Mark Murray’s Favorites For 2018
As the host of the Saturday afternoon edition of the Americana Mix, I get to play lots of good music. While the show is always about the mix of all kinds of Americana, just like you, I have my favorites. Here are some I think you’ll like, too:
Western Centuries “Songs From The Deluge”
Easily my top pick for 2018. Cahalen Morrison, Ethan Lawton (Zoe Muth and the High Rollers) and Jim Miller (Donna The Buffalo), hit their stride on this album – country, but so much more. South Louisiana legend Joel Savoy produced this one, and he added just the right amount of Cajun flavor to the mix of steel drenched goodness. Pick any cut – you will not be disappointed. Start with “Far From Home” for a fast one and “Three Swallows” for a slow one. If you like the sound, check out Western Centuries’ 2016 release “Weight Of The World” and Cahalen Morrison and Country Hammer’s “The Flower Of Muscle Shoals”. We were lucky to get these West Coast based guys on Tennessee Shines back on September 26th – see them live if you get a chance.
The Bottle Rockets “Bit Logic”
Rocking the Midwest for more than 30 years! Put “Highway 70 Blues” in your driving songs collection and enjoy the tongue-in-cheek humor of the unfortunate truth in “Bad Time To Be An Outlaw”. “Carrie Underwood don’t make country sound, but she can afford it when the sh*t breaks down” Priceless!
Brent Cobb “Providence Canyon”
Follow-up to 2017’s “Shine On Rainy Day”, Providence Canyon is electric Southern rock done extremely well. Produced by Brent’s cousin Dave Cobb, this album is a little more upbeat and faster paced. I swear Brent is channeling Molly Hatchet’s “Gator Country” on “If I Don’t See Ya”. There are lots of good choices on this disc – try the rap-like “Ain’t A Road Too Long” and the funky “30.06”.
Sam Morrow “Concrete and Mud”
Continuing with the Southern rock theme, Sam Morrow hits a home run with “Concrete and Mud”. Alt-Country fans know Sam, and the rest of you should hear what you have been missing. Sam says he went for a Skynyrd vibe on “Quick Fix” – and it’s executed perfectly. Jamie Wyatt helps out on vocals on three tracks. Turn the volume up and enjoy, especially the straight up rocker, “Good Ole Days”.
Here is Sam and band on the Blue Plate Special in March, 2017:
Sarah Shook and the Disarmers “Years”
Sarah Shook’s first album, “Sidelong”, was so good, I was fearing disappointment with “Years”. The fear was unfounded! While the first album will likely remain my favorite of the two, it may be just because I did not hear “Years” first. Sarah’s voice is perfect for her songs – or is it the other way around? Try the title track and “Lesson”. Their upcoming Tennessee Shines show on January 16th sold out quickly.
Here’s Blue Plate Special video from 2016:
Jason Eady “Travel On”
Texas troubadour Jason Eady is probably one of the best songwriters out there. And maybe the most underrated. His real life story songs will resonate with anyone. His 2017 self titled release was on my last year’s album picks, and this album might be better. Dobro master Rob Ickes is featured prominently and all the tunes were cut live in the studio. Start with “I Lost My Mind In Carolina”, “Pretty When I Die” and “Now Or Never”.
Here’s video from Jason’s Blue Plate Special appearance in October, 2017:
Southern Culture On The Skids “Bootlegger’s Choice”
Yes, I know it’s like a greatest hits CD, but this is candy for the ears! Reverb drenched, southern rockabilly candy. Like a Stucky’s Pecan Log. Food related tunes: “Fried Chicken and Gasoline”, “Banana Pudding” and “Eight Piece Box”. Yum!
Becky Warren “Undesirable”
Follow up to 2017’s “War Surplus”, the new CD is guitar driven Southern country/rock with shades of Lucinda Williams and Lydia Loveless. Becky is not afraid to tackle social issues in her songs, but she pulls it off without sounding trite. Try “We’re All We Got” (w/Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls), “Highway Lights”, and “You’re Always Drunk”.