Showing posts with label Caleb Caudle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Caleb Caudle. Show all posts

Jan 2, 2019

Matthew's Top 10 Albums of 2018


by Matthew Martin

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1- Brandi Carlile - By The Way, I Forgive You
Brandi Carlile's album this year was by far and away the album I listened to the most and the one that had the most emotional punch.  Brandi's voice is perfectly suited to the songs of heartbreak, being a new mother, and being a touring musician.  The production is immaculate and if Hold Out Your Hand doesn't get you moving, you're clearly a lost hope. This is a perfect, timeless album.


2- American Aquarium - Things Change
When BJ lost his band a couple of years ago due to whatever reasons, I thought the American Aquarium name would be retired.  Instead, BJ found a new backing band and came back stronger than ever.  These are some BJ's strongest songs he's written since Burn. Flicker. Die. And, the band!  I'll be damned if this band doesn't seem even tighter.  When BJ has been at his lowest point, band-wise, he's given us masterpieces and this album is no exception.  


3- Lucero - Among The Ghosts
To follow Lucero's career has been an amazing transition from country/punk 4 piece to a straight-up Memphis rock and roll band complete with a horns section.  For their 9th (or 10th if you count The Attic Tapes) studio album, the guys took it back to their roots and left the horns out for the most part.  What they gave us was their best album since 1372 Overton Park.  It's a musically concise album cutting away any fat and letting the songs and band speak for themselves.  Ben Nichols has written some of his most interesting songs to date about Civil War battles, touring, and shoot-outs.  In a catalog full of incredible albums, this one is certainly at the top.


4- Cody Jinks - Lifers
I remember when I first heard Cody Jinks a few years ago, I wasn't immediately a fan.  I don't remember what made me think that- maybe just wasn't in the right headspace or something.  But, that has completely changed.  Jinks released the album that will likely (and seems to already have) boost him to the ranks of Simpson or, potentially even Stapleton.  Jinks's voice is velvety smooth and his band is right on the mark.  The songs are a perfect mix of hard-life livers, hard-night havers, and hard-love lovers.  It's incredibly relatable to those listening and it's the kind of tunes we've come to expect out of Jinks over the last few years.  Yet another very good album in Jinks's short, but incredibly respectable output.


5- Ryan Culwell - The Last American
This album hit me harder than any other album on this list.  Just by sheer surprise and being completely blown away by Culwell's voice and music composition.  This is the album it takes folks quite a few albums into their career to get to.  But, this is Culwell's 3rd.  And it's a masterpiece.  The songs are barnburners and gut-wrenchers.  It's a perfect mix.  This is perfect Southern American music.  It sounds like Tom Petty channeling Mark Knopfler.  There's going to be a lot to hear from Culwell in the future, so I definitely suggest you go ahead and hop on the bandwagon now. 


6- Great Peacock - Gran Pavo Real
I've been a fan of Great Peacock for a few years now and after their last album, I was excited to see where they would go.  As I would go to shows over the next few years, it became clear they were going to go in a more electric direction.  And, they absolutely did.  This album is a rocker full of the harmonies and introspective lyrics you've come to expect.  This is the one you reach for on Saturday night around midnight.  


7- Caleb Caudle - Crushed Coins
Caudle has been pumping out perfect country songs for a while now.  On Crushed Coins, Caudle hit his full stride.  The songs are his best set of songs he's put out.  The music and production are absolutely perfectly suited for his voice and his songs.  NYC In The Rain is a perfect song and a perfect Caleb Caudle song.  I don't think there's anyone else I can imagine singing this song other than Caudle.  If you haven't checked out Caudle, this album is the one to start with.  It's Caudle at his best.


8- Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - The Difference Between Me and You
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears have been making music for over 10 years now and let me tell you, they haven't lost a step.  If anything the music has grown more electric, more biting, and louder.  2018 Black Joe Lewis is still writing those 2008 funky party songs, but now he's writing songs about issues he sees going on in this country.  If you like The Stooges, James Brown, and pissed off Steve Earle, this is the album for you.


9- The Pollies - Transmissions
I'm a sucker for any album The Pollies put out.  In my mind, they're one of the best bands out there and it's a complete shame that more people don't know them.  On Transmissions, The Pollies have written a perfect set of Southern pop rock songs.  It's hard not to bob your head along to these songs.  If you've been looking for our generations answer to Big Star, you have no need to look any further.  Keep an eye on The Pollies and do yourself a favor and buy this album.



