This week you get my favourite albums released this year and if you have some time, definitely look up some of thesealbums and the songs recommended:
1. The Horrible Crowes - Elsie
Superb lyricism and some fanatastic melodies make for a very sedate, tranquil album about heartbreak, focusing particularly on two of snger Brian Fallon's ex girlfriends and finally on his wife in 'I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together'. Brian shows what fantastic range he has as he ranges from whispers right up to the wails of 'Mary Ann' a more up tempo agressive number. Besides 'Mary Ann' the other 11 songs are very easy listening perfect for times of relaxation and reflection. Highlight songs: 'Behold The Hurricane', 'Ladykiller' and 'Blood Loss'
2. Chuck Ragan - Covering Ground
A typical Chuck Ragan folk album, based around the acoustic guitar with the superb musicianship of Jon Gaunt (fiddle) andn Joe Ginsberg (upright bass). It particularly focuses on life on the road, the camaraderie of bandmates and the travelling life of a singer songwriter and is in my opinion his best solo album to date. I think theres a real good feel about the album, the kind of songs to keep you warm on these cold winter nights. Highlight Songs: 'Meet You In The Middle', 'Nothing Left To prove' and 'Wish On The Moon'
3. Against Me! - White Crosses/ Black Crosses
White Crosses was released in 2010 but still counts as it was re-released this year with its acoustic accompaniment 'Black Crosses'. I was new to Against Me until this year as I slowly discover more and more of these lesser known punk bands. Singer Tom Gabel mixes upbeat punk rock with his unique and direct lyrics which have had me singing at my steering wheel for months now. While many old school Against Me! fans beleive the band have sold out, I think its their best work. Black crosses is essentially the same album but the songs are either acoustic versions or demos. Highlight Songs: 'Because of The Shame', 'White Crosses' and 'Bitter Divisions'
4. Augustana - Augustana (eponymously titled)
This is Augustana's fourth album and whilst not perhaps hitting the critical heights of previous albums I think its a solid album that has dominated my playlists this year. I think Dan Layus' song writing has definitely improved with each album they have released. The songs are mostly love songs but that isn't to say that they are all slow numbers. Very easy album to listen to, very melodic and Dan Layus has a great voice, its just a shame that the band have had difficulties with their lineup. I sincerely hope there is a future for this band... Highlight Songs: 'Shot in The Dark', ' Steal Your Heart' and 'Wrong Side of Love'.
5. Dave Hause - Resolutions
New to the music of Dave Hause and The Loved Ones this year I decided to check him out before the Revival Tour and found myself enjoying what he was writing about. I found they were songs about the realities of life, road accidents, friends going through hard times, how we drift from all of our old friends and re-unite to reminisce. Its good music about real stuff, not the heavier punk rock that The Loved Ones produce. Great to chill out to. Highlight Songs: 'Meet Me at The lanes', 'C'mon Kid' and 'Pray for Tuscon'/
6. 3 Doors Down - Time of My Life
A return to form for 3DD in my opinion. Their previous self titled effort didn't really hit the mark for me except for three or four tracks. This album is lots better. A good rocky, upbeat album with some anthemic songs in it. Although this is irrelevant to the music I would say the front cover to this album is my favourite album artwork of the year too. Highlight songs: 'Everytime You Go', 'Believer' and 'When You're Young'
7. Olin and The Moon - Footsteps
I'm sorry to say that I only discovered this band through the TV Show 'One Tree Hill'but I'm glad I did. Singer David LaBrel croaks his way through 15 songs. As with most albums on this playlist its very easy listening stuff rangeing from very slow mournful songs to cheery upbeat acoustic rock. These guys still haven't been discovered by many, they don't even have a proper Wikipedia page as far as I can see but it goes to show that the underground scene hides lots of hidden treasures like these. Highlight Songs: 'Say Goodbye', 'Not In Love' and That Light'
8. Dan Andriano in The Emergency Room - Hurricane Season
To complete the Revival Tour quartet set, Dan Andriano was entirely new to me until September when I was impressed with his soulful voice. This is his first solo album and its very good. The songs are mostly love songs, talking about missing your significant other but the lyrics are well written and meaningful and again, this is another very easy to listen album. If you're not sure Ive sold it to you, check the following songs out perhaps before committing to the whole album: 'This Light', 'Hurricane Season' and 'Me and Denver'.
9. R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now
R.E.M.'s last few studio albums have been slammed in most articles I have read but I think they were still doing ok. No, they may not hit the heights of 'Automatic for the People' but there are still plenty of songs on this (their final studio album) to keep their fans entertained. Some are typically upbeat with Michael Stipe's, confusing lyrics and unusual song subjects and some are more heartfelt a good mix and well worth a buy! I was planning to write about their break up but never got around to it. To make my top ten can be tribute enough... Highlight Songs: 'Uberlin', 'It Happened Today' and 'Oh My Heart'.
10. Ryan Adams - Ashes and Fire
I had been warned about Ryan Adams haviing varying styles of music depending on which album you buy but I heard him play 'Lucky Now' acoustically and had to buy the album as I thought it was one of the best songs I'd heard this year. The rest of the album was what I expected, its a very slow and meaningful album for quiet times but there are some good songs worth listening: 'Lucky Now', 'Come Home' and 'Chains of Love'
There are many albums released this year that I have intended but not got around to listening to. Im sure this list would have been slightly different but here it is. I hope you take the time to look a few of these songs up on Spotify, i tunes, you tube etc.
Next week I'll be giving my top 20 songs that I have discovered in 2011... Stay tuned.