Looking for country/alt-country along the lines of Cash, Guthrie, early Dylan, etc.
July 1, 2012 9:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for new & modern country/alt-country artists along the lines of Uncle Tupelo, Richard Buckner, early Dylan as well as Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie, and so on. Masterfully played acoustic guitar and bluesy tendencies a big plus!
posted by allseeingabstract to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
One country singer I like is Hayes Carll. Here are links to his songs KMAG YOYO and She Left Me for Jesus. May not be precisely what you're looking for, but hopefully worth a listen.
posted by AMSBoethius at 9:24 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whiskeytown's "Strangers Almanac" album sounds like it'd fit the bill.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:29 PM on July 1, 2012

Masterfully played acoustic guitar and bluesy tendencies a big plus!

Charlie Parr.
posted by brennen at 9:29 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Former tuber-pickin' southerner, now Chicagoan, Robbie Fulks, some of the time-- some of his work is rock, pure and simple, but try out his "13 Hillbilly Giants" for some gorgeous covers of some rare country songs. And locate his song "The Buck Starts Here," about that point after a breakup when the night calls for Buck Owens and "Cryin' Time."

He plays with a band some of the time, but also plays solo or with Robbie Gjersoe, and tours with both from time to time, but mainly plays The Hideout in Chi-town.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:33 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Jay Farrar is still putting out work. Jakob Dylan has a couple of nice acoustic albums. The Nightwatchman (aka Tom Morello doing acoustic Guthrie-style leftist anthems). Springsteen's "Ghost of Tom Joad" might fit the bill. I'm just discovering Justin Townes Earle. Of course, early Byrds with Gram Parsons, and Townes van Zandt.
posted by Occula at 9:56 PM on July 1, 2012

You're probably already into Ryan Adams? The Jayhawks? The Billy Bragg-and-Wilco-found-Guthrie "Mermaid Avenue" albums. The Bottle Rockets, Jason Isbell ...
posted by Occula at 9:58 PM on July 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

I will take any opportunity to rec one of my favorite bands, Honeyhoney. You might start with their more recent album, Billy Jack, and if you're hooked, their first album, First Rodeo, is also lovely. I find Billy Jack a tiny bit more country than alt, and their first album a little more alt than country, but opinions may differ...I just know they're really good. Female singer, however - don't know if that rules them out.
posted by PussKillian at 10:02 PM on July 1, 2012

Justin Townes Earle
posted by quiet coyote at 10:03 PM on July 1, 2012

If what you like in Johnny Cash is also what you like in Buck Owens, then you may like The Derailers.

Or just go to the source and spend some time with Buck and other Bakersfield Sound artists. It's hard to overstate the influence of Bakersfield on modern Alt-Country.
posted by Mad_Carew at 10:11 PM on July 1, 2012

Danny Schmidt -- He has a lot of free, full-song mp3s on his website (click on "Listen/Look"). If you go to the "Albums" section, he even has his own "Album Buying Guide" to help people who aren't sure what albums they might be interested in. Based on the other artists you've listed, I might actually start with Make Right the Time (link goes directly to a page outside of a frame).

Jeffrey Foucault -- He has some free mp3s on his website as well (the little play arrow icons next to a song title). Since you're a fellow Buckner fan, I feel it's my duty to point out that Eric Heywood played pedal steel and guitars on Horse Latitudes (Foucault's latest album), Shoot the Moon Between the Eyes (Foucault's album of John Prine covers -- "Storm Windows" has one of my favorite pedal steel solos), and Ghost Repeater...so I would start with any of those albums.

A. A. Bondy -- I'm not as familiar with his most recent album yet, but I definitely recommend When the Devil's Loose or American Hearts (which might probably be the most acoustic of the three).

From what I've heard, Josh Ritter's more recent stuff is more folk and less country (someone else can jump in to elaborate if otherwise), but Golden Age of Radio I think would very much qualify as alt-country (in case you haven't heard the album yet).
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:28 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

And Justin's father, Steve Earle!

You might also like Eddie From Ohio.
posted by kalimac at 11:34 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Daniel Romano's latest album, Sleep Beneath the Willow is getting a lot of play here lately. Great album.
posted by Lorin at 11:36 PM on July 1, 2012

(Whoops...just wanted to clarify my comment above to say that one of Foucault's album titles is actually Shoot the Moon Right Between the Eyes; also, Eric Heywood definitely played pedal steel on Shoot the Moon... and on Ghost Repeater, but I don't recall offhand if he played guitars on them as well...)
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:37 PM on July 1, 2012

Jerry Jeff Walker
Robert Earl Keen
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Hayes Carll
Slaid Cleaves
Todd Snider
posted by rhizome at 11:41 PM on July 1, 2012

Wayne Hancock
posted by sciencegeek at 1:58 AM on July 2, 2012

Please allow me to introduce you to Mr. Junior Brown. Like that deep-voiced swagger? Be charmed by "My Wife Thinks You're Dead" (actual song starts around :44) or "Highway Patrol." Guitar wizardry? There are few better: See "Sugar Foot Rag,", "Rock and Roll Medley" and "Surf Medley." "Freeborn Man"? Hot licks.

