Jof Owen (Rough Trade East)
1. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
With a little nod to laid back seventies AOR and a cheeky wink to early eighties Easy Country, Golden Hour is smooth and creamy and sparkly all over. It’s the saddest sounding album about being happy I’ve ever heard and it’s everything I ever dreamt the follow up to Pageant Material would be.
2. Brandie Carlile - By The Way I Forgive You
I spent the first five months of the year listening to nothing but this record. I’d try to listen to other things, but every day I’d end up going back to it cos I didn’t want to hear anything else. I couldn’t bear to be apart from it. Even Kacey couldn’t keep me from listening to it for a while. I wasn’t really expecting to fall in love with a Brandi Carlile record - it had never happened before - but I guess sometimes when we need them most it’s the records we need that find us, and not the other way round.
3. Courtney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain
Taking the delicate Laurel Canyon country folk of the first album and adding sweeping Muscle Shoals orchestration and the alt-country swagger of Lucinda Williams' eighties albums, Courtney Marie Andrews turned up the heat on all the drippy Americana wet wipes out there and made what on any other year would have been a dead cert for my Album Of The Year. And it was on gold vinyl, so it was quite literally solid country gold. The Rough Trade podcast I recorded with Courtney was undoubtedly the highlight of my short lived career in low budget radio.
4. Caroline Rose - Loner
Caroline Rose Day was one of my favourite days of the whole year! She played in the shop at lunchtime and she was INCREDIBLE and then in the evening we all went to see her at the Victoria in Dalston and it was one of the best shows I went to all year! I mean, she played a recorder solo and did a cover of Toxic. I died.
5. John Prine - The Tree of Forgiveness
The John Prine instore was one of the most magical nights I’ve ever known at Rough Trade East. Sitting up behind the main counter and listening to him singing Summer’s End and all those other beautiful songs was as good as life gets. On cold winter mornings when I’m walking to work in the rain and wondering why on earth I’ve spent so much of my life working in this record shop I think of little moments like this and I remember it’s all been worth it.
6. Pistol Annies - Interstate Gospel
The return of the greatest country supergroup of all time!! Just when we needed them most. And Miranda Lambert is playing a washboard now!! Swoooon!
7. Carrie Underwood - Cry Pretty
In an otherwise fairly dull year for country music, at least we could rely on the queen of country vengeance to bring it. Switching seamlessly between goofy girl-next-door and impassioned Las Vegas diva, this is power country just like your momma makes it and every bite’s a banger.
8. The Orielles - Silver Dollar Moments
I just fucking love The Orielles and I fucking love this record. Indie pop as cute and jangly and fucking cool as it always used to be, before all the drips took over and everyone forgot that Bobbie Gillespie was joking when he wore an anorak.
9. Chvrches - Love Is Dead
It sounds like a cross between Cocteau Twins and Red era Taylor Swift and everyone in the shop hates it. It was always going to be in my Top Ten, come on.
10. IDLES - Joy As An Act Of Resistance
When I was fifteen I used to be in a band with Tim from Sweet Billy Pilgrim and we used to play Black Flag’s Slip It In and do covers of No Means No and Big Black songs and wear long sleeved t-shirts and have long nicely washed hair. I remember we sounded a lot like Idles. Probably the best band I was ever in tbh.