It has been a very good year. As per usual, the task of pairing the list down to a select 100 is a bit of a daunting task. The troubadour is amply represented this year with Terry Allen, Tom Russell, and Bruce Springsteen all making an appearance.
Girl Power is a prominent theme throughout this list courtesy of Lizzo, Highwomen along with Kashi Ashton coming in strong, and there are even some curveballs thrown in for good measure on the strength of The Limboos, Flying Colors, Petrov, and Fat White Family, just to name a couple.
Under the radar groups like Maine’s own The Reconstructed and Lucille Furs caught our ear-tention right alongside better-known artists like The Who, Van Morrison, and Bryan Adams.
In short, 2019 was a very good year and Rock and Roll is certainly not dead
100. Terry Allen- Death of the Last Stripper
It has been a while since this underrated Texas troubadour has released a new song. Another master class in storytelling.
99. Van Morrison – Early Days
From Three Chords and the Truth Van Morrison takes us back to 70’s Van and the early days of Rock and Roll.
98. Ruen Brothers – A Million Things
2018 favorites The Ruen Brothers continue to sparkle on their new record for 2019.
97. Kurt Baker Combo – No One’s Home
Frequent winners of Little Sten’s Coolest Song in the World in The Underground Garage, Kurt Baker and his combo delivers on a template of Indie tinged Garage Rock.
96. The Limboos – Where Did She Go
The genre-defying Limboos with their 2019 release, Baia, combine Surf Rock, Soul, and good old Rock and roll for a record that just might be your party album of 2019.
95 – Highwomen – Highwomen
The sister song to Jimmy Webb’s version of “Highwaymen” made famous by the Mount Rushmore of country music, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. This version focuses on the fairer sex with a supergroup formed by Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby, and Amanda Shires. Taking you back 300 years in the women’s movement, the message sent lamenting the complete dismissal of women in country music should not be ignored. And, thanks to this song, their new album, and these women, the message is signed, sealed, and delivered.
94. Better Oblivion Community Center – Dylan Thomas
Any collaboration between former Bright Eye Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers is warranted to be on any list, and here, on one of the more upbeat songs on their debut album, the twangy guitars and the witty songwriting make this a collaboration worth celebrating.
93. Cherry Glazerr – Wasted Nun
Underneath the fiery, harsh guitar crunch and the stinging guitar licks is a wasted nun bursting to come out. This one is a female empowerment anthem for the new age.
92. Haim – Summer Girl
Singing in a Sunday morning voice with her head close to yours on adjoining pillows as you make plans for a California sunny day, the new Haim single is the laid-back summer jam of the year.
91. Hunny – Saturday Night
Contractually obligated to include any song that name-checks Echo and the Bunnymen, in this case, we are happy to oblige. Lifted from their highly excellent July release, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes,, this song is perfect for that random pop-up dance party.
90. Caamp – Peach Fuzz
The bouncy rhythm on this one slightly brings to mind The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane,” which is, in and of itself, somewhat mind-bending since nothing in this band’s background indicates that they would be fans of Lou Reed. The love story inherent in the song is pure “first couple of love rodeos” sweetness where you are sitting in the corner pouring yourself some punch while the current love of your life is in the kitchen cutting up a rug.
89. The Talbott Brothers – Run No More
This road warrior anthem is a slow-burn aural cinematic wonder. This set of rural Nebraska brothers on their 2019 record, Ghost Walker, delivers songs made for the wide-open prairie.
88. Midland – Mr. Lonely
Definitely riding the Hony Tonk Hot Tub time machine, “Mr. Lonely” definitely leans into the dirt floor, dance floor ethos inherent in places like Billy Bob’s and Gruene hall on a Saturday night. With dust bowl nods to Dwight and Buck, this one is a nostalgic winner.
87. Ingrid Andress – Lady Like
She’s on the list of women to watch in Country music, and if this song is any indication, paying attention to this up and coming artist should be no problem. “I drink tequila straight/haven’t brushed my hair in days/and i’ll kiss on the first date if I’m feelin’ It,” the opening lines from “Lady Like,” tells you all you need to know about where this intoxicating new artist is coming from. A self-described unframeable, untameable Mona Lisa.
