In the past I’ve always leaned more toward the country/roots/americana influenced indie bands. If I read that Johnny Cash, Springsteen or Billy Bragg were an influence, I was more apt to give the band a chance than if Pavement, Yo La Tengo and the Pixes were the driving factor. But over the years I have veered off the country backroads and have even attended shows by Pavement, Sonic Youth and Pixies and been completely blown away. At times I have even found myself on those electric highways that lead to chillwave beaches and witch house dungeons and a few strange places in between. But last month Jamey Johnson released his epic double album, The Guitar Song ,and sent me back into the original Dirty South to find me some good ol’ down-home country music. I have to thank Aquarium Drunkard, NineBullets and No Depression for turning me on to the albums that follow, as well as reminding me how real/depressing/moving/fun this music can be! If you like Drive-By Truckers, Lucero, Band of Horses or other ILSUDH2 favorites, check out these albums!
Otis Gibbs – Joe Hill’s Ashes
Don’t know a lot about this guy except the short bio on his website; a bio that stresses the fact that Otis is not a paper-folkster. Being born in a rural town, traveling the world, planting thousands of trees, being stripped search in Detroit and having an FBI record seem to be his credentials for writing heavily political country songs. And while it does help that he is singing from experience, I would have liked this album even if he lived in L.A.
Kasey Anderson – Nowhere Nights
Another artist I don’t know much about. Kasey lives in his hometown of Portland, OR. He spent 8 years in Bellingham, WA. I believe most of these songs are about that time in Washington, or at least the first track, Bellingham Blues, must be. Ryan Adams and Steve Earle are the first names that come to mind when I try to explain this album. One of those rare albums where every song impressed on the first listen.
I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House – Sounds Of Dying
Not my favorite name, but I have to say it is fitting. This is punk country rock that’ll beat you bloody in the alley behind your favorite dive bar! Another band from Portland, OR that I found on my new favorite blog, NineBullets.
Javi Garcia & The Cold Cold Ground – A Southern Horror
The darkest and (by far) best album on the list…Javi Garcia and The Cold Cold Ground‘s debut album will make my Top 20 list this year for sure! Part Lucero, part Waylon Jennings, and part Tom Waits…this southern horror starts out with patricide and continues down a path of wicked stories that end in a flood. I can’t find much about the man or the band (that may or may not be named after a Tom Waits song),but this album speaks for itself! ‘Welcome to hell, glad you boys arrived!’
Cotton Jones – Tall Hours In The Glowstream
While it’s not exactly country, the new album from Cotton Jones does have enough country elements to be eligible for this list. Everything from indie folk/americana to indie pop with electronic backdrops to Big Band era music, this album takes you around the block and back and it’s a great ride.
and of course, don’t forget to check out the country album of the year…