Last year we did a Top 10 but we’re changing it up a little this time. Check out each staff member’s Top 5 albums for the year(along with a brief review), and tell us what you think!
5. Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer – Not Dark Yet
For me, this is just a teaser of what’s to come from this sister act. This is their first time recording together, their covers are smart and I love “I’m Looking For Blue Eyes”, their nod to Jesse Colter.
4. Angaleena Presley – Wrangled
For me, this is an album that I feel Patsy Cline would be proud of- with traditional country twang and a take no sh*t from those Bro-Country Nashville Men attitude. “Good Girl Down” is one of my favorites on this album and was co-written by Wanda Jackson herself!
3. Margo Price – All American Made
Margo’s follow up to “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” (which I also LOVE) is one of the most political albums of 2017. “A Little Pain” and “Pay Gap” are two of my favorites so far- Margo will also be headlining the Ryman for the first time in May of 2018!
2. Secret Sisters – You Don’t Own Me Anymore
These women are incredible. Their story alone is awesome, do yourself a favor and read up on them. They’re often compared to the Everly Brothers. Seeing them live, they’re better. Their album “You don’t own me anymore” is great start to finish. And, they were just nominated for a Grammy! BUY THE ALBUM! SERIOUSLY!
1. Lilly Hiatt – Trinity Lane
This album empowers me. Lilly is a badass and makes me think I am one as well. She KILLS it in “The Night David Bowie Died”, but one of my favorites is “So Much You Don’t Know”- I just love it. I know she’s making her Dad, John Hiatt, pretty damn proud!
5. Big Boi – Boomiverse
Now you know I wasn’t going to compile this list and not put a little hip hop on it. In my opinion, this is Big Boi’s best solo album of his career. It reminded me of those classic Outkast albums. Even with Andre not making an appearance, having the likes of Killer Mike, Jeezy, Adam Levine, and the late great Pimp C on the album placed Big Boi back front and center in the hip hop game.
4. Caroline Spence – Spades and Roses
Since working at this station, one thing has been engrained in me more that it ever had before: lyrical integrity is paramount if the music is going to last. Caroline Spence displayed that beautifully with her album Spades and Roses. Now I will say that I had a chance to hear the album in its entirety multiple times due to the fact that Anthony Ennis would not stop playing it when he first heard it. But through that, songs like Hotel Amarillo, Southern Accident, and You Don’t Look So Good(When You Do Cocaine) became a couple of my favorite songs of the year.
3. Chris Stapleton – From A Room Vol. 1
With the worldwide success of Stapleton’s last album, I wondered what he was going to come back with. Well, he did not disappoint with this album here. From the emotional rendition of Willie Nelson’s classic “Last Thing I Needed” to the equally painful “Either Way”, Chris came back onto the scene with a vengeance.
2. The War and Treaty – Down To The River
Michael and Tanya Trotter, the powerhouse duo that make up The War and Treaty, exploded onto the scene and into my musical senses with this genre-busting album that mixes folk and bluegrass touches with a raw and powerful gospel, soul, and R&B feel that made me become obsessed with them. Michael’s ability to write beautiful, gut wrenching, joyful and heartbreaking music expressed through his phenomenal vocal and playing talent and Tanya’s voice that is reminiscent of early Aretha Franklin, Down To The River is one of the best albums that I have heard in the past 10 years.
1. Lawrence – Breakfast
After seeing this band in Savannah at Savannah Stopover this year, I was immediately hooked. Clyde and Gracie Lawrence along with the rest of this incredible band created an album that is damn near perfect in my opinion. From the powerful vocals and lyrics to the phenomenal instrumentation, Lawrence is a mix of old soul and R&B that hasn’t been seen in a long time.
5. Son Little – New Magic
4. Zephaniah Ohora – This Highway
3. Sharon Jones – Soul of A Woman
2. Jason Isbell – Nashville Sound
1. Jim Lauderdale – London Southern
The Albums I chose were the albums I became obsessed with the most this year. Ones I could listen to all the way through and not grow tired of them, over and over and over. There were others, mostly by artists, like Tyler Childers, or War and Treaty, that I discovered for the first time this year. That gave me great hope that strong songs, and good music ARE being made in my lifetime. I sure am a lucky man that gets to play those songs and talk about them on the radio. Here are my picks.
5. Colter Wall – Colter Wall
Good lord. Hearing this fella for the first time made me feel like I was getting lowered into hell, but I liked it. Strong storytelling and a soul stirring voice that won’t leave you for a while.
4. Johnathan Byrd – Trio
Man This was a late addition to my list, but worthy nonetheless. Jonathan has become one of my all time favorite songwriters. I just don’t know anyone making music right that can tell a story like he can. Do yourself a favor and discover him.
3. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
I keep waiting for him to not be able to do it again. I don’t think I’ll feel that way anymore. He’s had it, he’s got it, and he’s probably always gonna have it.
2. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – Soul of A Woman
The Dap Kings, the baddest band in the USA and Classic Sharon Jones. It don’t get any better in my book
1. Jim Lauderdale – London Southern
A Goddamn masterpiece. I will listen to this album all the way through for as long as I live. Made me fall in love with Lauderdale again.