10- Whitey Morgan and the .78s - Hard Times and White Lines
When it comes to straight-up, hard-edged country, there's not a single person doing it better than Whitey Morgan.  He and his band have again written a damn incredible country album.  You can always bet the bank on Morgan to only release the best of the best.  You will not get filler or cheap songs.  You're going to get songs about living out on the road, the things that does to relationships, and ways to pass the time when out on the road.  It ain't a pretty life, but when Morgan sings about it, it sure makes you wanna try it out for a while.

Dec 13, 2018

Farce the Music's Top Albums of 2018 (11-25)


Our Top 25 Albums of 2018 were voted on by all contributors (including 2 new ones) again this year:  Kelcy Salisbury, Robert Dean, Kevin Broughton, Jeremy Harris, Trailer (me), and Matthew Martin 
(with friend Chad as a tiebreaker). We welcomed Kasey Anderson and Scott Colvin as first time voters. Today, we reveal numbers 11-25 of our favorites and tomorrow will count down the top 10!
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24. Handsome Jack - Everything's Gonna Be Alright
The best rock ‘n’ roll album of 2018, from a power trio in Buffalo, N.Y. The Robinson bros. might have killed The Black Crowes, but the spirit of the band breathes through these guys. ~Kevin Broughton

23. (tie) Larkin Poe - Venom and Faith
Rebecca and Megan Lovell (formerly of the bluegrass band The Lovell Sisters with older sister Jessica) are mostly “known” as touring musicians for the likes of Kristian Bush and Elvis Costello…among others. On their fourth full-length album, the sisters absolutely hit the sublime with their powerful brand of roots rock and blues. Rebecca’s sultry and soulful vocals blend perfectly with Megan’s hot bluesy slide guitar licks for one of the finest albums in recent memory. ~Scott Colvin

23. (tie) Western Centuries - Songs From the Deluge
Great musicianship from the closest thing to a country super-group 2018 has seen. These guys are all heavily grounded in bluegrass, yet this album synthesizes all the best parts of American roots music. Come for the three-headed monster of vocals and songwriting, stay for the pedal steel. ~KB

22. Amanda Shires - To the Sunset
More than a decade into her solo career, Shires has established herself as one of the truly great songwriters and instrumentalists of her generation. With To the Sunset - an album that is by turns plaintive, unbridled, and fragile - Shires made what is, at least to this point, the album of her career. Calling it a "Rock" record or an "Americana" record is reductive; To the Sunset is an Amanda Shires record and, at this point, she's good enough to be her own genre.  ~Kasey Anderson

21. Lincoln Durham - And Into Heaven Came the Night

20. High on Fire - Electric Messiah
Is there any project Matt Pike is involved with that sucks? Pretty sure that’s impossible. Check out "Sanctioned Annihilation" & "Drowning Dog."  ~Kelcy Salisbury

19. Sleep - The Sciences
The Sciences is one of the year’s best records and moves beyond, “good follow up to Dopesmoker,” and places Sleep as the undisputed heirs to the throne of Black Sabbath. The Sciences is not only a neck breaking, sludgy love song to the universe, it’s a poem to the mysteries of faith, but it’s also a masterpiece. ~Robert Dean

18. Blackberry Smoke - Find a Light
These guys are working hard. Consecutive years with top-flight albums, they retain their Southern rock identity without being chained to it. This is an all-American band. ~KB

17. Great Peacock - Gran Pavo Real
I've been a fan of Great Peacock for a few years now and after their last album, I was excited to see where they would go.  As I would go to shows over the next few years, it became clear they were going to go in a more electric direction.  And, they absolutely did.  This album is a rocker full of the harmonies and introspective lyrics you've come to expect.  This is the one you reach for on Saturday night around midnight. ~Matthew Martin

16. John Prine - The Tree of Forgiveness
People are always naming "greatest living songwriters" like John Prine isn't still teaching a masterclass every time he drops new music. Admittedly, that isn't as frequent as in the past, but on The Tree of Forgiveness, Prine reminds us why he's the undisputed. Tuneful, insightful, and bright, this isn't a late-life woe-is-me dirge-fest like many elder statesmen and women give us; this is prime Prine. ~Trailer