86. Kassi Ashton – Violins
The scorned lover song of the year, forget everything you thought you knew about Pop Country, most certainly dismiss the fact that you only have a passing interest in the genre, and check this song out. A banger of a song that calls out an ex-lover that is yearning for redemption as she proclaims “You can lay it on all night long but you don’t stand a chance, it’s the same old song and dance.” The video for this song is worth the price of admission alone.
85. The Cactus Blossoms – Desperado
When the guitar kicks on at about the 1:30 mark you can pretty much close your eyes and picture yourself sitting in a bar in North Beach S.F. listening to the Everly Brothers play a set just before the last call. This song is some sort of devil hybrid of The Righteous Brothers, The Everly Brothers, and Simon and Garfunkel. To add to the sweetness here, the record was produced by Rock is the New Roll favorite, Dan Auerbach.
84. Cherie Currie, Brie Darling – The Motivator
What do you get when you combine a favorite Runaway, Cherie Currie, along with the drummer from the 70’s all-girl band Fanny, Brie Darling, with a covers album of under the radar and over the radar hits? A cool as hell record, that’s what. The best of the lot on this highly listenable album is the outstanding cover version of the T Rex classic, “The Motivator.” Glam respects Glam.
83. Dale Watson – Call Me Lucky
When all is said, as the old school Honky Tonk singers are one by one carried by six white horses to the pearly gates, Dale Watson just might be the last sawdust dance floor crooner standing. On his latest record, Watson isn’t reinventing the stetson, he’s just doing what he does best. “One on the right, one on the left one is a blonde one’s a brunette if you don’t know my name I bet that you can guess, they call me lucky.”
82. Durand Jones & The Indications – Cruisin’ To The Park
Duran Jones along with his band, The Indications, has released quite probably the Soul record of the year, American Love Call. With retro-coolness inherent in everything they do, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, and Marvin Gaye all come back to life right before our very ears. “Cruisin’ To The Park” is not from their 2019 release, it is a surprise throw-out single, but don’t sleep on it. This one should be your slow jam get jiggy with it in the boudoir song of the year.
81. Flying Colors – Love Letter
A supergroup of sorts consisting of members culled from Dream Theater, Spock’s Beard, and The Dixie Dregs, this one is for fans of ELO, Queen, 70’s era Beach Boys, and Pre-“Show Me the Way” Peter Frampton. Soaring harmonies, crisp melodic instrumentation, and skin-tight drumming courtesy of maestro Mike Portnoy all adds to the fun. Don’t let that slight wafting of progressive rock courtesy of the bong smokers in the corner steer you away from this one.
80. Marcus King Band – Carolina
Marcus King and his band are one of several new groups that are gaining popularity with their fan forward live shows, superb musicianship, and stellar songwriting. Recorded at RCA’s Studio A in Nashville and produced by producer du-jour Dave Cobb, the six-minute slow roll sort of a song features the soaring vocals and stinging guitar courtesy of the bandleader and namesake, Marcus King.
79. Bill Callahan – What Comes After Certainty
With a voice so low and slow it would make Leonard Cohen proud, this delicate love song sort of strays around to from professing his love to the woman of his dreams all the way to signing Willie’s guitar without The Red Headed Stranger knowing he was doing it and surfing in Kaui on his honeymoon. True love is not magic, it’s certainty.
78. Billie Eilish – Bad Guy
959,703,699 (make that 959,703,700) plays on Spotify can’t be wrong, can they? The song has an infectious driving down the highway at 120 miles an hour driving beat with a distinct essence of Krautrock wafting in the air. The song is about people that expend a lot of hot air telling you what kind of person they are when, in reality, they are someone totally different. Pretty ambitious for a 17-year-old.
77. Black Keys – Low/High
The Black Keys, Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach, are back and better than ever. Their latest record, Let’s Rock, very much lives up to its billing, and the best song in this barrel of pickles, “Low/High” is a T-Rex by way of Ty Seagall stomper with a little touch of The Sweet thrown in for good measure.
