Facebook Twitter RSS

Favorites of 2010

2010 was another great year for Texas/Red Dirt/Americana music. Each December we take a look back at the tracks, albums, bands, places and moments that made the biggest impact on us. Judging by the responses, the Galleywinter staff was moved most by the likes of Sean McConnell, Uncle Lucius, and Randy Rogers Band this year. Here is a link to what folks are saying in the forums and our staff choices are listed below.

FAVORITE ALBUMS

Sean McConnell-Saints, Thieves, Liars.  McConnell’s record was one of the year’s most anticipated and it did not disappoint.  His songwriting talents were well-known, but this album showed that his expressive vocals were up to the task of matching his strong words.
-Brad Beheler

Paul Thorn –Pimps & Preachers. The seventh studio release from a guy whose probably best known (or maybe not) in the Texas Music Arena for writing the Wade Bowen live staple, “Mood Ring.” This is an absolutely fantastic album that’s full of heartfelt, soulful, funny, catchy, original music. The title track is a little auto-biographical as well. My standout tracks are: “I Hope I’m Doing This Right,” “Love Scar,” and “I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love,” but there isn’t a throwaway track on the entire disc.
-Dan “Bama” Bateman

Randy Rogers Band – Burning The Day. What can I say about this album that hasn’t already been said? It’s my favorite album of the year, and my favorite album from the band. With every song on it being just as stellar as the next, this is one of the few albums I can listen to beginning to end. The craftsmanship from the Randy Rogers Band and producer Paul Worley was stellar, and far beyond my expectations.
-Christina Maccini

Turnpike Troubadours-Diamonds and Gasoline.  Stillwater, Oklahoma’s latest musical export carries on the grand Red Dirt tradition in style with this album.  Their style and sound evokes notions of an updated Old 97’s or energized Slaid Cleaves.  Band leader Evan Felker proves adept at writing excellent lyrics that he pairs with crafty melodies.
-BB

Eleven Bones –Four Day March. Early this year when I first heard a rumor that we’d be getting some new Dub Miller music, I blindly pre-ordered this EP from Lonestarmusic.com without a second thought. After some minor delays, it showed up in my mailbox and I popped it in the player, and was taken back a little. It definitely didn’t sound like “Livin’ on Lonestar Time” or “Insanity and Texas;” instead I heard what I can only describe as a “wall of sound” made up of all matters of voices and instruments. As good as it sounded, though, it left me a little confused, because it was so different from what I had expected to hear, so I took the disc out and decided to walk away for a little bit. It wasn’t until a few days later, when I caught myself humming the melody and trying to remember the lyrics to “Losers,” that I put it back in and really started to appreciate what I heard. Since then, this has become a definite favorite and stays in heavy rotation.
-DB

Brison Bursey – Expectations and Parking Lots. I heard a lot of buzz about Brison Bursey well before I heard this album. It’s one that I had on the list to check out for months, and when I finally did, I wanted to slap myself for not getting it sooner. I honestly expected your average formulated Texas Country album, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. There’s nothing about this album that says average Texas music. I’d have to say that this is one of the most solid albums I’ve ever heard from a newer band. I look forward to hearing much more from these guys in 2011.
– CM

Randy Rogers Band –Burning the Day. I’ve got to preface this by saying that RRB’s 2004 release, Rollercoaster, is Texas Music perfection to me and set the mark by which all other Texas and/or Country music will be judged. Well, right from the start of “Burning the Day,” I noticed something that I haven’t immediately felt in a RRB album since Rollercoaster. It was almost an electric feeling that sucked me in and hooked me. Great full sound followed up with great lyrics. I’m not saying I would put this one above Rollercoaster, because that’s sacred ground in my opinion, but this album comes in a close second.
-DB

Uncle Lucius – Live From The Saxon Pub. Uncle Lucius’ music is far from what I have been listening to in the last few years. I was first captivated by the power in their live shows, but soon dug deeper and paid more attention to the substance of their songs. There’s a positive overtone throughout all their albums, and in a world of broken hearts, I found them refreshing. These boys are the real deal, and I chose this live album because it captures some of the grooviness and power you’ll feel in a live show.
-CM

Randy Rogers Band-Burning the Day.  The RRB boys teamed up with uber-producer Paul Worley to craft another fine album.  They’ve been on a roll since Rollecoaster and no band has put out more consistently quality material over the last decade than this crew.  Worley challenged the guys in RRB to push their limits musically and vocally to create the most sonically large record in the Randy Rogers Band catalog.
-BB

