February 2, 2017

JT's Favorite Albums from 2016

1. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter     

It's country because it's classified that way, and because it has to be when the singer lived in a trailer, lived in a tent, went to jail, grew up on her daddy's farm before he lost it, and mentions whiskey in more than half the songs. But it's also country by way of stellar songwriting, a Sun Records recording, and Jack White producing. If any of those are your cup of tea, you may listen to it over and over. And if you ever wondered what Loretta Lynn would have sounded like if she recorded a disco funk song with BB King cutting a solo in the middle of it, then check out "Four Years of Chances."    

2. The Head and the Heart - Signs of Light           

Major label signing and a major directional shift for Head and the Heart. Some folks didn't dig the transition from moody Northwest folk of the 2010s to sunny SoCal harmonies of the 1970s. (They even walked on stage at the show I saw to The Eagles) It took me about a half dozen listens before it clicked, but once it did, I was hooked.  

3. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth  
A throwback concept album that's not nearly as _fun_ as Sturgill's "Metamodern Sounds" but probably even better from an artistic standpoint. Nods to Motown are throughout, but there's really not a single sound to pin down, it's truly an album worth listening to in order, in its entirety. And his Nirvana cover kicks serious ass.

4. Shovels & Rope - Little Seeds

I’ve loved everything from Shovels & Rope, but I really like the first half of this album as much as anything they've done. Overall, I think it's a big step forward from their last one ("Swimming Time") which seemed a little rushed to capitalize on their "O' Be Joyful" breakout. There's a lot here that invokes the White Stripes and the Kills.       
5. The Lumineers - Cleopatra     

Like every sequel except "Empire Strikes Back," it suffers because it's not as good as what came before. Part of the reason may be that they're trying really hard to replicate the "Hey Ho" earworm. I was skeptical after hearing O-O-phe-LIA for a few months over and over. But I really did wind up liking it. In fact, if I listen to it shuffled with the debut, it all just kind of blends together. Which could be good or bad, depending on your perspective.   


awmercy said...

Clearly, I haven't been paying as much attention to alt. country this year. Somehow I even missed this Shovels and Rope album. I have absolutely loved Margo Price, which Eric may have suggested but I never actually got around to hearing. He did introduce me to Paul Cauthen, who you need to check out if you haven't already. No doubt if Erin had submitted a list this year, TH&TH and Lumineers would have been near the top.