76. Ex Hex – Rainbow Shiner
While Ex Hex may be somewhat of a supergroup featuring members of Wild Flag, Aquarium, and Fire Tapes, what they really are is one hell of a Rock and Roll Band. “Rainbow Shiner” very well could have been the B side of The Runaway’s “Cherry Bomb” from back in the day.
75. Ezra Collective (feat. Jorja Smith) – Reason in Disguise
There is more than a little bit of Talking Book era Stevie Wonder vibing going on with this highly groove-able jam that features Jorja Smith providing the vocals fronting the Progressive Jazz ensemble Ezra Collective.
74. Illiterate Light – Carolina Lorelei
The band Illiterate Light is one of our under the radar bands of the year. Blending the ethos from Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, and Fleet Foxes, these guys produce soaring, psychedelic Indie Rock of the highest order. “Carolina Lorelei” is a love song wrapped in a sweater of Rock and Roll.
73. Josh Ritter – Old Black Magic
A touch of Petty, a bit of Dylan, there is a lot of coolness going here that is made even hipper with Jason Isbell’s crackin’ band The 400 Unit backing Josh Ritter on this one. The album, Fever Breaks, is one of the best of the year.
72. Karen O & Danger Mouse – Turn The Light
With a bass line that would make Bootsy Collins blush, this mid-tempo Funk soong is hipper than an episode of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark. The entire album, Lux Prima, is well worth a serious listen.
71. Mandolin Orange – The Wolves
The band Mandolin Orange is slowly creeping into our list of favorite bands. This North Carolina band has a lot to say and on “The Wolves” they tackle the handling of grief and coming through that tunnel to brighter days. Andrew Marlin has a real Jason Isbell tenor to his voice and can stand quill for quill with him on the songwriting front, and Multi-Instrumentalist Emily Frantz brings to mind Allison Krause and Amanda Shires.
70. Petrov – Divine Wine
Petrov is another one of the great bands to come out of North Carolina, this time Charlotte. With the addition of Mary Grace McKusick as the primary songwriter and lead vocalist, an added Post-Punk attitude was developed giving the band a bit of a harder edge. With a passing resemblance to the Police song “Message in a Bottle”, this is the sort of song that might be what Janis Joplin would have been recording.
69. Tiny Ruins – School of Design
It is hard to imagine that a chance wandering into the library of a school of design to kill some time would yield such elegance, but imagine no more. This sparse pastoral beauty finds beauty in simple things like the well-designed clocks all ticking in time.
68. Bryan Adams – Whiskey in A Jar
Listen closely, as you likely will never see this sentence written in this space ever again. This new Bryan Adams song is really cool, and unironically so. Playing things acoustically safe Adams’ gargle with razor blades voice seems to be perfectly suited to this Thin Lizzy rocker. Sure, he goes all Rod Stewart unplugged on the arrangement, but hey, it is sort of good to see the guy relevant again in this new Millenium.
67. The National – Light Years
As you work your way through the highly excellent new National L.P., I Am Easy To Find, and the 16 songs presented to you, there, at the very end, the last track on the record is “Light Years.” It seems like a simple song, starting off with a piano melody morphing into the hushed vocals of Matt Berninger. Simple it may be, but it is a beauty.
66. Anderson . Paak – Make It Better (feat. Smokey Robinson)
This one is clearly the bedroom, between the sheets, jam of the year. Who among us wouldn’t want to rekindle a bit of romance by getting jiggy with it in a motel room just like you used to do? With Smokey Robinson in fine form, this one could have come right from a 1972 hot tub time machine.
65. Strand of Oaks – Weird Ways
from the album, Eraserland, Timothy Showalter, doing business as Strand of Oaks, was contemplating retirement when he wrote this song, which makes sense on this song that builds from a slow meditation to a Rock anthem at the blink of an ear.
64. Julia Jacklin – Pressure To Party
With a lyric like “I know I’ve locked myself in my room/ But I’ll open the door and try to love again soon” you pretty much know what you are getting on this ode to isolation by Julia Jacklin. Dealing with a break-up is never easy, but against the vigorous back-beat presented here, you quickly discover that it is ok to not be okay.
