Bloodshot 2011 Year in Review


November 29th, 2011 by Rami

Bloodshot has another great year under its belts, and we couldn't have done it without folks like you! You packed our annual SXSW Day Party at Yard Dog once again; sold out shows from coast-to-coast for the likes of Justin Townes Earle and Ha Ha Tonka; and placed Scott H Biram on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

We were thrilled in October when Justin Townes Earle won the Americana Music Association's award for Song of the Year for "Harlem River Blues" off his 2010 release, Harlem River Blues. Justin performed the same song earlier in the year on the Late Show with David Letterman, which you can watch here.

Bloodshot Records turned 17 years old in 2011—which is no small feat for an indie label these days. To mark the anniversary, we released a compilation of live cuts from our 15th anniversary party called No One Got Hurt: Bloodshot's 15th Anniversary @ The Hideout Block Party, featuring Bobby Bare Jr, Scott H Biram, Deadstring Brothers, Alejandro Escovedo, Waco Brothers and more! Also this year, we announced our partnership with the North Carolina-based, artist-run label MISRA Records, who also had a strong catalog year with releases from The Black Swans and Southeast Engine.

Out of the 10 albums we released this year, five of them were Bloodshot debuts. Here's a quick rundown of our 2011 catalog—there's still plenty of time to catch up on what you've missed. Nothing cures an egg nog hangover better than the following releases:

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, Want More
Release date: October 25, 2011

On JCBUS's Bloodshot debut, the charismatic Brooks erupts with raw emotion, harnessing the Uptown Sound’s post-punk reimagining of JB’s moves and MG’s grooves to unleash pure and uncompromising soul. But don't be quick to call JCBUS just a throwback group: KEXP's Don Yates calls Want More "a lively set of gritty old-school soul and funk injected with some raw garage-rock aggression." Never has an album title lived up to its name.

"JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound describe themselves as a post-punk soul band, but their sound is so much more expansive than that. Uptown Sound is on par with soul musicians from the heyday of the genre’s popularity." —Paste Magazine

MP3: "Everything Will Be Fine"
Video: "Everything Will Be Fine"


Scott H Biram, Bad Ingredients
Release date: October 11, 2011

Bad Ingredients, Biram’s fourth full-length for Bloodshot Records, is a decidedly different record for those who have been following SHB’s road-driven career. The album delivers SHB’s classic throat-stomping style, maintaining the blues-metal-country-punk-rock, but strengthening it with crack guitar playing and shrewdly-crafted songwriting.

"[Scott H Biram] has created one of the most important southern blues rock records in ages. It's fresh, it's dirty and its incredibly progressive." —Shooter Jennings

MP3: "Dontcha Lie To Me Baby"
Video: "I Want My Mojo Back"


Mekons, Ancient & Modern
Release date: September 27, 2011

The legendary punk-rockers 26th album in 34 years, The Mekons' Ancient & Modern is typical in its smart Mekon-ness—a look at the Edwardian Era of a hundred years ago, and how life of today is a short-cry from the past. The Mekons released Ancient & Modern on the resurrection of their own SIN label, in partnership with Bloodshot Records. It's also the first Mekons LP available in a very, very long time. Ancient and modern, indeed!

"A thorny mix of antiquey folk, squalling punk and Weimar-era cabaret." —Washington Post

MP3: "Space in Your Face"


Lydia Loveless, Indestructible Machine
Release date: September 13, 2011

Loveless’ Bloodshot debut combines heady doses of punk rock energy and candor with the country classicism she was raised on and just can’t shake; it’s an gutsy and unvarnished mash up that possesses a snotty irreverence and lyrical brashness that’s an irresistible kick in the pants.

"A remarkable debut...the strength of blazing voice, a fully formed persona and bluntly crafty songwriting. 8 out of 10 stars." —SPIN

"She has a big throaty voice that recalls Neko Case's at first blush, but Loveless' is bigger, richer, more expressive -- her singing owes more to singers [Loretta] Lynn and Jeannie C. Riley… Lydia Loveless' Indestructible Machine possesses a classicist's grip of country, a rock & roll sense of swagger, and the keen eye of a songwriter twice her age." —

"Indestructible Machine is one of the year’s best albums." —Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune/Sound Opinions

MP3: "Can't Change Me"

Bottle Rockets, Not So Loud: An Acoustic Evening With The Bottle Rockets
Release date: August 16, 2011

The Bottle Rockets have been making some of the most incisive, literate and lighter-raising American music for going on eighteen years now. Not So Loud, recorded in an acoustic setting at a 19th century schoolhouse in their home base of St. Louis, pulls from all eras of their acclaimed catalog, including classics from seminal albums long out of print, and re-casts the songs with lyrical and rhythmic nuances that will surprise both longtime fans and those who might have dismissed them as "just another bar band."

