I picture a post-Apolcolyptic scene: ghost towns full of crumbling buildings and rubble, smoke filling the sky and blocking out the sun, the result of a society that gave no value to art, heritage, and truth; a vast wasteland of grayness. Then all of a sudden in the midst of all the death and decay, there’s movement: a lone being protected by the elements by a big black, robotic-like suit. Maybe it is one of the few survivors, or an alien sent to investigate the fate of this once beautiful place.
He goes sifting through the rubble of a bombed out structure, looking for evidence of what went wrong. He finds a shelf whose contents of CD’s and DVD’s have been belched out onto the dusty, rubbage filled floor in a pile. A big black glove pushes aside CD’s by Brittaney Spears and Taylor Swift, DVD’s with pretty movie stars adorning their covers. Then he sees something curious: a black disc with crossed guns on the front. What is this? He pops it into a media player attached to the side of his helmet, and all of a sudden a new world is presented to him: The picture of a collection of artists fighting against society’s homogenization and creative vapidness unfolds through music. A resistance. Outlaws, fighting a rebel war against the mainstream, and carrying forth a long line of traditions from the past.
I normally hate compilations. This one is different. No, this does not have all the “hits” from our insurgent country scene that you’ve already heard compiled in some way to try to squeeze more money out of worn out songs. And it’s not the odds and sods and leftovers for other projects either. It is a collection on good, fresh, original, previously-unreleased material that is fun to listen to, and also acts as a primer for artists you may have heard of, but never heard their stuff.
But in another way this is so much more than that. This compilation DEFINES our movement. It gives it clear edges, and at the same time illustrates and celebrates our diversity. Our diversity is what makes us strong: men and women, gothic country w/ Those Poor Bastards, New Outlaw country with Roger Alan Wade, REAL bluegrass with the .357 String Band. Sure there’s maybe a few signed artists missing like Hank III, and the Bloodshot Record’s gang like Wayne “The Train” Hancock and Scott Biram. But you already know those guys. This is a jump start for the fresh blood, the up and comers.
I’ve got comments on specific songs below, but in closing let me just say that if you do not buy this compilation, you deserve to have your genitals dry up a whither.
1. The Dad Horse ExperienceGates of Heaven (Vinyl Version): How ironic is it that there’s more appreciation for American roots in EUROPE than in the US? Dad Horse might be one of many European bands we see crop up in the coming years. Love the German accent here, glad he didn’t try to hide it.
2. Old Red Shed–Another Round: Great song from a band whose about to put out their first album Country Fury on Arjuna Records. Get in on the ground floor with these guys and watch them rise, they’re great!!!
3. Black Eyed Vermillion & Andy GibsonDeath Don’t Have No Mercy: Not my favorite BEV track ever, but a great example for those who think Gary Lindsey is all blood and guts, just how soulful he can be. And Andy Gibson, well, he is the master. Our generation’s Tompall Glasser. Hats off!
4. Bob WayneAin’t No Diesel Trucks in Heaven: INSTANT CLASSIC! Bob Wayne proves once again that he is the best lyric writer in underground country, and maybe in current country period with this Cash-eque song tastefully arranged and witty. Great song!
5. Rachel BrookeCloser Still: BEST TRACK OF THE ALBUM! Amazing. Rachel’s voice is somewhere between sublime and perfection. I said in my review of A Bitter Harvest:“Rachel has a big bag of tricks, and though this album highlights some that have never been seen before, there are more that my ear yearns for that I know are lurking within her. She can tear into bluegrass.” Well this is Rachel tearing into bluegrass. A++
6. Ted Russell KampMy Heart Has a Mind Of Its Own: Shooter Jennings’s bass player is more than just Shooter Jennings’s bass player. This song highlights his tight songwriting skills and a strong, soulful, smoky voice.
7. Ronnie HymesSea of Sin: Good song from the best artist on the Pint of Happiness Record Label.
8. Joey AllcornGone, But Not Forgotten Blues: An excellent neo-traditionalist artists that seems so easily “forgotten,” and I am to blame as much as any. A solid track.
9. Those Poor BastardsThe Minister’s Doom: The Kings of Gothic country never cease to amaze me with how deep their bag of tricks is. This track isn’t for everybody, just like Those Poor Bastards isn’t. But it nonetheless exemplified Lonesome Wyatt’s adeptness at arrangement, and his expertise at setting a mood to tell a story in.
