These lists are so open to interpretation that they sometimes get dissected by critics to wonder why or who the hell would like a certain album. Rolling Stone released their top 50 and had Bob Dylan in the top five with his album Tempest. If I had a worst albums of the year list (I don’t because I like publicists – I might be the only one) that would be one of the top five. It was absolutely horrific. That song about the Titanic was a joke. I love Bob Dylan in most of his incarnations. When he railed on a few years back about wanting to fornicate with Alicia Keys, who was I to blame him. Alicia Keys is very easy on the eyes. However, this is not a great Bob Dylan album and to say it is, diminishes not only his legacy, but also the many artists who put out great albums this year.
One of those artists is our number nine of the year.
You probably haven’t heard of Ocean Carolina, even though we wrote about All the Way Home a few months ago. They’re an alt-country band that totally captivated me with this phenomenal debut album. I have a love/hate relationship with debut albums. Meaning either I love them or hate them, there is rarely a lukewarmedness to my affection of debut albums. I loved this one. Loved, loved, loved it. It was emotional, poetic and the music is beautiful. This was actually my surprise album of 2012.
I didn’t even know who this band was until their brilliant publicist, who seems to know my tastes so well, sent this to me and I was instantly hooked. What I wrote about them when their album came out was:
All the Way Home is country like Ryan Adams was country when he put out Jacksonville City Nights with the Cardinals. It’s like country that goes back to the roots of it all. It’s like steel guitars, love, heartache and a twang. It’s an exercise in the way to make a debut album. What way is that you say? Remarkable, memorable and succinct. There are ten songs that leave you wanting more. Ten perfectly encapsulated little stories with only one barely straying over the five minute mark. It’s not quite perfect as there is a song, “Women and Wine” that straddles the line of modern country, but for the most part this is a fantastic debut from this band that two days ago I had never heard of and now after only ten songs I wish they had put out twenty.
I still feel that way. It’s found its way into my regular rotation, as much as any album can these days as I spend much of my time listening to new stuff and podcasts about anything, but music. I wish more people could have heard this album, I wish more people would realize the depth of the lyrics, the emotion that I spoke of earlier and the light at the end of the tunnel in regards to country music. Taylor Swift is not the end all be all for country. Like her or not, she represents nothing that country music stands for. Ocean Carolina, on the other hand, is exemplary in their focus on what makes good music, great country music and a blueprint for a future splinter that is ever evolving in the country music faction of alt-country.
All the Way Home by Ocean Carolina is available here.