Jesse Winchester’s Country Legacy


Rolling Stone reports that singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester succumbed to bladder cancer Friday morning at the age of 69. He had recently completed work on a new album with Mac McAnally. Even if you've had the misfortune of never encountering any of Winchester's own recordings, you are very likely already familiar with his work. By the time the tribute album Quiet About It: A Tribute to Jesse Winchester arrived in 2012, the one-time draft dodger's impressive songbook had already been mined … [Read more...]

Best Country Albums of 2013: Midway Report


A tentative ranking of Country California's best country albums of January through June 2013, ordered roughly from top to bottom but not numbered because I am a quivering pool of indecision. Ashley Monroe - Like a Rose Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer, Different Park Jason Isbell - Southeastern Slaid Cleaves - Still Fighting the War Pistol Annies - Annie Up Chris Wall - El Western Motel Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis - Cheater's Game The … [Read more...]

10 Proofs That Chris Stapleton Is a Superhero

As noted in the latest edition of Quotable Country, hit songwriter Chris Stapleton is kicking off a solo career as a Universal Music artist. Beyond his available albums with The Steeldrivers (The Steeldrivers and Reckless) and The Jompson Brothers, here are 10 YouTube videos to get you up to speed on why this is an exciting development for fans of good, soulful country music. "What Are You Listening To" (first single) "Sometimes I Cry" (on upcoming album?) "The Right Ones" (on … [Read more...]

Ain’t Dead Yet: 21 Albums That Kept Traditional Country Music Alive in 2012

Lindi Ortega - Cigarettes and Truckstops

With AM Country Heaven and The Time Jumpers topping my Best Country Albums of 2012 list, it's fair to say that I found 2012 a pretty great year for real country music. Still, you can't cram everything into a finite number of slots. So here's an addendum of other recordings that didn't land within my Top 20 but should be to the liking of folks whose tastes, like mine, tend to run toward the more traditional side of things. Investigate them further on Amazon: Alan Jackson - Thirty Miles … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]

11 Modern-Era Country Albums Everyone Should Hear


Repurposed from the author's contributions to The 9513's Albums of the Decade countdown, which ran in December 2009 and is still quite recommended in its original, extended form. For a full accounting of the similarities and differences between The 9513 list and another that ran concurrently at Country Universe, see "Albums of the Decade: Running the Numbers." Lots of good music to be discovered (and rediscovered) between both of those lists. Here are some of my favorites. Too Far … [Read more...]

20 Ways to Ensure I Won’t Hear Your New Music

Stack of CDs image

Don't bother telling me about it. Do tell me about it. Promise to send a CD, then don't. Mail your CD in an unpadded envelope so that it will arrive broken. Count on me to report the problem to you rather than just moving on to the next thing. Make sure the CD mailer arrives postage due. Instead of using email like a civilized person, tweet me your press release... Or post to Country California's Facebook wall... Or spam the comments section of an unrelated post on our website. Or do … [Read more...]