Jason Boland and the Stragglers-High in the Rockies. This CD is the perfect combination of a great-sounding live album and greatest hits package as it covers new and old Boland tunes that are all great. From live staples, “Gallo Del Cielo,” and “Tulsa Time” to new hits such as “Comal County Blue,” it’s a great all around record that has Boland sounding better than ever.
-DB

Galleywinter Spring Acoustic Show Bootleg. Can I cheat and pick a bootleg? Okay, I will. Randy Rogers, Sean McConnell, Adam Hood, and Jason Eady. Four amazing artists with their own unique styles, all wrapped into one neat package. I particularly picked this “album” because I love acoustic music, and there’s something more powerful to a song that has been stripped of all the glitter and noise. Sean’s cover of “Dirty Diana”, Randy’s songs from the then unreleased new album, all the banter, the Haggard-off and all the memories…this is one that I keep coming.
-CM

Bleu Edmondson-The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be.  Edmondson returns with his follow up to the critically acclaimed Lost Boy by picking up where that record left off.  His Springsteen meets Ryan Adams style of music continues to be engaging as it matures.  -BB

Sean McConnell – Saints, Thieves, and Liars. If there was ever an artist who had the ability to get to the soul of the matter, Sean is the one. This is the most emotionally charged and honest music I have heard in a long time. Few artists have the ability to make me feel something from a song that I cannot relate to, but this album is full of songs. I love the organic style in which it was recorded, the variety of emotions, and the richness of his voice. Sean has raised the bar.
-CM

Drive-By Truckers –The Big To Do. I’ve been a Drive-By Truckers fan for many years now, but haven’t been that crazy about their last couple of albums (read: since Isbell left the band). But, in my opinion this is their best album since The Dirty South. It doesn’t quite have as many un-skipable tracks as those did, but it is pretty damn good in its own right. Just good, greasy, rock music.
-DB

Brison Bursey-Expectations and Parking Lots. Bursey’s sophomore effort is an intense emotional affair that essentially provides the soundtrack to a painful breakup.   With a distinctive voice and style, Bursey invites listeners on a journey to a personal hell that’s never sounded more like heaven.
-BB

FAVORITE SONGS

Lucero – “Hey Darlin’, Do You Gamble?”. A great song written by Lucero front man, Ben Nichols. The genius of this song is in the story behind it. Ben was watching the seminal Townes Van Zandt documentary, “Be Here to Love Me.” In it Townes describes the first time he saw the woman who would later become his third wife. He walked up to her and the first words he said was: “Hey Darlin’, do you gamble?” Ben took this line and story and turned it into an awesomely haunting song, that I believe Townes himself would’ve been proud of.
-DB

Randy Rogers Band-”Steal You Away”.  Randy’s voice has never sounded better than it does on this ode to potential love from the point of view of a shy barroom admirer.
-BB

Eleven Bones – “Losers”. An awesome song about moving on from a lost love that really exemplifies that “full” sound I was talking about.
-DB

Turnpike Troubadours-”Every Girl”.  Evan Felker manages to make a very specific girl to him sound like every girl any of us have ever loved.
-BB

Sean McConnell-”Lie Baby Lie”.  McConnell is best known for his sensitive songwriting, but I found him to be at his best when he’s accusing his lover with bluesy undertones as he did on this track.
-BB

Uncle Lucius – “Something They Ain’t”. A perfect blend of country/soul/groove rock that these guys are quickly becoming known for. Describes the difference in what people (and sometimes yourself) think you are and what you really turn out to be.
-DB

Brian Keane-”I’ll Sing About Mine”.  The best song ever written that takes the current Nashville formula to task.  Co-written with Adam Hood, it’s equal parts truth and humor.
-BB

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – “Streetlights“. On the surface, this starts out as a simple song describing Jason’s post-show/late night
routine. But once you listen closer, it’s actually a reminiscing of lost loves and friends/family he’s lost contact with over the years.
-DB

Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights-”Gypsy Woman”.  Tyler’s been playing this one live for a while now, but it was officially released this year.  It mixes hip-hop style swagger on the verses with Texas grit and groove everywhere else.
-BB

Paul Thorn – “I Hope I’m Doing this Right”. A great tune whose title pretty much speaks for itself, but delves into as Jack Ingram calls it “the abyss of self-doubt.”
-DB

