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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Best music of 2005

My friend Michael Young, a part-time DJ, posted his "Top 10 Americana Albums of 2005" on public radio station WFPK's (91.9 Louisville) website. Mike's show "Roots 'n Boots" is available in streaming audio, Sunday nights at 6 pm until 8. I listened to it regularly even when in Boston for five months and hate missing it when I'm traveling.

Unfortunately, because of a late flight arrival, I did not catch this past Sunday's show when Michael played songs from his top 10 albums. However, I can present his top 10, with a few excerpts from his accompanying comments:
10. Freakwater – THINKING OF YOU [Thrill Jockey] Cathy Irwin, Janet Bean & Co. tackle hurt, pain & politics with a few foot-stompers thrown in for a well-balanced album. Their first since 2000, and perhaps their best.

9. Merle Haggard – CHICAGO WIND [Capitol/Hag] If this were produced by Rick Rubin, it would be getting all the raves of that tripe put out by Neil Diamond which is more “Heartlight” than “Cracklin’ Rose.”

8.Danny Barnes – GET MYSELF TOGETHER [Terminus] With his second straight jaw-dropping solo release (after 2003’s Dirt On The Angel) Danny is an artist deserving of much wider exposure.

7. Lucero – NOBODY’S DARLINGS [Liberty & Lament] Heart wrenching, yearning, and rocking all at once -- reminiscent of Springsteen in his Born To Run prime. If Kurt Cobain was raised on Hank Williams instead of the Meat Puppets, you’d have Lucero lead singer Ben Nichols. Beautiful despair.

6.Grayson Capps – IF YOU KNEW MY MIND [Hyena] The year’s best debut by far. With “Get Back Up” this Louisiana songwriter wrote the perfect New Orleans recovery theme before the hurricane.

5. John Prine – FAIR & SQUARE [Oh Boy] His humor, political bite, and relationship perspective shine though in a strong collection of songs.

4. James McMurtry – CHILDISH THINGS [Compadre] Captured the mood of many across the country in “We Can’t Make It Here,” THE anthem of 2005. McMurtry said he hates protest songs, so it has to be really bad if he has to write one.

3. Son Volt – OKEMAH AND THE MELODY OF RIOT [Transmit Sound/Legacy] Jay Farrar has rediscovered melody!

2. Mary Gauthier – MERCY NOW [Lost Highway] Currently, America’s best songwriter....I hate to constantly compare artists, but Lucinda’s got some catching up to do.

1. Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell – BEGONIAS [Yep Roc] This is rot gut, cry in your beer, no holds barred HURT pressed into vinyl (or plastic, or whatever they make CDs out of). It doesn’t get much more straightforward than “Don’t Make It Better, Make It Over.” But it’s not all gloom and doom because many of these breakup songs are delivered in bouncy, sunny country melodies.
I don't own any of these albums, yet, but Mary Gauthier (Mike pronounces it Go-shay) has a great track ("I Drink") on "This is Americana" volume 2, which I received from a friend. That CD is well worth the $1.98 cost. It also includes a Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell cut, "Party Time."

The best 2005 Americana album I own is Los Super Seven's "Heard in on the X," which I blogged about in early June. Because that album included a couple of tracks written by Doug Sahm, I asked for and received "The Best of Doug Sahm & The Sir Douglas Quintet 1968-1975." It's a great album, but it was issued in 1990 and the music is more than three decades old.

I also received the very good"Kids in Philly" Marah CD from 2000.

Since buying it some months ago, another favorite CD this past year was J.J. Cale's 1998 release, "The Very Best Of J.J. Cale."

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