What Happened to Country Music?
If you would have told me 3 years ago that country music was cool, I would have probably either punched you in the solarplexes or grandadded you in the thigh, unless you were a small town American in which case I would have probably discarded your opinion as irrelevant, so it has come as a great surprise to me when I found out in 2010 that I may have been wrong.
I first discovered that country classics like “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” or “She Got the Ring and I Got the Finger” weren’t an accurate representation of the whole world of country music when I heard of a young man from South Carolina called Michael Trent who was fronting the band The Films.
At this point I shall point out that I’m sure I have lost a lot of readers already after just two paragraphs, this is because basically people cannot see through the words country music, and immediately hate you for mentioning it, and it’s like gypsies or gingers, somethings will never be liked but like everyone over 28 says never judge a book by its cover (I knew a ginger once who was alright so that proves my point… not gypsies though, they are cunts).
Michael Trent isn’t really well known in England or Europe or in fact anywhere outside of South Carolina, but he should be. Trent started out in The Films, but slowly branched out to make solo albums, as well as another side project called Shovels and Rope with Cary Anne Hearst.
Michael is a jack of many musical trades, and only a fool would not listen to all of his many projects, but what he is fastly becoming renowned for is his unique style of country-folk, his first solo album was very much a folk album, but his collaboration with Hearst really brought out his country sound. His latest album The Winner that he has released on his own label Shrimp Records really showed everyone how country music should be done, the bare bones. Trent uses rustic guitar sounds with shuffle your feet drumming and beautiful melodies to create little masterpieces.
Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs
It’s not just the Americans who can make country music, Damaged Goods Records’ darling of rockabilly Holly Golightly, has surely surpassed what anyone could have imagined she would have come up with when in 2007 she announced she would be turning into a southern belle. The Brokeoffs sound like they really do go to church on Sundays with their sisters who are also their wives, it’s as close to the sound of deep dark America as you can get. Holly, who is best known for her duet with Jack White in that funny little song at the end of Elephant by the White Stripes, looks and sounds like she has been a fixture of the deep south for her whole live, it’s kind of like she’s a method actor, but not a pretentious twat like method actors always are.
Although they are called Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs, The Brokeoffs are actually just one person, a guitarist by the name of Lawyer Dave. Whilst Holly wails, Lawyer Dave plays some really incredible guitar; fantastic dirty country hooks that can pretty much hold the song on their own as well as classic slide guitar that is famously the first ingredient into the pot in any country song pie.
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
You wait years for a British girl to make proper country songs and then two come along at once. Isobel, formally of Belle and Sebastian, has already got a lot of recognition for her country collaboration with the Screaming Trees front man, being nominated for the Mercury music prize and being featured on many a film soundtrack. With their great new album Hawk out in August, we can only hope that more people start to recognise how good they actually are.
When its comes to being a Scottish pop starlet she is good, when it comes to being a country singer she is a whole lot better.
I know this little brief article on a few country-ish singers probably hasn’t flooded your brain with bucket loads of fascinating underground music knowledge that you can pretend you found out about yourself like music blogs should do, but hopefully it will make people at least give country music a go.
In the last 30 years country music has been turned into a joke, and I don’t know why but for some reason country music fans embrace the joke, unfortunately the mentality of “Hey, I’m country and I don’t care what y’all think, you can kiss my redneck assss y’all, now pass me a miller light” has permeated out of the heads of idiots into the music industry, and like most things the music has been made to cater for the masses , and unfortunately the majority of the masses are idiots. Whilst the likes of Michael Trent and Holly Golightly are an acquired taste, it’s worth remembering that all the best things are, and personally I think the world of country music should start taking itself seriously again.
Although there is only a handful of people doing this genre properly at the moment, its about one more handful than there was a few years ago, and with the news that the nations favourite folk dorks Mumford and Sons are planning a fully country 2nd album you get the feeling that this might be starting to catch on.
Country music could be the new pogs.