featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
December 17, 2017
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust
As we head into 2018, here's a call to listening to All the Music.
To streaming and purchasing and supporting live music.
Here's to the spirit of musical discovery,
to sharing new artists and pushing our musical envelope
and setting old favorites on the shelf now and then.
To hell with your comfort zone, your envelope, your groove.
This New Year, resolve to break your habits
and let the music tell you where to go next.
Couple weeks ago I featured my 30 favorite records for 2017, and on December 31 I will share my favorite songs for the year. Just for fun, I asked some of the artists on my list to tell us about some of their own favorite stuff for the past twelve months. Fortunately, we had some responses:
Daniel Hines, guitar guy for Left Arm Tan encourages us to check out Walt Wilkins' January Streetlight CD. He also throws his weight behind the popular appreciation for Turnpike Troubadours' Long Way From Your Heart. And Daniel adds fellow Texas writer Cole Risner to his list of music that matters. Left Arm Tan will continue releasing monthly singles into the New Year, culminating in a new collection early in the year.
Joseph Huber recommends two albums to add to your queue: Hurray for the Riff Raff's Navigator and Modern Pressure, released in May by Daniel Romano. Huber passed dangerously close to R&B territory early this Summer, buzzing thru Fort Collins for this year's Choice City Stomp.
Anna Tivel was kind enough to share three CDs that helped define her year. She includes the October self-titled record from Weather Station, as well as Big Thief's stellar Capacity. I'd join her in recommending those, as well as Leif Vollebekk's Twin Solitudes (one of the albums I despaired to have to leave off my own favorites list). Tivel's "Alleyway" earned a spot on NPR's 100 Best Songs of the year. She toured this year alongside Jeffrey Martin, and remarked, "If I could only listen to one thing on repeat forever, (Jeffrey Martin) would be it".
And god bless Matthew Ryan, who took my request very much to heart and appears to share my support for musical discovery. Plus, doesn't hurt that Matthew has damn good taste in music. I truly admire an artist who is also a smart listener and a genuine music fan. I'll just share what he wrote here: These are all favorites for different reasons. They're in no particular order. All of them contain at least one song that destroys me. For me, that's what I'm always looking for, one song that feels like it's always been there. What's below are just some favorites from 2017, certainly not comprehensive.
Craig Finn, We All Want the Same Things
Slowdive, Sugar for the Pill
Bob Dylan, Triplicate
St Vincent, Masseducation
John Moreland, Big Bad Luv
Elbow, Little Fictions
Benchmarks, Our Undivided Attention
Strand of Oaks, Hard Love
War On Drugs, A Deeper Understanding
Bash + Pop, Anything Could Happen
Jade Jackson, Gilded
The National, Sleep Well Beast
Dave Hause, Bury Me in Philly
Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer, Not Dark Yet
Micah Schnabel, Your New Norman Rockwell
Billy Bragg, Bridges Not Walls
... and my sadly belated discovery of 2017: Richmond Fontaine
Thanks to all who participated, providing a brief glimpse into the inspiration and the personal passion that helps to drive these brilliant artists.
Also this week, we take advantage of The Lull that is the end of the year music release calendar to revisit a couple records that I sorta maybe didn't support to the full extent of their merit. Stuff by Zephaniah Ohora, Joe Henry and Sam Outlaw. It's a ripe time for securing these loose ends. We continue poking around some excellent new releases from Shovels & Rope and Marie/Lepanto. And we Christmas hard.
I'd mentioned that I'd be sharing my annual traditional Holiday Episode on Christmas Eve. Then it occurred to me that this gives everyone exactly one day to enjoy the spectacle that is all-Christmas, all-the-time. Holiday music can already seem out of place in the harsh light of a warm Colorado Christmas afternoon. While Real Life Things will rise up with their pressing demands, I'll do my best to pull it all together earlier in the week if at all possible. Please join me in efforting a Christmas miracle.
- Lee Bains III & Glory Fires, "Had to Laugh" Youth Detention (Don Giovani, 17)
- Gasoline Lollipops, "Montreal" Soul Mining (Ellenburg, 17)
- Zephaniah Ohora, "High Class City Girl From the Country" This Highway (Ohora, 17)
- Zach Schmidt, "I'm Drunk Again This Christmas" 13 Days of Christmas (Bloodshot, 17)
- Sam Outlaw, "Tenderheart" Tenderheart (Six Shooter, 17)
- James McMurtry, "Levelland" Where'd You Hide the Body (Sony, 95)
- Jim White, "Long Long Day" Waffles Triangles & Jesus (Loose, 17)
- Angel Olsen, "Endless Road" Phases (Jagjaguwar, 17)
- Sonny Smith, "Pictures of You" Rod for Your Love (Easy Eye, 18)
- Jim James, "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" Tribute to 2 (ATO, 17)
- Shovels & Rope w/Matthew Logan Vasquez, "Untitled 1" Busted Jukebox Vol. 2 (New West, 17)
- Joe Pug, "Silver Harps & Violins" Great Despiser (Lightning Rod, 12)
- First Aid Kit, "Postcard" Ruins (Columbia, 18)
- Texas Gentlemen, "Christmas With You" Christmas Soul (Amazon, 17)
- Flat Duo Jets, "Wild Wild Lover" Wild Wild Love (Daniel 13, 17)
- Caleb Caudle, "Empty Arms" Crushed Coins (Cornelius Chapel, 18)
- Two Cow Garage, "Lydia" Sweet Saint Me (LC, 10)
- Marie/Lepanto, "High Desert" Tenkiller (Big Legal Mess, 18)
- Joe Henry, "Dark is Light Enough" Thrum (Worksong, 17)
- Minus 5, "See You in December" Dear December (Yep Roc, 17)
- Anderson East, "King for a Day" Encore (Elektra, 18)
- Chris Stapleton, "A Simple Song" From A Room Vol. 2 (Mercury, 17)
- Lori McKenna, "Mama's Cooking" Acoustic Christmas (Amazon, 17)
- Tommy Emmanuel w/Rodney Crowell, "Looking Forward to the Past" Accomplice One (CGP, 18)
- Sons of Bill, "Arms of the Landslide" Love and Logic (Gray Fox, 14)
- Max Gomez, "Joe" Me & Joe (Brigadoon, 17) D
- Erin Enderlin, "Cowboy Christmas" single (Blue Slate, 17) D
- Jarrod Dickenson, "Christmas Time in the City" single (Decca, 17) D
- Temptations, "Silent Night" Give Love at Christmas (Motown, 80)
- Tallest Man on Earth, "Sagres" Dark Bird is Home (Dead Oceans, 15)
Give the gift of Routes & Branches this holiday season! If you know someone who values musical discovery, tell them about what you've discovered here. Share us on the social media of your preference. While 2017 has easily eclipsed any other year for traffic thru our humble site, I dream of something larger, more substantial, more dynamic. I'm proud of the community that's collecting around these posts, and I fully expect to show my gratitude by growing R&B in new directions as my resources permit. Oh, and don't hesitate to email me with favorites, reflections and existential crises: firstname.lastname@example.org