20. Two Cow Garage – Brand New Flag
Two Cow Garage from Columbus, Ohio is a long time favourite and they can kick off the top 20 with their great new album Brand New Flag. Both songwriters Micah Schnabel and Shane Sweeney are in excellent form on this new one.
19. Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster – Constant Stranger
Water Liars frontman Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster put out a magnificent solo album Constant Stranger. A really strong indie-folk album altogether and then there’s this last song The Dirt, The Bells and I . Such a brilliant song.
18. Kalispell – Printer’s Son
Next we have Shane Leonard’s Kalispell. Actually Printer’s Son would have been on my top 10 a year ago, but I left it out because it didn’t come out officially until summer 2016 (Kickstarter backers got it a year earlier). It’s a bit difficult to decide where it should land this year, because I didn’t listen to it nowhere near as much as back in 2015. I still love it though and it’s full of stunning folk songs.
17. BJ Barham – Rockingham
American Aquarium frontman BJ Barham released a magnificent solo album Rockingham. Small town hymns that are both warm and devastating. The song + video combination of The Unfortunate Kind is heartbreaking. Man returning from a gravesite and looking back the life they shared. Overwhelming hurt wrapped in warth and gratitude.
16. Robbie Fulks – Upland Stories
Unfortunately there haven’t been that many Grammy nominees on my year-end lists. This year we do have one, because Robbie Fulks got two nominations. I didn’t see that coming, but it was fully deserved because Upland Stories is awesome. The album contains beautiful and warm folk/bluegrass sounds and wonderfully written stories set in the uplands. So fabulous.
15. Chris Staples – Golden Age
Oh Chris. I fell in love with you the minute I heard the first single and opening track Relatively Permanent. That song is a moment. That song is everything. The rest of the album Golden Age had a hard time living up to that, but it didn’t fall far behind its glorious first outtake. The whole album is remarkable.
14. John Calvin Abney – Far Cries and Close Calls
John Calvin Abney is an Oklahoma-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His new album Far Cries and Close Calls is a very captivating collection of songs. A while back he might have been better known as a trusted sidekick or backing musician to your favourite folk songwriter, but these days he is also a tremendous songwriter. Or well maybe he always was and I just haven’t heard the old material.
13. Drive-By Truckers – American Band
I love the band Drive-By Truckers, but for some weird reason I haven’t been extremely excited about their last 2-3 albums. I can’t even pinpoint why that is exactly, because while the records aren’t their very best, they are still pretty damn good and would be standouts in someone else’s catalogue. The excitement is definitely now back, because this new album American Band is a stunning collection of songs. Lyrically important and both Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley are in top form.
12. Daniel Markham – Disintegrator
Daniel Markham put together a dreamscape called Disintegrator. If you wake up in the middle of the night, play this one as loud as your neighbours can handle and it will kick the demons out of your head. Outstanding record from Daniel Markham once again.
11. Wesley Randolph Eader – Highway Winds
Wesley Randolph Eader from Portland might still be fairly unknown, but he is an incredible folk songwriter. Highway Winds should get a lot of recognition. This contains some of my favourite songs of the year. Actually five of these ten songs could be candidates for the songs of the year list. There’s a couple of songs that I’m not that excited about and that’s the only reason this dropped just outside top 10. Wesley Randolph Eader closes this chapter of the albums of the year list by Waitin’s What We Do and Sorrows For A Song, because it would be impossible to pick just one.