Your Take: Best of 2012

Ken Morton, Jr. | December 8th, 2012

If you take the Engine 145 train to the North Pole at the end of the year, the elves are not making toys, but “Best Of” music lists. After perusing hundreds of albums and songs across several roots-oriented genres, the writers here have the task of narrowing it down to those special few that moved us the most.

So as we’re whittling down our own lists, we want to hear from you. What was your favorite music of the past year? In the coming weeks, we’ll  release lists in four categories:

  • Best Bluegrass Album
  • Best EP
  • Best Album
  • Best Songs

Let’s hear from you: if you were in charge of making sure your favorite albums and tracks were on each of these lists, what would they be? 

  1. Ben Foster
    December 8, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Kathy Mattea, The Time Jumpers, Jamey Johnson, Gretchen Peters, Rodney Crowell and Mary Karr’s KIN, Don Williams, Teea Goans, Kellie Pickler, Ricky Skaggs, and Wanda Jackson would all be high on my list.

    I like how you have this year’s lists split up into these different categories. Looking forward to seeing the lists.

  2. Richard
    December 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Some albums I’d include:
    Turnpike Troubadours – Goodbye Normal Street
    The Trishas – High, Wide & Handsome
    Ryan Bingham – Tomorrowland
    Steep Canyon Rangers – Nobody Knows You
    The Honey Dewdrops – Silver Lining
    Chris Knight – Little Victories
    John Mayer – Born and Raised
    The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
    Punch Brothers – Who’s Feeling Young Now?
    Trampled By Turtles – Stars and Satellites

    “Good Lord Lorrie” – Turnpike
    “Strangers” – Trishas
    “Ain’t It Enough” – OCMS
    “The Great Exhale” – Great Lake Swimmers
    “Tulsa Texas” – Easton Corbin
    “Bring It On Home” – Kix Brooks
    “Familiar Strangers – Kasey Chambers, S. Nicholson
    “Patch of Bad Weather” – Wade Bowen

    I could honestly keep going. It was a great year for music, in my opinion. Looking forward to seeing the writers’ and everyone else’s favorites

  3. Leeann Ward
    December 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    My favorite discovery of 2012 in general is Brandi Carlile. I know she’s been around for a few years, but it’s just this year that I gave her music a real chance. So, Bear Creek is probably toward the very top of my 2012 list, though I haven’t made any final rankings yet.

  4. bob
    December 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Emily West – “I Hate You, I Love You”
    Kristen Kelly – “Kristen Kelly”
    Striking Matches (Sarah Zimmermann & Justin Davis) – “Striking Matches”. A song they wrote with Georgia Middleman, “When the Right One Comes Along”, was featured on the last episode of the Nashville tv show. The SM version is far better imho.

    Don Williams with Alison Krauss – “I Just Come Here for the Music”
    Wade Hayes – “Is It already Time”
    Ashley Monroe – “Like a Rose”
    The Band Perry – “Better Dig Two”

  5. scooter
    December 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Jason Eady – AM Country Heaven
    Jamey Johnson – Living For a Song
    Dwight Yoakam – 3 Pears
    Kathy Mattea – Calling Me Home
    Kellie Pickler – 100 Proof

    My best new discovery of the year is Ashley Monroe

  6. Cody
    December 9, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Bobby Bare’s “Darker Than Light” has been overlooked this fall on alot of best-of lists, which is a shame – no sentimentality over his reputation and history is needed because the album is amazing all on its own!

