Well it’s about time I give you a short list of some of my favorite albums of 2017. This year continues to display the momentum the independent country underground has been gaining. This represents just five of my favorite albums thus far. I chose them for not only their content, but their marketability in some cases, which could impact the mainstream audience.
Vaquero - Aaron Watson
I talk about Aaron Watson a lot. Why? Because I have so much respect for not only his music, but what the honkey tonk kid/underdog stands for. It's about staying true to yourself – a motto that I try to live by. I am stubborn and some people find that irritating when they don't like my response to not wanting to listen to their pop and rap music. "Close Minded." Maybe, but why change just to seek approval? Aaron Watson has risen from the trenches to the box seats of country music. Good music knows no boundaries and I always knew that would be the case for Aaron. His latest Vaquero has led to mainstream Top 40 play – as I predicted last year. The seed is planted and I have had friends tell me they enjoy his music. He represents what mainstream country should sound like. The succulent mix of heart on songs like Texas Lullaby, They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To, and The Arrow to the toe tappers such as Outta Style, Rolling Stone, and One Two Step at a Time. Aaron Watson fans will not only treasure this album and rejoice at his continued large-scale success, but also new fans will continue to be exposed to him and other incredible Texas Country music makers.
Favorite Track: One Two Step at a Time
Crank it While I'm Driving: They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
BUY ON iTUNES
Any Night in Texas - Jon Wolfe
There are some Texas artists that are beginning to gain momentum that will almost definitely propel them into the mainstream spotlight. As country radio continues it's struggle to stay relevant, it leaves the door for many independent artists to make some noise. Jon Wolfe's latest album Any Night in Texas perfectly dances the lines of Texas and mainstream country – allowing his brand of music to appeal to many listeners. Songs like Baby This and Baby That would feel right at home on country radio and provide the initial hook for mainstream listeners seeking higher quality offerings. Despite the obvious polish on this piece, you will be treated to pedal steel and slide guitar on many tracks. As I stated in my article review, it's what mainstream country should sound like. There's no rapping, no overbearing bass beating, or skinny jeans here.
Favorite Track: Any Night in Texas
Crank it While I'm Driving: A Country Boy's Life Well Lived
BUY ON iTUNES
Don Vickers - Judgment Day
After the impressive response to my article of Don Vickers and Judgment Day, I hope that even just a few people have been exposed to his 90's country vibe. This high quality album, and the music of Vicker's in general, have flown below the radar - far to long. It's a testament to the many artists that fail to hear their music even Texas radio. This album has humor in songs like Drunk to Meet You without giving up it's undeniable country twang. It never feels cheap or lacking in authenticity. The powerful song I'm Not Drinkin' Alone will punch you in the gut when you hear the recollections of his friend who was killed in service. Brothers for life even after death – always keeping his memory alive. There is so much to love about this album and it's one of the best you've likely never heard.
Favorite Track: I'm Not Drinkin' Alone
Crank it While I'm Driving: When the Hags On
BUY ON iTUNES
Trophy - Sunny Sweeney
I have always like Sunny Sweeney's music but man seeing her live the beginning of July with Cody Jinks and Paul Cauthen was just awesome! She is an fantastic performer and if you have the opportunity to see her perform live, I highly suggest you do it. Her album released this past March, is a blend of her sassy style and poetic excellence she has become known for. From her electrifying tune Better Bad Idea to the critically acclaimed Bottle By My Bed, Sweeney is able to tap into all sides of our emotions. She will have you stompin' your boots and dancing to being on the verge of tears when she sings about her struggles to try and have a child. This album is not only for current fans of Sweeney, but also for those hungry to find artists that make real country music without all the extra fluff. Honestly, this is one of the best female talents in country music period.
Favorite Track: Bottle By My Bed
Crank it While I'm Driving: Why People Change
BUY ON iTUNES
Corners - Dalton Domino
Dalton Domino just might be one of the next big things to come out of the Texas Country Scene. His album 1806 featuring songs like Find Us Alone and Jesus and Handbags got many fans initially hooked on his lively sound and only continued to gain more support once Corners came out earlier this year. Easily one of the best albums I've heard all year, Dalton takes a reflective look at his prior choices in life. He's on record saying how he used to get messed up and was starting to spiral out of control. Some familiar names like Wade Bowen and Cody Canada recognized his talent and pointed him on the right path. The powerful title track, Corners features Jack Ingram and the journey of coming clean and acknowledging his more troubled past. The efforts to becoming a better person and knowing that your past doesn't have to define you. I was fortunate to get an early listen of this listen and was blown away at how Domino channeled his growth and attitude into his music. Absolutely brilliant album and an admirable human being.
Favorite Track: Corners
Crank it While I'm Driving: July
BUY ON iTUNES
So tell me, who would you include? Let me know on social media!!
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!