Posts Tagged ‘Indie Country’

Loose Koozies

I’ve said it many times, but its worth repeating, the past few years have been a golden age for alt-country. The strains are many — cosmic-tinged psych that dots a few pot leaves on the ol’ nudie suits, indie country that pulls from No Depression template, folk strummers with a touch of twang, wage-puncher rags that take the edge off. The latest LP from Detroit’s Loose Koozies employs most, if not all of these subsets at once, while making the transitions appear seamless. While the can scrape the infinite with the best of ‘em, mostly they’re splitting time between the Jayhawks/Tuepelo template and The Replacements shaggy dog day-job sufferers with a bit more barroom twang on board. The band’s E.M. Allen has got a damn fine Jay Farrar gristle in his windpipe and that might make the comparison lazy if it weren’t so spot-on. Aside from the aesthetic similarities, the band excels at making the ordinary trappings of work, vice, sorrow, and simple pleasures elevate from the benign to divine, like both of their influences before them.

While Detroit might not have the stamp of a country hotbed, it’s certainly got all the right pieces in place. Having grown up in Michigan myself, I know the hold the genre can have on the populace. Seems their prowess proved infections and the band caught the ear of local legend Warren Defever (His Name is Alive), who hopped on board to help guide the grooves that the Koozies lay down. He also found himself studio-side contributing a bit of keys to the record. It’s easy to see what enamored Defever with the band as they’ve captured one of the more raw-nerve version of the new country grit that I’ve heard elsewhere. Many have tried, but few have found the right balance of country-rock chops and sweat-stained honesty that made that ‘90s wave click. Each spin on this record locks it down further as a jukebox staple just waiting for a college town or night-shift bar to embrace it as their own. Don’t let this one slip away.



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Mixtape: Some Cowboy You Turned Out To Be

While this doesn’t really fall under the year-end banner, I’m going to place it in alongside the rest of this wrap up. It’s actually been a year since the site’s last mixtape and I think these have fallen by the wayside too long. For this one, I’m shifting focus on the mixtape series to contemporary over archival releases to wrap up some of the excellent strains of alt-country, country-folk, and dusted singer-songwriter tracks that have come out in the last few years. The creep of country into indie has had a nice push lately, bringing forth some of the most affecting and aching tracks of years past. While I’d wager to say that Cosmic Americana has had the strongest resurgence in years past, I’m making the case for alt-country as a close second. The lay lines on this sort of genre are shifty and mercurial, so feel free to disagree, but I’d wager this mix has some strong contenders in its ranks.

These songs are full of heavy hearts, failed marriages, missed connections, youthful melancholy, and maturing reflections. There’s joy, but it’s between the somber sway of pedal steel and the bittersweet twang of guitar strings. I offer this mix as a companion to solo drives as the sun dips low and endless stretches of road lie ahead, or rainy evenings on the porch alone. It’s a solitary set of songs, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no hope in its heart.

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Sean Thompson’s Weird Ears

Nashville’s a town of strata, and while the country royalty and Third Man a-teams might split the coverage, there’s a whole broiling underground full of indie country slingers that aren’t quite popping to the surface on a daily basis. Quite a few of these have been graced with the stringwork of Sean Thompson. He’s played alongside Teddy & The Rough Riders, Skyway Man, Ornament, and Promised Land Sound and since last fall he’s been striking out on his own for a series of EPs that capture his own songwriting. The first of these, Weird Ears Part 1 featured the members of Ornament backing up Thompson’s songs, mostly swimming through the indie-twang waters that snake through his former ouptposts. For the second offering under the Weird Ears banner, Thompson’s stretched for concept and struck gold in the process.

Still backed largely by the members of Ornament, but also adds in the vocals of fellow Nashville local Annie Williams and the Pedal Steel work of scene stalwart Spencer Cullum (Miranda Lambert, Lambchop). The album’s concept revolves around a resident who gets fed up with gentrification and heads to the country to live on a raspberry farm. Seems pretty much like the average resume of every third person I meet here in the Hudson Valley, but the results work out nicely. Thompson’s songwriting has solidified over the last year, and this second EP is vibrant, lush, and bittersweet – sliding easily between barstool blues, instrumental blushes, and a reprise that touches the more storm-torn psychedelia of Dire Wolves.

Williamson’s work on the title track(s) is perfectly hued and Cullum gives the record a great touch of shading. The concept never gets in the way of Thompson simply putting together a great run of songs that open deeper on each listen. Plus, the artist is donating half the sales from each purchase to the Nashville Food Project, so you can do a bit of good while listening. Hoping that this progression from Thompson only continues to shine brighter with each new offering.



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