25 Best Albums of 2013

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Country music absolutely thrived this year, and that doesn't include what the mainstream regurgitated out to the masses. No, there will be no Bro-Country records in this "Best Of" piece. In fact, what many of this list's artists are doing is what the mainstream should be doing. When it comes to remarkable storytellers and vocalists, you have to look a lot further than corporate-held radio to get a firm grip on compelling stories of love, loss, heartache and even happiness.

While I enjoy plenty of what the mainstream has to offer, I find myself peering deeper within the genre's roots to fulfill my musical appetite. You probably won't recognize most of the names on this list, but I assure you, this collection has truly moved me (sometimes, to tears) over the past 12 months. I strongly urge you to take a listen, if you haven't already.

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Ashley Monroe – 10 Random Questions

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Ashley Monroe is widely known for her part in the trio girl band Pistol Annies with members Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley. However, she has been performing music since she was just a kid.

Monroe was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. As a pre-teen she moved to Nashville to pursue her music. After only a year she was offered a publishing deal as a songwriter. In 2006, she released a duet titled "I Don't Want To" with the legendary Ronnie Dunn. The single did fairly well. Monroe also co-wrote Jason Aldean's "The Truth" and Miranda Lambert's "Heart Like Mine." She is one of Nashville's greatest songwriter's.

In March of 2013, she released her album "Like A Rose" via Warner Bros. Nashville to critical acclaim. The album was produced by Vince Gill.

Monroe has a classic country sound and a fire that comes to life when she sings. She is what real country music is made of.

1. At what age did you know you wanted to pursue music?

Always. As soon as I could talk I was singing.

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Ashley Monroe marries in Tennessee

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And the last Pistol Annie is now off the market. 

People.com is reporting that the last Annie standing, Ashley Monroe, married Chicago White Sox pitcher John Danks in a sunset ceremony last night (Thursday, October 24) in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. 

"I married my best friend," Ashley tells People.com. "He has such a good heart."

Fellow Annie, Miranda Lambert, and her hubby Blake were also part of the big day with Blake officiating and Miranda acting as maid of honor and wedding planner. 

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Ashley Monroe releases music video for “Weed Instead of Roses”

Today, singer/songwriter Ashley Monroe released her new single and
music video for “Weed Instead of Roses.” The song is from her critically
acclaimed album Like A Rose, co-produced by 20-time GRAMMY award-winner
Vince Gill and Justin Niebank, and is available NOW at iTunes for $0.69 through
the end of the month.

CMT will host the world
premiere of the music video for “Weed Instead of Roses.” Monroe is one of CMT’s
Women of Country and her video debuts today across all CMT platforms.
Click here to view. 

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Ashley Monroe on tour in support of critically-acclaimed album “Like a Rose” (from the mailbag)

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Well this certainly isn't going to help ease fans' fears that the Pistol Annies have split up or are on the way to doing just that.

From a press release:

Country singer-songwriter Ashley Monroe hit the road last week in support of her critically-acclaimed album Like A Rose, which was co-produced by Vince Gill and Justin Niebank. As the only artist to have two albums featured in Rolling Stone's "Best Albums of 2013: Mid-Year Report" with both Like A Rose and Pistol Annie's Annie Up, Monroe's solo country album is one of the most highly praised releases of 2013. Monroe exclaims, "Wow!!! Being in Rolling Stone's "Best Albums" list one time exceeds my wildest dreams. To have two albums on the list is beyond humbling. I couldn't feel more honored."

Monroe began her tour with multi-platinum band Train on the "Mermaids of Alcatraz" tour. During the 25-date run, Monroe will join Pat Monahan to sing their duet of the band's current hit single "Bruises," followed by a performance of her own material. Later this fall, Monroe will join Grammy-nominated Atlantic artist Hunter Hayes on the "CMT On Tour: Hunter Hayes Let's Be Crazy" tour, running through the end of the year. She recently performed with Hayes at a sold-out New York City Webster Hall show, followed by a solo performance for MTV's Online Music Awards. Last month Monroe was also featured singing alongside Willie Nelson for CMT Crossroads: Willie Nelson & Friends from Third Man Records.

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Pistol Annies “Annie Up” Album Review (Guest Post)

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As
if Miranda Lambert didn’t have enough going on with her red-hot solo
career and her marriage to Blake Shelton, somehow she finds time for
cool little side projects, like her
group, the Pistol Annies. The trio is comprised of Miranda Lambert (Lone
Star Annie), Ashley Monroe (Hippie Annie) and Angaleena Presley (Holler
Annie). Their 2011 “Hell on Heels” was a critically acclaimed (although
not embraced by radio) debut. Perhaps the folks at those big awards
shows (CMAs, ACMs, Grammys) were confused by the Annies and their alter
egos. Maybe they thought the gals made the album as a farce? I can’t think of any other explanation as to why they weren’t
nominated for Best Album, Best New Artist or Best Group. Yeah, the
record was THAT good, and if you, as a country music fan, don’t own it,
your collection is incomplete.

That
having been said, I had high expectations for their sophomore CD,
“Annie Up.” The twelve tracks were all co-written by Lambert, Monroe and
Presley. Here’s my track-by-track review.

I Feel a Sin Comin’ On, the opening track, is a bluesy sultry number. that starts out acapella, with finger snaps.
“You can see it all over my face, sweet temptation all over the place,
give me tall, dark and handsome, mix it up with something strong. I feel
a sin comin’ on.”


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