I've seen him perform once, and he was a delight; tall and talented, and the band (three of them, all a bit older, all in suits) clearly enjoyed making music that was both technically accomplished and a hell of a lot of fun.

Seconding: the Springsteen "Tom Joad" recommendation; Ray Wylie Hubbard (find "This Morning I Was Born Again," penned by Guthrie and music by the above-mentioned Slaid Cleaves, iirc); Wayne Hancock (especially his "Johnny Law"); Robert Earl Keen ("The Road Goes on Forever"); Steve Earle (cannot be recommended strongly or often enough, and absolutely check out his excellent bluegrass album, "The Mountain," as well as "Train a'Comin'," because he is damn fantastic!; and the Billy Bragg/Wilco collaborations--"California Stars" is a favorite. I'm lukewarm on Justin Townes Earle, but like "Harlem River Blues."

Is there any reason not to check out Emmylou Harris (cheating here, but with Steve Earle, performing his "Goodbye") and Lucinda Williams ("Return of the Grievous Angel")? Didn't think so. You won't be sorry; they're amazing. And here's where I confess to a small soft spot for that sushi-eating Dwight Yoakam and his cover of Z.Z. Top's "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide." Talk about someone who likes the Bakersfield sound! Here he is doing Cash's "Understand Your Man." Honestly, I think I just like his covers, but he's talented.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:29 AM on July 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

One singer who is virtually unknown, and who is pegged as alt-country, is one of my favorites: Justin Rutledge. I don't know if I accept the country label. I've never known of any country artists who sing about hookers who read Beaudelaire. But it's wonderful stuff.
posted by megatherium at 5:11 AM on July 2, 2012

Oh my god, Gillian Welch. Guitarist David Rawlings is amazing.
posted by Occula at 6:01 AM on July 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Seconding the Junior Brown recommendation. He's fantastic live.
posted by immlass at 6:30 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Justin Townes Earle is probably someone I wouldn't enjoy hanging with, but I do go to his shows pretty regularly. so I'll second him.

Also going to recommend a friend of mine, Jacob Haller from Rhode Island. Jake sometimes plays in a two-man act called the Killdevils (blues/rock/roots), but mostly plays his own folk- and blues songs which are a mix of nerdy stuff (e.g. "Absolute Zero" and "Hybrid Car Blues, and some that wouldn't be out of place--- no reason Willie Nelson wouldn't sing Jake's "Stale Tequila" or "Avocados and Beer" (as in, "we go together like...").
posted by Sunburnt at 6:57 AM on July 2, 2012

If you're looking for some ladies:

Gillian Welch
Lucinda Williams
Neko Case
The Be Good Tanyas
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:03 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dan Reeder
David Dondero
posted by brand-gnu at 8:18 AM on July 2, 2012

Old Crow Medicine Show
posted by Billiken at 9:15 AM on July 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Josh Ritter
Bright Eyes
Josh Rouse
Ryan Adams
Micah P Hinson
Richmond Fontaine
posted by the_epicurean at 9:20 AM on July 2, 2012

Richard Hawley.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 9:49 AM on July 2, 2012

Yes, Old Crow Medicine Show and the first couple of Avett Brothers albums, if you're looking for something a bit more, er, frenetic?
posted by Occula at 10:20 AM on July 2, 2012

Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash's ex-husband, Emmylou Harris' ex-guitarist, Chely Wright's producer, all-around awesome dude.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:36 PM on July 2, 2012

It may be arguable, but Bonnie Raitt's version of Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day" is gorgeous and sad, and oh my, can that woman play.

Gillian Welch? A thousand times yes. And here's Gillian with Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss.

Roseanne Cash surprised me with her cover of "Sea of Heartbreak." And her song, "Western Wall," as sung by Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, is well worth hearing.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:45 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

(Arguable to classify this song as country/alt-country, that is. Still, she is underrated as a guitarist.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:08 PM on July 2, 2012

No Chris Knight mentions? There should be.

and again...
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:44 PM on July 3, 2012

Lots of great recommendations above. Speaking of Emmylou Harris, she has so many wonderful albums. I also recommend the terrific album she recorded with Mark Knopfler: All the Roadrunning (I was going to say that it's one of my favorite albums from the past five years, but it was released in 2006...time flies).
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 10:47 PM on July 3, 2012

« Older How to avoid shoulder pain in Let's Dance 3 on the...   |   Kicked Out of Her Own Apartment Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.