63. Boy Scouts – Get Well Soon
Taylor Vick, the Oakland-based folk-pop singer who has performed as Boy Scouts for nearly a decade, sets the stage on this lilting lover scorned and hits the road dear John letter.
62. Che Apalache – The Dreamer
This North Carolina three bajo band was definitely made for these times. Here they tell the story of an imigrant family seperated from each other and fearful for what lies ahead. Produced by Bela Fleck, their 2019 release, Rearange My Heart, is a stunning debut.
61. Ashley McBryde – One Night Standards
As a member of The Highwomen Ashley McBryde has been stepping out on support of the female voice in country music. Secure in her wants and needs along with her sexuality, on this one she turns the tables on barfly gender roles. The gal that brought you “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” is showing no signs of slowing down.
60. Miranda Lambert – Mess With My Head
A bit rockier then a lot of her previous songs, here with a single from her highly excellent Wildcard record, there is an 8o’s ladies feel to the proceedings that fits Miranda quite nicely.
59. The Avett Brothers – High Steppin’
This high Steppin’ anthem courtesy of Scott Avett and the Avett Brothers from their album, Closer Than Together, will literally put a little pep in your step.
58. Frank Turner – Sister Rosetta
Frank Turner pays tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Godmother of Rock and Roll, the Sister of Soul. This one is a history lesson in a song.
57. Sheryl Crow – Tell Me When It’s Over (feat. Chris Stapelton)
An outstanding duet with Chris Stapelton lamenting that point in a melting relationship where neither party knows it’s over when it actually has been over long ago. This one is from her record, Threads, an album that features in addition to Stapelton, guest turns from Joe Walsh, Jason Isbell, Bonnie Raitt, and several others
56. The Who – All The Music Must Fade
The gut pinch of a rhythm section, this time with Zak Starkey beating the skins, is still in fine form and Roger Daltry is back, but not quite better than ever. On this first single from their upcoming release, The Who. With a “You Better You Bet” feel to it, the song and subsequent record feels like it will be a great last waltz for an iconic band.
55. Deacon Blue – City of Love
Taking their name from a Steely Dan song, the Scottish band Deacon Blue hasn’t let up one bit from when they were opening for The Waterboys way back in 1985. In March of 2020, the band will be releasing City of Love, their fourth album in seven years. This band is almost the poster child for under the radar bands you should know about.
54. Soccer Mommy – Yellow is the Color Of Her Eyes
“Yellow is the Color Of Her Eyes” is only the second track of new music from Soccer Mommy that has reached our ears since 2018’s breakout album, Lush and complex, the song inspired by life on the road and the relations that suffer from the distance and time away features harpist Mary Lattimore.
53. Durand Jones & The Indications – Morning in America
Alongside Austin’s Black Pumas, Durand Jones and his mates are front and center on the cresting Soul revivalist movement. Drummer Aaron Frazer adds to the vibe with vocals that perfectly complement Durand Jones. From the record, American Love Call, “Morning in America” harkens back to the protest Soul of the ’60s and ’70s. The lyrics touch on contaminated water, overprescribing of pain-killers, and systematic racism, all touchstones of a protest song for todays times.
52. P.P. Arnold – I Believe
Unbelievably, her 2019 record, The New Adventures of P.P. Arnold, is her first proper solo album in 51 years, and she has not lost anything at all on her vocal fastball. “I believe” is a beautiful, immaculately produced cinematic wonder to behold.
51. Fontaines DC – Boys In A Better Land
With an energy that falls somewhere north of The Clash and South of The Waterboys, “Boys In A Better Land” almost literally sparks with a nervous energy that makes you feel alive. These guys mix Post-Punk riffs with a literate sensibility capable of ripping your ears off. Even the ballads these guys throw out have a lot of street swagger.
50. JJ Wilde – Home
With a whole lot of Nashville Swagger, JJ Wildes’s star is definitely on the rise. With “Home” her follow-up to her E.P. released earlier in the year, she establishes her independence and her inherent badassery. It’s all about finding freedom through good old-fashioned Rock and Roll.
