I’m an album guy – always have been and always be. Here at Country Music Minds, we take the concept of an album very seriously, so much so that you could say we have higher (or stricter) standards than other blogs. That being said, 2016 had a lot of great albums, more so than we could fit in with our album of the year candidates. Therefore, we wanted to put together a list of what we considered to be the top 25 albums of this year. They aren’t ranked in any particular order. All they are is proof of how great 2016 was from a musical standpoint.
Please note, OUR ALBUM OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES ARE NOT HERE. THEY ARE LISTED RIGHT HERE! However, these other eleven albums are also considered to be among the best that 2016 had to offer. Without further ado, here they are –
This is probably one of the most fun, energetic albums you will hear this year. That’s reflected in all areas of this album from the fast paced rhythms as well as the comedic lyrical content. It’s Rockabilly, it’s Country, it’s Surf, hell, it’s just a damn good time. While comedy isn’t exactly a unique niche in music, The Royal Hounds make it their own with their brand of zany, crazy, humorous antics. Move over Wheeler Walker Jr., there’s a new sheriff in town.
So we were pretty bad about covering Bluegrass music this year, and we’re looking to change that in 2017. However, if there was one album that we’re damn glad we covered, it’s the latest album by Jim and Lynna Woolsey. There’s many great songs here, some of which are personal to the Woolsey family. Overall though, it’s an incredibly gripping collection of songs that have an old dusty traditional feel to them while maintaining some sharp lyricism.
*Also a candidate for “Song Of The Year” with “Three Kids No Husband”
A lot of people have criticized this album for not being as good as 2013’s ‘12 Stories‘ but really, I’m willing to argue that this is Brandy’s best work yet.Where the production on 12 Stories could cause attention to scatter at times, this album really gripped me with the more, I’ll say it, mainstream touches as well Brandy’s lyricism, something that’s only improved. Of all the candidates here, this was the closest to being the last candidate on my “album of the year” list, however, don’t take away the fact that this is an excellent album, and another example of why Brandy is receiving all of the acclaim she has.
Who? If you asked that, I understand, but it’s a damn shame. Michael Martin Murphey’s seventh collection of cowboy songs is one that’s adventurous and fun all at the same time. The production work is absolutely stellar, some of the best I’ve heard all year even. It also proves that even at this point in his career, Michael can still create some solid albums.
*Also a candidate for “Song Of The Year” with “The Tin Man”
Did this need to be a double album? Probably not. Are there filler tracks? Uh huh. Was I still hooked by this album anyway? You betcha. Miranda’s latest album definitely showed her stepping out of her comfort zone into one that explored her personal life and the darkness within. It’s not an easy listen, not at all. However, it is a damn rewarding one. Miranda isn’t playing the mainstream game anymore, and I couldn’t be anymore excited about how that will play out down the road.
*Also a candidate for “Song Of The Year” with “Fishin’ Alone”
Erik Dylan’s latest blended country and rock in the best way possible. His rougher, grittier vocal style is perfect for these tracks, and in terms of pure enjoyment, this album ranks high on my personal list. Erik is a killer songwriter, and now that he’s finally gaining some deserved attention, I’m excited to see where he goes down the road.
Quite a far cry from his last album, Afraid Of Ghosts, Butch Walker’s latest effort Stay Gold finds the singer in a more cheerier, heartland rock realm, and quite frankly we’re all better for it. This album is loaded with tons of atmospheric production that harkens back to the glory days of Springsteen and Mellencamp. It’s quite easily one of Butch’s best albums if I do say so myself.
This album has been criticized for playing things too safe, but I thought Nothing Shines Like Neon was a great return to form for the Randy Rogers Band. If anything, this album proves the boys are back in action and are proud to be in the minor leagues rather than pretend and be something they’re not in the major leagues (I’m sure some of you get the reference).
Admittedly, I’ve cooled a bit on this album since I initially heard it, but at the end of the day it’s still a great record. In many ways, I’ve Got A Way feels like a personal album for Kelsey, channeling some inner demons such as heartache and independence and turning them into great country songs.
But hey, these were just MY favorites of the year! How about yours? Leave your thoughts down below!