It’s safe to say country music gets a bad rap. Sure, having grown up in the heartland, there’s the safe argument that this critic is more than a bit biased, but hear me out: there’s a lot more to country music than you’ll ever hear on your local Clear Channel station. And when it comes to contemporary music with its lyrical finger on the pulse of life in America as we see it in 2012, there’s little out there which can rival the honesty of a good country song. You just have to dig for something a little more “alternative” to the mainstream drivel. There’s not a Taylor Swift to be found on this list – rather, the emphasis is on variety, which is both the spice of life and the ultimate ingredient in the best music you’ve spent way too long being afraid to enjoy.
#10 – Middle Brother
With lead vocals drawing heavily on early Neil Young, this alternative country super-group features members of Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit. The combination of three top-notch singer songwriters into one group makes for the ultimate headphone fix, and their self-titled debut out last year is one of those keepers you find yourself pulling out time and again when you need country-tinged rock with real soul and grit.
You can’t go wrong with either of their initial bands either, but throw these three together and the result is hard to ignore.