Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Picks for Americana Week

I like my synthy-pop and buzz bands just as much as the next plaid-wearing hipster standing beside me at Flicker Bar, but at the end of the day (or on a long road trip), there is nothing like an amazing song driven by incredible lyrics and a great melody (and maybe even some harmonica or fiddle for good measure). This is why Alt-Country and Americana will always be my favorite genres of music. So, seeing as it is Americana Week, here are some of the best bands that will be preforming as a part of the festival.

Justin Townes Earle, son of legend Steve Earle, has been a favorite artist of mine for years. His style evolves every time I see him live. His EP Yuma and full length The Good Life are a bit more old-school country than his newer stuff - Harlem River Blues & Midnight At The Movies. All of them are terrific. Stream some of his songs at NPR. This song is a little bit of a watered down version of what I think is the best Justin Townes Earle has to offer, but it is still an awesome song
Robert Ellis & The Boys are a throwback to what country music was at it's best, while keeping it modern and showing us what country should (and could) be in the future. After hearing Robert sing, I understood when people would talk about having a voice like velvet. His album Photographs was made for road warriors on a long stretch of highway. And he is a New West artist (and played at our rehearsal dinner party), so he is a major favorite in the Fonty household.
Ben Sollee Lexington, Kentucky's Ben Sollee makes the cello hip. Last year Ben put out, Dear Companion, an album with Daniel Martin Moore and Jim James to bring awareness to the mountain top removal issue in Kentucky coal mining regions. The album is in one word - amazing. This clip is from my most favorite record store in Nashville, Grimey's. Far too many of my non-existant dollars were spent here in my days living in the 'Ville.

The Civil Wars are not under the radar anymore. Chances are if you watch any tv at all, you have heard their songs on some show or commercial. This Nashville duo put out their EP, Poison & Wine, on their own and it made it to iTunes #1 download. Their full length album, Barton Hollow, is just as beautiful. Follow their gorgeous photo tour diary via Facebook.
Amy LaVere packs one major punch. She is a tiny person with a big voice, and she slings the upright bass around like it's a stuffed animal. Her last album, Anchors & Anvils, was in constant rotation, and I have loved everything I've heard from her latest effort, Stranger Me. Doesn't she have the cutest accent too?
Tim Easton manages to have heartfelt love songs next to a political jam all on the same album, and it makes perfect sense. His Ammunition album is warped from being played so much. Tim isn't just a musician now, he is also an artist. He hand painted 500 vinyl covers for his Porcupine album. The Houston Chronicle did a piece on Tim's guitar art show Cactus Music.
Grayson Capps is from New Orleans, and has one of those weathered voices of a true troubadour. His song Love Song For Bobby Long brought him acclaim when it was the title track to the movie of the same name featuring John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson.

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