Funkhouser’s Top Ten Albums of 2018 with Playlist

Reviews

Brent Funkhouser joined our reviews team mid year, and has covered a range of music styles for Americana Highways.  Here is his top 10 favorite album list, with playlist, for the year!

 

Top 10 Albums for 2018

 

  1. Brandi Carlile, By The Way, I Forgive You

 

Nominated for six Grammys (third in nominations behind Kendrick Lamar and Drake), Brandi Carlile’s By The Way, I Forgive You is a smashing collection of songs from a veteran singer-songwriter. This album is as uplifting as it is heartbreaking. It is dark, beautiful, but shows a light at the end of the tunnel. Carlile’s vocal technique and capabilities has never been as prominently on display as they are in By The Way, I Forgive You. She took her unparalleled vocal power to its limit, and then went further. To me, finding this album solidified 2018 as a great year for music.

 

  1. Will Hoge, My American Dream

 

A no punches pulled look at American politics today, Will Hoge’s My American Dream jumped out to me like no other album this year. While Hoge uses the album to state his views and make his thoughts on politics perfectly clear, he also addresses his concern over the lack of empathy and concern for our fellow man. Hoge uses his platform to call for people to look at the people suffering the most in modern America. My American Dream stands out as a record of the times, and a hard rocking one at that.

 

  1. Old Crow Medicine Show, Volunteer

 

I’ve got a soft place in my heart for Old Crow Medicine Show. I grew up 30 minutes away from Harrisonburg, Virginia, where the string band cut their teeth back in the day. I currently live in that small city, which a bustling, growing underground music scene still calls home. On Volunteer, Old Crow pays tribute to their roots here in the valley with the song “Dixie Avenue.” Volunteer finds the band playing in many styles and writing from different points of view. Well worth the listen.

 

  1. Amanda Shires, To The Sunset

 

This album defies labels of genre and style. To the Sunset sees Amanda Shires getting highly experimental, and incredibly sharp in how she handles it. I heard “Parking Lot Pirouette” in my head for weeks after I experienced it for the first time, and am still entranced by it. Watching Amanda grow as an artist since the days of Down Fell the Doves has been inspiring to me, and her newest album is without-a-doubt a game-changer.

 

  1. Adam’s House Cat, Town Burned Down

 

As a die-hard Drive-By Truckers fan, I had long been aware of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley’s band from the 80’s, Adam’s Housecat. Finally getting to hear this band was an unexpected blessing, because it wasn’t until lost tapes were found this past year that the possibility of hearing Adam’s Housecat seemed possible. Featuring tracks from Hood and Cooley’s formative years as musicians (including some that appear on your favorite DBT records), Town Burned Down is a great selection of songs that show the building blocks of one of America’s most important bands.

 

 

  1. Brian Fallon, Sleepwalkers

 

            Fallon’s sophomore solo effort Sleepwalkers moves away from the folkier sound of his previous release in favor of a smoother, soulful sound. This album features some of the finest songs we’ve heard from Fallon yet, to me particularly “Etta James” to “See You On The Other Side.” A beautiful record from a veteran songwriter.

 

  1. Southern Culture on the Skids, Bootlegger’s Choice

 

Southern Culture on the Skids has made a reputation as an institution within the American soundscape. Having been writing, recording, and touring together since the 1980’s, the band has honed their skills as musicians and as a cohesive unit. Their 2018 release Bootlegger’s Choice contains new recordings of songs from SCOTS records that are no longer in circulation. Though the songs may not be new, the recaptured performances breathe new life into them.

 

  1. Colter Wall, Songs of the Plains

 

Colter Wall’s voice captivated me from the first time I heard it. His deep baritone is instantly recognizable, and his lyrical tact makes him a formidable force. Songs of the Plains, his newest release, finds Wall experimenting with the concept album format. Every song in this album is a character-driven piece set in the Great Plains of North America. A smooth presentation of the sounds of the old west.

 

  1. Jeff Tweedy, WARM

 

A departure from his sound with Wilco, Tweedy’s new solo album finds him facing his demons head on. Well harkening back to some classic country sounds while also infusing ambient noise and a pallet informed by modern alternative, WARM features a nerve-wrecking soundscapes that nestles in well with Tweedy’s ruminations on mortality and addiction.