  7. MAURO
    December 9, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Special Consensus –Scratch Gravel Road
    Mark Houser & Bluegrass Drive – Life Uneven Road
    Marty Stuart – Nashville vol. 1
    Jamey Johnson – Living For A Song
    Mark Collie – Alive At Brushy Mountain Penitentiary
    Eric Strickland & the B Sides – Honky Tonk ‘Till I Die
    Kellie Pickler – 100 Proof

    A Pretty Nice Night For Houston – Ronnie Fauss
    Too Much Ain’t Enough – Clinton Gregory
    Pourin’ Whiskey On Pain – Tim Culpepper
    Atascosa Sand – Rodney Hayden
    Gear Jammin’ Daddy – J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices
    Longer Walk In The Rain – Jason Eady
    Merry Go ‘Round – Kacey Mushgraves

  8. Dave D.
    December 9, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Albums I ended up listening to the most:

    JP Harris and the Tough Choices – I’ll Keep Callling
    Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson – Wreck and Ruin
    Marty Stuart – Nashville Vol. 1
    Shovels and Rope – O Be Joyful

    Kathy Mattea’s Calling Me Home is disqualified; I must have listened to it 20 times through trying to like it – but can’t.

  9. Jack Williams
    December 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Here are some albums I really enjoyed:

    Ray Wylie Hubbard – Grifter’s Hymnal
    Corb Lund – Cabin Fever
    Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now
    Chuck Prophet – Temple Beautiful
    Turnpike Troubadors – Goodbye Normal Street
    Chris Knight – Little Victories
    Alejandro Escovedo – Big Station
    Dwight Yoakam – Three Pears
    Marty Stuart – Nashville, Volume 1: Tear the Woodpile Down
    Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires – There is a Bomb in Gilead
    Lindi Ortega – Cigarettes and Truckstops
    James Hand – Mighty Lonesome Man
    Bettye Lavette – Thankful ‘n’ Thoughtful
    Shovels and Rope – O Be Joyful
    Carolina Chocolate Drops – Leaving Eden

  10. Rick
    December 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I guess I’ll list the only albums I heard this year that actually motivated a purchase as opposed to the download singles I usually buy:

    My absolute favorite purchase in a long while:
    Lilly of the West – “Swings and Heartaches”
    Highly recommended for fans of The Hot Club of Cowtown and Django Reinhardt for that matter..

    On the hnoky-tonkin’ front:
    JP Harris and the Tough Choices – “I’ll Keep Callling”
    Tim Culpepper – “Pourin’ Whiskey On Pain”
    Kellie Pickler – “100 Proof” (More like 200 Proof since Kellie didn’t water it down for commercial reasons)

    And on the western swing front:
    The Time Jumpers – Self Titled Album (Who win by default)

    I still buy CDs on occasion but they tend to be Bear Family compilations from artists who hit their peak in the 1950’s. What can I say, I find far more great music buried in the past than the new stuff that’s being made today.

  11. Matthew
    December 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Best Album of the Years:

    Till The Wheels Fall Off – Bob Wayne
    Little Victories – Chris Knight
    AM Country Heaven – Jason Eady
    Cigarettes & Truckstops – Lindi Ortega
    Nashville Vol.1 Tear the Woodpile Down – Marty Stuart
    Ryan Bingham – Tomorrowland
    Stars and Satellites – Trampled By Turtles
    Goodbye Normal Street – Turnpike Troubadours
    Kin: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell – Various
    Heros – Willie Nelson

    Songs of the Year:

    AM Country Heaven – Jason Eady
    Gin, Smoke, Lies – Turnpike Troubadours
    If The Law Don’t Want You – Norah Jones
    Roll Me Up – Willie Nelson with Snoop Dogg, Jamey Johnson & Kris Kristofferson
    Sundown In Nashville – Marty Stuart
    Pickin Wild Mountain Berries – Chuck Mead with Elizabeth Cook
    White Light / White Heat – The Bootleggers with Mark Langegan
    If I Had My Way, I’d Tear This Building Down – Elizabeth Cook
    Momma’s On A Roll – Lee Ann Womack
    Wrong Road To Nashville – Waylon Jennings

    Most Disappointing Albums of 2012 (albums I had HUGE expectations for):
    The Carpenter – The Avett Brothers
    3 Pears – Dwight Yoakam
    Living For A Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran – Jamey Johnson
    Calling Me Home – Kathy Mattea
    Babel – Mumford & Sons

  12. TX Music Jim
    December 10, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Grifters Hymnal Ray Wylie Hubbard
    Goodbye Normal Street Turnpike Troubadors
    Chris Knight Litle victories
    Houston Marchman Econoliner
    Larry Joe Taylor Sailing on Sunday
    Good Lord Laurie Turnpike Troubadors
    Gatesville Girls Houston Marchman
    Little Victories Chris Knight W/ John Prine
    Gates of Hell Ray Wylie Hubbard
    Old men and the sea Larry Joe Taylor co write credit Keith Sykes.

