This was a hard list to make, great year for music, blah blah blah
10. Nudie -- Remember This
This was the first album of 2014 that I fell for. Nudie combines the driest of wits with good old, dirt-kickin' country. If you missed it the first time spin it now.
9. M. Lockwood Porter -- 27
M. Lockwood Porter is batting a thousand so far. 27 is just the second in what I'm sure will be a long list of excellent, insightful albums.
8. Faith Evans Ruch -- After It's Said and Done
If the submissions I've been getting in my inbox are indicative of any trends, it's that old-school female country singers are coming back in a big way. But none of them were quite silver-tongued or adept at songwriting as Faith Evans Ruch. I hope she hurries up and writes another album so she can be on this list again next year.
7. Angela James -- Way Down Deep
are a number of brilliant songwriters on this list, but not all of them
are as haunting as Angela James' jazz-tinged folk. This album has
haunted me well after my last listen.
6. Cory Branan -- The No-Hit Wonder
was a shoe-in from the release of the first single. Cory's earned a
reputation (justly) for his storytelling and sharp songwriting. In No-Hit Wonder he traded some of his edge in for warmth and quiet observations of life. It suits him well
5. Cayetana -- Nervous Like Me
late entry to the list, but brilliant nonetheless. This may be a band
that all the cool kids like, but they have a helluvalot of heart, soul,
and drum fills.
4. Adam Faucett -- Blind Water Finds Blind Water
I was pleased to see this album on American Songwriter's
top 50 (or whatever it was) list. At first I was a little turned off by
Faucett's voice, but once I got a good listen (ie, a decent set of
speakers) I was hooked. This album makes the little hairs on your arm
stand up on end.
3. Robert Ellis -- The Lights at the Chemical Plant
I never got the chance to write up a full review, but this is an album that is absolutely worth your time and money. Ellis proves in no uncertain terms that he's a masterful songwriter with the voice of an angel. It's not an especially happy collection of tales, but they're as real as anything. Like Sturgill Simpson's celebrated album, Ellis pushes the sonic boundaries of country music while retaining its core -- sad stories about honest folk.
More info on Robert Ellis -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Robert, iTunes
2. NQ Arbuckle -- The Future Happens Anyway
Usually I want my music to make me feel uplifted or consoled, but sometimes an album will shatter my heart into a million pieces and then put it all back together. The Future Happens Anyway did just that.
1. Against Me! -- Transgender Dysphoria Blues
I'm a little insulted that nobody else has put this at number 1? I guess it just spoke to me -- an album for all seasons. If I was feeling sad, I blasted this. If I was feeling triumphant, I blasted this.If I wanted to get pumped up before going out, I blasted this. If I was pissed off at authority figures, I learned some songs from this album and blasted it. If I wanted to feel queer as fuck, I blasted this. There was a three-month period where there was pretty much the only album I listened to and I didn't get sick of it. I know I'm late to the party, but I'm glad to be a newly minted Against Me! fan.
But my favorite CD of the year, of course, was the one I had a hand in. If you're feeling like today is a treat yo-self day, check out the Proud compilation CD. It features a number of my favorite artists and a few who many be new to you. The money supports FIERCE, a youth organization for LGBTQ young people of color. Listen here.
Happy new year! Here's to a happy and healthy 2015!