The Best of 2010

It’s that time again. The end of the year list that are as common as as spam in your inbox, but it’s tradition and I’m a sucker for tradition. So here we go!

If you follow my twitter feed (!/TwangNation) you’ll already know what’s on this list. I did the countdown as seperate tweets lest week and I got a great response. You also know that its not merely a top 10 but a top 25! That’s right, you get 25% more music for your money.

It has been another great year for Americana/roots music, and from what’s currently coming across my desk for 2011 we can look forward to another. Old-timers are beating on the barn door and upstarts are using old parts to make new works that advance the form while staying true to the roots.  The genre appears to be attracting and cultivating the type of nurturing and craftsmanship that labels used to practice in the golden days of the 60s and early 70s. Of course this time without the lavish pay-out. The music industry is in turmoil from the corner office view but from the touring van and the laptop it’s  a prime-time for opportunity. And if you’re a burgeoning musician concerned about the current conditions I urge you to purchase Dr. Ralph Stanley’s book Man of Constant Sorry and learn about what REAL hard time look like.

So I raise a pint and celebrate an embarrassment of riches that show the love of craft and and honor in roots that defines a road of American culture that is often overlooked and forgotten but often leads to the promised land.

As the year comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the past four years of writing Minkin’s Music and all the good times with people I’ve met along the way. May the spirit of the season touch your soul and let comfort and joy shine upon you throughout the upcoming year.

  1. Mat D – Plank Road Drag –
  2. Jamey Johnson – Guitar song-
  3. Ray Wylie Hubbard – A: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C) –
  4. Truckstop Darlin’ – Truckstop Darlin’ –
  5. Reckless Kelly – Somewhere in Time-
  6. Miranda Lambert – Revolution –
  7. Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues –
  8. Lindsay Fuller – The Last Light I See –
  9. Elizabeth Cook – Welder –
  10. Jason & The Scorchers  –  Halcyon Times –
  11. Mandolin Orange – Quiet Little Room –
  12. Black Twig Pickers – Ironto Special –
  13. Possessed By Paul James – Feed The Family –
  14. Joe Thompson – Yankee Twang –
  15. Joe Pug – Messenger –
  16. Carolina Chocolate Drops  – Genuine Negro Jig –
  17. The Sadies – Darker Circles –
  18. 6 Day Bender – E’ville Fuzz –
  19. I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In the House – Sounds of Dying –
  20. Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil – Victims, Enemies & Old Friends –
  21. Shineyribs – Well After Awhile –
  22. Patty Griffin – Downtown Church –
  23. Whitey Morgan & the 78′s – Whitey Morgan & the 78′s-
  24. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers  – Agridustrial –
  25. Mary Gauthier – The Foundling –

Music Review – Mat D’s: Plank Road Drag [self-released]

Country and blues music has always mined the life’s mundane moments and extracted nuggets of domestic mythology shimmering with love, lust, booze, blood, tears, asphalt and diesel fuel.  With these elements masters like Hank Williams Sr., Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt and Bob Dylan – and latter day troubadours like Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle and Chris Knight – transcend whatever genre they are bridled with and forge minor pedestrian masterpieces.

This second solo release from Sioux City, IA’s Mat D (Mat deRiso) draws from the same humanistic sources. Assuming a more Americana tone than the country-rock his Profane Saints offers, Plank Road Drag works a well-worn sonic landscape but still manages to uncover many dusty gems.

Resurrection Cadillac, the album opener is bathed in the sanctified blues of Leadbelly and Lightnin’ Hopkins as it lurches forward like a revved-up version of Led Zeppelin’s back-porch stomper Black Country Woman.

Street souls collide in Ford Marriage. Mat D colorfully throws his Born to Run-style tramps toward a ramshackle wedding  – “I’ll trade a fan belt and a hub cap for a suit-coat and a tie, we’ll use her panties a a veil and wrap an old rag around her thigh and make a bouquet out of tumbleweeds and hold on ‘til we die, my my.” – until passion’s heat burns away all that’s left is matrimonial ash – ”Turns out a house of love don’t run on truck-stop grease and gasoline.”

Doomed romance continues with Cannonball as family plight and hardship runs as rough as their path toward Texas. Three A.M. refuels the dirt-floor romance, gliding like a fever-dream vision of trailer-part trysts. 40 Watt Moon is the fever aftermath recounting beautiful memories and empty bottles.

Ribbon of Dirt uses the hard-bluegrass of Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road to tell another hard tale of the road’s siren call and Motorbelle is a beautiful, moody white-trash serenade “she was silver and gold from the trailer, she was sequins and jewels from the trash, she was flesh, she was blood,she was lonely, spilling out of old strapless dress with her big hair all pinned up and perfect all that Tammy Faye make-up a mess.”

The album closes with the bluegrass-tinted title song, where Mat d uses hillbilly poetry that could easily be inspired by watching the Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? with the sound down and Guy Clark on the turntable turned way up high.

Mat D’s Plank Road Drag is an ambitious record that hits on all cylinders to set a high water mark for any other contender for this year’s album of the year.

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