Table of Contents Archive:

My Top Ten CDs of 2016

These are my favorite CDs released in 2016. My tastes run to Americana, roots, alt country and folk. In the case of close calls, I am likely to err on the side of the lesser-known performers who need more exposure. It is a loose top ten with no real effort made to order them.

The Wild Swan by Foy Vance 

Rangers & Valentines by Trapper Schoepp

Dream Anyway by Markus Rill and the Troublemakers

Midnight Motel by Jack Ingram

Dori Freeman by Dori Freeman

Sean McConnell by Sean McConnell

Down in a Hole by Kiefer Sutherland

Willow Springs by Michael McDermott

I'm Not the Devil by Cody Jinks

The Very Last Day by Parker Millsap

Tied for 11th:

Lovers and Leavers by Hayes Carll

The Narrows by Grant Lee Phillips

American Band by Drive-By Truckers


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2017 NFL Draft Report (with Team Grades)

1.Cleveland Browns: A

Starter:

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Possible Steal:

Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

One to Watch:

Karter Schult, DE, Northern Iowa
Kai Nacua, S, BYU

2. Dallas Cowboys: A

Starter:

Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Possible Steal:

Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina

One to Watch:

Xavier Woods, S, Louisiana Tech


3. Jacksonville Jaguars: A-

Starter:

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Steal:

Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah

Watch:

Kenneth Walker III, WR, UCLA


Complete Report

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My Top Ten Favorite Novels of 2015:

The Do-Right
by Lisa Sandlin

Killing Lessons
by Saul Black

The Searcher
by Simon Toyne

Finders Keepers
by Stephen King

The Cartel
by Don Winslow

The Water Knife
by Paolo Bacigalupi

Blue Lily, Lily Blue
by Maggie Stiefvater

Shady Cross
by James Hankins

Memory Man
by David Baldacci

Near Enemy
by Adam Sternbergh

Other books which might have made the list in 2015:

Song of Shadows by John Connolly; Bangkok Asset by John Burdett; The Verdict by Nick Stone, and Descent by Tim Johnston

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My Top Ten CDs of 2015:

(There were two CDs from the end of 2014 which I didn't get until well into 2015 -- too late to wedge into the already posted Top Ten CDs of 2014. But they are both so good, I am leading off with them in a special pre-2015 section.)

Dust Devil
by LL Cooper

Home Now
by Gerald Dowd


Rich in Love
by Colin Linden

Complicated Game
by James McMurtry

All Your Favorite Bands
by Dawes

Fortune
by Rod Picott

Waiting on You
by Sam Lewis

Royal Blue
by Lilly Hiatt

Something More Than Free
by Jason Isbell

The Spirit Moves
by Langhorne Slim and the Law

Out of the Birdcage
by The Damn Quails

Tied for 11th:
Little Neon Limelight by Houndmouth; Ode to Thinking by Bobby Long; South Broadway Athletic Club by The Bottle Rockets; Traveler by Chris Stapleton

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I recommend:

Paint Another Layer On My Heart cover art

Paint Another Layer on My Heart

by Caleb Caudle

Once again, how do these fantastic performers slip through the cracks on me?

My Top Ten Movies of 2014 (follow the link)

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I Recommend:

Home Now



by Gerald Dowd

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2015 NFL Draft Team Grades:
A complete synopsis and evaluation of every NFL team's 2015 draft with a quick comment on every player with grades assigned for each team team's overall draft.

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My Top Ten CDs of 2014:

 

Coming Home

by Brian Keane

 

Salvation Town

by Jonny Two Bags

 

Too Blessed to Be Stressed

by Paul Thorn

 

Learning Faith

by Jess Klein

 

Pennsylvania Coal

by Irene Kelley

 

Put Your Needle Down

by Secret Sisters

 

The Clock

by Paul Creane and the Changing Band

 

Stay Gold

by First Aid Kit

 

Parker Millsap

by Parker Millsap

 

Standing in the Breach

by Jackson Browne

 

Tied for 11th:

 

Ride Out by Bob Seger; River and the Thread by Rosanne Cash; Nocturne Diaries by Eliza Gilkyson

 

Special:

(a 2011 release which gained a wider release in 2014)

 

Killin' Uncle Buzzy

by Travis Meadows


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My Top Ten Favorite Novels of 2014:

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

Gulf Boulevard by Dennis Hart

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi

Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke

Wolf in Winter by John Connolly

Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

 

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Special Sports

World According to Me: NFL Draft 2014: Complete Team Grades and Brief Analysis

 

So many surprises, given all the things the Dolphins have done wrong and continue to do wrong, they had one of the two best drafts along with another surprise (some of you may remember my opinions on Ted Thompson) the Green Bay Packers!  Also, the Raiders finally had a good draft?

