Mark Murray’s Album Favorites for 2016

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Mark’s Super Scientific Selection Process:

  1. Actually liked it enough to download the album
  2. Liked it enough to make a CD copy to put in my car
  3. Still in my car after surviving multiple CD holder purgings.

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers        Sidelong

Hard country/ honky-tonk songs about bad breakups and excessive drinking are the rule here. Sarah is a little rough around the edges, kind of like real life. She definitely gives the impression that she’s lived her lyrics, not just written down a bunch of words. Her band is outstanding. Favorite track: “Heal Me”

The Royal Hounds                Poker All Night

East Tennessee’s Own Rockabilly band on par with anyone in rockabilly. These guys make music fun, with a mix of good musicianship, showmanship, and clever lyrics. In addition, they prove that they are not an auto-tuned, over-produced studio band by delivering it all live. Favorite track: “On The Verge”

Rod Melancon                LA 14

5 song EP following 2014’s Parish Lines. A good combination of country/rock/swamp. If Rod is new to you, listen to Parish Lines first. Can’t wait to hear more. (He has promised a follow-up.)  Favorite track: “Perry”

Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms        Innocent Road

My favorite west coast duo. This album has a classic country honky tonk feel that really works. If you like the vintage twang of traditional Country, you will definitely like this. Artist trivia: Reeb spells beer backwards. Favorite track: “New Shoes”

The Honeycutters                On The Ropes

There is something about Asheville’s Amanda Platt and her band that is instantly likable. My capsule description: “They make hurtin’ feel so good!” I’m apparently in good company, evidenced by packed live shows and their recent signing with Brad Hunt and the WNS Publicity Group (Steve Forbert, Sonny Landreth, Tim O’Brien, etc.) Favorite track: “Blue Besides”

NOTE: Since I am an old-time music fan, a 2016 must-mention is the 4 CD box set “The Knoxville Sessions 1929-1930”. Not really material you would normally hear on Americana Mix (tune in to Clinch River Breakdown on Sundays from 12-4), but this CD set documents one of the places and some of the artists where it all began. Grammy nominated for best album notes.

Tune in Saturdays from 2 until 6 for the Americana Mix with Mark Murray!

Nelson Discusses His 2016 Favorite Americana Releases

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My top 10 songs are:

  1. “Hands of Time” – Margo Price
  2. “Heaven Sent” – Parker Millsap
  3. “What it Means” – Drive-By Truckers
  4. “Wrong Side of the Dream” – Austin Lucas w/Lydia Loveless
  5. “Old Men, Young Women” – Lori McKenna
  6. “How Quickly Your Heart Mends” – Courtney Marie Andrews
  7. “Same to You” – Lydia Loveless
  8. “Call to Arms” – Sturgill Simpson
  9. “Dreaming in the Day” – Aubrie Sellers
  10. “If Only” – Michaela Anne

Here’s a list of my 10 favorite Americana releases of 2016:

10.) Sidelong – Sarah Shook & The Disarmers

This is officially a 2015 release, but it was not sent out to radio until January. Sarah’s brash brand of full

throttle honky-tonk made sure she was a staple of WDVX playlists for much of the year.

Top Track: “Misery Without Company”

9.) Real – Lydia Loveless

Want the fire of Sarah Shook, but with a little less twang? Try Lydia Loveless on for size. Lydia has always

been a bit of a chameleon, but you get the sense that the energy and emotions on display here are, like

the title of the record, Real.

Top Track: “Longer”

8.) On the Ropes – The Honeycutters

Asheville’s Amanda Anne Platt is an amazing songwriter, penning heartbreaking country tunes better

than most coming out of Nashville. The band’s take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is at once

completely original and familiar.

Top Track: “On the Ropes”

7.) Mosey – Daniel Romano

Romano has morphed from the Gram Parsons style crooning of his New West Records label debut in

2013 into the artist who released one of the most gloriously weird albums of 2016. Strings? Check.

Horns? Check. Guest vocals from Rachel McAdams? Check.

Top Track: “Mr. E. Me”

6.) Are You Serious – Andrew Bird

Bird continues to be the best whistling chamber-pop violinist working today. His sense of melody and

intricate arrangements never cease to grab me.

Top Track: “Capsized”

5.) case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs

I’ve seen many critics compare this collaboration to a modern day version of The Trio (Dolly Parton,

Emmylou Harris, & Linda Ronstadt). It’s hard to argue when you hear Neko Case, k.d. lang, & Laura Veirs

meld their voices together.

Top Track: “Atomic Number”

4.) A Sailor’s Guide to Earth – Sturgill Simpson

Simpson proved he doesn’t need the guiding hand of Dave Cobb to make a great album on this country-

rooted-yet- genre-blending love letter to his newborn son. Rock, soul, psychedelia, and R&B all enter into

Simpson’s intricate equation here.

Top Track: “Keep it Between the Lines”

3.) American Band – The Drive-By Truckers

The most politically charged offering in this band’s vast catalog is also the most vital album they’ve

produced since the Isbell days. Mass shootings, police violence, immigration, and what it means to be

Southern in today’s America all come under Mike Cooley & Patterson Hood’s microscope.

Top Track: “What it Means”

2.) The Bird The Rifle – Lori McKenna

This is my pick for the best written album of 2016. McKenna’s tales of domestic discord are heart

breaking in their honesty and devastatingly precise in their perceptiveness. It’s no secret why McKenna

has won the last two Song of the Year trophies at Nashville’s CMA Awards.

Top Track: “Old Men Young Women”

1.) Midwest Farmer’s Daughter – Margo Price

Price is so amazing, I flew to London just to watch her perform. Well. That’s not exactly true, but I did

catch a show in the UK this summer. Her honesty in revealing details about her life make this not only

the best album of 2016, but one of the most stunning debuts in recent memory as well.

Top Track: “Hands of Time”

Grace’s Favorite Albums of 2016

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In the spirit of the “Americana Mix” I tried to choose from a variety of genre’s…
Rock – Mudcrutch 2 –
Bluegrass – The Earls of Leister – Rattle & Roar
Blues – Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat
Alt Country – Dwight Yoakam – Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars
Singer Songwriter – Mark Radice – Audio Quicksand