"Over the course of the 13 cuts the Bottle Rockets turn in a performance that’ll kick your butt, spin your head around, and make you think, wince, and maybe even sigh—without a single red-hot amp tube or speaker cone threatening to puke its guts out." —

MP3: "Smoking 100s Alone"

Dex Romweber Duo, Is That You In The Blue?
Release date: July 26, 2011

The Dex Romweber Duo burrows into the guts of American roots music with a uniquely alchemical mania; they are clearly bored with, or oblivious to, genre constraints. With a mix of originals and obscure nuggets from rock and roll’s dusky back closets, the DRD romps through the sweaty cinder block studios of Memphis of the 50’s, channels street corners on the wrong side of town with existential blues and instrumentals that’d find a happy home in a Tarantino spy flick.

"Romweber is still ruler of his own bossa nova rockabilly kingdom, skipping from surf-guitar rave-ups to spacey instrumentals to sepulchral balladry, with the occasional Xavier Cugat cover tossed in. Only a sibling could keep up, and Sara's accompaniment is perfectly dialed into Dexter's otherworldly wavelength." —

MP3: "Jungle Drums"
Video: "Jungle Drums"

Ha Ha Tonka, Death of a Decade
Release date: April 5, 2011

What makes Ha Ha Tonka brand of Southern rock so special is that it’s authentic, it’s effortless, and it never comes across as forced. They’re masters at bringing together the traditional and the modern. They sit at the crossroads of Americana and indie, where Alabama meets Arcade Fire, shakes their hand and takes them out for a drink.

"In 'Usual Suspects,' the opening track from Death of a Decade, the Missouri band Ha Ha Tonka busts out of the gates like classic Replacements on an Ozark bender. Premised on a killer riff, a great beat and singer Brian Roberts' throaty roar, Ha Ha Tonka may have created the catchiest mandolin-driven rock song since 'Losing My Religion.'" —NPR's Song of the Day

MP3: "Usual Suspects"
Video: "Usual Suspects"


Maggie Bjorklund, Coming Home
Release date: March 22, 2011

Danish pedal steel virtuoso Maggie Bjorklund's solo debut, an album of psychedelic desert pop music, was made with the help of her friends Joey and John from Calexico, Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees), Jon Auer (Posies), and Rachel Flotard (Visqueen).

[She's] created a near-masterpiece of the genre…the music is unimpeachable. Bjorklund's pedal steel voice —a blend of Bill Elm's processed grandeur, Eric Heywood's rich and elegiac swells, and the Nashville-flavored lines of Paul Niehaus—is all her own. It colors the instrumentals like desert blooms, and on the vocal tracks provides supporting accents or additional melody lines, turning soliloquies into soaring duets and duets into richly textured trios." —Blurt

MP3: "Intertwined" with Mark Lanegan
Video: "Summer Romance" with Rachel Flotard


Exene Cervenka, The Excitement of Maybe
Release date: March 8, 2011

The frontwoman of the legendary punk rockers X, as well as insurgent country pioneers The Knitters, returned with her second Bloodshot solo album, The Excitement of Maybe. Throughout the album is Exene’s characteristic blend of folk, deep country and poppy, wide open spaces—bringing together the potential and innocence of young love, the gravity of departure, and the symbolic changing of seasons.

"Lyric-wise, the album shares themes—aching despair, domestic romance—with her other bands. It's a world of driving rain, jukeboxes, barkeeps poised to kick everybody out for the night, empty highways and burnished vistas ... Catchy and immensely singable, the endless vocal refrains on The Excitement of Maybe aren't going to leave your brain anytime soon." —LA Times

MP3: "Already In Love"
Video: "Already In Love"


Eddie Spaghetti, Sundowner
Release date: February 15, 2011

On Sundowner, the Supersuckers' frontman's third solo album and first for his longtime fans at Bloodshot, Eddie Spaghetti shows that a broad mix of source material, in the right hands, C&W cats like Dave Dudley (the snarling “Cowboy Boots”) and Johnny Cash (“What Do I Care”) can obviously nestle up comfortably next to punk rock snots like the Dwarves (“Everybody’s Girl”), or that Rig Rock legend Del Reeves (“Girl On the Billboard”) and Touch & Go Records cult faves the Lee Harvey Oswald Band (“Jesus Never Lived On Mars”) share a surprising commonality.

“Sundowner is good old-fashioned country rock, with shit-kicking beats, snappy guitars, and Spaghetti’s well-worn larynx recalling Steve Earle.” —Big Takeover

MP3: "Never Thought That I Would"