Tag Archives: 21 Best

Listen: Cosmic Cowboys, Longhaired Rednecks and Other Troublemakers

So every couple of years I like to re-read the 2012 Texas Monthly feature (“That ’70s Show”) on the 1972 Austin music scene that birthed the outlaw country movement. If you haven’t read it yet, just stop now and go read it and come back after you’re done.

Every time I read this fantastic oral history I pick up on new artists that for whatever reason I’ve overlooked before. The first time I read it I went out and tracked down a copy of Willis Alan Ramsey’s album. It’s amazing. This most recent time inspired me to look into the work of Mickey Newbury, which is kind of funny since he’s not even mentioned in the article. You know how it goes: you start googling around and one thing leads to another and all of a sudden you’re obsessed with something you’d never even thought about before.

It’s weird, though, that I’d never come across Mickey Newbury. “Luckenbach, Texas” is one of my all-time favorite songs and he’s namechecked in it: “Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and Newbury’s train songs…” How is it that I’d never bothered to look it up before? I’ve been listening to that song all my life — I still have my dad’s copy of Ol’ Waylon. I’m a music nerd; I feel compelled to uncover every reference and backstory of every song I love. Back in college I figured out who the “Jerry Jeff” from Willie’s chorus was and picked up a wild live two-record set that features the drunkest version of “Up Against the Wall, Redneck” ever recorded. But Newbury escaped me.

Newbury was pals with Townes Van Zandt and wrote “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” and arranged “An American Trilogy.” These are songs I have known and loved for decades yet I never looked into their composer. All the best songwriters have proclaimed their love of Mickey Newbury (Kris Kristofferson said, “I learned more about songwriting from him than any other writer”), and in 2011 Drag City reissued his most highly regarded three albums plus a disc of rarities in a fancy box set featuring liner notes written by Ben Fong-Torres, Chris Campion, Kenny Rogers, Kristofferson, and Will Oldham. It’s available on streaming services…minus the liner notes, of course.

So anyway, I made a mix. 21 songs, 69 minutes long, one song per artist, sequenced to maximize listenability but it’s loosely chronological. It tells the story of what happened when country songwriters, mostly in Texas, stopped caring about Nashville conventions and started to embrace the hippies. The bulk of these songs are from 1972 and 73. Tom T. Hall joked about the “illusion of literacy” this new type of songwriting brought to the country music scene.

Buckle up as we take you from the sublime to the ridiculous (and back and forth again) across this sad and beautiful country where someone’s always doing something dirty that decent folks can frown on.

Praise the lord and pass the mescaline!

Continue reading Listen: Cosmic Cowboys, Longhaired Rednecks and Other Troublemakers

GLONO’s 21 Best Songs of 2018

Happy New Year!

Once again, as always, there were a ton of great songs released last year. Narrowing it down to the 21 best is a bit ridiculous, but it’s a digestible chunk of music to summarize the year.

My absolute favorite song of the year was also the most surprising: the Oak Ridge Boys’ “Pray to Jesus” blew my mind the first time I heard it and continues to blow we away with each listen. The fact that the Oak Ridge Boys of “Elvira” fame (1981) are not only still together but still sounding this good and recording material of this quality doesn’t make any sense. Or maybe it does! Everything was crazy in 2018.

In addition to “Pray to Jesus” we’ve compiled twenty more great songs from 2018 sequenced for maximum listening pleasure. Please enjoy!

21 Best Songs of 2018 on Spotify

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The 21 Best Songs of 2017

Happy New Year!

End of year lists are fun. This is better than that. No it’s not. Etc.

We shared almost 200 songs in 2017. Most of those are really good or else we wouldn’t have posted them, right? But these are the 21 that we keep going back to and can’t get enough of.

Why 21? It’s a good amount of music. Less than 80 minutes, which is about how much you could cram onto a CD-R or a little less than what you could fit onto 90 minute tape. It’s digestible.

Our list might not be as diverse and worldly as some you might come across, but these songs all share our point of view. We love guitars, smart lyrics, and bad attitudes. Rock and roll.

These aren’t ranked in order but instead they’re sequenced for listenability. We had to kick it off with the Breeders (good morning!), but after that it pretty much goes from mellow to banging. Of course, feel free to shuffle it up if that’s how you roll. Go nuts. Enjoy.

