Well, for what was supposed to be a slow year for good albums, 2011 really proved me wrong. I had my top 10 down to about 19 yesterday, and finally came up with a list today. This list is purely dedicated to the Country genre. There were a few great albums outside of the genre that would certainly be on the list, so I decided to just list what I spin. Before I tell you my favorites of the year, I should give a short list of artists that had phenomenal releases this year, but, I just had to make the cut off somewhere and needed to narrow it down.
Honky Tonk Hustlas, Lonewolf OMB, Lucky Tubb and the Modern Day Troubadours, Merle Haggard, Rebel Son, Dirt Daubers, Husky Burnette, Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks, Ted Russell Kamp, Andy Vaughn and the Driveline, Slackeye Slim, Dale Watson, Ugly Valley Boys, Ol' Red Shed, and Roger Alan Wade all had strong albums, but, my top 10 came down to what I listen to the most and also has to do with the amount of spins the albums have received over the past year on Outlaw Radio Chicago.
#10 John Howie Jr and the Rosewood Bluff- Leavin' Yesterday.
This is just simply a great Country record from the ex- Two Dollar Pistol front man. The new band is unreal and the songs all get stuck in my head! Hard to believe that this is only #10.
Key Tracks "I'm So Happy I Could Cry" and "Watch me Fall"
#9 Slim Chance and the Can't Hardly Playboys- Self-Title
While, this CD has no cover art and is not an "official" release, it is a solid full length album from one of Lower Broadway's house bands. If you take a trip to Nashville, do not miss this band! Aside from great musicians, I am proud to call these fellas my friends.
Key Tracks "Hillbilly Physco" and "Train Roll On"
#8 Lydia Loveless- Indestructible Machine
A great second album from the 21 year old Ohio native. A rock album more than country, but Lydia can certainly croon with the best of them and there is banjo on nearly every track, making it just country enough to make this list.
Key Tracks "Can't Change Me" and "How Many Women"
#7 The Dad Horse Experience- Dead Dog on the Highway
I honestly thought after his debut that Dad couldn't top "Gates of Heaven", but, he certainly topped the first album and by a long shot! There is much more instrumentation, but still has the one man band feel.
Key Tracks "Merchandise Song" and "Kingdom it Will Come"
#6 Rachel Brooke "Down in the Barnyard"
My favorite female vocalist out there today. This is her first "proper" album with many new songs and a few older original tunes redone with a better recording. Rachel is just growing as a song writer and she will look to prove that with her upcoming 7" in early 2012.
Key Tracks- "The Legend of Morrow Road" and "How Cold"
#5 Folk Uke- Reincarnation
Amy and Cathie come back strong with their first album since 2005 and they nail it. There are funny tracks and some very beautiful tracks. These ladies can harmonize like no other, and the Ukelele playing is top notch.
Key Tracks "Filthy Floors" and "Reincarnation"
#4 The Goddamn Gallows- 7 Devils
This is the first album by these guys that really captured the live feel. Although, I really enjoy every prior releaase by the Gallows, this is the first one with Jayke Orvis and Joe Perezze and adding these two great musicians really impacted this album and the band as a whole. You get a great mix of Punk, Country, Rockabilly and Bluegrass on this record. The Gallows also released a live album earlier this year and a versus split with Black Eyed Vermillion that also deserve to be checked out.
Key Tracks "7 Devils" and "Nature of the Beast"
#3 Scott H. Biram- Bad Ingredients
In my mind, this is Scott's best album to date. Others will disagree, but, I think it shows maturity from the best one man band around without losing his edge. Congrats Scott on an album that should get you to that next level of popularity! This album is that damn good.
Key Tracks "Open Road" and "Victory Song"
#2 Bob Wayne- Outlaw Carnie
Released in January, I almost forgot this was a 2011 release, so I am happy I looked up the release date just to make sure. Although, all but 2 songs are re-released, this album kills. Unlike some re-recordings, I think Bob made all the new versions better and more crisp (except maybe "Drivin by Demons", I still like the original of that song more than this version) Also, it was quite a landmark when Century Media put this one out. A pure country record on a metal label. I hope this keeps up that trend!
Key Tracks "Mack" and "Blood to Dust"
#1 Hellbound Glory- Damaged Goods
I love this band, and I love this album. A perfect mix of ten songs and a great record from open to end! I would have to assume this album will be on many top lists this year!
Key Tracks "You Better Hope you Die Young" and "Gonna be a Goner"
Well, that about wraps it up! I know this site doesn't get all that many comments, but, I'd like to hear some of your opinions of my picks! I am just one guy with one view. Also, if I left any albums off the list completely, let me know. This was really a tough year that I did not expect!