49. Sunflower Bean – Come For Me
Not resting on any laurels after the really excellent Human Ceremony last year, Sunflower Bean released a four-song E.P., King of the Dudes, early this year. “Come For Me” is a female empowerment anthem with women calling the shots with their own sexuality. “Come for me, we don’t have all night.”
48. Karl Blau – Twilight
Karl Blau has not had a proper record out in a while, his last was Out Her Space in 2017, but if “Twilight” is a precursor to new music from this retro-tinged Americana artist, count us in. There is a bit of Harry Nilsson dusting on this one.
47. The Reconstructed – Home Fires
From Southern Maine, The Reconstructed are one of those bands that are very well known on the local scene, but not so much on the national stage. Their latest record Great North Wind does not have a bad song on it. “Home Fires” has a bit of a Stonesy groove to it and is a perfect initiation to a band that should really be reaching more ears.
46. Fat White Family – Feet
Getting their collective act together as a band is proving to be quite a good thing as far as their artistic development goes. Their new record, Serf’s Up!, is a stunner coming from these guys and their past distorted Punk Rock sound, and the single “Feet” shows a sense of purpose that has been lacking in the past.
45. Joanne Shaw Taylor – Reckless Heart
“Reckless Heart” the title track from her latest release is a clear step up in weight class for a Blues Rock Singer that combines the vocal prowess of Bonnie Raitt and the guitar chops of Susan Tedeschi.
44. Peter Bjorn and John – Reason To Be Reasonable
From the boys that brought you “Young Folks,” one of the top earworms of the last 20 years, they once again burrow their way into your ears with the anti-breakup song of the year. It is refreshing to hear a message that promotes trying to work things out instead of fleeing the scene when the first bit of adversity comes your way.
43. Brent Cowles – High To Low
L.A. Songwriter Brent Cowles decided full-force to write a song that wasn’t sad or negative. For this one, he decided he wanted to pen a tune that would make people dance and smile. With “High and Low” he has succeeded on all fronts in advance of a new record due early in 2020.
42. Trash Cat – Straw Girl
Trash Cat is one of those quirky bands that you will find very hard not to like once you give them a chance. The group features Mary Claxton playing the electric ukelele, Brian, her beardy jazz instructor husband, and, for good measure, you have a mohawked sax player. Hailing from Greely, Co,, this band of gypsies does not take themselves over-seriously but make no mistake, this is one talented trio as demonstrated on “Straw Girl” the lead-off single from their 2019 record, Welcome To Trash City.
41. Rufus Wainwright – Trouble In Paradise
If you are not on the Rufus Wainright bandwagon, jump on in. The water’s fine. As the son of musicians Louden Wainright III (The dead skunk in the road guy) and Kate McGarrigle, his own music is as eclectic as you can get including 7 albums and a note for note record rendition of Judy at Carnegie Hall. Here, Rufus demonstrates his Pop-Centric chops on “Trouble in Paradise” from his new record set to be released very soon.
40. Dirty Honey – Rolling 7s
If like most of us, you are sick and tired having just about every music critic this side of Cameron Crowe trying to jam Greta Van Fleet down your throat as the next great Rock and Roll band, we present to you, Dirty Honey. This L.A. band plays what they call “new-fashioned Rock and Roll.” With a sound that is some sort of devil hybrid between Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, their 2019 six-song mini-album will rock your plimsoul.
39. The Stereophonics – Bust This Town
A bit maligned in their own U.K. The Stereophonics have been doing their thing for over 20 years now. The second single to be released from their 2019 Kind L.P., celebrates escapism in all its forms.
38. Garret T. Capps – All Right, All Night
Garret T. Capps is one of those stylistic and artistically hip Americana influenced artists along the lines of Tennessee Jet, Sturgill Simpson and Robert Ellis. “All Right, All Night” is only one of several terrific songs on his 2019 release of the same name.
37. Sir Woman – Highroad
Sir Woman is the newest project for Kelsey Wilson, co-founder of Wild Child. On “Sir Woman” she uses her singing and arranging skills on this string and horns laden stunner. With a snappy beat and a ’60s vibe, this one has a “feel good” feeling that demands to be on your year-end playlist.
