Help me find some country music that I'll like!
June 17, 2020 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I recently got into country music! There are a number of artists I like -- can you help me spot the pattern and find some more?

Thanks to Tyler Mahan Coe's excellent podcast, I've recently got into country music. Yaaaay! There's a few artists that I know I like, and I'm hoping you can help me spot the pattern and find some more. One thing I've noticed is I really enjoy a sort of "low-fi" sound.

Country artists I love : Bobbie Gentry, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton (especially her earlier stuff), Doug & Rusty Kershaw, Elizabeth Cook, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Hank Sr., Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Sturgill Simpson, Tammy Wynette, Tom T. Hall, Waylon Jennings

Would also be interested in finding rock bands that fit the pattern.

Some rock artists I love, in a similar vein : The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, Neil Young

Thanks for helping me discover some new music!
posted by panama joe to Media & Arts (47 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You might like Dwight Yoakam!
posted by smashface at 9:12 AM on June 17, 2020 [7 favorites]

Little Feat
Bobby Charles
Doug Sahm
Alan Jackson
Dr. John
Emmylou Harris
posted by sallybrown at 9:17 AM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

I like your named artists and also like: Merle Haggard, Don Williams, Doc Watson, The Statler Brothers, Porter Wagoner, Gordon Lightfoot, Charley Pride, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson, John Denver, Rosanne Cash, Jeannie C Riley, Hank Snow, The Carter Family
posted by fourpotatoes at 9:17 AM on June 17, 2020 [4 favorites]

Merle Haggard's 60s and 70s output. Mayhe Ernest Tubbs?

I like a lot of the artists you mention, and I like checking out other artists who sang the same songs they've sung. I have found lots of good stuff this way over the years.
posted by kensington314 at 9:20 AM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Since you like The Flying Burrito Brothers you might already be familiar with him, but just in case not you may enjoy Gram Parsons's solo stuff and perhaps the album that he joined The Byrds for, The Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which has a decidedly more country bent than their other material. Gram also worked a lot with Emmylou Harris and they collaborated on the album that was eventually released as his solo project after his death, Grievous Angel.

Maybe also Ry Cooder and early Bonnie Raitt.

Current music wise, give Orville Peck a go.
posted by urbanlenny at 9:21 AM on June 17, 2020 [10 favorites]

I'm not sure how easily accessible it is at the moment, but the Ken Burns 8-part series on Country Music that aired on PBS last year is a great primer.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:21 AM on June 17, 2020 [4 favorites]

Justin Townes Earle
posted by emelenjr at 9:22 AM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

The Weary Boys, James Hand (RIP), early Hank III, James Vandevond,

You might want to check out the website saving country music. The writing can be a bit.... shall we say judgmental for my tastes, but he does a good job of highlighting artists in the vein you're discussing. You might also want to work through some of the bloodshot records label's artists.
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:25 AM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think John Prine fits nicely into your likes.
posted by hydra77 at 9:28 AM on June 17, 2020 [8 favorites]

Sorry, one more: Judee Sill
posted by urbanlenny at 9:30 AM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Terry Allen
posted by niicholas at 9:39 AM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Seconding Bonnie Raitt's bluesy pre-80s stuff. Sweet Forgiveness is my favorite from that era.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:42 AM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

I would suggest checking out Ned Hill and his early band Ned Van Go. Also S.G. Goodman.
posted by tman99 at 9:48 AM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar question a while back, and got some great recommendations.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:50 AM on June 17, 2020 [4 favorites]

'Cocaine and Rhinestones' Podcast/essays has lots of cool suggestions for Country artists/songs to listen to. And fascinating stories. And interesting commentary.
posted by ovvl at 9:52 AM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Would also be interested in finding rock bands that fit the pattern.

"Roots rock" is a keyword to check out.

