Every year around this time of year, I find myself listening to country and country-inspired tunes. Why this is, I don’t know, but traditionally I haven’t been much for country music. I find much of it sappy and sentimental, and praising of a life I don’t identify with. However, about four years ago, I started getting really into classic country music like Hank Williams and The Carter Family, as well as 90’s alt-country bands like Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy’s Uncle Tupelo and Ryan Adam’s Whiskeytown. I’m growing to appreciate country of all types and appreciate the heart and storytelling behind much of it. So here are five country or country-ish tunesI’ve been listening to.
Kacey Musgraves – “Merry Go ‘Round”
An upcoming potential crossover star, Kacey Musgraves is one of the better young songwriters regardless of genre around today. She writes pretty critically but also beautifully of her country upbringing, and musically, her music very tasteful and at times downright pretty.
Ashley Monroe – “Two Weeks Late”
This is just about my twang threshold, but Ashley Monroe, also of country supergroup the Pistol Annies, packs a healthy dose of attitude into a very classic country sound to make for some very enjoyable country music on her new album Like a Rose.
The Men – “Open The Door”
My friends and I were comparing Springsteen-inspired garage punk bands Titus Andronicus and The Men, and I said what differentiates the two of them for me, is Titus Andronicus channels the east-coast rebellious spirit of Born to Run, and The Men channel the open country road of Nebraska. The Men alternate muscular punk rock with country drinking songs on their latest album New Moon, and “Open the Door” fits into the latter.
Waxahatchee – “Lips and Limbs”
Birmingham born Katie Crutchfield brings a little country by the way of the Pixies and Liz Phair on “Lips and Limbs”. Waxahatchee is otherwise pretty much lacking any other country influence in her music, but I wanted an excuse to share her music, so there’s that.
J Mascis & Sharon Van Etten – “Prisoners”
This is one of the better duets I’ve heard in a while, and it’s on the new John Denver tribute albums of all places. J Mascis of garage rockers Dinosaur Jr pairs his ugly country warble with Sharon Van Etten’s traditionally pretty voice to make for a really interesting contrast, and that doesn’t even mention the wonderful Southern garage rock riffs that Mascis delivers.