As I grow older, I keep forgetting to listen to the so-called favorites from the national stage. Instead, I replace those sometimes forced sounds with regional acts' releases. In Louisiana, that's a good problem to have.
The year was once again full of great EPs and full-length albums from Baton Rouge and Lafayette bands. Here are 10 favorites and some honorable mentions, in no order.
"American Vernacular" by Humble Kind. This was a breakout year for Humble Kind, and the main reason for the band's success is this debut full-length. "American Vernacular" is a slice of rock/Americana that's full of golden guitar solos and gliding melodies. facebook.com/thehumblekind
"Awake & Dream" by Minos the Saint. After years of pounding the pavement, becoming a household name in Baton Rouge, Peter Simon, Ben Herrington, Micah Blouin and the rest of the gang finally released their studio debut. The result is an excellent showcase for the chamber folk group. The band's mix of classical instrumentation and folk lyrics is top notch. facebook.com/minosthesaint
"Cry Freedom" by Marcel P. Black. Released in the midst of a rough summer, the Baton Rouge rapper showed why he's one of the most powerful voices in the area. Black's latest full-length is a wake-up call, and his voice is sorely needed at times like these. marcelpblack.bandcamp.com
"Better Artists" by Plush Claw. A small sample of James Van Way III's talents, "Better Artists" is a slow, brooding and beautiful EP. plushclaw.bandcamp.com
"Viatones" by The Viatones. Four years in the making, "Viatones" is the sound of a band stuck in the AM radio, listening to all the old-time rock 'n' roll sounds they can, and the Lafayette scene is all the better for it. theviatones.bandcamp.com
"Beneath Still Waters" by Courtney Granger. What is real country? If you're around the Acadiana area, Courtney Granger has that "real country" sound. Sparse arrangements, a big voice, and some fiddle and lap-steel guitar — now that's country music. valcourrecords.com
"Analog $ummer" and "$upreme Abdul-Jabbar" by Adam Dollar$. With a vocabulary range that would make scholars' heads spin, Adam Dollar$ continued to put in hard work and release great material this year. It's only a matter of time before national acclaim comes. adamdollars.bandcamp.com
"Christopher Slim and the B-Side Bosses" by Christopher Slim. Mix whiskey, leather jackets and rockabilly tunes together, and you get this EP — what sounds like one of the funniest recording sessions I've heard put to record in awhile. christopherslim.bandcamp.com
"Sharper Blade, Safer Knife" by Slomile Swift. There is probably some ludicrous genre tag for what Slomile Swift is doing, mixing these samples and beats together on this instrumental six-song EP. I call it madman brilliance. slomileswift.bandcamp.com
"Rise" by Michael Juan Nunez. One of the hardest-working blues musicians in Louisiana, Michael Juan Nunez delivered on his new full-length album. Rather than going with what people want, Nunez and his band did what they want to, resulting in the group's tightest set to date. michaejuannunez.com
Honorable mentions: "Two" by Eric DiSanto; "Regina" by The Rakers; "Perfume" by Alabaster Stag; "My Life is a Country Song" by Dennis Ledbetter; "We're Made of Wood & Fire" and "Live at Dyson House Listening Room" by Joey Carbo; "These Songs Don't Know Me" by Derek; "In the Yellow Leaf" by Brass Bed; "The Chambers" by The Chambers; "EP" by Mayhaps; "Channel 5," "Ghost Files" and "GUNDAM" by Dude with No Name.