Try Uncle Tupelo - if you've heard of Wilco, they were the much-more-country precursor to Wilco before they broke up. Also early Steve Earle.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:52 AM on June 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

Tyler Childers
posted by tomjoadsghost at 9:53 AM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

I haven't actually listened to this album yet but it's a great jumping-off point for Googling - seek out the originals, more stuff by the original artists, and covers by other artists. When she was 18 years old, Johnny Cash gave his daughter Rosanne a list of 100 essential country songs in an effort to expand her knowledge of country music. On the album The List, Rosanne re-interprets 12 of the songs from the list through her own perspective.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:55 AM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Connie Smith and Dottie West come to mind.
posted by Wobbuffet at 10:01 AM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Skeeter Davis, Lucinda Williams, Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson, The Band, Dylan's Nashville Skyline, maybe Drive-By Truckers, possibly Silver Jews, maybe early My Morning Jacket
posted by Miss T.Horn at 10:11 AM on June 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

This is from the weird difficult-to-define intersection of Country, Alt-Country, and Americana, but I think everyone should be listening to Jason Isbell. Southeastern is most people's entry album, which has a bluesier sound (and is heavy as hell, his post-rehab album). His new album, Reunions (link is youtube; several of the songs have animated loops that are pretty cool), has more of a 70s folk-rock vibe I suspect you'd like based on your rock picks.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:13 AM on June 17, 2020 [11 favorites]

Many of the artists you listed are loosely collected under the so-called "Bakersfield Sound". The wikipedia article lists several other adjacent acts, including Marty Stuart and country-rock crossovers like Poco .
posted by jquinby at 10:19 AM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Asleep at the Wheel
posted by jonathanhughes at 10:21 AM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Webb Pierce, Uncle Tupelo, Sun Volt, Jason Isbell, the Drive by Truckers

So many to choose from!
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:24 AM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Check out Lyle Lovett for an amazing range of alt country from big band to acoustic guitar. Any incredibly deep lyrics.
posted by parkerposey at 10:45 AM on June 17, 2020 [6 favorites]

You might want to use "alt-country" as a search term. The former print mag, now online only No Depression - named after the Carter Family song covered by Uncle Tupelo as the title cut to their debut album- will have lots of good references.
While I'm here, Drive-By Truckers, Wussy (a little more droney-rock), Calexico, Iron and Wine, Cowboy Junkies, Whiskeytown, Lucinda Williams...
posted by notsnot at 10:47 AM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Country artists I love : Bobbie Gentry

People mentioned Orville Peck above. His cover of Bobbie Gentry's "Fancy" is great (AFAIK, he was only doing it live on his last tour and there's no album version). His cover of Graham Parson's "Ooh Las Vegas" is pretty fantastic as well.

There's a bit more in this post about him a while back.

Also check out this Not-At-All Exhaustive LGBTQIA+ Country Playlist.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:52 AM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Mavericks are a wonderful band that moves between country, rock and Cuban vibes. They lead singer Raul Malo has an incredible voice. Check out their most recent album The Mavericks Play the Hits where they cover a number of old country hits.
posted by jvbthegolfer at 10:56 AM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'd recommend listening to Boot Liquor Radio on Soma FM. I found loads of country/Americana music I loved on that station.
posted by essexjan at 11:00 AM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

A lof of these people have completely overwhelming discographies.

For Willie Nelson, the top of this Texas Monthly ranking is a good place to start. Red Headed Stranger is my favorite of those.

For Townes van Zandt, I'd suggest Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas.

This compilation does a great job tracing the roots of what is now "alt country" or "Americana". Very wide-ranging and you're bound to find something you like.
posted by caek at 11:26 AM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker
posted by mareliz at 11:30 AM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Gillian Welch, The Jayhawks, Blue Rodeo, Neko Case's fist two solo records ("The Virginian" and "Furnace Room Lullaby").
posted by baseballpajamas at 12:51 PM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Neko Case's solo work, particularly the early stuff: The Virginian and Furnace Room Lullaby.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:22 PM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Margot Price
Kacy & Clayton (might be considered folk)
posted by askmehow at 3:15 PM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Trying not to duplicate what's already been suggested. I like the musicians you listed and these are others that I think you should give a listen to.

DeFord Bailey
Charlie Pride
Darius Rucker
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Rhiannon Giddens tiny desk concert
First Aid Kit (from Sweden, a pair of sisters)
Alison Krauss (with and without Union Station)
David Rawlings Machine (Rawlings is the other half of Gillian Welch and he is a great guitarist and a fun singer)
Lefty Frizzell
posted by bilabial at 3:31 PM on June 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

The Star Room Boys' first album is a little-known masterpiece, imo.

Paul Burch has many great tracks.

Lucinda Williams

Any of George Jones' albums where he sports a buzzcut is good. Any with feathered hair is not.

