With the philosophy that a few Southern albums are better than anything else out there, and the goal of connecting Southern bands, fans, and venues, we asked some of the premiere music writers from around the region to give us their picks of Southern albums from the first half of 2012 that shouldn’t be missed.
We start with Nashville, to be followed by New Orleans, Mobile, Pensacola, Birmingham, Atlanta and Athens.
No Country for New Nashville - Matt Hall & Dayna Duncan
Hard not to mention Blunderbuss here… or could I jump back a month into 2011 and talk about El Camino? What about that new Beck album that is being recorded here? You know Radiohead just recorded at Third Man Records, right? Wait, Alabama Shakes were discovered playing behind a record store here, and ultimately recorded their full length Boys and Girls here. There is obviously a ton of amazing stuff coming out of Nashville these days, but I don’t think that is what you guys are looking for.
- Pujol - United States of Being is some of the infectious DIY sound that is making the garages of East Nashville famous. If this best of list had been one week later, the nod might have gone to Jeff The Brotherhood’s Hypnotic Nights.
- Umbrella Tree - To The Memory Of A Once Great Man. It’s kind of like Sufjan Stevens got really happy after visiting a strange land of Napoleon, and he decided to completely remake C’mon Feel The Illinoise to tell us the story
- Five Knives – UN, technically released through bandcamp in late December 2011, is Nashville’s answer to Sleigh Bells, and was sort of a soundtrack to my Bonnaroo this year. So much, that I played it for some friends in the Superfly camp while telling them to “get to know the next band they will want to book for the ‘Roo”. Ok, maybe lots of beer was talking, but it’s some damn fun stuff.
- Full disclaimer: The Buddies (only partially from Nashville) song “All The Beer Is Gone” was my daytime soundtrack to Bonnaroo, because the song just kicks ass…. really, that whole album F*ck The Buddies is pretty darn special.
From our contributor Dayna:
- Lovedrug – Wild Blood
- Sugar and the Hi Lows - S/T. With their mix of 50’s swag and rockabilly jive, they have come up with a genius musical plan; to make every single person, young or old, crack a smile. Quirky, talented, and fun can describe these two jokesters. You’ve always known that Trent Dabbs was pure talent, but match him with Amy Stroup, who dons a mere tambourine and a microphone, and the end result is a healthy dose of awkward, unmatched, and yummy delightfulness.
The list goes on and on. Lots of great music going on in Nashville right now!
Lockeland Springsteen – Marissa Moss
- PUJOL – United States of Being
- Shovels & Rope – O Be Joyful
- Jack White – Blunderbuss
- Also, honorable mention to Andrew Combs’ Big Bad Love 7″. I know this isn’t a full-length, but the songs are outstanding signs of the record to come.
Nashville’s Dead – Ben Todd
- CHEAP TIME – Wallpaper Music (In The Red Records): This is Cheap Time’s third studio album and probably their most solid release to-date. Harkening to the days of Aussie-style punk/rock and roll with Jeffrey Novak’s now signature vocal stylings and songwriting – this new record is one of our favorites to come out of Nashville (and the nation) in the 2012 year. Cheap Time are embarking on a lengthy US tour later this Summer, and Jeffrey has two solo LPs slated for release later this year.
- CY BARKLEY & THE WAY OUTSIDERS – So Bad (Infinity Cat Recordings): This is the debut album from Cy Barkley & the Way Outsiders – it’s an absolute ripper. The new LP reintroduces a style that’s almost dangerous and scary – something that seems to be lost on most current “punk” bands. A follow-up to this record is already in the works and could also see release this year.
- FOX FUN – Smile (Turbo Time Records): This one might not exactly qualify as it’s only a 7″ single and not a full length album, but it’s definitely something to take note of. Comprised of two 16 year-olds, this debut single displays their pop prowess and affection for kiwi New Zealand rock and late 70s power-pop in a way that few bands have shown us recently. The unbelievable-ness of their age comes second only to the music itself. It will be released in the next month or so with more releases to follow shortly after.
- Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – There Is A Bomb In Gilead: There is a Bomb in Gilead is a spiritual, carnal explosion of Punk, Rock & Roll, Soul, and Gospel that grabs you by the throat and forces you to convert at the tip of the sword. Lee and the Glory Fire boys have manage to transcend even the long shadow The Dexateens cast. This is not a record by a former member of a great southern rock and roll band. This is a record BY a Great Southern Rock and Roll Band! Each track takes the best parts of growing up inAlabama and pours it into an unrelentingly joyous record. It is dripping with sweat, and it’s hands covered with the “Red, Red Dirt of Home.” It’s the musical equivalent to a greasy Barbeque sandwich at Byron’s on Opelika Rd. It’s a rural A.M.E. church service you attend with both William Faulkner and Ronnie Van Zant.
- The District Attorneys – Slowburner
- Bohannons – Unaka Rising: The Bohannan’s are a bit of a Tennessee institution, but the central tenant of their music is their unwavering commitment to making challenging records. Marty and Matt Bohannan have been at it for a while, but have experienced a bit of a renaissance as of late…their latest record Unaka Rising crystallizes their brand of Crazy Horse infused East Tennessee Noise Rock. These are not a bunch of early twenties kids that have stumbled onto Husker Du…make way, the Men are entering the room. The Bo’s are coming for you and there is nothing you can do about it. The mix political angst and fearful anger inject the release with an immediacy that is rare. This record demands an answer, just like a presidential candidate’s supporter accosting you on a Saturday morning while canvassing the neighborhood. You will love or you will hate it, but you will make a decision. And in an election year – this could be the most important record you will hear.
Many of these recommendations and more can be found on our 2012 (So Far) Southern Spotify Megamix: