Album Review – “Mud” by Whiskey Myers
If you like your country music served on Wonder bread with the crust cut off, delicately manicured and quaintly predictable in how each song unfolds just like all the others, with obviously signifyers of when you should puts your hands up in the air like you just don’t care and sing along with the catchy chorus, then by all means pipe up 98.1 and listen to Bobby Bones spin the hits while you spray your pits every morning. You won’t have to worry about being poked with sharp edges or challenged intellectually, and life will breeze by carefree.
But if you’re looking for music that immerses you in a sea of sludgy, gritty, thumping and twangy Southern melody served unfiltered and full-bodied, and mired deep in the honey and depression of the authentic Southern identity, then you have come to the right place.
If you held a fantasy draft for the most promising prospects in Southern rock of who could rise up and fulfill the legacy first forged by the towering overlords of the franchise like The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, right beside Blackberry Smoke and a few very select others would have to be North Texas’s homegrown offering to the effort to keep Southern rock alive known as Whiskey Myers.
Though now logging nearly a decade in the business, you get the sense the upside potential for Whiskey Myers and their songwriting frontman Cody Cannon is still infinite at this point. There are still nipples on these tires, and when they released their 2014 record Early Morning Shakes produced by Dave Cobb, folks were just starting to realize that following Cobb’s producer credits was a good way to vet music in the overcrowded release cue.
Now Dave Cobb is all the rage, and so may be Whiskey Myers and their fourth record Mud when all is said and done. Though critics, journalists, and fans love to fall over themselves fawning on every Dave Cobb concoction that comes out of the studio, truth is he’s had his hits and misses like everyone. However what Dave Cobb does best is mixing in the Southern soul with country influences, which makes him just about perfect for Southern rock and a band like Whiskey Myers. If music is ripe for having a set of swaying ebony backup singers on it, Dave Cobb is more than likely the man to give it the Midas touch.
Growling guitars and gruff vocals greet you at the very beginning of Mud, and are only given a rest when you reach the more country material. Whiskey Myers isn’t a Southern rock band from the stereotypical standpoint. Their range may ultimately balance them out as Southern rock more than anything, but much of their material could be prefaced with “hard” just as much as “Southern.” But for those country fans out there, they’re not afraid to pull out the acoustic guitars, or to play a slow ballad that some Southern rock bands may be worried is too soft or too country to touch.
Mud comes out swinging with its two most outspoken tracks, steeped in the true history of the American South instead of the idyllic Candyland those on the radio attempt to portray. It’s a life where you’re greeting by hostiles from the word ‘go,’ the land barely gives under the plow despite all your toil and trouble, then only to have the river rise and sweep all the meager progress by you and your ancestors away in one merciless moment, leaving you standing there drenched and knee deep in the black gumbo of broken dreams. This isn’t just about backroad bonfires in cornfields. It’s land disputes and the sense that at every moment you’re standing within an inch of your life, and moments from missing your next meal.
“Who’s this creepin’ through the sticks
Lemme talk at ’em with my 30.06
A couple city guys in suits and ties
Bet they can t feel this cross hair right between their eyes
I got no place to go, no place to run
Just a dirt farmer’s boy with his grand daddy’s gun
So step across that line, I’m gonna tell you son
We’re all gonna die right here in the mud”
You get the sense at the beginning that Mud could be thematic and dark, but it turns out to be much more diverse. The horn-driven “Lightning Bugs and Rain” is decidedly more upbeat and positive without being pandering, and one of the more country-oriented tunes on the record, “Trailer We Call Home” is more about making the best of what you have and seeing the positive despite the obvious adversity. “Frogman” for all of its bellicose chest thumping is just downright fun, while the well-written “Hank” is an homage to the country roots in the Whiskey Myers sound from both Sr. and Jr.
“Deep Down in the South,” just like a song or two from Whiskey Myers’ previous records, feels like a misstep from its self-aggrandizing barrel-chested unabashed Southern pride as opposed to a more articulate and authentic portrayal. Understandably this has always been a part of the Southern rock mindset and it’s what some listeners expect from a band like Whiskey Myers, especially at a live show. But it also dilutes the argument that Whiskey Myers is so much more than power riffs and Southern self-affirmations.
But that’s about the only misstep of Mud. Cody Cannon does the majority of the writing on the record, but gets some assistance from notables Darrell Scott, Adam Hood, Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes, and Brent Cobb, who writes one of the best songs on the record, the ending acoustic guitar pull that he also participates in called “Good Ole Days.” It includes a sentiment we should all take to heart, especially in a political world that loves to dwell on the negative.
Mud‘s portrayal of the South is not only accurate and diverse, but poetic and enticing, while the musical overlay is just about perfect throughout in both the production and mood for each song. Not for the faint of heart, but those looking for a full tilt take on life below the Mason Dixon, Mud is a high water mark for Whiskey Myers, and makes sure the legacy of Southern rock is in secure hands.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)
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Purchase Mud from Whiskey Myers
September 10, 2016 @ 9:47 am
Great review Trigger! This is easily my top album of the year, even with great albums like “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” out. I think they really hit the sweet spot with this record- their third album had great rock songs but was lacking on the country side, whereas this album gets it right just like their second one did.
I miss Steve Gaines
September 10, 2016 @ 10:12 am
Thanks Trigger, I tell folks all the time, give me Smoke, Lucero, and Whiskey Myers, as far as bands!
September 10, 2016 @ 10:23 am
Good review. I like these guys. They are what the Cadilac Three wish they could be.
September 10, 2016 @ 11:45 am
Jaren Johnston tries so hard to be Cody Cannon…and fails miserably.
September 10, 2016 @ 12:41 pm
That’s a good observation. Cadillac Three try to be all rough edged and Southern, but it’s cut by Nashville songwriting troikas and mainstream sensibilities where it’s neither authentic or commercially successful.
September 10, 2016 @ 3:32 pm
Once again you nailed it on the head. Johnston apes Cannon on so many levels, but where he really fails is in his ability to write. Cannon has proven himself, and the other members of this band have proven that they can write song with a ton of depth to them. Cadillac Three has proven they can write mainstream Southern Rock songs that lack anything close to depth or heart.
September 10, 2016 @ 8:28 pm
On this album and “Early Morning Shakes,” there was a song that is totally in the style of Cadillac Three Southern rock, and each time I have singled it out as the weakest track. Unfortunately, Nashville’s laundry list songwriters have ruined these songs that would otherwise be okay. That’s why I think Whiskey Myers would be better off avoiding them, because there music is so much better than to get lumped in with that crowd.
September 10, 2016 @ 9:10 pm
Sadly, I think each and everyone of Whiskey Myers albums has had that one “bad” song on it. For as awesome as “Broken Window Serenade” was, “Ballad of a Southern Man” went pretty damn far down the pandering well. Even the hints of the financial crisis/home mortgage crisis in that song didn’t make up for the opening part of that song which really felt like pandering to the stereotypical Southern Rock/Country fan.
I still love the band, but I agree with you, they usually have 1 misstep on each album. Not sure why either.
September 11, 2016 @ 8:16 am
The original Cadillac Black album I feel is great, dirty Southern rock. However, after singles like “The South” and “Party Like You” trickled out over time, I was afraid of what Jaren Johnston was directing TC3 to become – and those fears were confirmed when the new album came out. I’ve abandoned hope that TC3 can be a great contributor to Southern rock. It’s up to bands like Whiskey Myers now. This is hands down Myers’ best record. Love it. I’m hoping that Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown stay true and don’t follow Johnston down the path of Nashville pop bullshit.
September 11, 2016 @ 8:41 am
I agree their early stuff was their best work, and I don’t want to characterize them as all bad. I think it was when Jaren Johnston started working with all those Nashville songwriters on other people’s songs is where it all went wrong. You see his name all over the place in Bro-Country songwriting credits now. And The Cadillac Three almost feel like an afterthought.
September 11, 2016 @ 2:30 pm
Cadillac 3?? Please. Cadillac Black?? Nope.
Bless their hearts. I saw em first as American Bang and I loved ’em. Little did I know they just were looking to make a buck.
September 10, 2016 @ 10:27 am
Drove from Birmingham to Pensacola last weekend and Outlaw Country on Sirius was playing exclusives from this album. So I listened to it on my little road trip and REALLY enjoyed it. Now I just gotta buy it, as well as check out their back catalog.
September 10, 2016 @ 11:41 am
Ordered! I’ve been looking forward to this one, and by your review, I shouldn’t be disappointed. One note, the Amazon affiliate link is to the U.K. Import. I don’t know if that was intentional or not. I just want you to get some money for the music I order thanks to your site!
September 10, 2016 @ 12:42 pm
For some reason I could not find this on Amazon domestically. Not sure why.
September 11, 2016 @ 11:43 am
It’s there, I got it yesterday. Good stuff indeed.
September 10, 2016 @ 12:33 pm
I’ve been high on Whiskey Myers for a few years now and I really think that this is the album that is gonna push them through to the next level, much the way Holding All the Roses did for Blackberry Smoke. It’s awesome to see that, after being mored in neutral for a little while, the “southern rock” genre has seemed to take off once again. Most importantly, thank God there’s still bands out there willing to crank out a solid product without sacrificing their integrity or foregoing their sound knowing full well they aren’t likely to be paid attention to by radio.
September 10, 2016 @ 12:52 pm
Southern rock is really hot right now because there are some great bands doing it. A lot of talent in that pool at the moment, and with such great songwriters, it’s easy for country fans to appreciate it too.
September 10, 2016 @ 8:02 pm
Could you name me off some of the other bands and I will check them out. I didn’t know Southern Rock was hot right now.
September 11, 2016 @ 6:30 pm
check out Uncle Lucius.
September 11, 2016 @ 8:15 pm
Thanks, will do ??
September 12, 2016 @ 6:37 pm
Check out Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
Roland of Gilead
September 10, 2016 @ 1:07 pm
These guys are too rock for country and too country for rock, but man do they sound just right to my ears . I’ve been following them a awhile and every release keeps getting better.
September 10, 2016 @ 2:32 pm
So was lynyrd skynyrd.
September 10, 2016 @ 6:30 pm
I’ve listened to it twice now and I’m loving it. Right now I’d put it above “Early Morning Shakes” but just below “Firewater”. I’ve just recently discovered Whiskey Myers in the last year, and I haven’t gotten around to listening to their first album yet.
September 10, 2016 @ 6:58 pm
That’s exactly where I’d put it, but I think it might take the number one spot if it keeps growing on me.
I highly recommend their first album, but just know that it has a very different sound from their last three. They started out essentially as a Red Dirt band who played a few rock songs, but since that album they’ve become a true southern rock band. It’s still a good album, definitely worth your time, although it probably is the weakest of the four. For some reason its been taken off iTunes and Spotify, you’ll have to grab a CD.
September 13, 2016 @ 5:38 pm
I’m definitely in for some Red Dirt music.
The title of “Mud” had me thinking that this would be a more stripped down album, so I was a little disappointed in that respect. But it’s a really good album nonetheless.
September 13, 2016 @ 5:39 pm
It’s a shame that their first album isn’t on Amazon Prime Music. That’s how I discovered Whiskey Myers. They popped up on there while I was listening to a Turnpike Troubadours playlist.
September 15, 2016 @ 11:06 pm
Mud isn’t on Google Play 🙁
September 10, 2016 @ 7:53 pm
I saw these guys last year, didn’t mind them…really enjoyed the Dogwood tune when I heard it.
Skynyrd ( original ) is my fave band…nobody is gonna top em.
When I read about bands and hear how they are the NEXT whoever, I roll my eyes and cringe…no matter what genre. I feel sorry for anyone getting the NEXT label in fact…after SRV died they needed a replacement, tried to make Kenny Wayne Shepard and Johnny Lang be the NEXT blues greats…poor buggers.
Anyway, I’m always apprehensive when I even see ” Southern Rock ” bands listed.
BBS is my Fav out of any new bands, but even they Rock pretty hard..especially first album.
I remember reading how Ronnie wasn’t even crazy about being called Southern Rock.
Skynyrd was raw, Ronnie loved country music and Merle haggard especially. They had a great mix of Rock, country, and country blues. I haven’t heard any of the new bands blend this together well really.
I gave a listen on ITunes to the 10 tracks off Mud…very Rockish…nothing really caught my ear. Singers voice is also pretty damn high and screamy,not to my liking.
Far to Rock and plenty of production as far as I’m concerned.
Cant recall name of the band, they sing ” Smoke ” …well those guys were getting hailed as next
Skynyrd….LOL….these critics must be fresh out of high school.
I’m open to hearing of any other bands who are fusing country, rock and blues well.
September 10, 2016 @ 8:25 pm
I am very careful in not talking about modern artists or bands as being the “next” anything. As you explain, this usually lumps undue expectations on listeners, and an unnecessary burden on the artists. Unfortunately though, it’s commonly a conclusion readers come to when you mention a band in comparison with another, even if you don’t say it.
What I said in the review is,
“If you held a fantasy draft for the most promising prospects in Southern rock of who could rise up and fulfill the legacy first forged by the towering overlords of the franchise like The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd…”
…meaning they are not the NEXT Lynyrd Skynyrd, they’re just the ones carrying that style of music forward.
September 10, 2016 @ 9:25 pm
Oh dang, I sure wasn’t implying you when I mentioned NEXT….I was just saying in general. I know you wouldn’t call anyone the Next Skynyrd.
And I agree..its easy to make comparisons….people say Rival Sons sound like Zep…not really, but ya…So I know where your coming from.
I sure hope a band pops up with some genuine rockin country blues….
September 10, 2016 @ 10:03 pm
…and I didn’t mean to imply that’s what you were saying. I was more making a general observation, just like you.
September 11, 2016 @ 1:20 am
I know I’ll get flack for this, but they sound like a bar band to me.
September 11, 2016 @ 12:22 pm
What do you mean? I’ve heard someone say this before, but I’m not sure I understand. Do you mean they sound amateur-ish?
September 13, 2016 @ 9:24 am
Go see them live and you’ll realize just how far they are from being a bar band. These guys might be better live than BBerry Smoke. Can’t give them any higher compliment.
September 11, 2016 @ 9:04 am
Their niche is southern rock, but I think their best songs have leaned country. “Dogwood” is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, and “Lonely East TX Nights” has always been a favorite of mine.
September 13, 2016 @ 5:44 pm
I completely agree with this. “Dogwood” might be my favorite song of theirs. “Broken Window Serenade” is really good too.
September 11, 2016 @ 12:12 pm
I cant shake this is how the Lost Trailers would sound today if they were not destroyed by Nashville. This guys vocals are almost identical to Ryder’s.
September 11, 2016 @ 3:02 pm
The album is definitely a must buy/download/listen to. It’s well produced, and has some fantastic moments. The guitarist brings a lot of great moments to the record, and Cody Cannon does well with the pen as well as the microphone.
It’s missing a track like Dogwood, but at the same time has ‘trailer we call home’ which is a whole new level of perfect. That track is beautiful, and again, the guitar is incredible.
September 11, 2016 @ 6:17 pm
Excellent. My Dave Cobb rant on this one is that these 2 songs need to be a little more focused. But I’m all about the hook. And you get that from Blackberry Smoke–whereas Whiskey Myers is not quite up to that level. But it’s close.
September 11, 2016 @ 10:24 pm
Great sound, will buy.
But why has no one in the comments mentioned DBTs? Surely someone has to agree that Southern Rock Opera, Dirty South and Decoration Day are essential to anyone who loves Skynyrd, or wants to move rock-ward from country.
September 12, 2016 @ 6:30 am
Because DBT doesn’t put out albums like those anymore and thus they don’t deserve to be mentioned alongside the bands that are.
September 12, 2016 @ 7:59 am
They don’t “deserve” to be “mentioned” alongside bands like BBS and Whiskey Myers? Is that what you’re saying?
September 12, 2016 @ 11:44 am
My comment was a reply to Joshua and his mention of classic DBT albums. I’m saying, as a long time fan who’s been to dozens and dozens of Truckers shows, that the band hasn’t released an album since Brighter than Creations Dark that stacks up against more recent releases by BBS or Whiskey Myers. And no, I don’t plan to purchase the forthcoming album or see the band live anytime soon, although this isn’t a disgruntled DBT fan forum so I’ll leave it at that.
September 12, 2016 @ 2:26 pm
Yeah, I figured that was a response to Joshua.
I like but don’t love BBS. I have The Whippoorwill and the Leave a Scar live album. I previewed some songs on their latest and didn’t pick it up. I think they play good time southern rock with no small amount of soul. They just seem a little formulaic to me. Fun but not essential. As for Whiskey Myers, I think they’re OK, but I haven’t been moved by what I’ve heard to buy an album.
Those three DBT albums made up an amazing three album run. Hell, I’d say add Pizza Deliverance on the front and it’s a great four album run. But I personally never considered them to be straight up Southern Rock. What southern rock band would ever sing about G.G. Allin or cover Jim Carroll? I think that they are influenced by the best of ’70s southern rock, but there’s always been the indie/punk element in there as well, for one thing. And I personally think English Oceans was a return to excellence and the best album they’ve done since The Dirty South. Better than the sometimes great but bloated and uneven BTCD. Even if you threw out the Shonna songs and maybe a weaker couple from Patterson (keep all the Cooley songs, of course).
September 12, 2016 @ 6:47 am
Just another band playing Skynyrd dress-up with bad 80s rock
September 12, 2016 @ 7:31 am
Read the review.. Listened to a bunch of this bands material over the weekend.
There good if you like the style of music.
I understand people liking them.
I may go see them if they play around.
However, I don’t really consider them innovative or spectacular in anyway..
September 12, 2016 @ 8:57 am
I saw them recently, and was not disappointed. In my opinion, Whisky Myers represents a strong step in evolution for the southern rock genre. They’re able to blend a modern sound with the best traditions they were inspired by, in both sound and lyrics. In other words, they’re living proof that you can move ahead and…hold onto your roots.
Bought the album the other day, and can’t wait to give it a spin on my drive back from work.
September 12, 2016 @ 9:05 am
Hey Trigger. How about a review or write-up on the SoCal band The Amerocans. If you haven’t seen or heard them, check them out.
September 12, 2016 @ 9:08 am
Most bands like Whisky Myers or the Randy Rogers band or Jason Edy are just poor imitations of great bands like Reckless Kelly and the old Cross Canadian Ragweed lineup. Most bands lack the substance that CCR and Reckless Kelly have…
September 13, 2016 @ 10:01 am
How drunk were you when you wrote this? Neither Whiskey Myers, nor Randy Rogers Band, nor Jason Eady lack substance in any way.
September 14, 2016 @ 7:47 pm
Sometimes you read that one comment that just makes you scratch your head. This time I just could not stay quite. Whisky Myers, Randy Rogers band and Jason Edy are dripping with substance. I’m glad you have bands you like buddy but your comment is about the dumbest thing I have read in a while…..
September 13, 2016 @ 2:28 pm
Excellent album.Southern rock yes but with clever lyrics,great tunes and instrumentation it avoids the usual southern rock clichés for the most part this will be on my play list for a while.
They are coming over to Scotland in December too tickets purchased !
September 14, 2016 @ 7:51 pm
Always have liked them but kinda didn’t really get into Early Moring Shakes. This album reminds me why I started liking them with Firewater.
September 29, 2016 @ 6:47 am
Saw these guys for the first time last night. What a great show. Can’t wait to see them again and pick up their albums.