There are decade lists popping up all over and, although I’m even not sure if the decade ends this year or next, I see those lists and note what’s missing: Austin. Sure, there’s been a mention here and there for Shearwater or Okkervil River, but our music scene is so much more. The national music press is so rock-oriented, they ignore many of the roots artists.
Here’s my attempt to rectify that a little. I’ve chosen 33 discs from the past ten years from artists and bands that made living here enjoyable. All were made by those that slugged it out in venues around town on a regular basis, or did when their record was released.
I’ve never been one for ranking this kind of thing, so they are listed in chronological order, from Slaid Cleaves’ “first great disc of the 21st century” to Sarah Jarosz, the little girl with a mandolin who has grown into a Grammy nominee. In my search for the best of the decade, I couldn’t find much to recommend from 2007. I'd had a bad year; seems like Austin didn’t do to much better.
Otherwise, here’s the records that made an impact in the Aughts, all as worthy of recognition as anything by the Strokes or the White Stripes. Let the navel gazing begin.
Slaid Cleaves, Broke Down (Philo), 2000
Roger Wallace, That Kind of Lonely (Texas Roundup), 2001
Ray Wylie Hubbard, Eternal & Lowdown (Philo), 2001
Libbi Bosworth, Libbiville (Ramble), 2001
Bruce Robison, Country Sunshine (Boar’s Nest), 2001
The Derailers, Here Come the Derailers (Lucky Dog), 2001
Caroline Herring, Twilight (Blue Corn), 2001
Dale Watson, Christmas in Texas (Audium), 2001
Jon Dee Graham, Hooray for the Moon (New West), 2002
Meat Purveyors, All Relationships Are Doomed to Fail (Bloodshot), 2002
Flatlanders, Now Again (New West), 2002
Kelly Willis, Easy (Rykodisc), 2002
Ruthie Foster, Runaway Soul (Blue Corn), 2002
Matt the Electrician, Made for Working ... (Nice Guy), 2003
Okkervil River, Down the River of Golden Dreams (Jagjaguwar), 2003
Milton Mapes, Westernaire (Aspyr), 2003
The Greencards, Movin' On (Dualtone), 2003
Eliza Gilkyson, Land of Milk and Honey (Red House), 2004
Grupo Fantasma, Movimiento Popular (Aire Sol), 2004
Li'l Cap'n Travis, ... In All Their Splendor (Glurp), 2004
Elizabeth McQueen & the Firebrands, Happy Doing What We're Doing (Freedom), 2005
Marcia Ball, Live! Down the Road (Alligator), 2005
James McMurtry, Childish Things (Compadre), 2005
James Hand, The Truth Will Set You Free (Rounder), 2006
Willie Nelson, You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker (Lost Highway), 2006
The Band of Heathens, Live From Momo's (Fat Caddy), 2006
Belleville Outfit, Wanderin', 2008
Alejandro Escovedo, Real Animal (Back Porch/Manhattan/EMI), 2008
The Mother Truckers, Let's All Go to Bed (Funzalo), 2008
Shearwater, Rook (Matador), 2008
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! (Lost Highway), 2009
Uncle Lucius, Pick Your Head Up (BooClap), 2009
Sarah Jarosz, Song Up in Her Head (Sugar Hill), 2009
And since 33 is never enough, the following are worthy of an honorable mention: Marti Brom, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Ted Roddy & the Tearjoint Troubadors, Asleep at the Wheel, Karen Poston, Toni Price, Charlie Robison, Hot Club of Cowtown, Jeff Klein, Onion Creek Crawdaddies, South Austin Jug Band, the Weary Boys, Butch Hancock, Southpaw Jones, Brownout, Patricia Vonne, San Saba County, Brothers & Sisters, Kacy Crowley, Joe Ely, Joel Guzman, Leatherbag
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