 

  1. Tyler Childers, Live on Red Barn Radio I and II

 

I know this was a rerelease, but to many people 2018 was their first exposure to Tyler Childers’ Live on Red Barn Radio I and II, so I feel compelled to include it here. Featuring harrowing live performances by Childers and backing band The Highwall, this album captures the Kentucky singer-songwriter at a point where he’s reaching for greatness. This is the point where we see Childers starting to take shape into who he would become by 2017’s Purgatory. An inspired collection of songs performed from the heart.

 

 

  1. Will Hoge, My American Dream

 

A no punches pulled look at American politics today, Will Hoge’s My American Dream jumped out to me like no other album this year. While Hoge uses the album to state his views and make his thoughts on politics perfectly clear, he also addresses his concern over the lack of empathy and concern for our fellow man. Hoge uses his platform to call for people to look at the people suffering the most in modern America. My American Dream stands out as a record of the times, and a hard rocking one at that.

 

  1. Old Crow Medicine Show, Volunteer

 

I’ve got a soft place in my heart for Old Crow Medicine Show. I grew up 30 minutes away from Harrisonburg, Virginia, where the string band cut their teeth back in the day. I currently live in that small city, which a bustling, growing underground music scene still calls home. On Volunteer, Old Crow pays tribute to their roots here in the valley with the song “Dixie Avenue.” Volunteer finds the band playing in many styles and writing from different points of view. Well worth the listen.

 

  1. Amanda Shires, To The Sunset

 

This album defies labels of genre and style. To the Sunset sees Amanda Shires getting highly experimental, and incredibly sharp in how she handles it. I heard “Parking Lot Pirouette” in my head for weeks after I experienced it for the first time, and am still entranced by it. Watching Amanda grow as an artist since the days of Down Fell the Doves has been inspiring to me, and her newest album is without-a-doubt a game-changer.

 

  1. Adam’s House Cat, Town Burned Down

 

As a die-hard Drive-By Truckers fan, I had long been aware of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley’s band from the 80’s, Adam’s Housecat. Finally getting to hear this band was an unexpected blessing, because it wasn’t until lost tapes were found this past year that the possibility of hearing Adam’s Housecat seemed possible. Featuring tracks from Hood and Cooley’s formative years as musicians (including some that appear on your favorite DBT records), Town Burned Down is a great selection of songs that show the building blocks of one of America’s most important bands.

 

 

  1. Brian Fallon, Sleepwalkers

 

            Fallon’s sophomore solo effort Sleepwalkers moves away from the folkier sound of his previous release in favor of a smoother, soulful sound. This album features some of the finest songs we’ve heard from Fallon yet, to me particularly “Etta James” to “See You On The Other Side.” A beautiful record from a veteran songwriter.

 

  1. Southern Culture on the Skids, Bootlegger’s Choice

 

Southern Culture on the Skids has made a reputation as an institution within the American soundscape. Having been writing, recording, and touring together since the 1980’s, the band has honed their skills as musicians and as a cohesive unit. Their 2018 release Bootlegger’s Choice contains new recordings of songs from SCOTS records that are no longer in circulation. Though the songs may not be new, the recaptured performances breathe new life into them.

 

  1. Colter Wall, Songs of the Plains

 

Colter Wall’s voice captivated me from the first time I heard it. His deep baritone is instantly recognizable, and his lyrical tact makes him a formidable force. Songs of the Plains, his newest release, finds Wall experimenting with the concept album format. Every song in this album is a character-driven piece set in the Great Plains of North America. A smooth presentation of the sounds of the old west.

 

  1. Jeff Tweedy, WARM

 

A departure from his sound with Wilco, Tweedy’s new solo album finds him facing his demons head on. Well harkening back to some classic country sounds while also infusing ambient noise and a pallet informed by modern alternative, WARM features a nerve-wrecking soundscapes that nestles in well with Tweedy’s ruminations on mortality and addiction.

 

  1. Tyler Childers, Live on Red Barn Radio I and II

 

I know this was a rerelease, but to many people 2018 was their first exposure to Tyler Childers’ Live on Red Barn Radio I and II, so I feel compelled to include it here. Featuring harrowing live performances by Childers and backing band The Highwall, this album captures the Kentucky singer-songwriter at a point where he’s reaching for greatness. This is the point where we see Childers starting to take shape into who he would become by 2017’s Purgatory. An inspired collection of songs performed from the heart.

 

 

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