2012 :: Most Revered

If you have one of those dude-bro friends that repeatedly claims, while downing Bud Lights at the bar, that music these days sucks, this is the list you show him to prove him wrong. Maybe now he’ll shut the hell up. Also, you should stop being friends with that guy. He probably owns multiple  Nickleback albums.

I spent this year immersed in music and not once was “Man, music this year blew” a thought that entered my fuzzy brain. I’ll give you this: If you’re doing nothing but listening to the radio, the sentiment that things in music just aren’t what they used to be probably holds true. But on the other hand, if you’re a smart one, you’ve found your favorite blogs or you’ve taken the steps yourself to seek out beautiful jams and for you, 2012 was a fucking inspiring year of music.

Below, Folk Hive’s List of Most Revered. Here you will not find what’s called a Best Of List. We do not deign to know what was the best this year — we’re not critics so that job falls on someone else. We can only tell you what moved us these past 365 days and the reasons why. Below, a listing of 10 albums that did just that. Observe.


tpt[Number TEN :: Turnpike Troubadours Goodbye Normal Street]

Bossier City Records

I recognize that the third and latest offering from Red Dirt heroes, the Turnpike Troubadours, is not up everyone’s alley. Goodbye Normal Street is a full on country assault of your ears and for some of your boats, this ain’t what floats it. But being from where I’m from, there is a comfort in music that is home to me, whether I like it or not. My childhood was filled with Garth Brooks and George Strait, recent Gods of Country, and they dominated my musical landscape from a young age. As I got older, I moved away from that because Christ if it isn’t a trite genre now, full of cliché and bullshit rhyme, but the Troubadours bring it back to where it should be. If this album had not been filled with heart, great stompability, and jams written by Felker (a man that fucking owns the words to his songs in a way I rarely witness), I’d still love it on the merits of what it says country music can and should be.

Turnpike Troubadours :: Good Lord Lorrie [mp3]

BUY Goodbye Normal Street :: SITE


horse feathers[Number NINE :: Horse Feathers Cynic’s New Year]

Kill Rock Stars

It is perhaps true that never has a folk outfit so beautifully and perfectly blended words, vocal, and an array of instruments as Horse Feathers does and this year’s release Cynic’s New Year bolsters that statement. It is Bruce Springsteen in spirit for the Midwestern set. Cynic’s New Year is strife and poverty and happiness, if you can find it, within that, despite the odds. “Last Waltz”, one of our most favoritest tracks of the entire year, is a beauty …

Horse Feathers :: Last Waltz [mp3]

BUY Cynic’s New Year :: SITE


strumbellas[ Number EIGHT :: The Strumbellas My Father & The Hunter ]

Maple Music

From the very first urge to stomp and clap on The Strumbellas excellent debut My Father & The Hunter, it’s clear that we’re in for a ride. For some time it was so that “Left for Dead” had a place on every personal mix I made. It was replaced by “Diane” and then “Carry My Body”. Beyond that there was “Underneath A Mountain” which has become one of our go to Feel Fucking Great Anthems. While taking stock at the end of year last it became obvious by play count that this album had dominated our listening not even on and off but consistently since we’d encountered it. While every album on this list is one that we have loved hard, this one in particular is one that we apparently loved long as well.

The Strumbellas :: Underneath A Mountain [mp3]

BUY My Father & The Hunter :: SITE


Jurado[ Number SEVEN :: Damien Jurado Maraqopa ]

Secretly Canadian

Nothing written in the history of this album does its beauty justice. We have seriously genuine honest feelings of love for this album so great that words cannot ever do it justice. (That’s our review. Seriously.)

Damien Jurado :: Working Titles [mp3]

BUY Maraqopa :: SITE


sheepdogs[ Number SIX :: The Sheepdogs S/T ]


This is one of only two non-indie label released album on this list and while we typically give all our love to bands and outfits that won’t garner Rolling Stone covers, the 1970s-tinged perfection of The Sheepdogs S/T release this year was too good to forgo on our year end favorites list. It should be noted that while this album was blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) by big label production (e.g. fucking Pat Carney, you guys) and promotion, the legwork for all The Sheepdogs success was done over years and years by the band itself and not some label machine ran by beardless dudes in goddamn ties. The band’s live show has been honed over an extended period of time spent toiling in bars and it shows from the bonafide groupie presence in the front row all the way back to the old Allman Brothers fan in the back row, jamming as if it were Duane Allman himself on guitar. Seriously, y’all we witnessed this first hand. (Two aside thoughts about that: 1. Goddammit, groupie bitches, I drove 4 hours for this show, I will rip that feather out of your hair if you cut me in line and 2. Highest of fucking fives, old dude in the back row with your badass handmade tie dye shirt and braid.)

While it’s obvious this album was produced by a major label it’s merit rests in the fact that the songs contained therein were either released previously on other albums fucking stellar in their own right or perfected on the road just the way they deserved to be.

The Sheepdogs :: Feeling Good [mp3]

BUY The Sheepdogs :: SITE


avetts[ Number FIVE :: The Avett Brothers The Carpenter ]

Universal Republic

There are a million words we could write about The Avett Brothers: Of their perfection when they began, of their growth in their formative years as a band, and how they’ve changed into something that maybe their oldest fans do not worship as hard but that’s for another time. The fact of the matter is that even a shitty Avetts album is still a damn fine album. There are gems here, to be sure, and frankly a couple Avett Brothers gems are still greater than most albums released these days and as such, we love The Carpenter.

PS — But still, fuck Rick Rubin.

