There was a bumper crop of good music this year on the Americana Music Show. More albums than ever were submitted to the show. By my rough count, almost twice as many albums hit my inbox in 2013 than 2012. So far I’m proud to say that I was able to give every single one of them a listen.
More important than the quantity, the music coming into my inbox just keeps getting better and better. As you can tell from this list there’s a wider variety of music than last year, and albums are showing up from all over the world.
This episode features tracks from albums #30-#16 on the 2013 Best of Americana Music Show list.
Take equal parts 60′s lounge swing music, guitar surf, and southern white trash and you get Southern Culture On The Skids. Not may people can make songs about pulled pork, banana pudding, trailer parks, and chicken farmers and really make them swing, but that’s what Southern Culture On The Skids does. Their 2013 release called Dig This is sort of a greatest hits album. It’s a collection of some of their more popular tunes from their live shows over the years rearranged and re-recorded to bring them into the new millennium.
Hans Theessink is a Dutch blues man living in Vienna and he’s been playing american blues, especially Piedmont style blues and other “finger-picking” styles of blues, for longer than most of us have been alive. His 2013 release covers many famous blues songs that have become personally important to him over the decades because of who he played them with or who he learned them from. What makes this album really special though is it contains a few original tunes that Hans has written, which he rarely does. And his original tunes sound so authentic that you can’t tell which ones are his and which ones are from the early 30′s.
Preview Wishing Well by Hans Theessink.
Hans Theessink was featured on episode 145.
Beth Lee’s rock & roll, is simple and straight forward. It’s a retro-roots-rock sound, but not nostalgic. It’s music designed to frame her voice which is clear and strong and full of conviction, even when she’s singing about heartache and woe. Beth Lee claims both Wanda Jackson and Lucinda Williams as influences in her music and you can hear both in her songs.
Beth Lee was featured on episode 140.
Slaid Cleaves’ album, Still Fighting The War, is filled with earnest songs about the working class folks. But it’s not all about the troubles they face, it’s also about their triumphs and success. The language of his lyrics is spot-on authentic. Every line sounds like something you might hear at your local beer joint and lots of them are songs you can sing along to.
Slaid Cleaves was featured on episode 146.
Yvette is a Louisiana-based songwriter and performer. And as you might expect there is some blues and cajun influence showing throw in her songs, but her 2013 release is a honky-tonk effort through and through. Her songs range from ecstatic joy to tear-jerkers to angry woman rants, but every one of them has a boot-scooting shuffle in them. Her voice is strong, with a little bit of twang, but very beautiful at the same time and you can listen to her songs all night long.
Preview No Man’s Land by Yvette Landry.
Yvette Landry was featured on episode 152.
If you need a dose of hippie, dippie, feel-good jam-band music, and who doesn’t these days, Donna The Buffalo is the band for you and their 2013 release, Tonight, Tomorrow, and Yesterday is dance-in-the-fields album that’s feels just right. Like many other jam bands, there’s a heavy dose of roots music / traditional music in the mix. And with Donna The Buffalo you also get a good Cajun dance vibe too. It’s not the same as going to one of their live festivals, but it will give you a taste of what you need.
Donna The Buffalo was featured on episode 147.
Mando Saenz’ 2013 release Studebaker has a lot of sing-along-worthy tunes. With Kim Richey backing him up on vocals, the harmonies have that relaxed feel to them that makes everyone feel comfortable singing along, especially if you’re driving down the road and no one’s watching. Saenz’ voice has just the right amount of twang in it and he delivers the lines of his ballads and road songs with the authority of an experienced traveler who’s learned to appreciate the value of getting back home to friends and family. His music has a Ray LaMontagne feel to it. Relaxed, natural, but with a rock & roll backbone.
Preview Studebaker by Mando Saenz.
Mando Saenz was featured on episode 162.
If there’s a sub-genre of rock & roll called drinking rock & roll, then Rich Mahan’s Blame Bobby Bare is at the top of the list. As you might expect from the title it’s full of 70′s era sounding country rock. There’s some Gram Parson’s inspired guitar work and some Dylan-esque lyrics here and there. But it’s all got a slightly boozy feel to it, kind of pleasant haze like when you’ve had one to many beers at the local pub and you’d rather hang out all night and listen to the music than try to stand up.
Preview Blame Bobby Bare by Rich Mahan.
Rich Mahan was featured on episode 121.
Sometimes there is just nothing better than an angsty gritty singer telling you about his pain and agony to get you through the day. No one does that middle of the night lonely rock & roll ache better than Michael Rank & Stag. There are rootsy elements through out this album from all the local rock, including rhythm guitar riffs done on mandolin, angsty pedal steel, and classic country drums. But at it’s heart, this latest release, Mermaids, is a rock & roll album.
Preview Mermaids by Michael Rank and Stag.
OK so on the one hand you will listen to Leo Rondeau’s Take It And Break It and think this is a fairly standard country rock album with some honkytonk thrown in for good measure. But the secret sauce in Leo’s music is that he sounds so earnest and sincere. He sells every song like it’s his personal story. And by the time you get to end of the album, not only have you heard some damn good music, you’ve made a friend.
Preview Take It And Break It by Leo Rondeau.
Leo Rondeau was featured on episode 158.
I mean no disparagement when I say the Delta Saint’s album, Death Letter Jubilee is a perfect example of a frat party album. It’s a boogie album that has both the head banging rock as well as just enough of a dance beat to it. And like their name implies, it’s a swampy, New Orleans-based sound. Lots of smoky guitar work, harmonica, and blues inspired vocals.
The Delta Saints were featured on episode 125.
Elvis Club is kind of a power pop / rock affair. There are occasional forays into roots rock territory but mostly it’s straight up rock & roll album that draws you to the mosh pit like a moth to a flame. And through it all there’s a slightly cheesy, eye-wink attitude in the lyrics, like they aren’t trying to be a super-serious rock and roll band. Instead they are trying to be a fun rock and roll band and that makes all the difference.
Preview Elvis Club by The Del Lords.
The Del Lords were featured on episode 141.
Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, known as Mandolin Orange, just keep getting better and better as songwriters. They are essentially folk music singers with a deep background in string band and bluegrass music. Their lyrics pick at long forgotten, fundamental views of the world, stuff you thought had been buried long ago and replaced with Our Modern World. So every song is full of blank spaces waiting for you to fill in with your past, your history, your outlook on life. And they do it with such tender, beautiful music it’s almost a shame they don’t play it in church.
Javi Garcia cranks out the kind of rock and roll that parents warn their children against. It’s aggressive, rude, sexual, and completely unashamed, just like rock & roll used to be. But at the same time there’s room for horn sections, pianos, and actual dynamic crescendos that build up to those wall of sound moments. This is an album that appeals both to music critics and head-bangers everywhere.
Preview The Great Controversy by Javi Garcia.
Javi Garcia was featured on episode 142.
Fiddleworms joins the ranks of the few bands in the world that have successfully integrated a full marching band into a rock & roll song. But it’s not just a parlor trick, it’s just one of the many southern sounds that permeate See The Light, from this Muscle Shoals-based band. You hear some power pop, some southern rock, some pyschadelia, You can almost hear Duane Allman in the background urging the band on and Spooner Oldham inspiring a line or two.
Preview See The Light by Fiddleworms.
The Fiddleworms were featured on episode 148.
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All music on the Americana Music Show has been submitted to the show by the artist or their agent for promotional purposes and is used with permission. The episode as a whole is copyright 2013 by Taproot Media.
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