We hope you like it and we plan on sharing even more songs next year. 5 x 52 = 260, right? That’s the plan anyway.

21 Best Songs of 2017 on Spotify

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21 Best Post-Ram Paul McCartney Songs

Crazy Paul McCartneyA while back, Jake asked via Twitter why it was that Paul McCartney hadn’t made an album as good (and weird) as 1971’s Ram, which prompted a forum question for a list of the exceptions. If you’re not familiar with Macca’s first two solo albums, McCartney and Ram, you need to go buy them now. They will surprise you. They are raw, which is a description not often associtaed with Sir Paul’s solo output, but believe me they are.

Skipping the obvious “Greatest Hits” fodder, since you already know that stuff, these are the 21 post-Ram songs you likely don’t know…but should.

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The 21 Best Legal MP3s of 2009

The 21 Best Legal MP3s of 2009These are twenty-one songs available as MP3s that we linked to in 2009. They’re all still available (as of today), so download them now and make yourself a mix as a way to remember what you were listening to last year. Once again, people are whining about how 2009 sucked, but the list below proves there was plenty of good stuff out there, and it wasn’t even that hard to find.

Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve” from Middle Cyclone (Anti-). Posted Jan 14.

Von Bondies – “Pale Bride” from Love Hate and Then There’s You (Shout Factory). Posted Feb 4.

The Felice Brothers – “Run Chicken Run” from Yonder is the Clock (Team Love). Posted March 25.

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21 Essential Songs from Neil Young’s Archives Vol. 1

Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (1963 - 1972)So let’s say you’re a Neil Young fan who doesn’t care about all the trappings of the Archives. You don’t care about old photos, rare video footage, or hand-written lyric sheets. You just want the music. Let’s assume you already have the first four albums, plus Decade, the Buffalo Springfield albums, and Deja Vu. Of course you already picked up Live At The Fillmore East 1970 and Live At Massey Hall 1971 when they came out. Do you really need the whole Archives?

Thankfullly for you, iTunes and Amazon MP3 both allow you to cherrypick from the Archives‘ sprawling 125 tracks. Here are the 21 tracks (iMix) you should download immediately:

1. (#1) Aurora by The Squires 2:07

2. (#2) The Sultan by The Squires 2:32

3. (#3) I Wonder by The Squires 2:21

4. (#5) I’ll Love You Forever by The Squires 3:22

5. (#6) (I’m A Man And) I Can’t Cry by The Squires 2:30

6. (#8) Casting Me Away From You by Neil Young & Comrie Smith 2:13

7. (#12) Runaround Babe by Neil Young 2:39

8. (#13) The Ballad Of Peggy Grover by Neil Young 2:48

9. (#15) Extra, Extra by Neil Young 2:41

10. (#22) Sell Out by Buffalo Springfield 1:40

11. (#25) Slowly Burning by Neil Young 2:58

12. (#29) Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (promotional single) by Neil Young 2:15

13. (#31) Birds (Previously Unreleased Version) by Neil Young 2:15

14. (#68) Everybody’s Alone by Neil Young with Crazy Horse 2:31

15. (#71) Dance Dance Dance by Neil Young with Crazy Horse 2:24

16. (#74) It Might Have Been by Neil Young with Crazy Horse 4:18

17. (#84) Wonderin’ by Neil Young 2:10

18. (#92) Tell Me Why (Previously Unreleased Live Version) by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 5:41

19. (#114) Bad Fog Of Loneliness by Neil Young with The Stray Gators 1:55

20. (#120) Journey Through The Past by Neil Young with The Stray Gators 2:21

21. (#125) War Song by Neil Young & Graham Nash with The Stray Gators 3:29

Bonus tracks: While you’re at it, you might as well pick up the two Mynah Birds songs on Disc 2 of The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 6: 1966 (Hip-O Select).

After the jump, I break out what’s included in the Archives and why some things are more essential than others…

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21 Free MP3 Label Samplers

Amazon MP3While looking for a Booker T mp3 for the album streams earlier this week, I stumbled across the free Anti Sampler 2009 on Amazon, which also includes tracks by Neko Case, Jason Lytle, Mavis Staples, and others. Turns out Amazon has a bunch of label samplers that you can download for free.

