Country California

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Underloved Albums of 2010

You’ll have to forgive me one last bit of 2010 wrap-up.

As I compiled my year-end lists for The 9513 and the Nashville Scene, I promised myself I’d do a separate ‘underloved’ list to sweep up some of the ones that got left behind – albums I couldn’t honestly rank in my Top 10 because of the stiff competition, but that I felt tempted to include anyway to make a point about their unjustly overlooked quality. I think this deal struck with myself resulted in a more honest overall list, free of selections motivated by guilt or a desire to right perceived wrongs. Basically, I wanted my Top 10 list to be an accurate reflection of my enjoyment rather than an accurate reflection of how I thought I should vote to counterbalance the effects of how I guessed others would be voting… if that makes any sense.

Here are the great albums that weren’t talked about enough in 2010, but didn’t quite crack my Top 10. They’re in alphabetical order by artist with tweet-length commentary because – let’s be honest – you’re sick of lists by now.

Aaron Watson – The Road and the Rodeo
If hat acts were still the thing, Aaron Watson would be king. As it is, he remains a major concert draw down Texas way. His latest album mixes originals with fresh covers of Larry Gatlin’s “Houston,” Tom Petty’s “Walls,” and Bruce Robison’s “Drivin’ All Night Long,”

Adam Carroll & Michael O’Connor – Hard Times
Nice little country-folk collection themed around the character they call the Gulf Coast Loser – a down-and-out guy who seems to have lost everything but his finely-tuned sense of the absurd.

The Band Perry – The Band Perry
Despised “Hip to My Heart,” but the album is more Dixie Chicksian acoustic pop-country than “I like your lips like I like my Coca Cola, yeah.” Thank goodness.

Catherine Britt – Catherine Britt
It falls a bit short of Too Far Gone, my favorite Britt album, but this Australian release is still good enough to make me wish it were more readily available in the States. I wrote about it at The 9513.

Darrell Scott – A Crooked Road
Songwriter extraordinaire self-produced and played all the instruments on this double-disc set, which is strong throughout but lacking the two or three standouts to bump it up the scale.

David Ball – Sparkle City
David Ball doesn’t record bad albums… or get enough credit for recording good ones. Sparkle City flew way under the radar despite being another worthy addition to his discography. I wrote about it at The 9513.

Eleven Hundred Springs – This Crazy Life
I thought this was the bee’s knees when I wrote about it at The 9513 in February, but ultimately couldn’t place it in my Top 10 given all the good stuff that followed last year.

Johnny Gimble – Celebrating with Friends
Loving tribute to a fiddle legend features Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Dale Watson, Jesse Dayton, and more. I wrote about it here.

Junior Sisk and Rambler’s Choice – Heartaches and Dreams
Song for song, one of the best bluegrass sets I heard last year.

Ken Mellons – Rural Route
Joe Diffie’s bluegrass turn got the bulk of the attention, but fellow ’90s act Ken Mellons’ was almost as good.

Mike Stinson – The Jukebox In Your Heart
Stinson writes as economically as Willie Nelson… and sings as idiosyncratically. The Jukebox In Your Heart frames his distinctive voice more sympathetically than previous recordings, making his music more accessible than ever. This was my #11.

Randy Kohrs – Quicksand
Another of my early favorites of the year. I wrote about it here.

Sara Petite – Doghouse Rose
I’m not sure how a West Coast girl ended up with a Texas twang, but Doghouse Rose sounds sort of like Sunny Sweeney’s voice married to Todd Snider’s musical sensibilities. It’s a pretty potent combination.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Jerrod Niemann – Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury
Strip away the goofy title and all the tracks of sophomoric chatter and you’ve got a pretty strong album.

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8 Comments

  1. Our list will be published later this week, but I always have the same difficulty regarding consideration with respect to my personal list as well. I really like the Randy Kohrs, Catherine Britt, and Darrell Scott albums.

  2. I really liked The Band Perry’s album. “Hip to My Heart” was pretty fluffy, but it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I would still consider it a poor introduction to The Band Perry, and a weak choice for a debut single. The rest of the album shows that they’re a bit better than that. I especially liked “You Lie,” “Postcard from Paris,” and “Double Heart.” The album did sound very reminiscient of the Dixie Chicks.

  3. Speaking of SoCal’s own Sarah Petite, she will be hitting Texas during mid January before flying off to the UK for the next month or so. Here’s her Texas schedule:

    Jan.11, 2011: Lonestar Music – Lonestar Music In-store Performance, 6 PM
    Gruene, Texas

    Jan. 12, 2011: Waring General Store – Waring Steak Nite, 6 PM
    Waring, Texas , US

    Jan. 13, 2011: McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 7:30 PM
    Houston, TX

    Jan. 14, 2011: Parkway Jewelry and Loan, 3 PM
    Plano, TX

    Jan. 14, 2011: KHYI Radio Live In-Studio, 6 PM
    Dallas, TX

    Jan. 14, 2011: The Moon Bar, 9 PM
    Ft. Worth, TX

    Jan. 15, 2011: Saxon Pub, 8 PM
    Austin, TX

    By the way, Sarah grew up in a small mountain region town in Washington State, which still makes her Texas drawl and twang an odd thing.

    Good list. I think I would actually enjoy the majority of these albums (I only possess the Catherine Britt and Sarah Petite albums). Its too bad I didn’t win a bunch of them in give away contests from blogs like this! (lol)

    • Sara. Sara. Sara. No ‘H’. And after TX she’s coming to the UK to support Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives. This girl’s on the move.

  4. Glad to see Mike Stinson get some love, I’d put Jukebox in My Heart in my top two or three. And “Square With the World” duels with “Bury Me Far” from Joe Pug’s Messenger for song fo the year.

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