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 I Recommend: My Favorite Lesser Known Movies of the 2000s (Part One)

 

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My Top Books of 2013: (Follow the link)

 

Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman

 

Joyland by Stephen King

 

Suspect by Robert Crais

 

Nowhere Nice by Rick Gavin

 

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

 

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

 

Dead Eye by Mark Greaney

 

The Wrath of Angels by John Connolly

 

The Son by Philipp Meyer

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

 

I would also recommend Light of the World by James Lee Burke; Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook, Gods of Guilt by Michael Connolly, and Gun Machine by Warren Ellis.

 

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My Top Ten CDs of 2013:

(Top 15 as it was an especially good year for my kind of music)

 

American Kid (and Silver Bell)

by Patty Griffin

 

Fact, Fiction, or Folktale

by Have Gun Will Travel

 

In the Throes

by John Moreland

 

Southeastern

by Jason Isbell

 

No Way There from Here

by Laura Cantrell

 

From The Hills Below The City

by Houndmouth

 

Joy of Nothing

by Foy Vance

 

Still Fighting the War

by Slaid Cleaves

 

Opening Day

by Peter Cooper

 

Bravest Birds

by Rob Lutes

 

Rule the World

by Max Gomez

 

Catch the Presidents

by Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil

 

Hell and Half of Georgia

by Mike Stinson

 

The Wind and the Hollow

by Colin Gilmore

 

Say Grace

by Sam Baker

 

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I Recommend: Houndmouth

 

Just a fun, unique sound which critics try unsuccessfully to compare and classify.  A very nice debut collection of songs for a group just getting off the ground and who really seem to be enjoying doing it.

 

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Featured Author: John Connolly (Again)

 

 

 

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I Recommend: Movies

(For all my friends who keep asking me what smaller or lesser known films they should rent or put in their queue or get on demand.)

 

Robot & Frank (2012)

 

Hit and Run (2012)

 

Stand Up Guys (2012)

 

The Guard (2011)

 

A Perfect Getaway (2009)

 

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Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites: Casey Donahew Band

 

 

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Special Sports

World According to Me: NFL Draft 2013: Complete Team Grades and Brief Analysis

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My Top Ten CDs of 2012:

 

Radio Dial

By Jason Myles Goss

 

Same Old Brand New Me

by John Eddie

 

Prairie Sun

by Orbo & the Longshots

 

Sirens

by Sons of Bill

 

The Way We Move

by Langhorne Slim and the Law

 

I Am the Man You Know I'm Not

by Ronnie Fauss

 

Last Bird Home

by Chris Castle

 

Palisades

by Parker Millsap

 

Mutt

by Cory Branan

 

When Bitter Met Sweet

by The Honeycutters

 

Tied for 11th:

 

Hit Me Back

by Michael McDermott

 

The Shovel vs. The Howling Bones

by Lincoln Durham

 

Feathers & Fishhooks

by Rayland Baxter

 

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I Recommend: James Lee Burke's

 

  

 

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I Recommend:

Radio Dial by Jason Myles Goss

 

 

When not touring, Jason resides in Brooklyn, NY, where he spends his time eating sandwiches and taking his dog, Bodie, to the park.

 

Enough said, buy this CD.  It is great.  It will be at or near the top of my best of 2012.

 

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Featured Author:

Mark Greaney

 

 

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I Recommend:

Same Old Brand New Me
by John Eddie |
Format: MP3 Download

18 superlative songs!  Like an old-fashioned double album only without the songs you used to skip.

 

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Special Sports

World According to Me: NFL Draft 2012: Complete Team Grades and Brief Analysis

 

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My Top Ten CDs of 2011:

 

Death of a Decade

by Ha Ha Tonka

 

Dirty Jeans And Mudslide Hymns

by John Hiatt

 

KMAG YOYO

by Hayes Carll

 

Nothing Is Wrong

by Dawes

 

Here We Rest

by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

 

90 Miles an Hour

by Brian Keane

 

Little Bird

by Kasey Chambers

 

Bella

by Teddy Thompson

 

Silhouette

by Catherine MacLellan

 

(tied for 10th):

 

The Damn Quails

by Damn Quails

 

No Rider

by Brian Martin

 

Until Tomorrow Comes

by Michael Bowman

 

Sweet Nothings

by Girls Guns and Glory

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Featured Authors:

Ken Bruen, Martyn Waites

 

 

 

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I Recommend:

It's Not as Bad as It Looks

by Jon Dee Graham

 

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Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites: Rob Lutes

 

 

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Featured Author:

 

 

John Connolly

 

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Special Sports

World According to Me: NFL Draft 2011: Complete Team Grades and Brief Analysis

 

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Special Sports

World According to Me:

The Making of a Genius: The NFL Way

by Lenny "the Schneid" Woodson

 

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My Top Ten CDs of 2010:

 

Goodnight Lane

by Colin Gilmore

 

The Jukebox in Your Heart

by Mike Stinson

 

Sweet Saint Me

by Two Cow Garage

 

Halfway out of the Woods

by Mike McClure Band

 

I Wasn't Built for a Life Like This

by Caleb Stine

 

Nowhere Nights

by Kasey Anderson

 

Early Widows

by Justin Rutledge

 

American Slang

by Gaslight Anthem

 

The Last Black and White TV

by Terence Martin

 

Pimps and Preachers

by Paul Thorn

 

Faith to Fall

by Kate Burkart

 

Best CD which didn't actually have a CD ?

