10 essential "bluegrass" albums

About the list: The list covers "bluegrass" in a very broad sense. If it weren't for my very strict policy of one album only per artist or band, .357 String Band would have all their three albums on the list and within the top five albums. There will never come up another band like this.

   

No

 Cover Album Artist

Notes

 

 

1

1401730402 2

 

 

Fire & Hail

(2008)

 

 

.357 String Band

Despite three outstanding albums and relentless touring .357 String Band never got the appreciation they deserved. "Fire & Hail" is the jewel in their crown. It's also a very rare album and represents the finest hour of "streetgrass".

 

 

2

 

1401735540 40

 

 

Anatomy of a Gun

(2009)

 

 

Black River Brethren

This prominent position shouldn't be possible with just a 17-minute EP as claim to fame. Black River Brethren are labeled "cowpunk", "creepy country", "goth-grass" and "grunge-country". They are all that and more.

 

 

3

 

1401818872 124

 

 

 

Ornery

(2008)

 

 

 

 

The Monads

The Monads played their final show on October 30 2010. They didn't go quietly into the night and you can watch some videos from the final show on Youtube. This full-length album is packed with speed, brilliance and attitude.

 

 

4

 

1401817294 112

 

 

 

 Cockadoodledon't

(2003)

 

 

 

 Th' Legendary Shack Shakers 

This "bloodgrass" album is cherished and often ranked very high. On my "bluegrass" list, however, it renders only a fourth place. This album was a source of pride for the Nashville underground country scene at the time.       

 

 

5

 

239

 

 

Hatchetations

(2013)

 

 

Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy

Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy work very hard and tour relentlessly. Despite obvious punk influences they're stellar musicans and the  sound quality on the album is brilliant. Their songs deal with social criticism aldurated with irony. It still bites hard.  

  

 

6

 

1401811420 83

 

 

 

The Last Six Feet

(2012)

 

 

 

Filthy Still

This is furious punkgrass from Providence, Rhode Island. Their lyrics are spelled “self-consuming”:…how I spent my dime, drinking beers by the bucket, smoking weed and passing time, with a pocket full with pills, my days are full of thrills…

 

  

7

229

 

 

 Leavin' This Life Behind

(2011)

 

 

 

Joel Kaiser & the Devil's Own 

 

This is hellbilly from Montréal, Canada. This goes to show that "bluegrass" thrives in all climate and time zones. Some of the songs are reworked versions from their EP "Honky Tonkin' Till the Coffin". Life is hard. In fact very hard.    

 

 

8

 

1401814803 99

 

 

In Life We Can't Be Free

(2009)

 

 

Highlonesome

This is high-octane mountainbilly. Bluegrass music have been described as: "it has a high lonesome sound." There’s nothing high and lonesome over Highlonesome. It's hard to pick an album. For each new album the pace have ratcheted up a few notches. Were will it end? 

 

 

9

1401820948 143

 

 

Blood on the Line

(2011)

 

 

Pushin Rope

Pushin Rope is despite their band name very potent. Imagine "Johnny Cash on crack meets Hank the 3rd at a whisky drinking contest". Pushin Rope are no west coast surfing junkies with a tan. Just look at the album cover if you have any doubts.

 

 

10

1401817157 110

 

 

The Shape of Bluegrass to Come

(2010)

 

 

 Last False Hope

You're bound to annoy bluegrass purists with a debut album titled "The Shape of Bluegrass to Come" with the cocky subtitle "A Blasphemous Abomination in 4 Hymns". This is fast, extreme and hard music almost "growlgrass".