Los Angeles hosted the Grammy Awards last night. Between miscategorizations, Linda Chorney’s Nomination and Steve Earle’s loss, Turnstyled Junkpiled has decided to give out our own awards from The Sin City with the Los Angeles Americana Music Awards, dedicated to honoring artists from LA and beyond for their hard work in 2011.
2011 PIMP OF THE YEAR
Steve Earle for I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive
Steve Earle is a badass. And he’s getting better with age. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (a nod to the Hank Williams song of the same name) is a harmonious blend of Americana, Bluegrass and Celtic influence. It’s as if Woody Guthrie joined the Pogues and marched off to the Battle of Gettysburg. Though he may defy classification, Earle proves yet again whatever he plays these days just sounds like real country, not that Nashville pop BS.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Hayes Carll for KMAG YOYO
Carll, who is nominated for the Americana Music Awards artist of the year is a mix of Waylon Jennings and Guy Clark. What sets him apart both from mainstream country or Americana, is his blending of the two styles. His sound has an old school country rock element to it, combined with more poetic, socially conscious lyrics. But, in his own words from the track “Hard Out Here,” he sings “You ain’t a poet, just a drunk with a pen.” Spoken like a true Texan.
BEST ALBUM by VARIOUS ARTISTS (New Material)
The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams
Hank Williams pens sixty-sixty songs, scattered throughout four notebooks. He dies in the back of his Cadillac at the age of 29, leaving behind the unfinished work. The notebooks are stuck in a vault in Nashville. Fifty years later, Bob Dylan has them.
It almost sounds like a far-fetched, country tale, but with the release of The Lost Notebooks, a legend is brought to life again with the help his disciples.
It’s a good thing Williams’ material wound up in the hands of the right person, because this is fragile subject matter for music aficionados. Of course, with his film effort, Masked and Anonymous, Bob Dylan proved that if he’s heading a project, the right people will be involved and get the job done, no matter the magnitude.
“If Hank Williams is the God of Country Music, then Merle Haggard is Moses delivering his message.”
BEST ALBUM by VARIOUS ARTISTS (Previously Recorded Material)
This One’s for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark
There’s a reason Guy Clark felt confident in staying out of this one. When it comes to tribute albums, Tamara Saviano knows what she’s doing. The Grammy winning producer of 2004’s Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster, proves yet again that she’s a master of paying homage to one of America’s finest songwriters. Showing tremendous understanding of the subject at hand, Saviano has delivered a tour de force compilation that breathes new life into an epic body of work.
LEGEND OF THE YEAR
Merle Haggard for Working in Tennessee
If there was a Country Mount Rushmore, Merle Haggard would be front and center. A man Johnny Cash called an “American icon,”the Hag’s two-stepped it up and gone back to the basics with his latest release, Working In Tennessee. The Texas swingin’ title track sets the tone for an album filled with little more than brush snare, dobro and acoustic guitar. Its carefree coolness feels like a Sunday drive down Main Street with Grandpa. Well, that is if grandpa was a pot smokin’, Bakersfield Outlaw who could drink a whole fraternity under the table.
“Working in Tennessee” by Merle Haggard (Vanguard Records)
“You’ll Never Again Be Mine Again” sounds like Helm’s about to roll up to his barn on a tractor, drink sweet tea, pull up a hay bale and jam with some hillbillies.
There’s something about the former Band drummer’s tone that just sounds like the South and with this cool breeze of a tune, he’s managed to nicely marry his signature style with that of his Alabama born predecessor.
BEST OF LA – ALBUMS by Gerry Gomez, Staff Writer
1. Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong
2. Ted Russell Kamp – Get Back To The Land
3. Brian Wright – House On Fire
“Maria Sugarcane” by Brian Wright (Sugar Hill Records)
4. Dustbowl Revival – Holy Ghost Station
5. Ryan Adams – Ashes And Fire:
Any time Ryan Adams puts pen to paper, the potential for something extraordinary to happen is there. One might expect that if he were to write a note to Mandy Moore saying “I’m going to the store for herbal tea,” that it would be something for most people to frame, because chances are it would also be riddled with some beautiful bizarreness. Operative words, “tea and going out” – mundane for most, ripe material for Ryan Adams.
6. Dave Alvin – Eleven Eleven
7. Patrolled By Radar – Be Happy
8. Mark Lennon – Home Of The Wheel
But what is perhaps most unique about Lennon, is his ability to write sentimental songs that maintain a hopeful innocence, which is something that is rare to find in an artist. For instance, the Gram Parsons-esque, “California Calling,” is about a failed long distance relationship, but he still manages to bring the listener up, rather than down.
9. Old Californio – Sundrunk Angels
Offering up a twang infused hybrid of 60s San Francisco Psychedelia, crossed with early California Country-rock, LA based, Old Californio live up to their name with their latest release, Sundrunk Angels. Hearkening back to the days of Haight/Ashbury, this strong rooted band brings out the influence of country-crossed hippie music without the typical indulgent meandering jams most Grateful Dead throwback groups fall victim to. Their free-spirited and bright guitar riffs may go well with an oil lamp and acid trip, but Old Calfornio never lack intent or structure in the dynamic music they play.
Come Tomorrow by Old Californio
10. The Far West – The Far West
BEST OF LA – EPs
Squirrel’s Picks (Host – Turnstyled, Junkpiled Pimp Podcast)
1. Broken Numbers Band – Strange Street
Combining folk, rock, country and “hippie-grass,” The Broken Numbers Band are yet another LA based group that deserve a spot on Turnstyled Junkpiled’s “artists to watch” list. With the release of their short but sweet EP, Strange Street, these guys prove that although they may be young, they sure know what they’re doing.
2. Maxium Ludwig And The Santa Fe Seven – This Round Is On Me
Straight out of Silverlake, Maxim Ludwig and the Santa Fe Seven are so darn good. With their new EP, This Round is on Me, five carefully crafted, perfectly executed, thoughtful songs, make up an effort that should put many other acts on notice, because this is a fine demonstration of how artists ought present themselves. With twenty-something, lead singer/songwriter Maxim Ernst Ludwig (really his legitimate name given to him at birth), This Round is On Me, proves this old soul is the real deal.
3. Skyline Drive – Skyline Drive
4. Damngivers – Damngivers
“Your Mouth Doesn’t Know What Your Mind Oughta” by Damngivers
One of the acts at the forefront of this trend in true twang, are The Far West, a band whose name couldn’t better represent the spirit of what is brewing in the honest trenches of this often tough town. Coming by way of Texas (Robert Black- Bass/Vox), New York (Lee Briante – Guitar/Vox), Alabama (Alan Rogers – Drums), Virginia (Brian Bachman – Guitar) and Louisiana (Erik Kristiansen – Pedal Steel), The Far West bring LA’s signature, Gram Parsons style Country Rock, together with the type of Honky Tonk that is unmistakably Texas. But whatever it is they play, The Far West exceed in coming together to produce a distinct sound that is undeniably their own.
“Bound to Lose” by The Far West
BEST LA LIVE SHOW
Justin Townes Earle – Autry Museum 2/25/11 and Music Box 9/28/11
Though he may be on amicable terms with his legendary father, it’s plain to see the hurt’s still there. His slow, almost hypnotic interpretation of “Mama’s Eyes,” was like a fresh wound set to music. And in the new song (which is still in the works) “I’m Tryin’ To Move On,” Earle reveals that the problems in his life might be traced back to the “moment when [his] father tore [his] mother’s heart in half.” Then again, he reminds us that it was his father who told him, “never mind people’s feelings, just write it.”