MAGNET’s Rome Clay picks his favorites of the year: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (pictured), Drive-By Truckers, the Avett Brothers, Neko Case, the Felice Brothers and more.
1. JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT | Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit [Lightning Rod]
The former Drive-By Trucker loads his second solo record with a wealth of songwriting gems. No song will ever use the phrase “rolled-up $20 bill” in a lyric any better than “Cigarettes And Wine.”
2. MAPLEWOOD | Yeti Boombox [Tapete]
The album title pretty much says it all. Brooklyn boys make good. Harmonies and guitar glitter.
3. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS | The Fine Print (A Collection Of Oddities And Rarities 2003-2008) [New West]
The best way to fulfill a recording contract you’ll ever hear. Seems like some of these should have made a record somewhere along the way.
4. THE AVETT BROTHERS | I And Love And You [American]
Ahhh, the Rick Rubin touch. He waves his magic psyche over a formerly uncivilized horde, and what comes out is “Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in.” Like it or not, the man can make changes.
5. DRIVIN N CRYIN | The Great American Bubble Factory [Thirty Tigers]
Pure fun. Kevn Kinney and his slightly grayer bandmates turn it up, tune in and get busy with the guitar-y hard rock they always did best.
6. NEKO CASE | Middle Cyclone [Anti-]
No, she hasn’t found her niche yet—the sub-sub-sub-genre she feels comfortable in and that fits her—but the journey continues to be interesting.
7. JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE | Midnight At The Movies [Bloodshot]
Not daddy’s boy, Steve Earle’s son mixes Hank Williams with lots of savvy and twang.
8. THE FELICE BROTHERS | Yonder Is The Clock [Team Love]
The unruliest of the unruly mobs that seem to be taking over Americana these days, the Felice boys retain their rough, accordion-driven edges but crank up the quality of the songwriting.
9. DAWES | North Hills [ATO]
The sound of what happens when you record in Laurel Canyon. CSN meets Freddy Mercury.
10. GREG KOONS AND THE MISBEGOTTEN | Welcome To The Nowhere Motel [Kealon]
Pennsylvania boys got themselves some songs worth hearin’.