By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch


January 2, 2005


1. Marah, "20,000 Streets Under the Sky" (Yep Roc): Those kids from Philly combined the best of their first indie-label albums with the punch of their one major-label effort to produce an exciting, passionate and original slab of rock 'n' roll.

2. Lost Trailers, "Welcome to the Woods" (Republic): A smashing debut for this Georgia band that ladled Southern rock bravura atop heartland emotion.

3. Tom Russell, "Indians Cowboys Horses Dogs" (Hightone): Americana's finest singer-songwriter produced a third cowboy CD that salutes Dylan, Marty Robbins, Edward Abbey, Pancho Villa and Black Jack Pershing. As always, a special salute to Russell's accompanist, guitarist Andrew Hardin.

4. Brian Wilson, "Smile" (Nonesuch): The great lost album of the rock era finally arrived after 37 years of rumor, bootlegs and snippets on various Beach Boys albums. It's a thrill, and it was worth the wait.

5. C.C. Adcock, "Lafayette Marquis" (Yep Roc): Speaking of waiting, this sophomore solo release from one of the Big Easy's legendary musicians took 10 years to go public. Cajun, zydeco, R&B, blues -- it's all here, and it's all good 'n' greasy.

6. BoDeans, "Resolution" (Zoe): Wisconsin's own return after an eight-year break with a CD of butt-shaking rock that supports, from the romantic to the cynical, the band's continuing interest in love and hope and sex and dreams.

7. Adrienne Young and Little Sadie, "Plow to the End of the Row" (Addiebelle): A thoroughly refreshing debut of acoustic music that looks back to bluegrass tradition but takes huge steps forward.

8. Steve Earle, "The Revolution Starts . . . Now" (E-Squared/Artemis): The godfather of alternative country targets George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, but his story songs are told through the blood of those making the sacrifices.

9. Keith Urban, "Be Here" (Capitol): Mainstream contemporary country from Down Under, delivered with genuine heart, no pandering and lots of great guitar and banjo.

10. Mary McBride, "By Any Other Name" (Reality): She's a singer, songwriter and playwright, but above all she's a rocker. Dan (Georgia Satellites) Baird is along on guitar to give it all a Stonesy punch.

Honorable mention: Anders Parker, "Tell It to the Dust" (Baryon); Los Lobos, "The Ride" (Hollywood/Mammoth); Silos, "When the Telephone Rings" (Dualtone); Th' Legendary Shack*Shakers, "Believe" (Yep Roc); Buddy Miller, "Universal United House of Prayer" (New West); Dave Alvin, "Ashgrove" (Yep Roc); Moot Davis, "Moot Davis" (Little Dog); Old 97s, "Drag It Up" (New West); Grey deLisle, "The Graceful Ghost" (Sugar Hill); Gretchen Wilson, "Here for the Party" (Epic).

BEST CONCERTS (chronological)

Bob Dylan, March 1, Pageant

Twangfest, June 9-12, Blueberry Hill

Lucinda Williams, Aug. 20, Pageant

BoDeans, Aug. 28, Pageant

El Vez/Mary McBride, Oct. 9, Blueberry Hill