The Joan Osborne version of Scott Gorman’s post Black Crowes band is right up there and on par with the music they are putting out now with their new record, Full Circle & Then Some.
The first incarnation of Steve Gorman’s post-Black Crowes band included Joan Osborne on vocals instead of Amber Woodhouse who is on their latest L.P., Full Circle & Then Some. Both albums are great and worth your ear-time.
If you listen really closely to Trigger Hippy’s excellent new release Full Circle & Then Some you can catch a scent of The Black Crowes, which makes perfect sense as the Crowes stick man Steve Gorman is one of the co-founders of Trigger Hippy. Here, the ’70s Laurel Canyon vibing band led by Amber Woodhouse on vocals sound like they could have been sitting on Joni Mitchell’s couch.
Here it is, the long-awaited list of the best albums of 2019. It has been a really great year for music. We heard from a couple of deceased legends in Harry Nilsson and Leonard Cohen, were treated with new records from Texas Honky Tonk legends Jack Ingram, Corb Lund, and Dale Watson, and bright lights shone for the first time with a bevy of new artists to discover including the one name wonders Lizzo and Yola.
Rock is not dead with White Reaper, Drugdealer and Black Country Communion all inviting us to a party like it’s 1979. And of course, the singer-songwriter is back. The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, is back and better than ever and Rock is the New Roll favorite Tom Russell gave us a history lesson in 11 songs with October in the Railroad Earth.
This year we will be releasing our top 100 list 10 tasty gems at a time, so sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy the ear-pleasing top 100 records of the year.
10. Yola – Walk Through The Fire
You won’t need to wander much past the first song on this record, “Faraway Look”, for this one to grab you. With pipes that would make Dusty Springfield blush along with the production fairy dust from Dan Auerbach and his Easy Eye team, this is one could have been released in 1968.
09. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
Quite possibly the best record The Boss has delivered in the past 15 years, this expansive record covers all of the Springsteen touchstones. Fine song-craft, common man storytelling, and superb musicianship all come together for one of the more compelling releases of the year.
08. Mercury Rev – Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete revisited.
This is one of those rare entities where the tribute album is better than the original. This thing is ridiculously cool. With a different female singer for each song, Mercury Rev puts their own swirling psychedelic spin on the original Country-Folk classics. “Big Boss Man” featuring Hope Sandoval is an eclectic stunner, on “Reunion” you just might find out what was thrown off of the Tallahatchie bridge, and Susanne Sudfor’s spin on “Tobacco Road” will tingle your spine. With only one song that was not on the original recording, Lucinda Williams does what Lucinda does on “Ode to Billy Joe” to polish off a sublime set of masterful songs.
07. Trigger Hippy – Full Circle
On their second incarnation of the band, Amber Woodhouse replaces Joan Osborne when a female lead singer is needed as the band lays down the best Country Soul this side of Delaney and Bonnie. This one is decidedly Laurel Canyon retro in all the best of ways.
06. The Delines – The Imperial
With every song being virtually a Raymond Carver short story, Willy Vlautin and company have come up with another masterpiece. “Eddy and Polly” is the “Jack and Diane” for the new millennium, If Jack was an abusive husband with an alcohol problem, and Diane was a cheating wife that is, and in “Holly the Hustle” as the song unfolds From drinking wine coolers at age 13, there is only one way things will end for Holly. Not well.
05. The Cactus Blossoms – Easy Way
The Cactus Blossoms make absolutely no effort to disguise the fact that they love The Everly Brothers. If you are looking to be transported back to a time when the Beatles didn’t exist, Then, this is your jam. Lead-off track “Desperado” really shows off the brotherly harmonies, and “Downtown” could have been a hit for Roy Orbison.
04. Drugdealer – Raw Honey
With a lot of very stiff completion, Raw Honey, the latest album from Drugdealer just might be the Laurel Canyon record of the Year. Fully capturing the singer-songwriter cult of the ’70s, on songs like “Honey” featuring Natalie Mering aka Weyes Blood that could be a Harry Nilsson song, and “Fools”, is a tune that could be mistaken for a Steely Dan B-Side, the only thing missing is a Boz Skaggs Lido Shuffle.
03. J.S. Ondara – Tales of America
Coming in at number three and generally regarded as one of the best debut records of the year, J.S. Ondara, hailing from Nigeria and currently living in Minnesota, almost literally chases his Bob Dylan Muse on this set of songs that should very soon elevate the young songwriter to Leon Bridges status.
02. Jenny Lewis – On The Line
Working with a bundle of top-rated players including Benmont Tench, Beck, Don Was, Ringo Starr, and Jim Keltner. There is an 80’s AOR vibe throughout the record that gives it a nostalgic touch that will spin your head back in time. Lewis is in fine vocal form, and like its predecessor, Voyager, really benefits from the Ryan Adams production touch.
01. Tom Russell – October In The Railroad Earth
Another stellar master’s level course in Americana songwriting. “T-Bone Steak and Spanish Wine” is a standout as is “Highway 46” a song where none other than the late and not so great Spade Cooley is name-checked. Where were you on the day Merle Haggard died?
