Best New Music, 2013 Edition

As has become my custom, it is time for me to list my favorite album releases of the year.  This is the 5th annual listing, and it has been a great year for roots/alt-country music.  This years listing is unique in numerous ways as we have the first heavy metal album on the list, the first EP on the list, and the first re-issue on the list. Read on to see who made the cut.

Per usual, the artist links to their website while the album links to a review by a third party. Without further ado, here is my list of the top 12 albums of 2013.

12. Red Dirt Rangers, Lone Chimney. Red Dirt Country is a sub-genre out of Oklahoma and nobody represents that sound better than the Red Dirt Rangers. This is their first release since 2007 and it was well worth the wait. (Surprisingly there is not a good review easily found of this album…perhaps my next post.)

11. Hank III, Brothers of the 4×4. If you like your alternative country with bark on it, Hank III will not disapoint. This album would have charted higher on this list if the production wasn’t sub-par. Hank III does some of the best music out there, unfortunately being independent has a drawback, lack of an editor. For these reasons Hank III’s album charts lower than expected…still some great music worth listening too.

10. The Dinosaur Truckers, The Dinosaur Truckers. Debut album from this American roots band from Germany hits all of the right notes. Looking forward to more from these guys.

9. Steve Earle, The Low Highway. While being another great release from Steve Earle, there was nothing on this album that jumped out at me and had me playing it over and over, as such it still comes in at number nine.

8. Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants, All Hat & No Cattle. This band was new to me this year, but I think this is their 3rd album. It is classic honky tonk with a modern sensibility, the album is mostly covers.

7. Drag the River, Drag the River. Even though they have at least seven albums out, they went with the eponymous name for their lowest release.  It is country rock with a little punk edge to it.

6. Donna the Buffalo, Tonight Tomorrow and Yesterday. String music, zydeco, cajun and other genres come together to make this band the best jam band out there. There is no disappointment with this bands latest release. My only regret is that I have not been able to see them live yet.

5. Old 97s/Merle Haggard, Iron Road. A great collaboration that has finally seen the light of day. Only an EP but the albums title track and The Other Shoe carry it to number 5 on this list. Look for a new album from the Old 97s this next year.

4. Black Sabbath, 13. All I can say is wow. I grew up on this band and this album is at least as good as anything they have done since 1974. Produced by Rick Rubin and proof that the man is a genius.

3. The Hackensaw Boys, For the Love of a Friend. This band continues their trend of producing some of the best string music out there. I am glad I got this album digitally becasue I would surely have worn out vinyl by now.

2. Robbie Fulks, Gone Away Backward. Some of the best music that Robbie Fulks has put out, a sparse roots sound, mostly acoustic. I can not get enough of this album.

1. The Bottle Rockets, The Bottle Rockets/The Brooklyn Side (reissue). It is hard to believe The Bottle Rockets are 20 years old. This is a two disc set with 46 songs on it, not bad for $12.95. Most of the bonus material is acoustic demos some featuring the band’s predecessor Chicken Truck and others with backing by Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar. You can not go wrong with this album…go buy it now. And if you get the chance, see them live.

See my previous lists: 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Remember, many reviews have downloadable tracks and the artist sites often offer streaming.

Edit: Oops…I left out Son Volt’s new album. Maybe there was a tie for number 3 or 4?

Son Volt, Honky Tonk.


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