5. The Secret Sisters – You Don’t Own Me Anymore
This is the third album from The Secret Sisters, but the first release after their career went off the rails and they stepped away from the music business for a while. The school of hard knocks taught these sisters a thing or two about lyrical honesty and it pays off in spades.
4. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
Isbell delivers again. Powerful lyrics, smart songwriting and an incredibly well dressed band. Well played, sir.
3. Lilly Hiatt – Trinity Lane
Just listen to this album… it’s brilliant. Plus, Lilly plays the coolest black and white Rickenbacker guitar in all of Nashville.
2. Matthew Ryan – Hustle Up Starlings
Out of all the albums in 2017, the one that spent the most time on repeat in my car is Matthew Ryan’s latest. Drenched in 80’s retro arrangements and production, Hustle Up Starlings is fresh and comfortable at the same time.
1. Jim Lauderdale – London Southern
Mr. Americana delivered what is, in my opinion, the finest album of his career. Part soul, part country, part crooner… this album covers all the bases and showcases Lauderdale’s writing at its best.
T-5.Big Boi – Boomiverse
This is the album Big Boi needed to remind everyone he’s still one of the Kings of Southern Hip-Hop. With haunting tracks like “Kill Jill”, party anthems with the addictive piano riff in “All Night” and cameos from Snoop Dogg, Killer Mike, Jeezy, and more it ebbs and flows in a way that shouldn’t make sense but somehow does.
T-5.Lilly Hiatt – Trinity Lane
I think all of us here agree that you just HAVE to listen to this album. Top to bottom everything about it is fantastic. Do yourself a favor and check it out now.
4.Caroline Spence – Spades & Roses
This was hands down one of my favorite new ARTISTS that I discovered this year. With her sweet, simple voice and an innate ability to highlight conflicting emotions I simply love everything about this album.
3.Hiss Golden Messenger – Hallelujah Anyhow
From the rolling-grooves, borrowing from traditional blues and folk music, and the intelligent yet still very fun lyrics, M.C. Taylor hits the nail on the head again with Hallelujah Anyhow.
2.Valerie June – The Order of Time
Hailing from small town Tennessee Valerie June released this amazing follow-up to Pushin’ Against a Stone. You can hear just about every influence she had with a variety of singers in her church choir. From the imperfectly perfect Astral Plane to the upbeat Got Soul, there is something for everyone on this record.
1.Colter Wall – Colter Wall
I don’t know where this kid came from…well I do, its Saskatchewan, but talk about mind-blowing! With the brooding baritone and rasp of years on the road, smoking too many cigarettes, and drinking a ton of whiskey, 22 year old Colter Wall is way ahead of his time. Looking forward to great music from him for years to come.
*Honorable Mentions(In no particular order)
All of these would’ve made a top ten for me
The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Old 97s – Graveyard Whistlin’
Queens of the Stone Age – Villains
Tyler Childers – Purgatory
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
The Aaron Irons
5. Dan Baird – Solow
What I want every record to sound like.
4. Justin Townes Earle – Kids In The Street
As good as his pops and doesn’t piss me off.
3. Matthew Ryan – Hustle Up Starlings
I don’t even know how many Matthew Ryan albums I have, and it doesn’t matter. I just grab one and set it to spinning. Hustle Up Starlings satisfies the angsty, brooding part of me.
2. Lilly Hiatt – Trinity Lane
Dang near every cut could be a single– just let it play.
1. Son Volt – Notes of Blue
Ya’ll can call it Americana or alt-country, but if you say, “Son Volt,” then that’s it. Notes of Blue is just one more album, like Trace, that I’ll be listening to for the rest of my days.
Steve Earle – So You Wannabe an Outlaw
It’s nice for a Steve Earle album to “sound” like Steve Earle.
Zephania Ohora- This Highway
Might’ve made my top 5 without that cover of Somethin’ Stupid, but really a terrific country music album.
Hayley Thompson-King- Psychotic Melancholia
Where’d she come from, and where’s she been all my life?
Old ’97s- Graveyard Whistling
They still got it, always had it, prolly won’t lose it.
The Kernal- Light Country
Probably should’ve made my top 5.
5. Established 1981 – Shane Torres
The comic from Texas’ debut album is much more than just his bit defending Guy Fieri. Torres delves into his love for open bar weddings, dealing with break ups, and living with OCD.
4. DAMN – Kendrick Lamar
Lamar has staked his claim as the top rapper in the game with his fourth studio album. Featuring production by Mike Will Made It, The Alchemist and many more, “DAMN” received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.
3. CHUCK – Chuck Berry
This posthumous release from the founder of Rock was completed in March before Berry’s death and released in June. The album features ten new recordings and is the first release of original release since 1979’s “Rock It”.
2. UNDIVIDED HEART & SOUL – JD McPherson
The son of Tulsa released follow up to 2015’s “Let the Good Times Roll”. This October release featured a lot of the familiar guitar riffs that have become associated with the up and coming Rockabilly wunderkind.
1.Sketches of Brunswick East – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
This Australian Psych Rock group released four albums this year, with a fifth due out before the end of the year. “Sketches,” the third release of the year, found the group experimenting with a Jazz Funk sound that was both uplifting and infectious.
Waiting on a Song – Dan Auerbach
Old Locomotive – The Murlocs
The Nashville Sound – Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
Humanz – Gorillaz
Kids in the Street – Justin Townes Earle