Gibson has a list of the Top 5 Essential Alt-Country albums.
1. Uncle Tupelo, Anodyne (Warner Bros, 1993)
2. Son Volt, Trace (Warner Bros, 1995)
3. Whiskeytown, Strangers Almanac (Outpost, 1997)
4. Wilco, Being There (Reprise, 1996)
5. The Jayhawks, Hollywood Town Hall (Warner Bros, 1992)
I hope it surprises nobody that I own them all. I hope it surprises nobody that I listen to them all fairly regularly.
Can I tell you what surprises me?
Every one of those recordings is over 10 years old. Brilliant, to be sure. I'm not always sure that those are necessarily the albums I'd pick but I'd certainly go with the artists. Specifically, Wilco's best album by my ears is still A.M., and if I was to pick a favorite Uncle Tupelo album ... I'd pick 'em all, but at this moment I'm leaning more toward Still Feel Gone. Not that Anodyne isn't great, because it is.
But what have the alt-twangers done for us lately? This non-traditional music has always tugged my ear far more than mainstream Nashville stuff, and even though my TV is more often tuned to CMT than to MTV, there's a shallowness to it that puts me off. And while I've been keeping those five artists and a few others in fairly regular rotation, I'm finding out about the newer, cooler stuff in drabs at best.
If a thing shows no signs of life in ten years, it must be considered dead. Is there nothing essential in Alt-Country from the last decade? Rather, what would you consider essential, great or even just really darn good Alt-Country released 1998-2008?