Friday, 4 January 2019

My Top Ten 2018 Discoveries

My final countdown of songs I listened to in 2018... regular features will return next week. Here's a bunch of tracks and artists I only discovered last year, even though the recordings were (mostly) made much earlier.

10. Deer Tick - Miss K.

One that Charity Chic turned me onto. They remind me of the Drive-By Truckers at times, although apparently they prefer to be labelled rock rather than country-rock. Further investigation required...

9. Creep Show - Modern Parenting

A John Grant side-project which was actually released this year so I should have included it elsewhere, but who's going to hold me account? Only very recently discovered this, but it's John Grant, so I'm digging it a lot.

8. Freebo - She Loves My Dog More Than Me

A former member of Bonnie Raitt's band and a popular session musician, Freebo has released 5 solo albums over the last 20 years. This is from his most recent, 2015's If Not Now, When. Best way to describe this? Fun.

7. Jesse Colin Young - Ridgetop

I'll admit this here and probably never mention it again, 2018 was the year I finally gave in to streaming. It won't stop me buying records (when I can afford them), but it seemed to be cutting my nose off to spite my face to deprive myself of all that music when 80% of the rest of the world were doing it. It also allowed me to check out some records by artists who have been on my list for donkey's years, but I've never had enough money to get to them. Jesse Colin Young was the lead singer of 60s band The Youngbloods, but his solo 70s output produced some real gems, including this delightfully misanthropic ode to getting out of the city, with shades of Steely Dan.

6. DMA - Believe

Contemporary Australian indie band who are making a name for themselves as Britpop-revivalists. Not 100% sure about their own material, which at times sounds like a more melodic, much-less annoying Oasis, but their live cover of Cher's Believe reinvents that track - minus the dodgy vocoder - to wonderful effect.

5. John Stewart - California Bloodlines

Former member of 60s folkies The Kingston Trio... and the man who wrote Daydream Believer, which surely grants him immortality... Stewart went on to enjoy a successful career as a singer songwriter (with a voice not a million miles from Johnny Cash at times) in the 70s. This is the title track from his 1969 solo album debut, which I listened to a lot this year. Much more to investigate though...

4. The Strumbellas - Young & Wild

Canadian folk-country, slightly reminiscent of Mumford & Sons before they forgot how to write tunes. Their 2016 album Hope comes highly recommended if you like this track.

3. William Bell - Mississippi Arkansas Bridge

I didn't discover William Bell this year. I've had a collection of his 60s Stax soul songs for ages and it includes some classic tunes, including the timeless I Forgot To Be Your Lover, A Tribute To A King (about Otis Redding) and his duet with Judy Clay, Private Number.

What I didn't know was that Bell was still making music, and that in 2016 he'd returned to Stax to record a new album, This Is Where I Live. I'm glad I discovered it this year... because it's a belter.

2. Lucero - Went Looking For Warren Zevon's Los Angeles

Lucero describe themselves as "a country-punk rock band" from Memphis. They're also big Warren Zevon fans. What else do you need?

1. Jerry Reed - The Preacher & The Bear

Even though I was familiar with his theme tunes to the Smokey & The Bandit movies, I reckon I knew Jerry Reed better as an actor than a singer. I think it was Lynchie who recommended I dig a little deeper into his recording career, and I'm so glad I did. Beyond the fact that Reed wrote a couple of my favourite songs - Elvis's Guitar Man and Johnny Cash's A Thing Called Love - there's a rich seam of material to tap into in his back catalogue. Warm, witty country rock that presents Reed as a very likeable performer indeed. If you're not smiling by the end of The Preacher & The Bear, I recommend getting your zygomaticus major checked out.


  1. Didn't know that William Bell was still on the go - must check him out
    I suspect I may have that same collection

  2. For a second I thought was talk show host Jon Stewart! Nice discovery and have added "John" Stewart to my explore list.

    John Grant is keeping busy!


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