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Louis Fowler’s Top 5 Favorite Records of 2018

Smithsonian Folkways
"Cruzando Borders," the latest album from Los Texmaniacs, is among Louis Fowler's Top 5 albums of 2018.
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Sadly, as a huge chunk of my life was taken away from me this year, I really didn’t listen to too much new music because I was, you know, healing. I instead tended to opt for reissues from Paul McCartney and others, as well as plenty of cut-out bin bargains from around the city—hello Kinks’ Think Visual.

Still, even with the lack of the most popular tunes of the day pounding from my playlist, at the end of December 2018 I realized still I had enough obsessive favorites to make a up not only a decent list for you to read here, but pretty much the only music list of what currently matters to me the most, best exemplifying where I am with most music these days and, truthfully, most days.

Here’s my top five records of 2018…

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Los Texmaniacs - Cruzando Borders (Smithsonian Folkways)

Quickly becoming the new kings of the Tejano scene, the Los Texmaniacs’ latest album Cruzando Borders is a good time with no walls—and if there are walls, the guys are gonna knock ‘em right down.

Achieving another couple of Grammy nods, this album is an absolute tribute and triumph to the many wins—and subsequent losses—that both Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from the border and beyond contend with on a daily basis. “Mexico Americano”, “La Chicharronera”” and “Soy de San Luis” keeps close the traditions, while Rick Trevino’s haunting “I Am a Mexican” and a cover of “Across the Borderline” makes plenty of newer ones.

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Patricia Vonne - Top of the Mountain (String Commander)

Why Patricia Vonne isn’t one of the bigger names in the music scene still deathly confounds me, her latest album even coming out as an import on a German record label. Still, Top of the Mountain finds her at her boldest, easily slithering between eternal cool and ethereal hot. There are some classic ferociously-penned paeans here—“Tidal Wave” and “God’s Hand”—with some outright rockers—“City is Alive” and “Lekker Ding,” creating an hour’s worth of music that have got Vonne displaying more two-fisted attitude than just about else on the record shelves right now.

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Shooter Jennings – Shooter (Elektra)

After a few tangents that were much needed—Black Ribbons—and some not so much—Countach—Shooter is back doing that Texas-infused outlaw country that he does so well, on his latest self-titled release. From the kickass kick-off with “Bund Ta Git Down” to the suitably melancholy send-off  “Denim & Diamonds”, Shooter’s our tour-guide through the wish-fulfillment imagined urban-country life, from regret-forgetting day-drinking (“D.R.U.N.K.”) to two-fisted Saturday nights (“I’m Wild & My Woman is Crazy”), crafting the perfect album to pass-out to, either from drinking or fighting.

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White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams (Curry Cuts)

From the stellar tribute label Curry Cuts—last year’s James Bond album still is in constant rotation—comes a wholly unexpected power-pop explosion in White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams. The master songsmith’s catalog is reinterpreted and reinvigorated with a sonic blast, turning standards like “Evergreen” and “Special to Me” into be-bopping ditties that find new life in songs that still had plenty of it left. Standouts from Minky Starshine (“The Hell of It”), Cait Brennan (“An Olde Fashioned Love Song”) and the Test Pressings (“The Love Boat”) have only just begun to tell Williams’ tale of total genius.

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Prince – Piano & a Microphone 1983 (Warner Bros.)

While not an album of new material per se, it’s still a gorgeously intimate collection of demos from, like the title declares, 1983. Formerly long epics in the studio here are transformed into jazzy piano jams that showcase a different side to popular tunes like “Purple Rain” and “International Cover” to silken gems like a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and the traditional “Mary Don’t You Weep”. If this is just a sweet taste of what delving into Prince’s vaults is going to be like, I look forward to plenty more of these hidden aural plunders.

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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