Saints, Thieves, and Liars

by Sean McConnell

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Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites: Amy Rigby

 

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Best Book I've Read in a long Time: The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's a saga of a boy's struggle to connect with his scattered family and to understand the inexplicable gift he's inherited all while moving west in search of his own destiny.

 

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I Recommend:

The Jukebox in Your Heart:

 

 

I asked for it.  A new Mike Stinson CD, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

 

 

Special Sports

World According to Me: NFL Draft 2010: Team Grades and Brief Analysis

 

Five of My Favorite Singer/Songwriters who are overdue for a new CD: (Instead of a criticism, a hope there's more great songs to come)

Mike Stinson: A honky-tonk voice so unique and a talent for pathos dripping with irony.  One of the top songwriters I've heard so far.  There has been promises of an impending new project due out any day now, "The Jukebox In Your Heart."

Last CD: Last Fool At the Bar

Brian Keane: A founding member, but now part-time player of the Band of Heathens, he recently gained some notoriety for co-writing Hayes Carll's award-winning "She Left Me for Jesus." 

There have been hints since 2007 that a record entitled "Forbidden" was imminent.  Still hoping.

Last CD: I Aint Even Lonely

David Halley: The writer of "Rain Just Falls" would be enough, but he has two fantastic, hard to find CDs: Stray Dog Talk and "Broken Spell."

Said to be working on new stuff with a band called Shake a Stick.

John Eddie: A touring, live performer whose only major release is Who the Hell is John Eddie which produced some airplay for songs like "If You're Here When I Get Back" and "Let Me Down Hard."

No word on an upcoming release.

Irene Kelley: The writer of one of the best country songs of all time, "A Little Bluer Than That."  Her sophomore effort, "Thunderbird" was a little disappointing, but A Simple Path was a revelation.

Come on, y'all.  The crowd is getting restless.

I Recommend: The Missing by Tim Gautreaux

 

Special Sports

World According to Me: Favre Not Alone Among Great Quarterbacks with less than Favorable Finishes

 

My Favorite CDs of 2009: (in no particular order)

 

Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away by Slaid Cleaves

 

Time Stands Still

by Chris Smither

 

Cotton

by Sam Baker

 

Glamour Puss

by Tom Catmull and the Clerics

 

Blood and Candle Smoke

by Tom Russell

 

What I Know

by Tom Rush

 

Long Gone

by Houston Marchman

 

Rattlin' Bones

by Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson

 

It's Not as Bad as It Looks

by Jon Dee Graham

 

Tucson

by L.L. Cooper

 

Many Moons

by Robyn Landis

 

The Ghost of Rock & Roll

by Matthew Grimm & the Red Smear

 

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Special Musical

World According to Me: My All-Time Favorite Songs so far

 

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A Brief Special Sports

World According to Me:

Now, that A-Rod has been exposed, what shall we do about the "steroid era?"

There has been consternation about the besmirching of the record book.  Much longing for the days of Ruth and Aaron.

A little due diligence would cast some light on this darkness.  How did the sport reconcile the many Babe Ruth homers hit during the game's admitted "live ball" era.  Lip service for awhile, and then we let it slip into oblivion.  And did we agonize over nearly half of Hank Aaron's homers coming after they'd lowered the mound which took pitchers a lot longer to adjust to than hitters.  Nope.

 

What are the agonizers  worried about?  That names other than McGuire, Bonds, Sosa, and A-Rod would be at the top of the power totals?  Really, who?

 

I have already ranted about the erroneous, widely-held beliefs about steroids. (See the World According to me)

 

However, I encourage anyone interested in learning some level-headed facts about the "steroid scare" to check out the following: (the first is a real eye opener from HBO's Real Sports):

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2754168929523377644

http://www.biggerstrongerfastermovie.com/

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Another Special Sports

World According to Me:

T.O. gets medicine to help him in playoff game; Clemens gets called before Congressional Committee for Injection in His Butt

  Addendum: News surfaced over the weekend that 50 Cent, Wyclef Jean, Timbaland and other rap stars had been implicated in a steroids investigation.