15. Caleb Caudle - Crushed Coins
Caudle has been pumping out perfect country songs for a while now.  On Crushed Coins, Caudle hits his full stride.  These songs are the best set of songs he's put out.  The music and production are absolutely suited for his voice and his songs.  "NYC In The Rain" is a perfect song and a perfect Caleb Caudle song.  I don't think there's anyone else I can imagine singing this song other than Caudle.  If you haven't checked out his work, this album is the one to start with.  It's Caudle at his best. ~MM

14. Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere
The truth: Ashley McBryde doesn't fit the boring sonic pastiche that is mainstream country radio. Her songs are too good, her voice too unique. She deserves airplay and stardom though, and I hope she's one of the new leaders to push the door down. Girl Going Nowhere is a statement of being, filled with catchy and well-crafted songs. "Tired of Being Happy" is an absolute gem. ~Trailer

13. Brent Cobb - Providence Canyon
A great follow-up to 2016’s “Shine On Rainy Day.” The last three songs of that record were swampy and a little menacing, a thread woven through this album, particularly on “If I Don’t See Ya’” and “.30-06,” with their bad-boy Skynyrd feel. But when I hear “King of Alabama,” I’ll always remember the one time I got to see a then-fledgling musician, Wayne Mills. It was in Tuscaloosa in 2002, the night before heavy underdog Auburn beat Alabama 17-7. I was blown away then by the guy’s talent, and to this day I regret I never saw him again. No one that night or any other would ever dream of his fate: “It was a friend who took him from his family.” Cobb has done Mills fitting memorial, and made another great album. ~KB

12. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers - Years
It’s not often I can look to my hometown for musical pride. Let’s be honest, until Sarah Shook came around, Foreigner’s Lou Gramm might be Rochester, NY’s most notable artist (C’Mon, admit it, “Jukebox Hero” and “Urgent” were freaking awesome). Shook is a total badass and this album proves it. ~SC

11. Shooter Jennings - Shooter
Shooter is a portrait of a man who’s come to terms with his abilities, goals, and what he’s after. You can’t write a bunch of feel-good tunes that go hard with the beers, without a sense of purpose and humility …otherwise it comes off contrived and douchey, AKA most of the garbage pop country radio peddles. ~RD

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Albums beyond the top 25 that appeared on multiple ballots: 
Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer
Hawks and Doves - From a White Hotel
Colter Wall - Songs of the Plains
Vince Staples - FM!
Eric Church - Desperate Man
JP Harris - Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing
Mike & the Moonpies - Steak Night at the Prairie Rose
Buffalo Gospel - On the First Bell
Pusha T - Daytona



Jun 13, 2018

Top 25 Songs of 2018 First Half Report


It was hard to narrow this down to 25. There have been some truly great and memorable songs released in 2018, and we're just halfway through. These are in no particular order. 
*not a combined contributors' list - just Trailer's*

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Ashley McBryde - Tired of Being Happy


YOB - Our Raw Heart

Willie Nelson - Something You Get Through

Caitlyn Smith - This Town is Killing Me

Kacey Musgraves - Happy & Sad

Brent Cobb - Mornin's Gonna Come

Kelly Willis - Back Being Blue

Buffalo Gospel - When Lonesome Comes Callin'

Joshua Hedley - Weird Thought Thinker

Lori McKenna - People Get Old


Trixie Mattel - Soldier

Blackberry Smoke w/Robert Randolph - I'll Keep Ramblin'

