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?