Yet another music recommend thread
July 10, 2010 12:08 AM   Subscribe

Help me find more country songs with minimal production.

I like country songs that have very little production. The more production, the less I like it. So you can probably guess the major players... Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark. Outlaw country. I always liked Cash. I always liked Elvis. I like acoustic Dylan, but electric not so much. I can deal with a tinge of rockabilly and I can deal with a tinge of bluegrass but I can't get down with really folksy happy go lucky stuff. It needs to have a little bit of an edge. I already worked my way through everyone in Heartworn Highways. I have pretty much everything Steve Earle ever recorded and the overly produced stuff just kills me. Recent stuff like "Tennessee Blues" I'm into. "Mercenary Song" is one of the best tracks ever. "Elijah's church". I like some Hoyt Axton. I like lap steel. I like violin. Much more than that and I sort of lose interest. Drums don't really do it for me but I could get over it I guess. Drunk people with the weight of the world sitting around the fire drinking whiskey and playing the guitar. I'm not so into new music in this genre though if it's really, really good it can win me over. "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show I like but the rest of their stuff I don't dig. Some Gillian Welch songs are great. Some Loretta Lynn. I know Lucinda Williams was kicking around but everything I've tried was too produced. It can be women. Roscoe Holcomb. Certain Link Wray songs (Polydor years) I lose my shit over. "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" was my favorite song for a long time. Country blues are good but I want to exhaust Country before I move to Delta Blues. I don't mind some stuff that's a little high concept. For the past year I've basically listened to Terry Allen exclusively. Juarez stands head and shoulders above the rest. No production. In my ideal world you'd turn me on to another Juarez, but I don't think that's gonna happen. Henry Flyntt is cool. I need lyrics though. I like stories.

So what else will I like? Maybe recommend specific songs to kick me off... if someone had recommended me the Steve Earle that sounds like The Boss I probably would have dismissed him. But I like Nebraska. You see what I mean... what do you have?
posted by nathancaswell to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Tywanna Jo Baskette? I would recommend "Fancy Blue."
posted by Gilbert at 12:13 AM on July 10, 2010

Jon Prine, Avett Brothers (try their album Emotionalism), Uncle Tupelo, Pokey LaFarge, Be Good Tanyas. Some of these might be a stretch but they're on my list of minimal folk and country.
posted by jnrussell at 12:25 AM on July 10, 2010

Richard Buckner
posted by at the crossroads at 12:27 AM on July 10, 2010

Iris DeMent (try Our Town); Fred Eaglesmith (try Alcohol And Pills); Nanci Griffith; Tom Russell; Neal Casal.
posted by Catseye at 12:29 AM on July 10, 2010

You REALLY need to hear Willie Nelson's IRS Tapes (Who'll Buy My Memories). Just Willie & his guitar. Incredible performances of great, great songs. Desert Island record for me, hands down. Woefully oop.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:10 AM on July 10, 2010

Laura Cantrell.
posted by mippy at 1:16 AM on July 10, 2010

Opal's Early Recordings, which has been OOP for almost 2 decades (that link contains a link to download it), has been in my rotation for just as long. I didn't write this review but I could have.
posted by K.P. at 1:38 AM on July 10, 2010

Kasey Chambers.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 1:52 AM on July 10, 2010

My first thought after reading your post was Willie Nelson. His album Red Headed Stranger was a revelation. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain was the hit single, but I'd listen to the album from start to finish for the story. As far as his singles go, Whiskey River and Me and Paul are two of the best songs ever. And I'm seconding Who'll Buy My Memories.

Also seconding John Prine. He's a musical treasure. I'd listen to every single song he ever wrote or sang, and I'd start with Souvenirs, The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness (with Nanci Griffith), and Angel from Montgomery (then listen to Bonnie Raitt's version).

Willin' by Little Feat is one of my all-time favorite songs. (The whole album Sailin' Shoes is fantastic but definitely high-production compared to that one sparse little gem of a song).

