The Ten Best Country Albums of 2012

Categories: Lists


7. Hank Williams, Jr.
Old School, New Rules
That angry Muppet monster Bocephus got all pissed off about Obama, and then about Fox News, too, and then he puked all his talk-radio craziness into his best, toughest, funniest set in over 20 years, one that out-honks, -tonks, and -stomps anything beloved by the alt-country rockers who think the family greatness skipped over Junior's generation. Politics aside, "I'm Gonna Get Drunk And Play Hank Williams" is every bit as good as its title, and "Old School" boasts a tune that measures up to the past Hank worries we're losing. And all the let's-throw-Obama-out lyrics now sound like an affecting bit of history, the bewildered protest of millions who feel something's slipped away from them, even if they can't quite say what it is. Hank here puts into song what millions were feeling, which isn't ridiculous of him at all -- it's his job. Plus, it beats the hell out of listening to Limbaugh.

Number of Tracks I Can't Stand: 2
Lyric That Proves It's Still Country (and that Hank's No Prognosticator): "They made a huge miscalculation/ about the mood of this nation."
Highlights: Samples of the voice of Hank Sr. and the acknowledgement that "Move it on Over" and "Mind Your Own Business" are the same damn song; a heartsick cover of "You Win Again"; the chorus "Never kick a cow turd on a hot day"; the fiddler and steel players actually get to cut loose; Brad Paisley and Merle Haggard are duet partners who actually improve their songs; that Williams pretends Bing is a vital part of the internet just so he can use it in a rhyme; the fact that this ol' coot is so hilariously wrong about everything except record making.


6 Marty Stuart
Nashville Vol. 1: Tear the Woodpile Down
Guess what? Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives have released yet another ace set of ace songs that they sing and play the shit out of. Only thing that could improve it: if all this virtuosity were applied toward some idea more vital than "We're awesome at old-time music!"

Number of Tracks I Can't Stand: 0
Lyric That Proves it's Still Country: "We're holding on/ with nothing left/ to hold on to."
Highlight: If you play this for folks unfamiliar with Stuart, you could credibly claim it was recorded in any of the last four decades.


5. Jamey Johnson
Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran
Beard-wreathed scowler Jamey Johnson's last album, the double-disc The Guitar Song, could have been the best two CDs in most other artist's only-the-best career-survey box set. So, it's understandable that he's coasting, a bit, offering up a Starbucks-ready, holiday-buying-season duet record of great Hank Conchran songs. Still, it's the best written record of the year, possibly the best played in the fiddles and pedal-steel department, and -- on Johnson's verses -- the best sung, manly man's division. If your bottom line is that country should be slow, trad waltzes, this is your record of the year. Bonus points: Ray Price, Merle Haggard, George Strait, and Bobby Bare all turn up! So do Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello, who are to classy-seeming tribute records what Dr. Joyce Brothers used to be to talk shows.

Number of Songs I Can't Stand: 0
Lyric That Proves It's Actually Country and Also Explains the Record's Appeal: "Looking past isn't best/ but for me it's a way to survive."
Highlights: Johnson's deep ol' voicebox; Ray Price's lonesome croon; the way you can sink into the many sad songs like ice melting into whiskey. Also, "The Eagle," the toughest track, is marvelous.



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22 comments
Mouckarena
Mouckarena

@rawhidevelvet @wadebowen I'd hardly put "Saturday Night" in the same category with any songs containing the words parking lot in the title.

IndySkyMusic
IndySkyMusic

@rawhidevelvet @wadebowen I thought this was just in our paper! Guess it's syndicated. It's obvious that he didn't even listen. So annoying.

maureen1165
maureen1165

@rawhidevelvet @WadeBowen obvious by his "singers singing abt real lives" that he never listened 2 When These Walls Were Blue. #realenuf4u

seankellyk101
seankellyk101

@rawhidevelvet Agreed. Read that and thought "Huh?" @WadeBowen

rawhidevelvet
rawhidevelvet

@seankellyk101 I don't think the writer even heard Wade's song...it's kind of the anti party song.

jordannosparks_
jordannosparks_

@JusticeChrist_ little big town @ #10, carrie @ #4 & kellie @ #2!, let me find her album like ASAP!.

jordannosparks_
jordannosparks_

@JusticeChrist_ little big town @ #10, carrie @ #4 & kellie @ #2!, let me find her album and listen to it ASAP!.

jordannosparks_
jordannosparks_

@JusticeChrist_ carrie @ #4 & kellie @ #2!, let me find her album and listen to it ASAP!.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning

Nice list, props for your take on Iris and Dwight. And that line about the gym and protein shakes? Bullseye.

johnvelghe
johnvelghe

@davidhudnall "this is my newest single. It's called 'My Trainer Left Me Broker Than a China Doll'"

k_ristina_
k_ristina_

@VoiceStreet people knock country way too often , I feel like most people don't even give it a chance before they judge

AlyMae
AlyMae

@IndySkyMusic @rawhidevelvet @wadebowen makes my blood boil. It only takes a listen to realize the true context, absolutely lazy writing.

rawhidevelvet
rawhidevelvet

@seankellyk101 @WadeBowen well a shout out is still a shout out I guess.

WadeBowen
WadeBowen

@rawhidevelvet @seankellyk101 I guess

IndySkyMusic
IndySkyMusic

@AlyMae @citypages @blackberrysmoke of course! Those were just 3.

AlyMae
AlyMae

@IndySkyMusic @citypages what about @blackberrysmoke's Whippoorwill? Gould be added to the list

IndySkyMusic
IndySkyMusic

@AlyMae I replied to the @citypages post of this article on fb and told them they were missing @johnrfullbright @TpTroubadours & @jasoneady.

AlyMae
AlyMae

@IndySkyMusic my guess looking for an additional beer drinking example and found it on a list of 2012 released singles

WadeBowen
WadeBowen

@rawhidevelvet @seankellyk101 Hahahahahaha

rawhidevelvet
rawhidevelvet

@WadeBowen @seankellyk101 want me to be mean to him and call him a twatwaffle or something, cause I totally will. #keyboardterrorist

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