10. Dave Smith and the Country RebelsPrice to Pay: This song may come across as “too mainstream” for some, but I personally think we need more accessible artists in this scene, and Dave & The Rebels prove why. Fun, tight song.
11. Last False Hope$2 Pints: Gothic punkgrass from the mastermind of the Outlaw Compilation himself: Jashie P and a few close friends. When I first heard this track, I was amazed at the complexity and depth of songwriting, and how clean and pro it sounded. I guess I had just always envisioned Jashie as more of a hack ;). Seriously, good song, and keep your eyes out for a full length release from them coming soon.
12. Izzy and the KesstronicsGotta Do What I Wanna Do: Nothing replaces seeing Izzy and the boys live. Their energy level and astuteness are mindblowing. But this track comes very close at bottling that live energy. It’s a goofy song, but it’s what they do. You may hate Izzy Zaidman, but the simple fact is he’s a better musician than you are, and probably gets laid more often too.
13. The FisticuffsThe Ballad of Bill Blizzard: We can’t forget that we owe the roots of our roots to the folks in the British Isles over the pond. This is a band worth checking out if you like an Irish attitude with a punk approach.
14. The BoomswagglersRun You Down: LOVE THIS SONG! Only reason this isn’t my favorite song on the album is because Rachel Brooke is hotter, but The Boomswagglers are one of the best kept secrets in this scene. Crude, dirty, lo-fi, but their songwriting prowess is undeniable, and this might be the best song they’ve ever cut. Hopefully these boys can keep their asses out of the pokey and we’ll hear much more from them in the future. This is one of those songs that you love the first time you hear, and you play it over and over. A++!!
15. Roger Alan WadeBreakfast At Audrey’s: Just the name Roger Alan Wade adds legitimacy to this album, and this song adds a solid singer/songwriter track with endless soul. What I really like about this song is it is clearly just Roger and a mic. You can even hear him flip the paper the verses are on while he sings. Some artists spend thousands of dollars trying to bottle that raw sound, and Roger did it just by being himself. Good track!
16. Little Lisa DixieCheating Games: If I was going to cheat on my music love Rachel Brooke, it would be with Little Lisa. This song has a good slow grooving rockabilly feel to it. Little Lisa has enough talent that she should take her music to the next level, and proves that WOMEN are a big and beautiful part of this music revolution.
17. .357 String BandRestless Man Blues: Known for bluegrass, this is a pretty straight country-feeling tune. Not their greatest track ever, but a solid offering.
18. Six Gun BrittHard Habit To Break: Damn. Six Gun could melt a rock. She is just amazing, and this is a beautiful, sad song. Every time I hear Six Gun sing, it makes me angry. That’s right. Because in a perfect world she would be a superstar. Her talent is that worthy. And if her music wallows in obscurity for the rest of time, what an atrocity that would be. If you’re reading this right now, consider yourself deeply blessed, because you’re one of the few who knows who Six Gun Britt is.
19. Hellbound GloryLivin’ On Pabst Blue Ribbon: Leroy Virgil is the fastest rising star in Insurgent country, and that is the fault of his unbelievably adept songwriting, built on a solid foundation of REAL country appreciation and study. All one hell of a backing band, and Hellbound Glory might be the best apostles for REAL country we have right now. Not Hellbound Glory’s best, but a good, fun song.
20. The Goddamn GallowsWaitin’ Around to Die (live): Great cover of the Townes Van Zant classic spiced with the Gallow’s gotic circus freak sow punk billy grass that is all their own. SEE THESE GUYS LIVE BEFORE YOU DIE!
21. Joe Buck YourselfBig River (live): This song comes from a recording Jashie P did of an entire Joe Buck concert in Chicago a while back. He played the whole show at the end of one of his podcasts, and I listened to it probably a dozen times, and it remains my favorite recorded Joe Buck experience, more than his albums. Joe Buck is just such a unique experience live, I think that is what his next release should be, a live CD.
22. Lucky Tubb & The Modern Day TroubadoursThanks A Lot (live): Lucky has a spellbinding singing cadence that is all his own. It’s there in his recorded material, but even more present live. He’s dripping with talent, and puts the “traditionalism” back in neo-traditional. Good track. Love the steel guitar.
#5 Roger Alan WadeBreakfast At Audrey’s
#4 Six Gun BrittHard Habit To Break
#3 Bob WayneAin’t No Diesel Trucks in Heaven
#2 The BoomswagglersRun You Down
#1 Rachel BrookeCloser Still