Country California’s Best Country Albums of 2012


After much deliberation, here’s the closest I’ll get to a Best of 2012 list satisfying all my personal biases. No commentary provided, but all discussion and alternate rankings quite welcome.

20. Corb Lund – Cabin Fever


19. Various Artists – KIN: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell


18. Rodney Hayden – Atascosa Sand


17. Old Crow Medicine Show – Carry Me Back


16. Shooter Jennings – Family Man


15. Gretchen Peters – Hello Cruel World


14. Turnpike Troubadours – Goodbye Normal Street


13. Brandi Carlile – Bear Creek


12. Marty Stuart – Nashville, Vol. 1: Tear the Woodpile Down


11. Chris Knight – Little Victories


Is the anticipation just killing you? Continue to the Top 10…


  1. says

    I’m glad Bear Creek is on the list. I’m surprised to see the Shooter Jennings album. I haven’t even given it a chance, because I haven’t liked his stuff in the past very much, but I’ll check it out if it’s one of your favorites of last year. I really wish I had included the Trishas on my list. It was a complete oversight on my part. They’re great.

  2. says

    Great picks. I see much overlap between your list and mine, plus some 2012 albums that I missed, and will have to check out soon.

    • says

      Well, I tried to go by what actually spoke to me versus what I knew would be showing up on other year-end lists. Calling Me Home felt too much like Coal #2 to me – beautiful in its way, but almost too expected. Treading water.

      • Dan M. says

        Ditto on Kathy. I had to leave off a few other popular ones, too – couldn’t get into hardly any songs on Wreck & Ruin (and I’d adored Rattlin’ Bones), and loved the songs on Jamey’s a lot more than the performances. Little tragedies!

        Cool list, yo!

  3. Sarah says

    Great list, I’m especially excited to see Corb Lund starting to make these. I love the underrated number one choice, too; I hope Jason Eady gets more attention with his latest album being (in my opinion) his best to date. One of my favourite things about the end of the year is getting to go through all the albums I don’t recognize on people’s year-end lists, and there are a few on here that I’m looking forward to hearing.

  4. Mike says

    Great list!!! Some are oh, so familiar and great. Others are new that I have to explore. The John D. Hale Band is a regional favorite here in Kansas/Midwest. They so deserve a break to the bigger stage. Every song on More Than I Can Handle is top notch. Wise move to include them on your list so others can get exposed to their great music.

  5. Matthew says

    Great List! I’m going to check out Time Jumpers, Chelle Rose and some others that slipped by me this year. Below is my top 20 of 2012 and some comments about your list.

    1. Little Victories – Chris Knight

    2. AM Country Heaven – Jason Eady

    3. Goodbye Normal Street – Turnpike Troubadours

    4. KIN: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell

    5. Nashville, Vol.1 – Tear The Woodpile Down – Marty Stuart

    6. Cigarettes & Truckstops – Lindi Ortega

    7. Goin’ Down Rockin’ – Waylon Jennings

    8. Tomorrowland – Ryan Bingham

    9. Heros – Willie Nelson

    10. Stars and Satellites – Trampled By Turtles

    11. Nothing’s Going To Change the Way You Feel About Me Now – Justin Townes Earle

    12. Carry Me Back – Old Crow Medicine Show

    13. Boys & Girls – Alabama Shakes

    14. Till The Wheels Fall Off – Bob Wayne

    15. Lawless – Soundtrack

    16. The Lumineers – The Lumineers

    17. La Futura – ZZ Top

    18. Feeling Mortal – Kris Kristofferson

    19. Buddy & Jim – Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale

    20. Painkillers – Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg

    I had Darell Scott’s Long Ride Home at #8 last year. I had to check Amazon to see when it as officially released. I must have scored an advanced copy.

    I’m a HUGE Jamey Johnson fan. I’m a fan of every artist on Living for a Song. But, this album doesn’t work for me cause these songs are fundamentally not duets. I don’t question Johnson’s sincerity, but I can’t get past the marketability ploy.

  6. says

    I don’t really see the guest artists on the Johnson album as a “marketability ploy”, since none of the guests are big mainstream artists at this point. Heck, even George Strait isn’t high atop the top 40 anymore.

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