We are not calling our shot just yet, but there has been a heck of a lot of good music released already in 2014, and the year is only half over. The Wilko Johnson/Roger Daltry collabo is a winner, Lydia Loveless released Somewhere Else, and Falcon’s Nest Favorite Jon Langford jumped in with yet another great album Here Be Monsters. These amazing records as well as others are ear worming their way into our heads, all vying for the coveted prize of Falcon’s Nest album of the year. Here are five solid candidates that just might make their way to the top.
The Delines – Colfax
The Delines are an Americana Super Group of sorts featuring lead singer Amy Boone and Willy Vlautin, the driving force behind Richmond Fontaine. The record is loosely based on Denver’s Colfax Avenue, a street that runs from The Great Plains to the beginning of The Rocky Mountains. Neal Cassidy travelled the road, and Jack Kerouac wrote about it in On the Road. Boone, as a singer evokes Patsy Cline as well as Lucinda Williams at her most vulnerable.
The stories that are told here are sometimes disturbing, always provocative, and the title track has a definite Gram Parsons and Emmylou vibe, and “The Oil Rigs at Night” is classic Willy Vlautin, storytelling at it’s finest from one of the great under the radar storytellers and novelists. The only downside to this project is that it might be a one-off, and that would be a crying shame.
Jamestown Revival – Utah
Another strong debut album that will be in the running for record of the year. Jamestown Revival is Jonathan Clay and Zack Chance, childhood friends that dispatched themselves to a log cabin in the Wasatch Mountains to record Utah, an 11 song tour-de-force that will bring to mind The Lumineers, Band of Horses, and Dawes of present day vintage, and Loggins and Messina of yesteryear.
There is a definite 70’s Cosmic Cowboy dusting all over this record, and that is a very good thing. “Home” is a great closer that turns up the Rock in Country Rock a bit, and “California (Cast Iron Soul)” is as good as it gets.
Ray LaMontagne – Supernova
Any record that is inspired by 70’s Country rock and 60’s Psychedelic Pop gets our immediate attention, and this Dan Auerbach produced gem does just that. A little bit of a change of direction from prior Roots Rock efforts, this one is a wall to wall winner. The title track is pure psych bliss, and “Drive-In Movies” could have been on a Donovan Sunshine Superman record.
Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
If you slept on last years High Top Mountain and have not heard that excellent album by Sturgill Simpson fear not, he is back and better that ever in 2014. Digging way deep into the 70’s Country songbook new millennium style, this son of Waylon Jennings sounding singer will curl your toes with his unabashed love of Outlaw Country, and old school vibe. There is not a bad Honky Tonk song on this set, and despite the absence of a steel guitar on this record, this might set Country music back 35 years, which come to think of it would be a very good thing.
Rival Sons – Great Western Valkyrie
I will stand on Led Zeppelin’s coffee table (if it has not already been thrown out of a hotel window) and proclaim that Great Western Valkyrie is the best real Rock album since Appetite for Destruction. This record has everything. A dynamic lead singer that swaggers from Robert Plant wailing, to Stephen Tyler bombastic screeching, down to Jim Morrison meditative moaning at the drop of a microphone. The guitar riffs are fresh and all over the place cool, and the drumming is frantic and controlled where it needs to be.
If you like Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and all that is sacred and holy in Rock & Roll, you will LOVE this album.