Lefty Frizell has some great songs.

Iris DeMent

The Tallest Man On Earth

Phosphorescent maybe?

Simon Joyner

Some of Nina Nastasia's work?

The incomparable Handsome Family. I mean come on: "But which is more important: to comfort an old woman or see visions of the heavans in the stumps of fallen trees? Albert Einstein trembled when he saw that time was water seeping through the rafters to put out this burning world."

Sally Timms

Early Songs: Ohia. And later.

Some Smog / aka Bill Callahan

Some Will Oldham, especially early Palace / Brothers / Music (for my money, the most consistent songwriter of my generation)

Roger Miller was a wonderfully playful songwriter, including My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died and the wonderful King of the Road. His songs knocked the Beatles out of #1 three times.

posted by dobbs at 5:09 PM on June 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

also be interested in finding rock bands

The Supersuckers (well some of their output) from Must Have Been High and backing band for Willie Nelson.
posted by Gotanda at 5:43 PM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Kacey Musgraves for toe-tappin', and Shovels & Rope for foot-stompin'.
posted by D.Billy at 6:33 PM on June 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Seconding Justin Townes Earle, he’s one of my very favorite living performers and songwriters. Check out Harlem River Blues and see if you like him, he’s made loads of great albums and a couple blah ones. Super fun to see in person, very different every time.

I also adore very early Willie Nelson. I once found a three cd set of his originals (54 Songs: the Songwriter Sessions) at the library from long before he had long hair. So. Amazing. That young Willie voice! Swoon.
posted by sumiami at 8:01 PM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Willie Nelson has a son named Lukas Nelson who has a band - it's more like 'indie rock' than country, but that border has always been slippery. Couldn't Break your Heart is pretty cool and more on the rockin' side.

Also I don't think anyone has mentioned Chuck Mead who rewrote a country standard for Covid:

Chuck Mead I ain't been no where
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:32 AM on June 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh wow, thank you all so much!!! This is amazing -- and exactly what I was hoping for. This ought to keep me busy for a while 🤠 🎶
posted by panama joe at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2020

I have a recommendation not for a specific artist but for a streaming radio station. Give Radio Heartland a listen. They're part of the Minnesota Public Radio system and they play Americana, folk, roots, alt-country, classic country and even some jazz and blues. The artists you listed show up frequently alongside lots of newer music that I would have never discovered on my own. I find it very relaxing.
posted by zeusianfog at 12:44 PM on June 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

If we're recommending streams, I'd also add WMOT's Roots Radio, broadcast from straight from beautiful Middle Tennessee.
posted by jquinby at 12:49 PM on June 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

There's a certain type of "story song" that some country artists record. Here's to the ladies of Country Music.

Rosanne Cash, Tennessee Flat Top Box
Patsy Cline, Sweet Dreams
Dixie Chicks, Travelin' Soldier
Donna Fargo, The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.
Bobbie Gentry, Ode to Billie Joe
Nanci Griffith, Love at the Five and Dime
Emmylou Harris, Rollin' and Ramblin'
Alison Krauss, In My Mind I'm Going to Carolina
Loretta Lynn, One's On the Way
Patty Loveless, You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive
Kathy Mattea, Where've You Been
Reba McEntire, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors
Jeannie C. Riley, Harper Valley P.T.A.
Tanya Tucker, Delta Dawn
Tammy Wynette, D-I-V-O-R-C-E
Trisha Yearwood, The Song Remembers When
posted by TrishaU at 9:27 PM on June 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

And speaking of "story songs," let's get the guys in here. Gentlemen of Country Music, coming up.
Garth Brooks, The Dance
David Allan Coe, The Ride
Joe Diffy, John Deere Green
Claude King, Wolverton Mountain
Lyle Lovett, If I Had a Boat
The Mavericks, What a Crying Shame
Roger Miller, Little Green Apples
Willie Nelson and Ray Charles, Seven Spanish Angels
Rascal Flatts, I'm Moving On
Jim Stafford, Wildwood Weed
The Statler Brothers, The Official Historian of Shirley Jean Berrell
Conway Twitty, Hello Darlin'
Jack White, Wayfaring Stranger
Don Williams, Good Ole Boys Like Me
Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens, Streets of Bakersfield
posted by TrishaU at 11:02 AM on June 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

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