049. The Lone Bellow – Love Songs For Losers
Morphing themselves from a Roots-Americana sound to a more Indie Rock AOR vibe that brings to Mind Fleetwood Mac, the resulting output may sound like an entirely new band, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
048. The Vandoliers – Vandoliers
This raucus Texas band pays tribute to traditional Irish pub songs on their latest record of Texican Rock and Roll Swagger. “Too Drunk To Drink” and “Wise County Friday Night” are two sides of the same Honky Tonk coin.
047. Sheepdogs – Outta Site
The best new band to hit our earholes in the last 5 years. These guys are what the James Gang could have been having if they stayed together long enough to be fully formed.
046. Sundowners – Pulling Back The Night
With Paul Weller and members of The Coral collaborating there can be nothing less than gorgeous harmonies and Laurel Canyon vibes.
045. Miranda Lambert – Palomino
15 tales of love and chasing the American dream as only Miranda Lambert can deliver. Palomino represents an artist that is maturing before our very ears.
044. Kurt Vile – (watch my moves)
With spit-shined lyrics and Pop sensibilities that would make Matthew Sweet blush, this set of laid-back missives will swirl around in your head long after the last note is played.
043. Ceramic Animal – Sweet Unknown
Another fine effort from Easy Eye Sound, Ceramic Animal lays down a palate of T-Rex, Todd Rundgren, with Tame Impala thrown in for those that like their musical touchstones less dated. A fresh record with a vintage feel.
042. Goodbye June – See Where The Night Goes
Rock and Roll is not dead, and neither is Lynyrd Skynyrd despite a plane crash it seems. Come for the Southern Rock vibes and stay for the AC/DC bombast of the opening track, “Step Aside.”
041. Classless Act – Welcome To The ShowNo inhibitions are spared with this Sunset Strip-worthy record. All your favorite bands are spirited here in unfiltered, lighter-waving style.
040. Simon McBride – The Fighter
This Blues-Rock guitar slinger from The Emerald Isle channels Paul Rodgers and Bad Company with the best of them. Just listen to the opening track, “Don’t Dare,” and tell us we’re wrong. And, things only get better from there.
039. Banditos – Right On
Mary Beth Richardson is the secret sauce behind Banditos, an eclectic band with touches of Los Lobos, Lone Justice, and the backing band for the Titty Twister bar in Tarantino’s From Dusk Til Dawn.
038. The Coffis Brothers – Turn The Radio Up
Seemingly hailing from Woodstock, laying down tracks that easily could have been songs from From The Big Pink, with Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers as the backing band, this is an Americana treasure.
037. The Fernweh – Torschlusspanik!T-Rex meets ‘80s Brit Pop with a lot of Classic Rock nuances sprinkled in is the order of the day on this fine sophomore release. Listen for Paul McCartney and Harry Nilsson touchstones as well.
036. April March – In Cinerama
Truly, a cinematic wonder to behold April March walks that delicate line between the sultriness of Dusty Springfield and the bombast of Shirley Bassey. The French Pop arrangements sprinkled in only serve to enhance an already eclectic listen.
035. Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs – External Combustion
A bit more rock than you might expect from the guitar player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but that definitely is not a bad thing on this set of Midwest-rooted, Americana-tinged, tunes. Guest turns from Margo Price and Ian Hunter make this one even cooler.
034. Dr. John – Things Happen That Way
Things Happen That Way, the posthumous release from New Orleans icon Dr. John is a goodbye letter to his home city and a special gift for the rest of us. Recorded in the months prior to his death from a heart condition in 2019, bringing this one across the finish line as the good doctor’s health was deteriorating was a challenge that producer Shane Theriot seems to have met with aplomb.
033. Michael Rault – Michael Rault
Fully entrenched in the studio wizardry of the ‘60s and the ’70s, this is a delicious throwback melding of ‘70s FM rock, pop, and soul.
032. Live Forever: A Tribute To Billy Joe Shaver
Ask any Texan who should stand on the medal stand of Texas songwriters and the likely consensus would be Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Billy Joe Shaver. And, here, with an all-star line-up of artists that have been influenced by him, this fitting tribute to Billy Joe Joe Shaver is a close-to-the-bone
031. Smut – How The Light Felt
Lousy name, great band, Smut will bring to the minds ear the best of Mazzy Star or Natalie Merchant and the 10,000 Maniacs.
