Recently I was complaining (as old men are wont to do) about the state of modern country music, and asked Will Truman for some pointers on where to find some that’s worth a dime; because modern country pop radio just ain’t cuttin’ it for me.
He has yet to respond.
A million stories they can tell, and yet they seemingly keep telling the same ones over and over, using the same structures and chord progressions (see the pretty damning video up top), and slathered all over with the same shiny pop gloss you find everywhere else today. What’s the point?
Enter this dude.
Hell of a guitar player, and it’s hard not to recall the Waylons and Johnnys and Merles and Hanks and Willies in his just-don’t-give-a-fish demeanor, and the almost existential musings he brings into his lyrics.
Who knew this old new wave/synthpop one-hit wonder was ripe for an old-school C&W-crooned makeover?
Plus, he’s named “Sturgill”! What’s more country than that?
Your move, Truman!
I could have sworn that I responded! Sorry, man. I’ll get on that.Report
Ah, I’m totally just hasslin’ ya. Have you heard this guy? He’s pretty great.Report
Speaking of modern country music, allow me to present: “The Truck Got Stuck”, a Canadian classic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDY6bWT5oTMReport
At the least, it’s a less common story than most.Report
I foresee an “Alice’s Restaurant” – style sequel, where someone comes after them for inadvertently planting the wrong (genetically-modified) crops there…Report
View on YouTube
View on YouTube
View on YouTube
Simpson has a song called “Turtles All the Way Down,” which means his music will find life on the internet forever.
I imagine most good country these days gets called either “alt-country” or “indie folk” in order to distance itself from Nashville country, which is basically top 40 with a twang.Report
Thanks for the tracks, will play them as soon as this meeting ends.
In that KEXP one especially, the music is a real throwback, and Simpson talks about how he lives in Nashville but isn’t part of the scene there at all, spend a lot of time on the road instead I guess. He does correctly note that there are a lot of good restaurants there.
He plays “Turtles All The Way Down” on the NPR one. It’s apparently about (or inspired by) DMT.Report
One of the things that I’ve always thought was a shame about Nashville is how many wasted world class musicians there are. Now, they’re making real money, so good for them, but it’d be nice for us if they were making real music too.
Simpson is definitely a throwback. Sounds like country from the outlaw era. He plays, or at least used to play, in Austin often enough. I suppose he fits in with the alt-country scene here better than the Nashville Country scene.
And now I want some Loveless and some hot chicken, damn it.Report
His first album is definitely sort of “outlaw” classic/hard country. Not just the instrumentation but his singing style/vocals.
The new one is, for lack of a better word, kinda psychedelic for a country record (its title, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, riffs on Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music).Report
Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music… i.e., in both kinds.Report
You need to go to Noshville! (I refuse to wait in line for Loveless)Report
‘Turtles All the Way Down’ does reference DMT but the name of the song is from a quote by Stephen Hawking:
“A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”
If you like Sturgill I would encourage you to listen to his appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast. It’s at least 2 hours long and very interesting. We tried to get tickets to see him here in Louisville at the end of the month but it sold out quickly. Happy that a fellow KY boy is doing well.Report
Aaron, I should probably know this, but are you in or around Nashvegas?Report
My inlaws live in McNairy county, but we usually stay in Nashville for a bit when we visit. We live in the SF bay area. And there is a good used book store right in that neighbor hood.Report
My parents are in Franklin.Report
Bookman Bookwoman. McKays is OK, just a little to maintream for me. I think we swung threw Franklin one time.Report
I love McKay for a couple reasons: 1.) I can often get out of there with a dozen books that I want to read for under $15, and 2.) I actually have a pretty significant credit there because I sold a bunch of books a few years ago, but can only by so many at a time because I have to bring them back in a suitcase.Report
Oh, and after Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, “roots music” became a bit of a fad, and there was some good stuff that came out — old country, ol’ timey music, roots blues — and that seems to have mostly gone back under whatever rock it usually hides beneath. Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed a lot of that stuff. I’m sure someone here knows what’s still goin’ on with all that, though.Report
From the picture i thought this thread was about a homeless guy.Report
The life of a touring working musician isn’t easy. Probably feels a lot like homelessness a lot of the time.Report
I’m a huge country music fan from way back and while there is a lot of stuff I like out there right now, the ‘bro country’ stuff is getting old. For me the guy that is killing it right now remains Zac Brown. He has a bluegrass attitude towards music and also an openness to taking elements from a lot of other genres. We’ve seen him twice now in concert and I found both shows to be awesome.
Also, check out Delta Rae.Report
Oh my, there is so much good country and country-influenced singer-songwriter music out there that you can’t swing a bat without hitting some of it. You won’t find it on the radio. But you won’t find *anything* worth listening to on the radio anyhow, so… here’s some folks I’ve listened to lately.
Lera Lynn. She sounds like a love child of Loretta Lynn (to whom she is *not* related) and Emmylou Harris. http://youtu.be/kBIQlpv1N-w
Turnpike Troubadours — bluegrass-influenced country. http://youtu.be/uTYq66Tx1GY
Darrell Scott — a Nashville legend, but as a session musician or songwriter on other people’s albums. He does his own songs as well. http://youtu.be/svS6MwQ5mBY
Chris Knight — bleak country music from a guy from the West Virginia coal mine country. http://youtu.be/0U2Px5OR0eA
Slaid Cleaves — more of an Austin sound, but very country. http://youtu.be/bGoE9SGyC48
Shovels & Rope — http://youtu.be/8nElVTkXmLo
Justin Townes Earle. Sounds like his daddy Steve and Townes van Zandt had a kid. http://youtu.be/NErNFPSxU4c
James McMurtry. http://youtu.be/jY5HFFH2Z50
I’d go on, but this should get you started on some new country…Report
@mike-dwyer – shame about not being able to get tickets, seems like he’d put on a great show. If he comes anywhere around here I’m going to try to go. Will check out Brown & Rae, thanks for the recommendations.
@badtux – wow, thanks! Lot to investigate there, will do so ASAP.Report
James McMurtry is awesome, as much for his stories as his music.Report
Badtux has great taste in music. I was going to recommend Knight and I endorsed Cleaves a few weeks ago!
Listen to McMurtry’s early stuff (and do not go to a live show), there are few better.Report
I’d add to this list:
Bleu Edmonson (early stuff)
Jason Boland (early stuff)
Houston Marchman (later stuff)Report
Eleven Hundred Springs if you’re interested in long hair hippie freak country.
Too much good stuff to mention, so I’m mentioning people of different subgenres. Marchman is a storyteller, Boland is a more of a generalist, Edmondson more of a bar country sort of guy.
Also, if you haven’t listened to Nathan Hamilton’s Two Penny Vengeance, you should.Report
If you really like any of these artists, I can recommend many more in a similar vein (except Springs, who are unique)Report
@will-truman – and do not go to a live show – why is that? @chris seems to be recommending him for the stories.Report
McMurtry seems to be a very unhappy man, and that is reflected by his shows. You almost want to apologize for ruining his day by having him perform a show for you.
Clancy was a huge fan of his until we saw him live.Report
It’s been several years since I saw him last, but when I did he seemed in good spirits and he spent a lot of time between songs telling stories about the old days of Texas hippies.Report
Maybe we should just say he’s “hit and miss” then. I’ve seen him twice, the better time he looked bored and uninspired. The other time he looked annoyed.Report