Shady Groove’s Top 11 Albums of 2011

Jim James of My Morning Jacket

Well, well. We’ve come to the end of another year. There were so many great albums to choose from this year. It was not easy narrowing it down to only 11. These are the ones that stood out; that are playable all the way through. These 11 albums were consistently on the playlist, turntable, and cd player. They were played over and over again, in their entirety.

Shady Groove’s Top 11 Albums this year:


11. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator


Derek and Susan have been playing together for years. Now they have a proper name and a sick backing band for the best Husband/Wife duo in the biz. Rock on.


10. Various Artists – Rave On Buddy Holly

Rave On Buddy Holly

I would normally shy away from putting a compilation album, let alone a tribute compilation, on this list of best albums. This one is just too good NOT to put it on the list.


9. Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong

Nothing Is Wrong

The harmonies and song writing are awesome on this, the 2nd album from Dawes. These guys really embody the Laurel Canyon sound. Neil would be proud. Plays well front to back.


8. David Wax Museum – Everything Is Saved

Everything Is Saved

The mexi-folk wonders are the real deal. This album is a welcome change from the everyday folk album.


7. Wilco – The Whole Love

The Whole Love

Hats off to Jeff Tweedy and the boys for coming back with a stellar follow up to 2009’s self-titled album. Great album.


6. The Wood Brothers – Smoke Ring Halo

Smoke Ring Halo

Gotta love the Brothers down home bluesy sound. It hits home again with Smoke Ring Halo. You’re sure to stumble on some gems as you sit and listen through this one.


5. Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

American Goldwing

The Portland rockers are back with another killer set of tunes that will make you think you’ve taken a trip back to 1973. But we’re not talking a total throwback here. These guys are doing things Neil Young and Crazy Horse never did.


4. Gregg Allman – Low Country Blues

Low Country Blues

Man, T. Bone Burnett has an amazing ear for a good tune. When he sent Gregg a playlist of over 200 old blues songs to pick from for their new project, Gregg could tell it was going to be something special. Fresh off a brand new liver, Allman sings his heart out on this solo project. Great tracks from a great blues singer.


3. The Gourds – Old Mad Joy

Old Mad Joy

Not to be confused with Old Man Smell. Austin’s finest alt/county/blues/folk/rock/cajun/gospel/bluegrass band has really got something special with this album, thier 11th. And they’ve done it in fine fashion, recording with longtime dylan bandmate/now fixture in Levon Helm’s band, Larry Campbell up in Woodstock NY at the legendary Barn, Levon Helm’s Studios. Larry pushed the boys to their limits, wringing out some of their best material in 15 yrs.┬áThe album rolls from front to back seamlessly. While listening, its hard not to hear sounds of The Band, The Rolling Stones, even the The Who. So crank it up and let it play, you’re sure to enjoy.


2. Hayes Carll – KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories)


I was hooked when I first heard the Hank Williams style, Hard Out Here. The Texas country rock man Hayes Carll is part of a growing genre of texas troubadour, country/folk outlaws that is alive and well. Some of the songs on this album are so familiar, you’d think you were listening to a cover. But that’s not a bad thing. He has no interest in doing anything different. Carll and his band take the honky tonk, rock n roll to a new level. They have never sounded so good and will even make the biggest Townes Van Zant follower a fan. Have fun with this one.


1. My Morning Jacket – Circuital


Not a conventional rock album by any means, My Morning Jacket follow up 2009’s Evil Urges with a superb set of new songs. Circuital itself means coming full circle, everything starts and ends in the same place. In a way this album does just that. Yim Yames talks about how even the songs have a more circular form, as opposed to the more triangular wave forms on the last album. This album moves you through the songs in a very systematic way. It is very well put together. A listen to it from front to back will reveal endless hooks, ambient jams and great triumphant endings. Well done folks, well done.


Honorable Mention:

The Black Keys – El Camino

The Decemberists – The King is Dead

Cheers Elephant – Time Well Wasted

Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose

G. Love – Fixin To Die

Wanda Jackson – The Party Ain’t Over

  • Nice list. I forgot G. Love’s album came out this year. I haven’t heard David Wax museum new one. Still like the old one though.

    I don’t have anything so complete; here are a series of top twos:

    Top Two Indie Albums:
    1: Chris Bathgate – Salt Year
    2: Mt. Moriah – Mt. Moriah

    Top Two Folk:
    1: Cam Penner – Gypsy Summer
    2: Jeffrey Foucault – Horse Latitudes
    HM: Carrie Elkins – Call It My Garden

    Top two Cover albums:
    1: Thea Gilmore – John Wesley Harding
    2: Kris Delmhorst – Cars

    Top Two Acoustic albums:
    1: Cahalen Morrison & Eli West – The Holy Coming of the Storm
    2: Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down
    HM: The Goat Rodeo Sessions

    Top Two more Rockin’ albums:
    1: Bow Thayer & the Perfect Trainwreck – Bottom of the Sky
    2: John Doe – Keeper
    HM: The Gourds – Old Man Joy

    Album Of The Year: The Holy Coming Of The Storm


    January 3, 2012

  • Love the top 2 format. Good thing I got you to Phil me in dude. Some of these I’ve never heard, but I will be checkin em out thats fer sher.

    ps. i love how you say, “more rockin’ albums”. Haha. have you moved on from rock n roll? Is rock, as they say, dead, in your eyes?

    Shady Groove

    January 3, 2012

  • I have moved on from Rock and roll. Rock is most certainly NOT dead in my eyes though! It just is not what I gravitate to as much any more. I am sure there are some amazing stuff coming out its just not on my radar.

    BTW, its cool seeing all your enthusiasm for Hayes Caryll. I am surprised he isn’t more talked about. I did like “Trouble In Mind” better than KMAG though. Wood Brothers had a solid release as well as Dawes album was much improved from their first effort.

    Do have any Mason Porter, you can hook me with? I remember liking Thunder in the Valley a bunch but spaced the band after that.


    January 4, 2012

  • I kind of figured rock was just something that is on the back burner for you.
    Yeah, Hayes Carll rocks. I love ‘Trouble In Mind’ too. Guess I gots turned onto him through KMAG.
    I can definitely hook you up with some Mason Porter. They only have one more release after Thunder. Its called “Story of the Rifle”. Ill put it up on media fire and send you a link. I was talking to the mando player, Joe. He was telling me that they had a bunch of tracks recorded for a new record and he didn’t like them. So they trashed them and started a new. This was back in August, so hopefully they’re back with a new one soon.

    Shady Groove

    January 5, 2012

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