030. Larkin Poe – Blood Harmony
Blood Harmony, the latest from the Americana-Blues duo Larkin Poe, is about as close as you can get to Southern Noir this side of a Faulkner novel or an episode of Justified.
029. Sloan – Steady
One of the more underrated and under-the-radar bands, Sloan is out with another banger of a set that merges alternative rock and power pop with equal aplomb.
028. The Cult – Under The Midnight Sun
It seems that a band that has been around for over 40 years should have more than 11 albums under their belt, but here, Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy, and the rest of the band clearly know the formula that works for them as their latest record, Under The Midnight Sun, represents the band at the top of their game.
027. Rhett Miller – The Misfit
Rhett Miller, the head man of The Old 97’s doesn’t come out to play solo very often, his last effort was way back in 2018 with The Messenger, but when he does, the results are typically outstanding as is the case with The Misfit.
026. Kendell Marvel – Come On Sunshine
Outlaw Country, Swamp Blues, and Country Rock are all represented Waylon Jennings style on a palate of hopeful post-pandemic songs where the freedom to be left alone seems to be an underrated gift.
025. The Orchids – Dreaming Kind
Back and better than ever after reforming in 2020, Scottish popsters Orchids with their new record features everything that you love about the band, Meandering guitar melodies, emotive vocals, and songs that go from beauty to sadness at the drop of a note are the order of the day.
024. Dawes – Misadventures of a Doomscroller
Somehow, everything is right with the world when a new Dawes record hits the streets. And, this one, is clearly, one of their most focused to date.
023. Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters – Heavy Denim
One of those bands that built their chops on touring with a Grateful Dead-worthy road dog mentality, and if you would be so lucky as to stumble into a bar where they happened to be playing. The songs presented here are gritty and character-driven.
022. Tijuana Panthers – Halfway To Eighty
Any band that blends Post Punk, Garage, Surf, and Rock, all with a distinctly low-fi edge, is very worthy of some of our ear time. With a bit of Devo and a Dash of Green Day in the DNA of this record, the production value seems to have a bit of Lee And Nancy’s “Summer Wine” aura about it, most notably on “Take Back Time.” Stray Cats come to mind on “False Equivalent,” and “Man of Dust” has Link Wray written all over it.
021. Supersonic Blues Machine – Voodoo Nation
A loose collective of a Blues Boogie band curated by Toto’s Steve Lukather. prior incarnations of the band have included Billy Gibbons, Slash, Steve Vai, and John Mellencamp’s drummer Kenny Aronoff.
This time around, the curation includes some newer-gun guitar slingers including Sonny Landreth, Eric Gales, Charlie Starr, and Kris Barras carrying most of the vocal duties.
020. Marcus King – Youngblood
This blues rocker should cement Marcus King’s reputation as one of the young gun guitar slingers along with Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Sheppard.
019. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Jerry Jeff
Having moved to Nashville and serving as his designated driver, Steve Earle’s love and respect for fellow troubadour Jerry Jeff Walker runs deep. His fourth tribute record following Townes, a tribute to Townes Van Zant, Guy, a nodding of the chapeau to Guy Clark, and JT, the heartbreaking memorial to his own son, Justin Townes Earle, on Jerry Jeff the songs remain the same with a choice curation of widely known hits alongside lesser-known gems.
018. Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
The pristine production value only helps accent the lo-fi approach to this beauty of an album. The piano-driven pop songs seem to be a mantra for holding on in troubled times with the celebration of treasuring the small moments of beauty.
017. American Aquarium – Chicamacomino
Almost twenty years into their career now and having produced two stellar records in the last five with Lamentations and Things Change, American Aquarium continues to play to their audience on their new record, Chicamacomico. A bit more stripped down and less edgy than their prior efforts, this one nevertheless has the band very much on-brand in telling working man stories from the perspective of the denizens of America’s heartland.
016. Nikki Lane – Denim and Diamonds
Road warrior Nikki Lane is back after a brief hiatus and period of self-reflection that brought her all the way back to the highways and hillbillies that she left on 2017’s “Highway Queen.”
