We finish out today with a few honorable mentions — records that didn’t quite make the list and one that is so big and grand it doesn’t fit on any list.
“It’s Great to Be Alive!” — Drive-By Truckers
It’s completely impossible to figure out how to place this remarkable, sprawling collection of live recordings — from three nights at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco — into any list. It stands alone, a crucial, 35-song document of one of our favorite bands at the very height of its powers.
“Holding the Big Chickens Now” — Mamie Davis
We have never heard a 16-year-old make a record like this one in our lives. It sounds like a big, ambitious, out-there rock album stuffed inside a garage band’s budget, with lyrics that can stab you, make you laugh or make you cry, sometimes simultaneously. We hear she's heading for Belmont College, so look out, Nashville.
“Go-Go Juice” — Jon Cleary
New Orleans, LA
This New Orleans mainstay is the very definition of “Southern by choice” — a Brit drawn so fiercely to the rhythms of the Crescent City that he finally just gave up and moved there. “Bringing Back the Home” is a reminder that the spirit of the dearly departed Allen Toussaint will never die.
“All a Man Should Do” — Lucero
If you wonder whether this choogling Memphis train of a band still has its mojo after 17 years, just listen to “Can’t You Hear Them Howl,” a brawny, horn-driven beast of a song — or their cover of Big Star’s “I’m in Love With a Girl,” recorded with the much revered band’s Jody Stephens on background vocals and inside the hallowed halls of Memphis’ Ardent Studios, exactly where Big Star tracked it the first time 42 years ago.
And a few other Southern records we got damned fond of, but didn’t make their way to the top 25:
“Imaginary Man” — Rayland Baxter
“Feels Like” — Bully
“Who’s Gonna Get F***** First?” — Father
“Drownin’ on a Mountaintop” — T. Hardy Morris and the Hardknocks
“For Use and Delight” — Promised Land Sound
“Sremmlife” — Rae Sremmurd
“Nashville Obsolete” — Dave Rawlings Machine
“Don’t Lose This” — Pops Staples
“In the Blazes” — Aaron Lee Tasjan
“Radio” — Steep Canyon Rangers