36. Lucille Furs – Paint Euphrosyne Blue
Lucille Furs and their 2019 record, Another Land, have, and it’s not even close, released the Psychedelic album of the year. Full of Beatles, Monkees, and even 13th Floor elevators Austin Powers groovability, “Paint Euphrosyne Blue,” just one of stellar songs, could have been on a Monkees record back in the day.
35. Cheap Trick – Gimme Some Truth
Pressed on red vinyl for record store day, this 7″ disc is Cheap Trick in their never wavering glory.
34. Cowboy Diplomacy – The Get Down
Their first single since 2017, they have a new record that is due next year, Cowboy Diplomacy has been kicking around Austin for some time know delivering country grizzled Rock & Roll. If Waylon Jennings fronted Lynyrd Skynyrd this is what the band would have sounded like.
33. Dori Freeman – That’s How I Fell
With an Americana tinged voice that whippoorwills between Linda and Joni, her calming vibrato “That’s How I Feel” from her highly excellent new record, Every Single Star, features a collaboration with British Folk-Rocker Teddy Thompson.
32. Hector Ward & The Big Time – Whiskey Pants
These guys have been around enough and are so diverse they have opened for the likes of Gary Clark Jr,. The Zombies, Christopher Cross, and Ian McLagan. Put on your whiskey pants and head-on into the night.
31. Lillie Mae – You’ve Got Other Girls For That
Touring with Robert Plant and The Raconteurs, there is no sophomore slump for Lillie Mae, her latest release, Other Girls, is one of the best Americana records of the year. “You’ve got other girls for that. I just came to play.”
30. The Highwomen – The Chain
This Fleetwood Mac classic comes alive again in the hands of the Highwomen, 2019 Supergroup of the year. This cover song is from the Melissa McCarthy movie, The Kitchen.
29. Lucy Dachus – Fools Gold
He’ll blame the alcohol and you’ll blame the full moon pretty well expresses this lovely ode to The New Year.
28. Laura Stevenson – Living Room, NY
Laura Stevenson was in Australia when she wrote this song to a flame she was missing. You can feel the longing in every breath she takes here, and you will find yourself longing for the sequel to this stunner of a song.
27. Drugdealer – Honey
From Raw Honey, Drugdealer’s highly excellent 2019 release. This one sounds like it could have been on side 2 of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass.
26. Purple Mountains – That’s Just The Way I Feel
This is hands down the saddest song of the year given that Dave Berman took his own life shortly after recording his Purple Mountains album. There is a Harry Nilsson vibe to this one, but don’t let the bouncy tenor fool you. There is an underlying sense of despair running through the core of this poignant swan song.
25. Sheer Mag – Hardly To Blame
A singalong chorus enhances the bounciness on this Rocker of a song from the Philly based group.
24. Leon Bridges and Khruangbin – Texas Sun
Two soon to be Texas legends, Leon Bridges from Fort Worth and Houston’s Khruangbin team up on a classic sounding single.
23. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings
The undeniable chemistry on this stand-alone (so far) single from Gillian Welch and David Rawlings makes for sweet harmony filled listening, courtesy of the San Saba Songbird from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
22. Yes Factory – Radio Waves
Some Matthew Sweet vintage Power Pop for the new age. The band is from Rockford Illinois and features Ian Zander, son of Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander. This apple falls not so far from the Rock tree.
21. DeWolff – It Ain’t Easy
One of our more pleasant Rock and Roll finds from 2018, it took us a bit to get used to the Jamiroquai vibes on this one from their latest two-song E.P. but after a few studious listens of this one, the mid-song guitar noodling sold us big time.
20. Weyes Blood – Everyday
Titanic Rising is one of the best records of 2019, and the single “Everyday” is sort of Bob Seger meets Enya.
19. Bill Callahan – What Comes After Certainty
If Neil Diamond and Leonard Cohen had a love child that was produced by Rick Rubin, this is the sort of beautiful noise that the offspring would share with the world. Willie’s guitar even makes an out of nowhere appearance on this one.