FAVORITE DISCOVERIES

6 Market Blvd.  Young cats coming out of Stephenville with an array of influences and serious musical chops.  They have grown enormously since the first time I heard them several years ago and seemed poised for more break out success.  They released a fantastic album this year and have one of the most energetic live shows to be found on the circuit.
-BB

Jonathan Terrell. I first saw Jonathan perform with his band Not In The Face at a SXSW party this year. I can’t remember the last time I was floored by a live act that I had never heard before. Because they weren’t listed on the roster, I went on a 3 day search to find out who this man was that held my undivided attention for his entire set. Jonathan is raw, he’s real, and he can command attention in a way that most can’t. He has such an enormous presence on stage, and his words have the ability to paint a vivid story in your head. Be on the lookout for his Greatest Hits Vol. I album due out early 2011.
-CM

Paul Thorn. I owe all the credit on this discovery to the fine folks at Music Fog. I’d heard Paul’s name a time or two before that, but never actually listened to any of his music. One day I was craving some new music and just happened to run across one of his acoustic performances they’d filmed of “You Might Be Wrong,” off his latest release. Before the song ended, I was downloading the album “Pimps and Preachers” from Amazon. Paul has a great story, including a stint as a professional boxer, an honest voice, and awesome songwriting chops. He can take nearly any subject matter and make it his own. I’ve only had the chance to see Paul live one time (and it got cut short by a thunderstorm), but the little I did see makes me positive his live shows are just as engaging and honest as his recorded music.
-DB

The Orbans.  A rock band from Dallas that picked up where Ryan Adams left off when he decided to make bad metal music or no music at all.  Their alt-countryish/pop-rock mash up sound was a refreshing change in a crowded sea of sound alikes.
-BB

FAVORITE LIVE ACTS

Uncle Lucius-a soulful collection of country/rock groovers whose live show resembles what I imagine it would be like had Sly and the Family Stone come out of Austin and made Americana music.
-BB

Band of Heathens – Much like one of my other favorite bands (The Drive-by Truckers), this group is made up of three super-talented songwriters/musicians in their own right. When they get together, it only gets better. They also blend many different styles and always put on an outstanding show. More than once, I’ve been at a BOH show not paying as much attention as I should have, and I’ll hear something that’ll just stop me in my tracks. Always superb musicianship.
-DB

Cross Canadian Ragweed-This band is where it all began for me. I owe them for not only turning me towards this scene, but for showing me what live shows are meant to be. I really enjoyed seeing them evolve into the legacy that they became, and they were my no fail go-to show for years. I’ve seen them live more than anyone else, and not once was I ever disappointed. A million thanks to Ragweed for all their hard work, the music, and all the memories I get to take with me.
-CM

Uncle Lucius. The closest thing Texas Music has to a Widespread Panic-ish jam band. These guys blur the line between country, soul, rock, and even gospel. An incredible live performance every time, regardless of whether they’re playing to 5 people or 500. They have been honing their chops and touring all around the country and it really shows. I look for them to make a huge breakout in 2011.
-DB

Tejas Brothers-no band I watched perform in 2010 had better stage presence no matter the setting. I caught them in front of thousands at LJTs and a couple hundred at Cheatham Street. There was no drop in intensity or fun in either venue.  This Dave Perez-led outfit has more fun onstage than should be allowed and their good-time vibes carried over to the audience.
-BB

Uncle Lucius- I could write for days and still never be able to truly do their show justice with my words. This is one band that I can count on to blow me away each and every time. They are powerful, warm, loud, groovy, and have the ability to have the whole venue dancing before the night is over. They are my favorite band to see live, and I’m not sure a live show gets any better than what these guys are giving. -CM

Randy Rogers Band-at this point they are just an extremely well-oiled machine.  After a decade of miles, these boys still know how to bring it on a nightly basis.  The addition of Brian Keane on keys/vocals has helped round out the band’s sound and pushed each member to raise their game.
-BB

Lucero. One of my favorite bands by far; these guys don’t put on a show, they put on a party. A perfect mixture of rock/punk/country. I’ve seen them play all over the state and they’ve never disappointed. Best memory was having the chance to see them play 3 (albeit short sets) within 24 hours at SXSW 2010. They’ve lately been on a kick of getting back to their Memphis/Soul roots and including a horn section when they play live, which makes the show even better. The only show I’ve seen that has literally had people swinging from the rafters/stage diving by the third song.
-DB

