The Josh Abbott Band’s particular brand of Texas Country has been rocking roadhouses for the better part of a decade now—but their major label breakthrough didn’t come until 2014, with the release of the Tuesday Night EP. That five-song set, led by single “Hangin’ Around,” debuted at #12 on the Billboard Country chart, and helped cement the Lubbock natives as one of the rising stars in a country scene that spans both Texas and Nashville. 

To celebrate the big things that the Josh Abbott Band has in mind for 2015—and the friends that helped them get to where they are now—frontman Josh Abbott curated a custom playlist of Texas artists he’s excited about. Here’s what he picked and why: 

Stoney LaRue, “First One To Know”
Stoney does this song with such a sense of honesty, and this song has really meant a lot to me. For me this song really captures the essence of realizing your mistakes and working on improvement. “When I’m back to my old self again my love, you’ll be the first one to know.” Amen, Stoney.

Wade Bowen, “West Texas Rain”
Obviously being from West Texas makes me love this one even more, but what a fantastic song! This is another one that I can relate to as a man who is looking back on life choices and reflecting on them. I’ve got choices I’d like to change; we all do. This song gives you hope.

Randy Rogers Band, “Wicked Ways”
One of my favorite RRB songs, one that’s penned by the bass player, Chops. This song has a groove to it while you’re singing about your “wicked ways.” It represents that hope for moving forward and leaving the past behind.

William Clark Green, “Sympathy”
This song has such a great way of letting you vent for a second. When someone has hurt you, sometimes it’s hard to feel for that person, and Will’s lyrics are honest if not blunt about that.

Kacey Musgraves, “Silver Lining”
Kacey is on her way to being an icon in country. I love this album-opening track for its sense of optimism when things are going wrong. Production allows her to shine, and it’s catchy without being too much.

Charlie Shafter, “Drunk On Desire”
Charlie is the most underrated songwriter I know. This track fits this playlist’s theme for its sense of vulnerability. “If my life could be forgiven, I’d be an open book.” I feel ya, Charlie. Great tune from one of my favorite former roommates. 

(photo by C. Taylor Crothers)