  13. Arlene
    December 12, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Favorite Albums:

    1. Iris DeMent- Sing the Delta
    2. John Fullbright- From The Ground Up
    3. Shovels and Rope- O’ Be Joyful
    4. Alabama Shakes- Boy and Girls
    5. Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale- Buddy and Jim
    6. Justin Townes Earle- Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
    7. Rayna Gellert- Old Light
    8. Cahalen Morrison & Eli West- Old Lady of The Tall Trees
    9. Carolina Chocolate Drops- Leavin’ Eden
    10. Bonnie Raitt- Slipstream
    11. Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson- Wreck and Ruin
    12. Tift Merritt- Travelling Alone
    13. Old Crow Medicine Show- Carry Me Back
    14. Sara Watkins- Sun Midnight Sun
    15. The Trishas- High Wide and Handsome

    Favorite EP: Zoe Muth- Old Gold

    Favorite Songs:
    Bonnie Raitt- “Not Cause I Wawnted To”
    Shovels and Rope- “Birmingham”

  14. Jon
    December 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Ah, I believe that Cahalen and Eli’s album is Our, not Old, Lady of The Tall Trees ;-).

  15. Keith Mallette
    December 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

    1. James Hand – Mighty Lonesome Man
    2. Willy Tea Taylor – Four Strings
    3. Tom VandenAvond – Wreck of a Fine Man
    4. The Boomswagglers – Bootlegs
    5. Various Artists – Alive at the Deep Blues
    6. Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit – No Excuses

  16. Keith Mallette
    December 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Ack, “Old Excuses”, not No Excuses

  17. Arlene
    December 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

    @Jon: Oops. Probably a Freudian slip….

  18. Rick
    December 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Bob, thanks for the tip on the Striking Matches duo. Good stuff! Apparently they are the real life Nashville equivalents of Scarlett and Gunnar! (lol)

    Well if these lists prove anything it’s that the people who drop by this blog are really into the Americana, Texas Regional/Red Dirt, and alt. country styles of music. I’m hoping the next Pistol Annies album will be good enough to stand at the top of many 2013 year end best of lists..

Tagged In This Article

Current Discussion

  • Paige: Oh damn. :( I never commented here and I haven't been listening to any music at all since Thanksgiving (it …
  • Dave W.: Just read the news here. Will miss E145 very much - love this site. All the best to you Juli …
  • Leeann Ward: Oh, dang! This is real. Farewell to the most generous, informative, quality, intelligent, consistent, ethical country music blog! You …
  • bll: Thanks Juli for all the great articles and information; you'll be missed by me and I suss several others. Best …
  • Both Kinds of Music: I hope people appreciate the irony that one of the best "Americana" albums is titled Metamodern Sounds in COUNTRY Music.
  • Barry Mazor: I would not rule out that possibility..There's a different set of voters involved..
  • Dana M: Does anyone else think that Brandy Clark actually has a good chance of winning since this isn't a country awards …
  • Juli Thanki: UPDATE: Brandy Clark got a Best New Artist nom. BEST AMERICANA ALBUM: Rosanne Cash -- The River & The Thread John Hiatt -- Terms …
  • luckyoldsun: Glenn Campbell is great and I'd love to see him get an award, but the words of that song may …
  • Casey Penn: Juli, it was an honor to write for you here on You're good at what you do, and The …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • walkerandthetexasdangers3
  • deadmanstown
  • tom t hall storytellers
  • paulthorntooblessed
  • duhksbeyondtheblue
  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton