Artist: Levon Helm Track: "Tennessee Jed" Album: Electric Dirt Listen

Electric Dirt, Levon Helm's second album since recovering from throat cancer, has all the dusty charm and ramshackle, we-will-survive charisma that made The Band famous. He drummed in that group, but here he shows a knack for potent arrangements that boast a zydeco flair, shinier production and up-tempo energy. This release -- and this fantastic Grateful Dead cover -- is one the most pleasant surprises of the year.