Friday, October 22, 2010

"Alt-Country" Becomes the Music of this Fall

What can I say….I love writing about music and I’ve found a new sound that I needed to share with anyone who is looking for some new music.

As some of you know, my love for Brit music started with bands like Oasis and Travis during my high school days and has been a constant in my musical listening life over the past 15 years. It led me to bands like Lily Allen, Kate Nash, Florence and the Machine and many others.

I will never forget buying Keane’s first album Hopes and Dreams while living in Alabama in 2001 and falling head over heals in love with the band. (No kidding right? Just look at this blog). This past summer was basically devoted to listening to them.

Moving around the South and Midwest for my radio career opened me up to country music in ways that I never, ever imagined. In high school, when people used to ask me what kind of music I liked, my standard answer was “everything but country”.

 I wasn’t alone in that opinion growing up in Boston as historically, country music never got much attention except when you stumbled onto the Country Music Awards on CBS after a Patriots game ended and you quickly laughed at the ridiculous twang of the performers.

 Ironically for me, while living in Alabama, it was a girl from Boston who exposed me to country music in a way that made me actually listen to songs and lyrics and find an appreciation for the art. Bands like Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Dixie Chicks, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Josh Turner, and Sugarland started to get placed on my IPod and have stayed ever since. I’ve even been to several country music concerts including seeing Rascal Flatts three times.

But then came Bluegrass and that’s how my love of Brit music and country ended up headed on a collision course.

Alison Krauss and Union Station perform some of the most amazing songs I’ve ever heard. Most people know her work from the soundtrack to the George Clooney movie O Brother Where Art Tho. Her solo work also has won her more Grammy’s than any other female country artist and she quickly became one of my favorites. Alison and her band currently sits at Number 2 on my list of bands I must see before I die (R.E.M. is number 1).

One more stop before I get where I’m going this and that was my finding of the band Old Crow Medicine Show – a southern bluegrass band that expanded my musical horizons and made me search out more bands with similar sounds. I just caught the fever of the music.

It all came together when I discovered the band Mumford and Sons, and suddenly, my love of Brit music crashed into Bluegrass and country. I literally haven’t been able to stop listening to their 2009 album Sigh No More. Dust Bowl Dance shook me the first time I heard it and their perfection of the crescendo is masterful.

It all came full circle this past week when Keane writer Tim Rice-Oxley’s spin off group Mt. Desolation, released their self-titled first album. If you haven’t heard the song State of our Affairs yet, please take the time to below and hear how haunting of a song it is. It will stick with you in a very good way.

So what to call this new sound? When I first heard the label “Alt-Country”, I wasn’t sure I liked it but then I started to hear why it works. On the Mt. album, you will hear the influence of Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Neil Young, and Linda Ronstadt. You will hear some Union Station and Old Crow inside the music of Sigh No More as well. It's an amazing redux on a great American sound.

From a love of Brit music, to country, to Bluegrass to Alt-country from Brit musicians – my music journey continues to be a passion of mine and I love where it is taking me.

And just for fun...I play this song every time I go into my favorite bar in Omaha


JasonAH said...

This is one version I haven't heard before. I really like the song and there are many that perform it (Search iTunes for Wagon Wheel sometime) and this is a great version. Are they the original performers or do you know?

Matt Perrault said...

Someone told me that Bob Dylan was the first one to perform Wagon Wheel but I love Old Crow

Omaha Noise Patrol Captain said...

I love Old Crow... I strongly recomend checking out Lucero if you like Alt Country...