To me, both The Band and Jerry Garcia's versions of When I Paint My Masterpiece far surpass the original.

Great question and thanks for turning me on to some new music.
posted by Majorita at 2:15 AM on July 10, 2010

most anything by Hank Williams III. He picks up more where his grandfather left off than where his father did.

from wikipedia:

"Hank III has frequently referenced his grandfather and other such veteran country musicians.

Self-described as "hellbilly" music, Williams' style is difficult to classify concisely, but has been described as traditional country, 'hard-twang', cowpunk, outlaw country, altcountry, and 'honky punk'.[5] Lyrically, he often sings about running from the law, smoking cannabis, contempt for modern country, alcoholism, depression, and heartbreak, alternating between sombre and menacing themes."

specific suggestions:

7 months, 39 days
Whiskey, Weed, and Women
Thrown out of the Bar
Country Heroes
Pills I Took
My Drinkin' Problem
Crazed Country Rebel
Dick in Dixie
posted by frmrpreztaft at 4:06 AM on July 10, 2010

Dig into some Kitty Wells, Faron Young, Floyd Tillman, and Lefty Frizzell.

Whiskeytown's first album was quite good as well.
posted by dagnyduquette at 4:18 AM on July 10, 2010

Man, people are seriously expanding the boundaries of "country" here. John Prine?

Go check out Dale Watson. Then get back to me.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:11 AM on July 10, 2010

Also, you will never "exhaust country." I've been trying for 3 decades, and am no closer than when I started.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:12 AM on July 10, 2010

I agree with the others: You want John Prine. He is far and away the best there is. Start with the CD "Souvenirs," which is a collection of his best older songs that he had to re-release in order to own the copyrights. I've been listening to him for 20+ years now, and the same songs that made me laugh or cry back then still make me laugh or cry now.

I've recently started to listen to a lot of Avett Brothers (start with "The Second Gleam" or "I and Love and You") and Hayes Carll ("Trouble in Mind"). Have you heard Levon Helm's "Dirt Farmer"?

You mention "Drunk people with the weight of the world sitting around the fire drinking whiskey and playing the guitar." but you don't say whether you like that or not. If so, you might try listening to the Boot Liquor "station" over at -- country,, cowpunk.
posted by wisekaren at 5:19 AM on July 10, 2010

You might like Josh Small or Jolie Holland.
posted by john m at 6:28 AM on July 10, 2010

Patty Griffin - 1000 Kisses is a fabulous album.
posted by ersatzkat at 7:28 AM on July 10, 2010

Roseanne Cash, 10 Songs. Not her most countryish, but spare and beautiful.
posted by libraryhead at 8:17 AM on July 10, 2010

The Flatlanders. No drums, just vocals, guitars, and musical saw. They were together in Texas for 1972-3, disbanded, released a compilation twenty years later (aptly titled More a Legend Than a Band), and now they're doing a bit of touring. Their recordings don't come up on YouTube but LastFM has a couple, though they're not the best on the album. Get this album. It has a fucking musical saw.
posted by Beardman at 10:25 AM on July 10, 2010

Maybe Fred Knoblock -- Why Not Me?
posted by wittgenstein at 1:08 PM on July 10, 2010

Also wanted to add Old Crow Medicine Show.
posted by frmrpreztaft at 2:53 PM on July 10, 2010

How about some John Hiatt?
posted by moons in june at 8:47 AM on July 11, 2010

Response by poster: thanks for the suggestions folks, i will check these out
posted by nathancaswell at 8:34 PM on July 11, 2010

After I posted this a few years ago, I too was hooked on Juarez. It's a masterpiece. I couldn't find anything like it either. For me, I ended up transitioning to Fela Kuti. Yeah, he's not country. But, he is amazing like early Terry Allen.
posted by spork at 9:19 PM on July 11, 2010

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