Country music is country music, and the best definition of what country music is, is that you know it when you hear it. It’s self-evident. But the genre has birthed many subgenres, many stylistic movements over the years, and at times has seen a splintering and Balkanization.
Spoiler alert: This album is not country. Instead, “Cruel Country” is very much a late-career Wilco album, a Jeff Tweedy album, and when you’re expectations are recalibrated to this reality of things, you can actually appreciate this album for what it is.
After nearly 3 decades of service and eleven studio albums, the influential and wickedly fun alt-country outfit The Bottle Rockets are officially calling it quits. The news comes as the band’s front man, guitarist, and songwriter Brian Henneman has decided to move on.
When the topic of discussion turns to legacy alt-country bands, it’s easy for the Old 97’s to get left out of the mix, and unfairly so. Since their epicenter revolves around Dallas, and not Austin, Nashville, or Los Angeles, it seems like they’re always a little more out-of-sight, out-of-mind than their mammoth output and legacy deserves.
Moving in to fill the space once carved out between country and alternative rock by alt-country pioneers such as Uncle Tupelo and the Old 97’s, three sons of University of Virginia Southern Literature professor Bill Wilson and two other willing accomplices come together to form the Charlottesville-based Sons of Bill under the charge to help revitalize alt-country.
In February it was announced that the the era-defining album “Wrecking Ball” released in 1995 by Emmylou Harris was getting the reissue treatment, with a remastering of the original album, a new disc of demos and outtakes, and a DVD delving into the making of the album, all set to be released on April 8th. You may wonder why this was the album picked out of the choir for a reissue, and why now.
As one of the original members of Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar is one of the forebearers of the alt-country sound that now has morphed into the all-encompassing Americana behemoth that here in 2013 is enjoying a meteoric rise in influence. But instead of trying to figure out how to ride that popularity wave, Farrar and Son Volt release an album that is so doggone country, you could almost call it conceptualized.
This Saturday, April 21st with be the 2012 installment of Record Store Day, the annual event started in 2007 to help the struggling independent record store. 2012 will go down as the year when country came busting through the Record Store Day scene with full representation, with so many projects being released taking stock of it all can be dizzying. So here is your 2012 Country Music Record Store Day Field Guide.
Blitzen Trapper, Bonnie Prince Billy, Buck Owens, Caitlin Rose, country, Everley Brothers, Justin Townes Earle, Lydia Loveless, Ralph Stanley, Record Store Day, Ricky Skaggs, Ryan Adams, Sara Watkins, The Civil Wars, The Pistol Annies, Tony Rice, Townes Van Zandt, Uncle Tupelo, Will Oldham
The war vs. pop influences and progress in country music, and the purity yearned for by the traditional elements of the genre is almost as old as the genre itself. In an attempt to power through the rhetoric, here is a cool-headed attempt to explain some of the differences between the traditional and mainstream mindsets.