The Avett Brothers :: Down With the Shine [mp3]

BUY The Carpenter :: SITE


i'm just gonna sit this here for you :: the lumineers new album[ Number FOUR :: The Lumineers S/T ]


Because seriously, you had to know this would end up here on our list. From the positively perfect first listen upon discovery of this album to the exceedingly righteous experience of seeing the band up on a mountain in a singing, dancing crowd of 75 or so, The Lumineers contributed to a glorious year of discovery when it comes to music. The band has moved on from the size of that mountain crowd to a rapidly growing fan base that is expanding even as we type and they are certainly folk’s success story of the year. Amazingly, it couldn’t have happened to a band that deserves it’s success any more than this one.

The Lumineers :: Elouise (Lost EP version) [mp3]

BUY The Lumineers :: SITE


spirit fam[ Number THREE :: Spirit Family Reunion No Separation ]

Self released

Fans of stomp, clap, and holler, ye musical gods have arrived and they go by the name Spirit Family Reunion.

Spirit Family Reunion :: Green Rocky Road [mp3]

BUY No Separation :: SITE


Father John Misty[ Number TWO :: Father John Misty Fear Fun ]

Sub Pop

There are things about J Tillman, man who changes his moniker Prince / Artist Formerly Known As style whenever he damn well feels like it.. that are well and true. 1. He’s a goddamn musical genius. 2. He sports the most righteous of all indie beards. And 3. There is no way we’d want to encounter the dude in a dark alley. Reason being? He’s witty, sarcastic, and intelligent as fuck, something that’s obvious if you’ve ever watched an interview he’s given (our favorite). He would slay us with his comebacks, he would laugh at our trivial knowledge, and he would balk at that shirt you’re wearing.

Still, Misty seems to be a swell feller regardless and this year’s release of Fear Fun was a gift to people like us, we obsessors over words (see the insert that came with the vinyl album). How a man manages to both frolic and maintain balls to the walls seriousness in his music while tackling what seems to be an unhappiness of epic proportions we’ll never know, but Misty pulls it off. We did not review this album, though we wanted to greatly, for we were worried that the artist would get wind of it and ruin us even though our thoughts on it are glowing bright and sprinkled with glittery bits of love. We just couldn’t take that risk.

When Tillman is Father John I cannot decipher his words for their meaning nor his songs for their true depth but I feel a kinship with them anyway. For us, that’s been the beauty of this record.

Father John Misty :: Only Son Of A Ladies Man [mp3]

BUY Fear Fun :: SITE


denver 3[ Number ONE :: Denver S/T ]

Mama Bird Recording Co.

If there is any album this year that can be called underrated and underappreciated, it is this one right here.

We’ve went on about this album and this band before. The praise we heaped upon this album once proved well deserved for these songs have soundtracked road trips, river trips, and gathering with friends, however few and far between they’ve become as we’ve aged. In our minds, this band that originally warranted merit due solely to it’s makeup has now become greater than that — this is not Blitzen Trapper, this is not Alela Diane’s Wild Divine. Denver is The Highwaymen in camaraderie and Denver is a band that has perfected the beauty of stomp and holler music that belies, in its seeming happiness, something deeper. There is heartbreak and while that’s common in music (and in life) what’s different here is that there are lessons learned in those songs, too. No more howlin’ at the moon.

Plus, there’s a fucking banjo.

Denver :: The Way It Is [mp3]

BUY Denver :: SITE

Music of the folk and bluegrass variety is where our heart resides, to be sure. But occasionally, that heart develops a crack and into that splinter runs a flood that can only be dammed with music of the country variety. Call it something one might be genetically predisposed to, call it out of character. When it comes to the Turnpike Troubadours, as it turns out, we cannot help ourselves.

There is most likely an ancestral affectation here, unexplainable really, that makes all of us like the music of that country genre. Some of us here in the Ozark hills are more prone to it than others but it gets even the best of us at times. Those of us that fight it on merit are suspectible not to the latest Jamey Johnson-penned jam and certainly not to Kenny Chestnut’s latest radio single but instead to things that bear the markings of the folk music we so love: violins, banjos, a harmonica every now and then, maybe a pedal steel thrown in for good, unique measure. But most of all we are sensitive to it because of the story it holds within it.

The Troubadours latest, Goodbye Normal Street, is a study in what country should be but when coupled with with their last two albums, Diamonds and Gasoline and Bossier City, it is a study in what music as a whole should be. There is an honesty in the music, bolstered by the candor of lead singer Evan Felker’s vocals and songwriting, that cannot be denied. Anyone that’s suffered a broken heart, anyone that’s ever nursed a hangover, anyone that’s ever felt exactly like an old country song, will understand. And really, who among us has not lived one of those?

It shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re finding the music of Felker and crew so appealing. There is banjo, there is harmonica and violin, and there is a pedal steel, all things that we appreciate in our more folky jams. At the base of every folk song is a story and not just one being told to be told, but one that has to be told. What’s so appealing about the Troubadours catalog is that those songs are that indeed. It should be evident in every country song these days but the genre has taken a back road in a 4×4 and those of us without just cannot follow. It seems that country music isn’t country music any longer unless it’s of the red dirt variety. While your radio would imply that the heart of country music has been crushed by mainstream inattentiveness and fickle tastes that tend more toward pop music than The Highwaymen, the Turnpike Troubadours prove that country is still viable and real.

Country is still out there and it’s still doing what it was dreamed up to do: Honoring the folk tradition at it’s base and doling out a countrified dose of rock with more true emotion than rock ever does. For proof of that, one need not look any further than the Turnpike Troubadours.

Turnpike Troubadours are playing Cartoon’s in Springfield on 17 November and we’ll be there. You should, too. Check the rest of their dates here.


Turnpike Troubadours :: Gone, Gone, Gone

Turnpike Troubadours :: Good Lord, Lorrie

BUY Goodbye Normal Street :: SITE