on the "Best Songwriter of 2016" voting, and it's no surprise. With observant, incisive songs like "OMYM" and the others on her brilliant The Bird and the Rifle, McKenna stays at the forefront of American songwriting. She has the ability to put the listener into a situation they may have never even dealt with and make them think "Yes, this is exactly how that feels!" The Bird and the Rifle is a master-class and for me, "Old Men Young Women" is its centerpiece. -Trailer

4. Brent Cobb - Shine On Rainy Day
Brent’s pleasing voice and well crafted songs combine for a true knockout punch. From top to bottom this is a very strong album and would top many lists in any year. - Jeremy Harris

A terrific breakout album from a kind and humble Georgian, this record’s beauty lies in its simplicity. Yes, Nashville, it’s possible to sing about the joys of rural living without sounding forced, contrived, and stupid. Country music needs more Brent Cobbs. Maybe a dozen. -Kevin

5. Austin Lucas - Between the Moon and the Midwest
One of two or three genuine country music masterpieces in a year of hearty competition, I wrote in May that “somebody better pack a lunch if he wants to displace this as the best country album of 2016.” Several worthy folks did, yet here’s your champ.  Lucas didn’t write and arrange; he composed. The heartache is real, the vocals brilliant. Oh, and as a bonus it packs the finest duet of the year, with Lydia Loveless. -Kevin

6. Justin Wells - Dawn in the Distance
The former frontman of Fifth on the Floor lets his songwriting and strong voice shine through in his debut. I would’ve thought Justin’s voice was more suited for the rock style he was accustomed to but with this release he proved me wrong and really showed his full potential. -Jeremy Harris

7. Flatland Cavalry - Humble Folks
"Easy on the ears, heavy on the heart" reads the description on Flatland Cavalry's website, and that couldn't be more accurate. Their sound is an easygoing mix of red dirt country, pop melodies, laid back swing, and heartworn folk. And there's so much fiddle. Lord, but I love me some fiddle and I love Laura Jane's fiddling. It's all a perfectly accessible approach but one that doesn't scrimp on the craftsmanship and songwriting.  Humble Folks is a great album, well worth your listen. It's a familiar sound, but one that with repeated listens will reveal deeper layers and twists of melody you haven't heard before. These songs are sure to make you think, smile, hurt, and tap your foot. Sometimes all at once. That's what good music does. -Trailer

8. Drive-by Truckers - American Band
There is not a more important album in Drive-By Truckers' repertoire.  This is an album written by deep-red-state Southern men about issues that many in this region turn away from.  This is DBT taking their implicitly political music and making it as explicit as possible.  And, in the process, they made a few fans turn away from them.  But, the band didn't back down and, to my way of thinking, we're much better for it.  This is the album we needed in 2016, and will continue to need as we move forward.  It's ok for us to have differing opinions and as Cooley says, "if the victims and oppressors, just remain each other's others," then where will we be over the next few years.  So, this album is an impressive call to arms for everyone to look ourselves and those who differ from us in the eye and figure out how to find some common ground, while also calling bullshit on those who wish to divide us.  "What It Means" is already in my top 5 favorite DBT songs and to me, this is the best song of the year.  The best song of the year on the best album of the year by one of the most important Southern bands of our time. - Matthew

9. Blackberry Smoke - Like an Arrow
Their best record yet, and it straddles the country and rock worlds with perfect balance. -Kevin

10. Caleb Caudle - Carolina Ghost
This is the closest thing to a mainstream country album I've heard and loved in a long time. Best listened to as a whole, but be sure to check out White Doves Wing along with Steel & Stone. This is what modern country sounds like done right. -Kelcy Salisbury

Caleb Caudle has given you a gift: it's ok to want to pop on a record and drink a beer in the yard. You don't have to be at the juke joint, or pine for the days of the Armadillo in Austin. Nope. This is about as fucking Americana as it gets: good tunes, simple music and honesty worn like a badge of courage. The exact thing folks try to do but seemingly end up sounding like shitty copies of Bruce Springsteen. Carolina Ghost inspires those moments where it’s ok to slow dance to the radio, or just shut up and let the music do the talking. -Robert