Manchester Orchestra - No Hard Feelings


Caleb Caudle - NYC in the Rain

Old Crow Medicine Show - Look Away


Brandi Carlile - Sugartooth

Leon III - Alberta 

Tami Neilson - Good Man

Whiskey Wolves of the West - Alexandria

Ruby Boots - Break My Heart Twice

Anderson East - House is a Building

Apr 3, 2018

Top 20 Albums of 2018 - First Quarter Report

1. Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You

2. Caitlyn Smith - Starfire

3. Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere

4. Dallas Moore - Mr. Honky Tonk

5. First Aid Kid - Ruins

6. Courtney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain

7. Caleb Caudle - Crushed Coins

8. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour

9. Courtney Patton - What It's Like to Fly Alone

10. Buffalo Tom - Quiet and Peace

11. Ruby Boots - Don't Talk About It

12. Wade Bowen - Solid Ground

13. Mike & The Moonpies - Steak Night at the Prairie Rose

14. Trixie Mattel - One Stone

15. Whiskey Wolves of the West - Country Roots

16. Anderson East - Encore

17. Josh Grider - Good People

18. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - Tearing at the Seams

19. Ross Cooper - I Rode the Wild Horses

20. Pedigo's Magic Pilsner - s/t

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*there are a few recent and forthcoming albums I haven't listened to enough to rank yet
**This is just Trailer's top 20 - year end list will include all contributors

Mar 2, 2018

Root For the Home Team: Say Hey to Caleb Caudle

by Robert Dean

When you do what we do, there are folks you consider “the home team,” the musicians we’ve watched grow over the years. The artists we were begging readers to check out long before they broke out or hooked up with a super producer. Tyler Childers and Colter Wall made their way onto the national stage. We’re always rooting for Justin Wells, and we want Lindi Ortega to do well. Jason Isbell is slowly taking over everything, and some of us can remember when Sturgill was playing rooms to 100 people. There are so many great bands out there grinding, The Quiet Hollers, Two Cow Garage, Shovels and Rope; we tip our hats to all of them. 

We take pride in seeing these folks bloom, which in some cases, submitted a few scratch tracks or sent us a tweet to check out their music. These once obscure artists are getting a shot at real success. 

Another one of those folks we love and are unbelievably proud of is Caleb Caudle. On his newest record, Crushed Coins, Caleb Caudle is making noise that’s booming louder than his critically acclaimed Carolina Ghost


Crushed Coins feels different than Carolina Ghost in that the body of work is less reliant on the big and bright late 80’s/early 90’s country overtones, and instead feels personal and more “Americana” than strict, by the book country and western. 

Crushed Coins features straight-ahead songwriting and a strict reliance on mastery of craft instead of studio trickery or layers of instruments designed to muddle the message. There are some heartbreakers, some good time jams and some beer drinking tunes, which as about all you can ask for in a straight ahead country record.

 If Randy Travis or Garth Brooks is on your Spotify playlist, be sure to check out everything Caleb Caudle has released, he’s one of the best dudes putting in the work. He’s skillfully adept at harnessing that clean, powerful and hooky sound those guys pulled off back in the day. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, Caleb Caudle is an artist that appeals to older country fans, but can also bring in a lot of new people. He’s got an immediate likability, but also listenability that many artists, no matter how great just can’t foster.

As Pantera taught us on the home video: KEEP THE SCENE ALIVE, MAN.

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Grab Crushed Coins from Caleb's Bandcamp site or find it at all the other usual places.




Jan 3, 2017

Trailer's Top 30 Albums of 2016


We'll turn loose of 2016 with one more post. Trailer's Top 30 of 2016. This is what the "Top Albums of 2016" list would've looked like if we didn't do a group vote now. 


 1. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
2. Lori McKenna - The Bird and the Rifle
3. Flatland Cavalry - Humble Folks
4. Brandy Clark - Big Day in a Small Town
5. Cody Jinks - I'm Not the Devil
6. Justin Wells - Dawn in the Distance
7. Austin Lucas - Between the Moon and the Midwest
8. Caleb Caudle - Carolina Ghost
9. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth
10. Brent Cobb - Shine On Rainy Day
11. Kelsey Waldon - I've Got a Way
12. St. Paul and the Broken Bones - Sea of Noise
13. Gojira - Magma
14. Lydia Loveless - Real
15. Luke Bell - s/t
16. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
17. Paul Cauthen - My Gospel
18. Rob Baird - Wrong Side of the River
19. Mark Chesnutt - Tradition Lives
20. Quaker City Night Hawks - El Astronauta
21. Bonnie Raitt - Dig in Deep
22. Miranda Lambert - The Weight of These Wings
23. Western Centuries - Weight of the World
24. BJ Barham - Rockingham
25. Metallica - Hardwired… to Self Destruct
26. Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
27. Robert Ellis - s/t
28. Hayes Carll - Lovers and Leavers
29. Loretta Lynn - Full Circle
30. Erik Dylan - Heart of a Flatland Boy

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


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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.

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