Derailed: Americana 2009

Every so often I will be posting under the ‘Derailed’ heading. This is for posts that are outside my normal comfort area…indie rock/pop.

Country music has changed quite a bit over the past decade or two.  It’s become pop music.  It’s become big and flashy and in your face.  It’s gone from the downtrodden to the rich and famous.  How can you sing a song about your truck breaking down when you drive a BMW?  How can you sing about the farm when you live in a high-rise?  How can you sing about life when you’re barely out of high school? And how can you cry in your beer when you’re dating or married to the newest movie star or starlet?  The answer is that you can’t.  So popular country music has merged with with R&B, Rock & Roll and even Hip-Hop.  It’s become crossover music.

I could argue all day about how this is good or bad for the genre.  But the one thing that I am sure of is that it’s given independent artists a chance to fill in the gaping hole left by Toby Keith, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and the rest of these concrete cowboys.  A lot of these artists showed up on my Best of 2009 lists:  Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Lucero, Iron & Wine, Phosphorescent, Avett Brothers, Alela Diane, Cave Singers and Deer Tick.  Not to mention one of my favorite country artists, Jamey Johnson, and some of my favorite bands like Drive-By Truckers and Wilco.

I know it’s not fair to call all these artists country.  But they do all have a country, folk or roots feel to them.  They can all safely be categorized as Americana.  This is the future of talent in the country and related genres.  And below are 10 other albums that I can recommend.

Amanda Shires – West Coast Timbers (country/americana)

Buddy & Julie Miller – Written In Chalk (americana/alt-country)

Eilen Jewell – Sea of Tears (alt-country/folk)
Eilen Jewell – Shakin’ All Over link

Gurf Morlix – Last Exit To Happyland (americana)

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (alt-country)

Miranda Lambert – Revolution (country…this actually falls into pop-country, but she’s got an edge to her)

Radney Foster and the Confessions – Revival (country/americana)

Rosanne Cash – The List (country)

Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses – Roadhouse Sun (alt-country)

Strand of Oaks – Leave Ruin (folk/americana)
Strand of Oaks – End In Flames link