Of course, if you read a lot of mp3 blogs you may have already downloaded most of these songs, since with a few exceptions these are the songs they’ve already made available on their own websites or through their publicists. Still, they’re worth checking out…and you can’t beat the price.

1. Anti Sampler 2009

2. Sub Pop Amazon Sampler (Blitzen Trapper [MP3], Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, et al.)

3. Jagjaguwar 2008 / 2009 Sampler (Bon Iver [MP3], Okkervil River, et al.)

4. Barsuk Records: 2009 Amazon Digital Sampler (Death Cab, Mates of State [MP3], Ra Ra Riot, et al.)

5. Saddle Creek sampler 2008-2009 (Tokyo Police Club [MP3], Cursive, et al.)

6. Chess Records Black History Month (Muddy Waters, Etta James, Howlin’ Wolf)

7. Stax Sampler for Amazon (Isaac Hayes, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Albert King)

8. This is Daptone Records… (Sharon Jones [MP3], Budos Band, et al.)

9. Badman, Has It Really Been 10 Years? (Mark Kozelek, My Morning Jacket, Hayden [MP3], et al.)

10. Best of Nuclear Blast: 20th Anniversary Compilation (Meshuggah, Testament, et al.)

A bunch more after the jump, including free samplers from Secretly Canadian, Slumberland, Victory, Arts & Crafts, Bar/None, and more…

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21 Best SXSW 2009 MP3s

SXSW 2009 South by Southwest does a great job of letting attendees (and everybody else) do some homework before the shows and preview tracks by showcased bands. Here are a bunch of our faves.

The Asteroid #4 – “These Flowers of Ours” (web, sxsw)

Black Lips – “O Katrina!” (web, sxsw)

The Dollyrots – “My Best Friend’s Hot” (web, sxsw)

Earlimart – “Face Down In The Right Town” (web, sxsw)

The Evaporators – “You Got Me Into This, Now You Get Me Out!” (web, sxsw)

Listen to the rest after the jump…

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21 Reasons Why Jay Bennett Should Be Back In Wilco

Jay BennettGLONO has a long history with Wilco. We used to be so obsessed with this band that we actually got teased by other bloggers and commenters. We used to be featured in the band’s links section of their website (until, mysteriously, we were removed just DAYS after running GLONO’s exclusive interview with Jay Bennett after he was sacked).

We miss those days, we miss THAT band. The missing ingredient is Jay Bennett, of course. No slight on current Wilco lead guitarist Nels Cline, but we miss Jay. So we’ve compiled 21 reasons why he should be brought back to the band. We do this out of love so don’t be mad, Jeff.

21. Dreadlocks – Dude had some freaky dreads back in the day. Helps balance Tweedy’s inherent honky-ness

20. Bendy notes – Jay Bennett’s solos always feature lots of bends, which just sound cool.

19. Wilco is too serious now – Jay Bennett is a top-notch goof making him the premier candidate to bridge art and fun.

18. Mellotron – Dude’s got some crazy-rare gear.

17. It’s good for the economy – With Jay comes JP. Those guys need good jobs. Do it for Obama!

Continue reading 21 Reasons Why Jay Bennett Should Be Back In Wilco

The 21 Best Legal MP3s of 2008

The 21 Best Legal MP3s of 2008These are twenty-one songs available as MP3s that we linked to in 2008. They’re all still available (as of today), so download them now and make yourself a mix as a way to remember what you were listening to last year. I hear a lot of people moaning about how 2008 was a terrible year for music, but the list below proves there was plenty of good stuff, and it wasn’t even that hard to find.

The Mountain Goats – “Sax Rohmer #1” from Heretic Pride. Posted Jan 3.

Jack Penate – “Second, Minute or Hour” from Matinee. Posted Jan 8.

Iron and Wine – “Innocent Bones” from The Shepherd’s Dog. Posted Feb 1.

Vampire Weekend – “Oxford Comma” from Vampire Weekend. Posted Feb 5.

MGMT – “Time To Pretend” from Oracular Spectacular. Posted March 26.

Continue reading The 21 Best Legal MP3s of 2008