Sales-wise, at least, 2004 was the year Nashville got its groove back. Heavy hitters such as Tim McGraw, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Shania Twain all dropped platinum records, but what has the city more excited than its been in years is the fact that it finally managed to anoint a couple of new stars. Kid Rock copycats Big & Rich wedded honky-tonk and rap sensibilities and came up with a million-seller; Gretchen Wilson came roaring out of the Illinois cornfields with Redneck Woman and emerged as the feistiest, orneriest female country singer since Tanya Tucker. Meanwhile, both in Music City and out in the sticks, the loose confederation of disparate genres that march under the Americana banner trudged on, touted by critics and mainly ignored by mainstream rock and country radio. And thats a shame, because even though Americana is deluged with lots of mediocre product, these ten CDs blow the doors off just about everything that came off the major-label assembly lines. And theyre all better than Wilcos latest... More >>>