 

My Favorite CDs of 2008: (in no particular order)

 

Mission Door

by Peter Cooper

 

Trouble in Mind 

by Hayes Carll

 

Long Way From Tupelo

by Paul Thorn

 

Piece of What You Need

by Teddy Thompson

 

Man Descending

by Justin Rutledge

 

Twenty Dollar Know How

by Tom Catmull

 

Traveling

by Steve Poltz

 

Between The Daylight and the Dark

by Mary Gauthier

 

Beautiful World

by Eliza Gilkeyson

 

Truth and Fiction

by Rob Lutes

 

 

Featured Author in My All-Time Favorites: Lisa Gardner

 

Special Sports

World According to Me: NFL Draft 2009: Team Grades and Brief Analysis

 

 

I Recommend: Sam Baker's  Pretty World and Mercy

 

I Recommend: Tim Maleeny's new Cape Weathers book, Greasing the Pińata

 

 

I Recommend: Peter Cooper's Mission Door

 

 

Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites: Jimmy LaFave

Featured Author in My All-Time Favorites: Robert Campbell

 

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I Recommend: Hayes Carll's new CDs, Trouble in Mind

 

I Recommend: Markus Rill's CD, The Things That Count

 

Special Sports

World According to Me: NFL Draft 2008: Team Grades and Brief Analysis

 

I Abuse the News: So impressed by the success of "the surge," More Than 1000 Iraqi Troops

feel compelled to pursue other opportunities

--April 4, 2008

 

I Recommend: Tim Maleeny's Cape Weathers books, Stealing the Dragon and Beating the Babushka

Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites: Steve Poltz

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I Recommend: Mary Gauthier's newest CD, Between The Daylight and The Dark

 

I Abuse the News: Congress to Suspend Legislative Duties

to instead Concentrate on the Important Work of Questioning Sports Figures and Pop Icons   -- Feb. 16, 2008

I Recommend: John Burdett's Bangkok Haunts

I Abuse the News: Scandal over 200,000 small arms lost in Iraq

Blown out of Proportion

By Lenny Woodson

November 11, 2007

 

Featured Author in My All-Time Favorites: Don Winslow

 

I Recommend:Tom Catmull and the Clerics CD, Tom Catmull and the Clerics.

 

Special Sports

World According to Me: NFL Draft 2007: Team Grades and Brief Analysis

Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites: Jess Klein

I Abuse the News: Bush Administration Doesn't Hate Lawyers; Just Good Lawyers

compiled by Lenny Woodson

March 6, 2007

 

I Recommend: James Lee Burke's Pegasus Descending and especially the audio book performed by Will Patton

I Abuse the News: U.S. Revealed as Foremost Supplier of Insurgent Weapons Compiled by Lenny Woodson, February 8, 2007

Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites: Teddy Thompson

 

**I can never let the season pass without recommending a special holiday treat of a book:

The Stupidest Angel:
A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
by Christopher Moore;
winner of a 2005 Quill Book Award for the best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror book, but it's really just the best laugh-out-loud romp of any book to ever include a slow-witted angel,a talking bat, and a gaggle of brain-sucking zombies .  It's a stocking stuffer!***

I Recommend: Chris Smither has a new CD, Leave the Light On.

I Abuse the News: Bush extends pettiness to rest of world

I Recommend:  Captain/Barricades & Brickwalls by Kasey Chambers

I Abuse the News: Scientists say Harry Potter-like invisibility cloak possible

 

Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites: Paul Thorn

 

I Abuse the News: A Country Within

Not Belarus!  That Would Let US Off the Hook

 

I Abuse the News: Belarus Calls U.S. Presidential Election Invalid

 

World According to Me:

The Man Who Ruined Too Much: Could it be Fay Vincent?

 

I Abuse the News: Bush requests O’Reilly’s “Enemies List” to add to surveillance

I Recommend: FADE TO BLONDE by Max Phillips

Featured Author in My All-Time Favorites: John Burdett

World According to Me:  Complete Victory, Will Dubya’s action figure  have the kung fu grip?

Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites: Robert Burke Warren

I Abuse the News: Chief Army Contract Overseer Demoted After Criticizing Halliburton Pact

I Abuse the News: Bush tells Congress: Stay Home; Their services no longer needed

Featured Performer: Irene Kelley

World According to Me: George W. Bush: One of Our Greatest Presidents?

World According to Me: No Need for a Deep Throat in Bush Administration

I Recommend: John Prine: Fair & Square

The Hundredth Man by Jack Kerley

The Subdudes' Miracle Mule and Primitive Streak

The World According to Me: An Evening at the Barrymore With Abraham Lincoln

I Abuse the News: SPIN WARS Expected to Kill or Under-report the Deaths of Thousands Around the World

I Abuse the News: Shiites Stomp on Drawings of American Flags

World According to Me: May 25: An Anniversary; A Continuation of a Different Kind of War

Featured Performer in My All-Time Favorites:Vonda Shepard

 

World According to Me: The Bush Agenda: Is there a Bush Agenda?

 

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