top 10 all-time bloodshot records releases

ha ha tonka @ local 506

(Bloodshot Records, my beloved outlaw country indie record label out of Chicago, is celebrating their 17th anniversary of releasing consistently spectacular records this upcoming weekend, and though I’ll be otherwise occupied down here in the Triangle, the next couple of days on the blog will be devoted to Bloodshot and how much they kick ass. On Monday, I wrote Bloodshot a love letter; yesterday, I did a preview of some of Bloodshot’s most recent releases.)

Wondering where to start in Bloodshot’s epic catalog? These are my ten favorite Bloodshot releases of all time.

  1. Ha Ha Tonka — Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South: one of my top ten releases of all-time by anyone, actually. This is a staggeringly gorgeous, epic album, a story from start to finish that takes my breath away — it was my album of the year in 2009.
  2. Firewater — Golden Hour: strange roots fusion with wild world music, this was my album of the year in 2008.
  3. Justin Townes Earle — Harlem River Blues: the more I listen to this album, the more I am blown away by JTE’s songwriting, and the final moments of the title track are so uplifting that they give me goosebumps.
  4. Waco Brothers — Waco Express: Live & Kickin’ at Schubas Tavern: the best introduction to one of the finest cowpunk collectives in the world; nothing will ever compare to the Wacos live-live, but this comes close, and features all my favorite songs.
  5. Various Artists — Making Singles, Drinking Doubles: a comp celebrating Bloodshot’s 100th release, this is a collection of out-of-print b-sides and singles that weren’t available anywhere else, and it features Rex Hobart covering “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, which is amazing.
  6. the Old 97’s — Wreck Your Life: early 97’s, and some of Murry’s best songwriting; the album that launched them, put out by the label that they helped launch.
  7. Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys — Your Favorite Fool: the now-defunct Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys were one of the best pure country artists of the early ’00s, and this album, particularly featuring a stunning version of “Golden Ring” with Kelly Hogan, is their finest.
  8. Neko Case & Her Boyfriends — The Virginian: Neko’s only pure country album; I think one would blow some hipsters away.
  9. The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir — … and the Horse You Rode In On: the pure pop end of Bloodshot’s outlaw country lineup, this is a record full of cheerful sounding indie pop songs all about supremely depressing things, and it is exquisite.
  10. The Detroit Cobras — Baby: badass all-girl garage rock, mostly covers of old songs you know. Fierce and excellent driving music.

Bloodshot’s store is here. Go buy some shit. It’ll all be great, I promise.

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