Cody Jinks – After The Fire
With each successive record he releases Cody Jinks seems to channel Chris Stapleton more and more, and that is a very good thing. Now that he is back to being independent after a brief dance with Rounder Records, Cody delivers a solid set of Outlaw Country complete with Honky Tonk blazers and mellow ballads. Jinks blends the darkness with the light with a nimble touch and his Randy Travis Meets Garth Brooks croon is wearing very well on him.
Trigger Hippy – Full Circle & Then Some
On their second incarnation of the band Amber Woodhouse replaces Joan Osborne when a female lead singer is needed as the band lays down the best Country Soul this side of Delaney and Bonnie. This one is decidedly Laurel Canyon retro in all the best of ways.
The Lilac Time – Return To Us
A lovely sort of pastoral listen, there is a meandering pedal steel that sets much of the tone on this nine song set. Slightly political in some places, the title track, written three days after the current inauguration, plays off an Obama speech, and elsewhere there is melancholy whimsey in the Country inflected “Simple Things” remembering a time with less technology.
Starcrawler – Devour You
Strawcrawler comes at you and lands right in your face like some sort of Glam Punk David Lee Roth zombie mutant released to the world. Despite this, their second long-player, being a bit less aggressive than their debut, they still manage to turn out some real fine Rocky Horror Picture Show inspired Rock and Roll.
Joseph Arthur – Come Back World
Joseph Arthur is nothing if not prolific. Despite this being his first solo project in three years, Arthur has definitely been part of the scene organically implanting himself into many musically diverse projects including Arthur Buck with Peter Buck, Fistfull of Mercy with Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper, and Jeff Ament. Here, his pals Jesse Malin, Ben Harper, and Patrick Carney join in on the fun with a spirit calming set of his most personal and powerful songs to date.
Greta Van Fleet – Always There
We have a bit of a love/hate relationship band with this band of brothers. While the music they make is stunningly good despite the obvious comparisons to Led Zeppelin, the narrative that they are the sole saviors of Rock and Roll is simply not true. This latest track from the Movie A Million Little Pieces shows a band maturing before our very ears.
Trigger Hippy – Strung Out On The Pain
Yes folks, the rumors are true. Trigger Hippy has a new record coming out, the drop date is October 11, and we cannot wait. “Strung Out On The Pain” is the third single to be released by this Nashville band that will have you reaching back to dig out your old Poco and Pure Prairie League records.
The Down ‘n’ Outz – Another Man’s War
Joe Elliott, front man for Def Leppard, is a huge fan of Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople. When performing with his side-piece band The Down ‘n’ Outz, they will cover most of the Mott catalog along with selected really cool covers. Here, they are getting ready to release an album of original songs. “Another Man’s War is the second single to be released from their soon to be released record.
Mean Old World – North Mississippi Allstars (feat. Jason Isbell, Duane Betts)
The North Mississippi All Stars get a lot of play in the offices at Rock is the New Roll, and Jason Isbell and Duane Bett’s ramp up the coolness even more on this one. For extra credit check out the new album by the Allman Betts Band, Down to the River
Airbourne – Boneshaker
Much in the same way that the Van Fleet boys evoke Led Zeppelin, the band Airbourne is pure AC/DC. And, since Angus and company won’t be coming out with a record anytime soon, these rock & rollers are a pretty good substitute.
Devendra Barnhart – Taking a Page
The latest single from his forthcoming album, Ma, to be released on September 13th. The song, heavily inspired by Carole King, share a line and melody form “So Far Away.”
Yola – Shady Grove
The latest video from Yola’s debut record, Walk Through Fire.” A top 20 record for sure.
Starcrawler – Bet My Brains
Starcrawler, one of our favorite over the edge Rock Chick bands are back witba new single and video.
Trigger Hippy – Don’t Wanna Bring You Down
In 2014 Trigger Hippy, a supergroup consisting of Nashville session musicians released a self-titled album that was one of the best of the year. Here they pop up out of nowhere with a scorching new single.
Midland – Cheatin’ Songs
Normally, we would cry fowl on a band that travels the 80’s Country landscape, but for Midland all bets are off. We are all in. Here is their latest Garth Meets George gem.
The Allman Betts Band – Shinin’
Formed by the sons of Gregg Allman and Dickie Betts the Southern Rock torch has Ben duly passed. Close your eyes and you will think it is 1975 all over again.
Demob Happy – Autoportrait
This Psych Rock trio turns up the burners on this one to deliver the headbanger of the week.
Moon City Masters – The Price You Pay
A strong 70’s filter on this one picture Blind Faith jamming on stage with The Allman Brothers and you will pretty much get the idea.
Goodbye June – Universal Mega Love
These guys already have the chops to Greta Van Fleet and Rival Sons. A Rock band on the rise look for their new record Community Inn to come out in October.
Elles Bailey – Deeper
A vibrant Blues/Soul singer Elles Bailey could be the younger sister of Beth Hart.