“Oh God we’re already starting year end lists?!? It’s only friggin’ March!”
Yeah, I know, let me explain. I’ve thought an awful lot about the “grades” I assign to various albums (and more importantly, artists) on this blog. I’ve made no bones about it – I hate grades. They’re meaningless. Well, that’s not completely true. They do help me to separate the stuff I really like from the stuff I don’t like. That’s about it though.
I’ve also thought an awful lot about my favorites so far this year, as well as how this has been an interesting year thus far. In terms of quantity, I’d say the number of great albums has already eclipsed 2016 (when it reached this particular point that is). In terms of quality, it’s a little more shaky. There have been albums I’ve loved, and I am thankful for that, but there’s nothing that’s outright blew my socks off like Southern Family did last year. Is that a bad thing? God no, that album was hard to top, and in terms of this year, I’d say I’m a lot happier with where I am at my life, and that’s affecting how I’m absorbing all this music right now.
With that said, as someone who can’t sit still for two seconds, I wanted to have a checkpoint for what my favorites have been so far this year, and I wanted to update it frequently so I’m not second guessing myself later. This also helps to balance out my hatred for grades. Much like Farce The Music, we’re not going to focus on all that “candidates” BS like we did last year. Instead, we’ll have lists -one for every quarter of the year (or rather, at the end of March, June, September, and December). The first and third reports will have no comments attached to the selections. Instead, I’ll leave those for the mid-year and end-year reports. Of course, as always if you have questions you can always ask here or on Twitter (@countrymindblog). Another thing to note is that this list is solely based off of MY picks and preferences, not Andy’s. Things like “impact” were not considered for the selection, and I have no interest in simply naming the “coolest” albums so far. These are all just MY favorites so far. Also, it only includes songs and albums we either have covered, or plan to cover. These selections are also not set in stone and are subject to change at any time. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve enjoyed so far this year.
Oh, and one last note, this list was completed as of March 27th, 2017, so none of the albums reviewed after this date are here. Any reviewed after this date are eligible for the mid-year report (as well as the 3/4 report and the year end list obviously)!
Favorite Tracks: “Unsaid”, “Bottle By My Bed”, “Better Bad Idea”
Favorite Tracks: “At The Purchaser’s Option”, “We Could Fly”, “Freedom Highway”
Favorite Tracks: “Black Elk”, “Gravity”, “Maxwell”
Favorite Tracks: “Clear Isabel”, “These Old Boots Have Roots”, “The Arrow”
Favorite Tracks: “Please Don’t Say Goodbye”, “Torpedo”, “Time Don’t Wait”
Favorite Tracks: “Ain’t Meant To Fly”, “Across The Jordan”, “Honeybee”
- Natalie Hemby – “Cairo, IL” (from Puxico)
- Aaron Watson – “Clear Isabel” (from Vaquero)
- The Infamous Stringdusters – “Black Elk” (from Laws Of Gravity)
- Joey McGee – “Ain’t Meant To Fly” (from Terlingua Taproot)
- Lauren Alaina – “Same Day, Different Bottle” (from Road Less Traveled)
- Brantley Gilbert – “Three Feet Of Water” (from The Devil Don’t Sleep)…….no I’m not kidding
- Aaron Watson – “These Old Boots Have Roots”
- Rhiannon Giddens – “At The Purchaser’s Option” (from Freedom Highway)
- Sunny Sweeney – “Bottle By My Bed” & “Unsaid” (from Trophy)
- Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives – “Please Don’t Say Goodbye” (from Way Out West)
- Little Big Town – “Night On Our Side” (from The Breaker) (What? I said my favorites, not “song of the year contenders”)
- The Mavericks – “Damned If You Do” (from Brand New Day to be released this Friday)