18. Rodney Crowell – Deep In The Heart of Uncertain Texas
We could have picked any number of tunes for this list from Rodney Crowell’s Texas L.P., but we are contractually obligated to mention Willie Nelson at least one time per post, and the more the better. Here, along with Ronnie Dunn, Willie is in perfect hippy form.
17. Elles Bailey – Road I Call Home
The heir apparent to Bonnie Rait who sounds like she could be the daughter of Melissa Etheridge with better chops, Elles Baily is really coming into her own with her new record, Road I Call Home. The title track shows an artist that, by all rights, should not be as good as she is.
16. Garret T. Capps – Sunday Sun
There is an old school outlaw troubadour ethos that generates through every pore of Garrett T. Capps that draws the line from Hank to Kris to Townes all the way to Garrett T. Capps without missing a beat.
15. Mark Ronson (feat. Lykke Li) – Late Night Feelings
This bouncy number from the producer that brought you “Uptown Funk” used his midas touch for groovy collaborations on this one that grooves like a cross between Abba and Off The Wall era Michael Jackson.
14. FKA Twigs – Cellophane
This sparsely stark ballad will envelop your soul with muliple listens. Substituting her trademark Electro-Pop sound for a piano, FTA Twigs give herself to us at her most vulnerable.
13. Jessica Pratt – Poly Blue
Sounding like a long lost Burt Bacharach nugget from the ’60s this one has the essence of a forgotten beauty from a long-lost time.
12. Lizzo – Juice
This banger of a tune is just one of several life affirming tunes on her breakthrough album. Nothing if not self-confident, Lizzo sings “Mirror mirror on the wall/Don’t say it ’cause I know I’m cute.” A positive force in a troubling world, a little bit of Lizzo has come along just when we need her.
11. Vampire Weekend – Harmony Hall
Several songs from Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend’s first record in six years could have earned inclusion on this list, but for our ears this summer jam gets top honors.
10. Jason Hawk Harris – Phantom Limb
Confronting the death of his mother, newcomer Jason Hawk Harris brings this one to your ears in waves. It’s not until the end that the reveal is made that the long lost love is actually his mother. When he sings “Mother Your Dead” along with an accompanying two minute mournful guitar solo everything comes into perspective.
09. Chuck Mead – Daddy Worked The Pole
A modern day “Wichita Lineman” tha tells the story about a dady that worked as a lineman to support his family. “Daddy worked the pole so mama wouldn’t have to.
08. Vandoliers – Sixteen Years
The Ramones meet The Texas Tornados is the best description we can come up with for this mariachi Cow-Punk band. Listening to these guys and watching their eye-splitting live shows you get the feeling that these guys are going to become famous or die trying. The’ll make it even it takes another sixteen years.
07. Yola – Faraway Look
A breakout star from 2019, under the tutleage of Easy Eye Sound along with founder Dan Auerback Yola a 60’s above the rest bombast that woud make Dusty Springfield blush.
06. Tyler Childers – All Your’n
Produced by Sturgill Simpson, this classic-country tinged song blends psychedelic elements with state of the art song crafting for a finished product that is a melodic stunner.
05. Allison Moorer Cold Cold Earth
A “stop you in your tracks” what did I just hear song that describes the murder of her mother and subsequent suicide of her father after he murdered his wife in cold blood in front his daughter, Allison Moorer. They don’t make murder ballads any more real than this.
04. Metronomy – Salted Like Ice Cream
There is a lot of Prince and a little bit of “Funky Town” floating vibes going on with this one. A sparkling dance tune with enough of an edge to keep things cool.
03. Bruce Springsteen – Hello Sunshine
One of several more than solid new songs from Springsteen’s Western Stars record, the wide open spaces are out there waiting. This one might be the road trip song of the year.
02. Sharon Van Etten – Seventeen
The 80’s synths and propulsive guitars are just part of what gives this song it’s grit, But make no mistake, Sharon Van Etten is no longer seventeen and wants everone to know it.
01. Tom Russell – T-Bone Steak and Spanish Wine
Sometimes, all that is needed is a man and his guitar. This one is all about the story, and here, we hear the tale of a travelling troubadour who turns back the clock by visiting one of his old haunts for a T-bone steak and some Spanish wine.