1. Ashley Monroe, 'Like A Rose'
Together with the Pistol Annies' latest, this Knoxville girl (aka: "Hippie Annie") pulled off two of the year's best LPs. A juicy old-school honky-tonk set wrapped in pedal steel, it's full of characters as real as your neighbors, sung with Dolly Parton soul and sass. In fact, Monroe sums up her retro-modern dual consciousness on "You Ain't Dolly (and You Ain't Porter)," a sassy duet with Blake Shelton that has one foot in the Gran Ole Opry and one in Comedy Central. But by the time Monroe suggests ganja, whips, and whipped cream to a lover over fiddle and barrelhouse piano on "Weed Instead of Roses," it's clear this ain't your grandma's country music. Unless you have a very cool grandma.