No Depression magazine started out covering “Alt.Country…whatever that is”. As such, they still cover, well, Alt.not-country but we’re not quite sure whatever that is”. No Depression isn’t an “Americana” magazine, but it isn’t NOT an “Americana” outlet either. Mostly, though, No Depression (like the namesake album by Uncle Tupelo) covers the sorta music I like to listen to, and that commercial radio doesn’t play. Mostly.
The editors solicited a small poll of their regular reviewers and critics for the “good stuff”, the albums they couldn’t shut up about, in 2019:
- Our Native Daughters—Songs of Our Native Daughters. Rhiannon Giddens et al. thoughtful and thought-provoking release on Smithsonian Folkways. (Rhiannon is a No Depression Artist of the Decade, a well-deserved accolade and honor. She is a MacArthur Fellow, and released her own Grammy-nominated album this year in addition to her work with Carolina Chocolate Drops.)
- The Highwomen—The Highwomen. Brandi Carlile et al. (Brandi is a No Depression Artist of the Decade.) My sister really likes this one, and she has pretty good taste in music.
- Yola—Walk Through Fire. Grammy contender.
- Molly Tuttle—When You’re Ready. She’s good.
- Sturgill Simpson—Sound & Fury. NOT Country music, nor even Americana. Didn’t listen to it, but folks who liked it, well, they liked it.
- Hiss Golden Messenger—Terms of Surrender. meh.
- Fruit Bats—Gold Past Life. Who?
- Angel Olsen—All Mirrors. Um, who again?
- Tyler Childers—Country Squire. Grammy contender AND good music. I’m late to the Childers party, trying to make up for lost time.
- Son Volt—Union. Jay Farrar’s latest for the 99 percent in the grand tradition of Uncle Tupelo and No Depression. A bit political for my taste, even if I’m more sympathetic to the message than I might have been once upon a time.
- Aldous Harding—Designer
- Daniel Norgren—Wooh Dang
- Delbert McClinton—Tall, Dark & Handsome. Bluesy Grammy contender.
- Tanya Tucker—While I’m Livin’. Another Grammy contender AND good music. Go figure.
- Neil Young—Colorado. Points for name-dropping the Centennial State.
- Mavis Staples—We Get By. Everything she does is good.
- Michaela Anne—Desert Dove. I’ve get wierded out by last names that are first names. Don’t @ me.
- Buddy & Julie Miller—Breakdown on 20th Ave. South. My sister likes this too. I should have given it more attention.
- Julia Jacklin—Crushing.
- Kelsey Waldon—White Lines/White Noise. I meant to listen to her, just never got to it because I was too busy streaming Steve Earle’s tribute album to Guy Clark.
So Tyler Childers gets a Grammy nomination, a Top 10 in the prestigious No Depression Critics survey AND Tops the ND Readers’ 50 Favorite Roots Albums of 2019? Here’s the copy-paste of the start of the Readers’ list:
1. Tyler Childers – Country Squire
2. The Highwomen – The Highwomen
3. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
4. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
5. Hayes Carll – What It Is
6. Whiskey Myers – Whiskey Myers
7. Willie Nelson – Ride Me Back Home
8. Billy Strings – HOME
9. Buddy and Julie Miller – Breakdown on 20th Ave. South
10. Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real – Turn off the News (Build a Garden)
11. Ian Noe – Between the Country
12. Steve Earle and the Dukes – Guy
13. Our Native Daughters – Songs of Our Native Daughters (tie)
13. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land (tie)
15. Son Volt – Union (tie)
15. Yola – Walk Through Fire (tie)
17. Mandolin Orange – Tides of a Teardrop
18. Rodney Crowell – Texas
19. Wilco – Ode to Joy (tie)
19. Josh Ritter – Fever Breaks (tie)
The Springsteen is good. My friend Sacha loves the Hayes Carll, and he’s rolling into my Top 10 for 2019. My friend Jay in Minnesota gave his Top pick to Whiskey Meyers—he was my best boss, and not just because of his great taste in Country-Rock music. Willie is always good, and Lukas’ album was pretty good, too. It’s nice to see Billy Strings get recognized. And as noted previously, Steve Earle was the victim of Airway Robbery on this poll also—no way GUY only polls Top 12. His tribute album to Guy Clark is A-Number One for my 2019.