Musical Discoveries of the Year, Part II

Back in April, we had a discussion about some of our favorite discoveries of the year so far. Well, there has been a whole lot of year since then. In fact, since the last time we did this, I’ve added well over a hundred albums to my media player – probably edging toward 200, though I don’t have the patience to get an exact count. Obviously, I haven’t spent much time with a lot of that material – between my own acquisitions and stuff submitted for review, there aren’t enough hours in the day. But here’s some of the stuff that has broken through my cold, perpetually overwhelmed exterior, artists I’ve either discovered or developed a greater appreciation for since April.

I’d love for you to chime in with some of your own recent discoveries. They can be new artists and albums or simply things you’ve been paying more attention to lately.

  • Newfound Road – To be frank, I’m often underwhelmed by the voices of bluegrass frontmen. No such problem here. All Music Guide says Newfound Road singer Tim Shelton “comes powerfully out of the gate on the band’s fifth recording with his trademark rich, chesty baritone roar.” It doesn’t hurt that the musicianship and song selection on their latest, Same Old Place, is also darn near flawless.
  • Two Dollar Pistols – I discovered them belatedly (already broken up) and wrote about them here.
  • Fred Eaglesmith – I don’t know what took me so long, but after one listen to the double-disc Ralph’s Last Show: Live in Santa Cruz, I was hooked. Really smart, clever songwriting.
  • Shenandoah – I wasn’t listening to country radio back when they were getting played, so many of their 15 Favorites were new to me. Marty Raybon’s voice is something else.
  • Holly Williams – I somehow missed her 2004 debut, so Here With Me was a revelation. As far as I’m concerned, hers was one of the most complete albums released this year.
  • Wayne Hancock – For a long time, I let reports that he does pretty much the same thing every album keep me from expanding my collection beyond the first two. Having finally taken the plunge, though, I can say that while his work may be a bit repetitive at times, it’s all more than worthwhile.
  • Gary Floater – Best country singer ever.
  • The Stellas – There was plenty of talent on the 2009 season of Can You Duet, but none of the acts impressed me more than Canadian husband-wife duo The Stellas. I wrote about their debut EP here.
  • Tracy Byrd – I already had a handful of Byrd albums, but finally completed my collection.
  • Travis Tritt – Same deal as with T-Byrd.
  • Grant Langston – It’s always nice to happen upon a like-minded smartass.
  • Angela Easterling – I wrote about BlackTop Road here.
  • Patty Loveless – With the help of Blake Boldt’s ranking of her discography, I’ve filled in the most essential gaps. Just a couple (low-ranking but surely worthwhile) albums remain. I’ll get around to them.
  • Derek Hoke – I wrote about Goodbye Rock N Roll here.
  • Brady Seals – I checked out his new album on Jim Malec’s recommendation and discovered a collection very much in the vein of ’90s Joe Diffie in full-on party mode, which is just fine by me.

So, what was new to you this year?

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  1. Leeann says:

    Okay, fine, if you’re recommending the Seals album, I’ll try it. Didn’t like the first single at all, so I haven’t given it another look. I’ve always liked his voice though.

    I agree about Newfound Road. In fact, you’re the one who got me to give them a chance (Story of my life!).

    Glad you’ve completed your Travis Tritt collection. I’d like to rank that discography for you someday.:)

    I agree about Marty Raybon’s voice. His solo projects are pretty good too.

    I liked the Williams Disc as well.

    One that I really like is Alecia Nugent’s latest album, based on Joey + Rory’s hearty recommendation.

    I’m done for now, but I’m coming back.

  2. Steve Harvey says:

    Eaglesmith is a genius – pick up ‘Lipstick Lies and Gasoline’ and ‘Drive-In Movie’ when you get a chance. They’re the pick of his studio releases.

  3. plain_jo says:

    My fav discoveries of the year are The Stellas, and The Wrights.

  4. David Jones says:

    For me it’s Mike Dekle, although I ordered three of his CDs from his site, but they never arrived.

  5. Tom says:

    …julie roberts! what a shame that her label doesn’t recognise a potential superstar when they have one under contract. facepalm!

  6. Karen says:

    My biggest discoveries this year were Ashley Monroe (thanks to this site!), Holly Williams and Sunny Sweeney.

  7. Blake Boldt says:

    Thad Cockrell’s new album, To Be Loved, is a nice blend of Americana, folk and country. A small step below his duet set with Caitlin Cary, but worthy nonetheless. I would also recommend Chris Scruggs and his recent disc, Anthem. I’ve seen him a couple times in Nashville and he has talent that’s worthy of his last name.

    • Leeann says:

      I’ll have to check out the Cockrell album. I love the duet project with Carey. He also does a nice song with Mindy Smith on Smith’s Christmas album.

  8. Matt B. says:

    My biggest discovery was the Locash Cowboys…no, wait, it wasn’t. It’s hard to quantify what I ‘discovered’ this year though I will agree about Shenandoah and the Brady Seals album “Play Time” is real fun.