Sean McConnell- Whether it’s the sound of that breathtaking voice filling the room over an acoustic guitar, or a full band rock show, Sean has the power to take you on a journey. His aren’t your average go get drunk and party type of live shows. He will make you think, he will make you feel, and you will leave there with every single human emotion touched. I recently saw him at The Parish in Austin. At the end of the night, he asked the entire room to be quiet, and he stepped away from the mic and sang a song completely unplugged. You could hear a pin drop in that room. It was the most beautiful way I’ve ever seen an artist command an audience. His shows are not just live music, they are an experience.
-CM

MUSICIANS OF THE YEAR

Brian Keane-Whether laying down keys and backing vocals in the Randy Rogers Band or performing his own music, Keane had a standout year that found him making his mark all over Texas and beyond.  As a founding member of the Band of Heathens, Keane’s musical legacy was already in tact, but he further cemented it by sitting in at acoustic shows and in large rooms with the RRB on multiple instruments.  The fact that he and Adam Hood may have written the best statement song on modern country music (“I’ll Sing About Mine”) is just icing on the cake.
-BB

Scott Davis. 2010 has seen Scott go from splitting his time playing with Jason Eady and Hayes Carll to playing full-time with Hayes. Regardless of whether he’s playing lead guitar, banjo, mandolin, or lap steel it is always hauntingly good and definitely elevates not only the track but the other musicians he’s playing with.
-DB

VENUES OF THE YEAR

The Phoenix Saloon-New Braunfels, TX.  In a very competitive live music market, the Phoenix has carved out a very cool niche for itself.  Focusing on songwriters has helped make this a premiere listening room.  The excellent band bookings are accompanied by the old history that is soaked into the hardwood. 
-BB

Saxon Pub-Austin, TX. This place simply oozes live music. They are open 7-days a week/365 days a year and have multiple bands playing every day/night. It is small and intimate, but also has a great feel and an incredible sound. You can see everyone from up and comers to true Texas Legends take the stage on any given night and it is always a good time. It is very refreshing to see a place where the music (no matter the kind) takes center stage on a continual basis.
-DB

ARTISTS OF THE YEAR

Ryan Bingham-Bingham continues his evolution from rough and green singer/songwriter to rough and accomplished singer/songwriter.  He won an Oscar and put out one of the top 10 albums of the year.  His success shone a spotlight on what has been going on down in Texas and showcased how we like our artists to pay their dues down here.  He played to growing audiences in the best rooms nationwide.  His continued triumphs show us the possibilities of our kind of music. Hard to have a better year than that. 
-BB

Randy Rogers Band – These guys are true road dogs, consistently logging over 200 dates a year for the past 5-6 years, yet somehow
their show never gets old. I see them play live multiple times every year, and no matter what I always walk away impressed. From Randy being the ultimate front-man/requisite entertainer, to Brady Black’s incredible fiddle skills and style, to the unfortunately sometimes overlooked consistency of Geoff Hill, John Richardson, and Les Lawless, these guys always put on a quality performance and you never get the impression they are “going through the motions.” They seem to truly love what they do and it shows.
-DB

Drew Kennedy-Kennedy is a smart songwriter, performer and business man.  By recording an acoustic album and giving it away for free, he helped to alter the blueprint of what musicians should do in 2010 and beyond.  The fact that he continues to put on the best acoustic one act shows around and produces killer thought-provoking material is just a bonus.  Throw in the fact that he’s now producing other artists (Rodney Hayden’s Tavern of Poets) and Drew Kennedy isn’t just an artist of the year…he’s a Texas Music Renaissance Man. -BB

3 Responses to “Favorites of 2010”

  1. Great work, not a single one i can even attempt to contest.

    DK for Artist of the year, thank goodness for Galleywinter or I would have never known.


    Reply to this comment
  2. fwtexasmusic December 16, 2010

    Good call on the Tejas Brothers. great album from start to finish.

    Bingham, Miranda, and Ragweed retiring made 2010 a banner year for TX-RD music.

    One for the record books I am thinking…


    Reply to this comment
  3. TxRockFan December 16, 2010

    Check out Southern Rock night produced by Austin band Dertybird. Those guys play lineups with Uncle Lucius, Jonathan Tyler and have a Black Crowes flavor. Saw them at Stubbs and Antone’s. Great live band and infectious tunes.


    Reply to this comment