by: Thomas D. Mooney
Last week, Pitchfork did something that few music publications do well: Top [insert number here] Albums/Songs of [insert year here].
With any publication though, they’re biased and don’t sprawl past their wheelhouse and know their audience. That means a lot of Kanye West, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, good pop music (Beyonce, Haim, The-Dream) and electronic-based artists (Burial, Flying Lotus, Tim Hecker).
Naturally, their list was short on “Americana” and “Country” albums. Hell, even what we’d consider as just “folk music.”
Scrolling though, you’ve got just a handful (and I’m using the term “Americana” real loosely here to provide a point: 90. Cerulean Salt by Waxahatchee, 27. Bon Iver by Bon Iver, 25. Apocalypse by Bill Callahan, 16. Kaputt by Destroyer, 10. The Idler Wheeler… by Fiona Apple, and 9. Benji by Sun Kil Moon.
You see my point? Regardless, it’s a great list of great music. I have an overwhelming chunk of their list. Not that anyone’s counting at home, but 80 of them.
So what’re the Top
10, 20, 30 Albums in the “Americana” or “Country” (“Ameri-Country”) genres?
We’ve thought about it for about a couple of days and here’s what we have come up with. Obviously, we’ve not been able to listen to every album released since January 1, 2010 until August 25, 2014, but I’m fairly certain this is pretty accurate (for the moment).
We considered a bunch of albums. The first list was roughly 70 albums long. Course, everyone isn’t going to think this is the exact, perfect list. Let us know what you feel should have been included/excluded in the comments below.
30. Mutt Cory Branan (2012)
29. American Kid Patty Griffin (2013)
28. Palomino Trampled by Turtles (2010)
27. American Girls K. Phillips (2012)
26. Rose Queen William Clark Green (2013)
25. God of Wind Kenneth O’Meara (2014)
24. Somewhere Else Lydia Loveless (2014)
23. The Grifter’s Hymnal Ray Wylie Hubbard (2012)
22. Songs John Fullbright (2014)
21. Worried Man Andrew Combs (2012)
20. The Stand-In Caitlin Rose (2013)
19. And You Are Me Uncle Lucius (2012)
18. Burn.Flicker.Die. American Aquarium (2012)
17. Goodbye Normal Street Turnpike Troubadours (2012)
16. Apologies David Ramirez (2012)
15. Harlem River Blues Justin Townes Earle (2010)
14. O’ Be Joyful Shovels & Rope (2012)
13. Here We Rest Jason Isbell (2011)
12. Burning Days Sons of Fathers (2013)
11. Junky Star Ryan Bingham (2010)
10. Muchacho Phosphorescent (2013)
09. My Favorite Picture of You Guy Clark (2013)
08. Carrying Lightning Amanda Shires (2011)
07. In The Throes John Moreland (2013)
06. From The Ground Up John Fullbright (2012)
05. Same Trailer, Different Park Kacey Musgraves (2013)
04. Diamonds & Gasoline Turnpike Troubadours (2010)
03. Metamodern Sounds in Country Music Sturgill Simpson (2014)
02. KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories) Hayes Carll (2011)
01. Southeastern Jason Isbell (2013)
I really wouldn’t take any list seriously if Southeastern wasn’t in the pole position. I don’t really believe in the whole “Greatest Songwriter of All-Time” thing. As if there’s just one songwriter who is just better than everyone else in the history of music. However, I do believe there are “Greatest Songwriter At This Given Time.” From 2011 until right now, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than Isbell.
He kind of represents what the great modern American songwriter is too. Carll, Fullbright, Felker, Clark, Moreland, Shires, (and well, just go down the list) all capture what that is as well, but Isbell just seems to be able to do it slightly better.
It’s fearless songwriting. It’s writing about every day people and not believing in the notion that you’ve got to create this unbelievable character to capture people’s imaginations. That being every day is extraordinary in itself.
It’s deconstructing flawed people and finding the human spirit in them–in you and me. It’s not trying to write an anthem so general that it works for a generation and seemingly is about everyone, but when in reality, is about no one.
People say country is dead, but it’s far from it.
Listen to our Spotify Playlist of the albums below.