  9. Thanks for including me C.M. Am also happy to see the name of my buddy Grant Langston on there!

  10. Alecia Nugent – I actually had her debut album, but it didn’t really work for me. Hillbilly Goddess was fabulous. I alos liked Brandon Rickman’s debut solo album enough to check oou his earlier band work.
    Ashley Monroe.
    Slaid Cleaves.
    The Zac Brown Band, thanks to their turn on the CMAs.

  11. Brody says:

    Larry Jon Wilson – His new, mostly acoustic album is pretty good and his story interested me enough to hunt down one of his ’70s records on eBay. Definitely worth it.

    Derek Hoke – I’m in agreement with you on this one. One of my favorite recent discoveries.

    Danny Balis – Another strong debut with some hooky songs. Comparisons to Don Williams are appropriate.

  12. I didn’t have many new discoveries this year, for the most part it was artists I knew for a long time who became more of a presence in my musical listenings.

    Holly Williams: I have her first album which was great, but it was her new one that really got me hooked, hopefully Mercury records sticks with her.

    Joanna Cotten: After Warner Bros. dropped her I went back and listened to her music, it’s really catchy and diverse. She’s one of the best vocalist who’ve gotten dropped in a long time. Hope she carves out a nice little career

    Mishavonna Henson: She was on this past season of American Idol, she only lasted a week but she impressed me enough to go and track down her digital ep. Her sound is a mix of contemporary country and California Pop, if all was right in the world she’d be the next female superstar.

    Zac Brown Band: Hated Chicken Fried, but with a ver strong album otherwise, plus great single choices it was hard not to fall for them. I’m seeing them and Lady Antebellum having battles for Group of The Year for a long time.

    Rachel Williams: She’s just great, I was suggested her album “Lonely At The Bottom” and fell in love, I’ve still yet to go after her other material but this one is satisfying in so many ways.

    Neko Case: A sale of all her music on the week her new album was released promted me to finally buy all her albums (save for her new one). I’ve been interested in her music for a while, but never actually bought anything, now I wish I’d have done it sooner.

  13. Juli says:

    Eilen Jewell – Her album Sea of Tears is one of the best of the year, IMO. Also, I want to be her when I grow up.

    Jean Shepard – After months with just a couple of her songs in my library, I finally caved and bought the giant Bear Family box. Worth every penny.

    A Camp – Not country, but perhaps my favorite discovery of the year. A catchy little indie pop trio fronted by Nina Persson, aka “That Girl from the Cardigans” (who, by the way, are extremely underrated).

  14. highwayman3 says:

    The lack of real country in the current mainstream climate forced me to look back to get my country fix this year and I missed some great ones. I bought Clint Black and Mark Chesnutts greatest hits and love them. Daryle Singletarys ‘Thats why i sing this way’ and ‘Strait from the heart’ I cant get enough of. What a great voice. I also cant get enough of the Livin, Lovin, Losin, Louvin Bros Album. Cathrine Britts ‘Too Far Gone’ CD is awesome. I’ve been downloading some Elizabeth Cook as well. I bought Christ Youngs new CD, what a great voice. My latest discovery is I found Alison Krauss’ verson of ‘The Three Bells’ on youtube and am trying to find an outlet to download it, but its amazing.

    • C.M. Wilcox says:

      Great finds. Krauss recorded “The Three Bells” on Tribute to Tradition. The track and the album – which also features great covers by Patty Loveless, the Dixie Chicks, Randy Travis, Joe Diffie, Wade Hayes, and others – can be downloaded from Amazon MP3 via the link above.

  15. Hilary says:

    What about Phil Vassar, “Everywhere I Go”? I’m looking forward to the release of ‘Traveling Circus’ next week! I’ve also gotten his free Christmas music from his website, check it out!

  16. CJ says:

    Annie and the Bees – Music Fog did a recording of them on the bus and posted it to their site. Quite possibly one of the most beautiful and heartfelt performances I have seen in a long time. Really excited to hear more from them soon.

    Magnolia Electric Co. – I got them from the list on Farce the Music (Thanks Trailer!) Loving this album!

    Wade Bowen – an old favorite. Maybe it’s all the attention he’s been getting lately, but I have been listening to a lot of his older stuff lately. This guy is the real deal, and that voice is unique and perfect. Here he is on one of my favorite youtube videos, a great acoustic performance:

  17. Stacy Grubb says:

    Hi, I stumbled across this discussion while looking for some details to share about Alison Krauss’ version of “The Three Bells.” As I am a fan of very much of the music being discussed, I wanted to invite everybody to come check out my music at and various other locations on the internet. My debut album “Hurricane” was released in April of last year and includes the musical talents of Ron Block, Brent Mason, Aubrey Haynie, Rob Ickes, Dailey & Vincent, and others. I will be going into the studio again soon with plans to record an all-acoustic project, more in-keeping with a progressive bluegrass sound. The title track of the record (written by my dad Alan Johnston, currently in the running to receive an IBMA Award for Song of the Year for his tune “Sweet Appalachia” recorded by Del McCoury) is presently #24 on the Pan-European Country Music Chart. If you like what you hear, look me up on facebook! Thanks so much!


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