11. A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here… 
Thank You 4 Your Service
It's a shame that this is Tribes' farewell album. It's as strong as anything they've ever done. I'm going to miss their existence. ATCQ is kind of like the Big 10 of hip hop. I may not like everything they do, but the genre as a whole is better when they're at the top of their game.  -Kelcy

12. (tie) Jeff Shepherd and The Jailhouse Poets - s/t
Every song Jeff has ever written has came straight from his heart. Knowing this makes you wonder how so much heartache can be packaged in one young man. Jeff finally gets the chance to lay his heartache on the masses with a super strong debut that shows a bright future for the sad song writer. -Jeremy

12. (tie) The Sword - Low Country
Stoner metal kings take a slight detour with more prominent 70s & electronic (and acoustic) influences. The results are epic.  -Kelcy

When is the last time you heard an acoustic record that rips that wasn’t straight country or some guy with a beard in a flannel? This is a throw back to the 70’s and makes drinking beer super easy.  -Robert

14. Luke Bell - s/t
This was the best debut of year and one of my most listened-to albums of the year.  Every song on this album is perfect cowboy Country.  Luke Bell is the natural progression through the years from Buck Owens to Dwight Yoakam, and now to Luke.  If Paul Cauthen and Luke Bell are the future of Country, then we are going to be A-OK, y'all!  "Bullfighter" is a perfect example of Luke Bell's mastery of capturing every day moments in his songs. - Matthew

15. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
I've tried to review the album this song is from about ten times this year, but I just don't know what to say about it that would make any sense or sound like I vaguely know what I'm talking about. Just know that it's badass and it was my favorite album of 2016. -Trailer

16. Brandy Clark - Big Day in a Small Town
I'll admit I was a little concerned when Brandy led off this album era with "Girl Next Door," a pop-country tune with a disco flavor. That song eventually grew on me - and the album itself blew me away. Brandy takes the most banal moments of everyday life and makes them sound like plot points in an epic soap opera (in a good way). She finds the unique in the commonplace, dripping a heavy dose of verbal poison in with the sweetness. -Trailer

17. Elizabeth Cook - Exodus of Venus
The most diverse and mature release from Elizabeth to date. Great songwriting and several songs that have a gritty rock sound make this a must listen to album for fans or anyone for that matter. -Jeremy

18. Rodney Parker and 50 Peso Reward - Bomber Heights
Lyricism won the day for me. With Bomber Heights Parker and his band, 50 Peso Reward, have created a masterful, literary, cinematic statement. The album begins with "Steppin' Into Sunshine."  The song offers a series of visuals such as "...there is a priceless work and a box knife" that contrast images of beauty and destruction, light and darkness, before the quietly triumphant line "I'm steppin' into sunshine".  It sets up the album perfectly. -Kelcy

19. Arliss Nancy - Greater Divides
This is the only kind of album I ever want Arliss Nancy to make.  I hope they continue to do this exact sort of thing for years to come.  The band is tight, the music is wonderful, the songs are as good as any the boys have ever written, and this album is one of their best.  - Matthew

20. Quaker City Night Hawks - El Astronauta
Quaker City Night Hawks made the driving album of the year with this slice of 
greasy, Texas-fried retro rock goodness. -Kelcy


Other popular selections:
Paul Cauthen - My Gospel; Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter; Mark Chesnutt - Tradition Lives; Chris Stalcup and the Grange - Downhearted Fools; Metallica - Hardwired… to Self Destruct; The Handsome Family - Unseen; Jack Ingram - Midnight Motel; Erik Dylan - Heart of a Flatland Boy; Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker; Courtney Granger - Beneath Still Waters.


  1. Where is Midwest Farmer's Daughter - huh?

    1. It's in "other popular selections" at the bottom. Would've finished 22nd or so if we'd gone that high.

  2. Fuck the Drive By Truckers

  3. Anonymous @ 2:49 makes a fine point.

  4. You crapped the bed by not including Western Centuries.



Related Posts with Thumbnails