015. Librarians With Hickeys – Handclaps & Tambourines
From the opening blast of “I Better Get Home” from Handclaps and Tambourines, the latest album from Librarians with Hickeys, you will think you have been time-warped all the way back to the middle of the groove line at Austin Powers’ wedding reception. This record is that cool.
014. Calexico El Mirador
Forced to stay home, these tour dogs made good use of their pandemic-induced isolation to produce this Desert-Noir classic.
013. Bruce Springsteen – Only The Strong Survive
Certainly, a bit dubious after hearing about a new Bruce Springsteen album that consisted of only Soul covers, as it turns out this is an eclectically curated set of songs that perfectly complements Springsteen’s barrel-aged voice.
012. Charley Crockett – Lil G.L. Presents: Jukebox Charley
With two stellar l.P.s released in 2022 along with The Man From Waco, easily both of the records could have made the list, but Jukebox Charley is a clear leader in the clubhouse. Tear in your beer, my baby left me, and gunfighter ballad, this one has it all.
011. Black Keys – Dropout Boogie
Following quickly on the heels of Delta Kreame, the 2921 deep blues cover, album, this layered record is more loose and lively with a lot of Blues-Boogie to savor. “Baby, I’m coming home” gives a nod to The Allman Brothers “Midnight Rider,” Kings of Leon’s Angelo Petraglia lends a hand on “Wild Child,” and the king of Boogie himself, Billy Gibbons even makes an appearance.
010. Bye Bye Blackbirds – August Lightning Complex
With Lenny Gill back and better than ever, Bye Bye Blackbirds have released their best record to date, which is saying a lot since 2020’s Boxer at Rest was an instant classic. Blending REM, Big Star, and the more listenable aspects of The Replacements, this record is rich in diversity, tones, and texture with first-class songwriting courtesy of bandleader Bradley Skaught who delivers a set of vocal turns that veer between Elvis Costello, lost weekend-era John Lennon, and Alex Chilton.
009. Hurray For The Riff Raff – Life On Earth
Best described as Folk Blues Punk, Alynda Seggara and the rest of the Riff Raff deliver a thoughtful set of songs that seem to reflect their newfound outlook on life with a fresh perspective and a less jaded worldview.
008. Band of Horses — Things Are Great
Another raggedly glorious effort from The Band of Horses, this one is a bit of a return to form. Back to their Indie Rock roots, with a bit more jangle in their step than demonstrated on their previous two albums, Bill Barnwell and his latest band of horses deliver on one of the better Americana releases of the year.
007. The Americans – Stand True
With no less than musical Sensei Rick Rubin in their corner, L.A.-based band, The Americans, are blazing a new Americana trail by putting one fret firmly in the here and now while placing another clearly in the past. If your Jam is Springsteen, Mellencamp, or Petty, these fellas will wet your whistle just fine.
006. Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band – Dear Scott
A perfect follow-up to 2017’s Adios Senor Pussycat, here, Head delivers a set of perfectly crafted songcraft.
005. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – NightroamerPedal steel-era country-tinged Rock and Roll. Sarah Shook will make you want to drink, dance, or fight in whatever order you choose.
004. Wet Leg – Wet LegHailed as the saviors of post-pandemic guitar rock, their song “Chaise Lounge” may very be the earworm of the year.
003. Spoon – Lucifer On The Sofa
Full of sway and swagger, the record is made all the better with the return of Britt Daniel leaving the glitz and fake glamour of Los Angeles behind in favor of his hometown of Austin. On the standout track “The Hardest Cut,” the band lays down a ZZ Top groove on top of a T-Rex boogie that would make Ty Seagall blush.
002. The Delines – The Sea Drift
The familiar Southern-Gothic ambiance that is the core of this record with each song a cinematic screenplay in its own right will bring to mind Bobbie Gentry as well as the mid-sixties murder ballad records in the Porter Wagoner Cold Hard Facts of Life mold.
001. First Aid Kit – Palomino
With their signature Fleetwood Mac meets Kate Bush sound still intact with songs as brilliantly constructed as “Wild Horses II” with the stellar line, you prefer The Rolling Stones, and I like Gram, their songwriting prowess has jumped to the next level.