The 10 Best Texas Country Albums Of 2015

Aaron Watson leads a strong field of 2015 Texas Country releases.
Aaron Watson leads a strong field of 2015 Texas Country releases.
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Texas Country music is a league of its own; anyone familiar with the genre knows that. As much as Nashville has wanted to insulate Texas music away from “popular” country music, this year they really couldn’t deny some of our fine state’s top talents. As artists like Aaron Watson and Turnpike Troubadours barged their way onto the national scene this year, it helped showcase the pretty excellent year that other Texas artists had as well.

So 2015 wound up a great year for both Texas country mainstays and up-and-comers. Some sleeper albums certainly seemed to come out of nowhere, as did others that fans have been begging for over the past few years. These ten rise to the top of a pretty competitive year in Texas country, which only means great things for the continued future of our beloved homegrown genre. [Note: this list is in reverse alphabetical order.]

10. AARON WATSON, The Underdog
The Underdog's debut at the top of the country charts with virtually no radio airplay or major-label support shocked the country-music establishment. It did not, however, come as any surprise to Watson's many fans, who have watched him grow into one of Texas country’s strongest musicians. On The Underdog, Watson sticks to his traditional and religious roots while also producing his most commercially-friendly record to date. It doesn’t hurt that the songwriting, instrumentation and vocals are near-impeccable.

9. TURNPIKE TROUBADOURS, Turnpike Troubadours

Okay, okay, fine. Turnpike Troubadours are technically from Oklahoma, but they’ve been playing in Texas long enough for us to claim them as our own. The band still had a pretty damn successful year, with their self-titled album peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. This album is classic Turnpike, a brilliant showcase of front man Evan Felker’s incredible songwriting ability, and the addition of Turnpike classics like "Bossier City" was a nice touch for fans that have been following the band for a while. It also doesn’t hurt that these scrappy Red Dirt vets forced Nashville to look their way as they climbed the charts.

8. RANDY ROGERS & WADE BOWEN, Hold My Beer Vol. 1

Not to get too sappy, but the Texas music scene is so incredibly lucky to have guys like Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen, and Hold My Beer Vol. 1 was further proof of what we already knew. This duo album is also one of country’s strongest of the year, thanks to the downright adorable chemistry of these two guys who just really, really like making music together. The bond between these two notwithstanding, their musical chemistry is just undeniable. “Standards” has my vote for the best Texas Country song of the year, hands down.

7, MIKE & THE MOONPIES, Mockingbird

Mike Harmeier and his Moonpies have long been a staple on the Texas music scene, but they really found themselves with the release of Mockingbird. These are classic honky-tonk songs you'd expect to hear at a dance hall, which has always been the appeal of this traditionally-leaning act. It’s just a shame that this album didn’t attract broader attention outside of Texas — or even more attention than this Rolling Stone mention, rather — because it is a damn fine recording.

6. MATT KIMBROW BAND, Lonestar Paradise

Matt Kimbrow has been around the Texas music scene for a long time, and is easily one of the genre’s best songwriters and performers. This 5-song EP is as good as anything as Kimbrow has ever recorded, and could be his ticket to the success that he’s deserved for years. It doesn’t hurt that these tracks are also as radio-friendly as hell, and we’re not just talking about Texas radio here, either.


William Clark Green is easily one of Texas country’s most promising artists, and plenty of folks were taken aback by just how damn good Ringling Road, his sophomore release, really is. After 2013’s Rose Queen, Green has really settled into his sound, and is more confident as a performer, writer and vocalist than ever.

4. PAT GREEN, Home

There’s really no more fitting title for this album than Home, as Pat Green gets right back to his Texas roots here, on easily his best record in a good long while. It doesn’t hurt that cameos from Lyle Lovett, Sheryl Crow, and Delbert McClinton also round out tracks that showcase Green’s signature style, or at least how it was before he started courting Nashville audiences. Dedicated fans have been waiting for this album for a long time.

3. BART CROW, The Parade

Now that he’s striking out as a solo act, Bart Crow is doing some of his best work. The Parade is a brilliant combination of dance-hall tunes, love songs, and good old-fashioned country jams that demonstrates Crow's versatility and incredible talent as a songwriter. It’s also been nice to watch him come into his own as a performer over the past year or two. The future only holds bright things for Bart Crow.

2. BRI BAGWELL, When a Heart Breaks
If there’s anyone on the Texas country scene that the boys have just flat-out refused to give her due, it’s Houston's own Bri Bagwell. She's been out on the road for years, playing the hell out of honky-tonks and bars while recording excellent music. When a Heart Breaks was just too good for anyone to ignore, especially as the impossibly catchy tough-girl anthem “My Boots” finally scored Bagwell her first No. 1 on the Texas country charts.

1. JOSH ABBOTT BAND, Front Row Seat
The best music is frequently born from pain and love gone wrong, but who knew that it would turn Josh Abbott into this wrenchingly emotional songwriter who released his best album to date in Front Row Seat? The structure, sound, and songwriting on this record is in an entirely different league than anything Abbott has ever done before. Front Row Seat is one of the best country albums of the year, and that’s not just limited to Texas.

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