Aug 16, 2019
Feb 26, 2019
Dec 14, 2018
Like numbers 11-25, these were voted on by all Farce the Music contributors.
10. Dallas Moore - Mr. Honky Tonk
This is the album where Dallas Moore took a huge step forward. He's always been good, but on Mr. Honky Tonk, the songwriting, vocals, and especially the production all came together. Normally I'd not even consider voting for an album with only 8 tunes, but when the material is this strong, there's nothing wrong with delivering a short, powerful punch. Moore knows for damn sure who he is and on Mr. Honky Tonk, that comes through loud and clear. Check out "You Know the Rest" and "Somewhere Between Bridges." ~Trailer
9. Whitey Morgan & The 78s - Hard Times & 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. ~Matthew Martin
8. Ruston Kelly - Dying Star
One for the misfits, but who among us isn’t one? At times depressing, funny and hopeful, and with a dash of redemptive potential. And it’s oh, so very pleasing to the ear. Comparisons to Ryan Adams are inevitable. So far, though, Mr. Kelly doesn’t seem to be a full-of-himself douche. ~Kevin Broughton
7. 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. ~MM
6. Joshua Hedley - Mr. Jukebox
The soul of Mr. Jukebox is decidedly unhip by mainstream Nashville standards, but the songs are glorious throwbacks to guys like Ernest Tubb, George Jones or Buck Owens. The reason Mr. Jukebox succeeds is his backbone of traditionalism, not only in character, but also because of Ole’ Hed’s dedication to the heart of real country music. Hedley’s fiddle furiously battles his smooth vocal runs with a multi-disciplined attack that's just damned good music. Joshua Hedley can strum a guitar, sing with a clean, clear harmonious range, and write lyrics that are not only witty, but also painstakingly crafted so that the words on some of the record’s tracks land like guy punches. ~Robert Dean
5. Cody Jinks - Lifers
Cody is just taunting the Satanists running Nashville now, showing these soulless, undead beings what a country record could be on their radio stations. ~KB
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. ~MM
4. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
An album chock full of beautifully arranged, damn-near perfectly delivered, radio-ready singles that for some reason didn't find their way to Country Radio. It's a shame that format has bent over backwards to completely ignore and ostracize women because Musgraves made the best Country record of the year by a wide margin. I guess the Country Radio folks need to make sure there's always enough room on the charts for any dude named Luke who might decide to release a single at some point. ~Kasey Anderson
3. Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You
Brandi’s finest album since The Story (which will always be in my Top 10 of all-time). “The Joke” is simply gorgeous and a song of the year contender. This Dave Cobb produced platter got some serious Grammy nom love and for good reason. ~Scott Colvin
2. Jamie Lin Wilson - Jumping Over Rocks
I’ll be honest, this album is so beautifully understated in its delivery that I almost had it around number 12. Then I sat down & listened again. What Jamie Lin Wilson has done is monumental. She covers perhaps the greatest song Guy Clark ever wrote, and it fits the album. If you’re looking for who’s going to fill those shoes, the answer is still “nobody”, but this album is a tour de force. Jamie Lin Wilson is a generational talent who deserves every bit of acclaim she receives, and then some. ~Kelcy Salisbury
I love this freaking album. So classy and classic sounding. "The Being Gone" and "Death and Life" are amazing songs. ~Trailer
1. 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. ~MM
Good to see Farce the Music's unofficial house band finally make our top spot! ~Trailer
Jun 3, 2017
Nov 19, 2015
Nov 14, 2015
Sep 8, 2015
May 20, 2015
An album doesn't have to be the be-all-end-all showcase of varied sounds and emotions to grab me as something special. It doesn't have to own a perfect balance of upbeat and plaintive moods. It doesn't have to intersperse rockers with ballads with mid-tempos at optimal track positioning. An album simply has set to some part of my psyche afire, open an electrical circuit between me and the music that never switches off for the entire length of the collection.
Whitey Morgan and the 78s' new album Sonic Ranch flips on the neon and never lets it fade from first note to last. It's a right-in-the-pocket ten-track slab of living, breathing, honky-tonking, country music perfection.
Morgan wrote 4 of the 10 songs on Sonic Ranch, the rest being well-chosen covers - or just new versions of older songs - whatever you wanna call 'em. While that may be a questionable approach to some purists (who conveniently forget that Jennings, Jones, and Nelson all sang other people's songs…frequently), it's not even a minor issue for me. Sonically, there's nothing that would prick your ears to the fact that Sonic Ranch is a patchwork of tunes from different artists and writers. Lyrically, the themes are consistent, and besides the obvious high-water marks set by the Tom T. Hall ("That's How I Got to Memphis") and Townes Van Zandt inclusions, there's no glaring variance in the quality of the songwriting.
It's amazing how an artist who's so comfortable in their own boots can almost create something entirely new out of another artist's vision. Whitey takes The Damn Quails' "Me and the Whiskey" from its more airy and folksy origin right into the smokiest barroom in town, sets up the amps and gets badass. As much as I like the original (and freaking love the Quails), Morgan makes this song belong to him and his 78s, turning the thoughtfulness of the former version into a swaggering statement of hard-headed defiance.
Morgan's own "Low Down on the Backstreets" continues the theme of the down-on-love high-on-the-town drinking man. "Take me down on Main Street, play me an old country song, when I get lowdown on the backstreet" he sings, and you're never quite sure if the confidence in his voice is from the strong drink or some inner bravado.
After rumbling through a fine cover of TVZ's "Waitin' Round to Die," Morgan digs in to a stunning take on Scott H. Biram's "Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue." The cocksureness of the album openers here takes a backseat to a bit more self-reflection and confession. Still, it's hard for a man with the thundering pipes of Whitey Morgan to sound anything more than a little contrite, and that contrast of intent vs. delivery adds to the magic of this adaptation. It's a clear standout on an album without low spots, and one of the strongest covers I've ever had the pleasure of hearing.
"Good Timing Man" removes the mask, and may be the true heart of this record. It's a treatise on the differences between the real man and the country singer who'll "put on a smile and my old guitar" then go backstage to drink away his misery. It's one of the most honest moments on Sonic Ranch, and provides a balance to and an explanation for all the bluster early on and afterwards.
Sonic Ranch is as strong a "real country album" as you'll hear in 2015. It's refreshing to hear such unfiltered honky-tonk music in this day and age of contrived edge and softened edges. Morgan and the 78s' version of modern outlaw country is a comparable sound to what Sturgill Simpson is doing, but with a blue collar approach and a more pronounced low-end. This album may not drive Morgan to acceptance/hype in the same circles as Jason Isbell and Sturgill, but it's a big statement album that will bring in new fans and make old ones very happy. It's my favorite album of the year thus far, and obviously highly recommended.
Sonic Ranch is available on Morgan's site, iTunes, Amazon, etc.