#18 – Raucous Americanus by Tim Lee 3
The city of Knoxville produced some pretty astounding music this year. That’s why I’m a little surprised that this two disc release from Tim Lee 3 is the only local album on this year’s list (apologies are due to Sam Quinn, R.B. Morris, Mic Harrison, Greg Horne, and Karen Reynolds among others).
Tim Lee is not a native Knoxvillian. His roots reach further south where he first rose to prominence in Mississippi in the 80’s jangle pop band The Windbreakers. Over his thirty year music career, Lee released a handful of records with The Windbreakers, toured as a member of his friend Mitch Easter’s band Let’s Active, and recorded a few solo albums. He settled in Knoxville with his wife Susan Bauer Lee at the beginning of this past decade, and the two of them formed TL3 in 2006. With Tim on guitars and vocals, Susan on bass and vocals, and Matt Honkonen on drums and vocals, the band has found something special on their third studio release.
Raucous Americanus is a rock record… two of them in fact. It’s the only two-disc album to make the list. The reason the record is so successful is that, even at 21 tracks and nearly an hour-and-a-half, it never feels like too much or becomes to familiar. The songs were culled from three different recording sessions with three different producers in three different states. Add to that the fact that Tim and Susan swap lead vocals from song to song, and there is enough variety to keep things fresh the whole way through. From jangly pop to trippy Americana to full on rock, Tim Lee 3 released one of the most varied and satisfying albums of the year.
Tim Lee 3: Salty Tears (Buy Album)
#17 – Nowhere Nights by Kasey Anderson
I’ve told the story a couple of times now of how I first came across Kasey Anderson. However, it’s time for me to stop talking about Anderson as the guy who I used to know as a fellow poster on the message boards at altcountrytab, and start talking about him only as a legitimate musician. He’s earned that much for sure as the head of his own Red River Records label and a fine songwriter with five strong albums to his credit (and a new one coming in February).
At its core Nowhere Nights is a personal tale about a restless soul who has spent too much time in one place and needs to move on. For Anderson, that place was Bellingham, WA, a place he lived for eight years and felt he had to leave. At times, Anderson wistfully contemplates a tidy cutting of ties. Other times, he seems ready to take a scorched earth approach and burn down everything around him. Either way… he gets his point across. Anderson lives in Portland now.
Update: Get a free sampler with three songs from Nowhere Nights and four songs from the new album at Anderson’s website.
Kasey Anderson: Bellingham Blues (Buy Album)
#16 – The Foundling by Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier is a veteran artist. She’s released six studio albums, been the recipient of an Americana Music Award, and had her songs covered by artists ranging from Jimmy Buffett to Blake Shelton to Fred Eaglesmith. She’s an accomplished chef who once ran her own restaurant in Boston, and she’s an accomplished musician who has played shows all over the country and all over the world.
Mary Gauthier is also an orphan.
That piece of information is central to her 2010 album The Foundling. A deeply confessional album that is essentially Gauthier’s story told through song. It deals with her journey as an orphan, her search for answers in her life, and her coming to grips with the answers she found and those she was denied. It’s as personal an album as I’ve ever heard, and one that can be difficult to listen to at times due to the raw emotions involved. It’s those emotions, however, that make the album great and worth spending time with.
Mary Gauthier: Goodbye (Buy Album)