Best Country on Bandcamp: August 2022



Best Country on Bandcamp: August 2022

By Ben Salmon September 01, 2022

August brought a boatload of new releases to Bandcamp that would qualify for this column, and it was hard to narrow it down to the 10 below. But it’s a good band, full of bands and solo artists; newcomers and veterans; Canadian country; folk in slow motion; twangy indie rock; beautiful bluegrass; and lots of southern charm. Dig!

Mariel Buckley
wherever I was

The first two tracks from Mariel Buckley’s second album wherever I was announce loud and clear that this is not just another folk rock record from another folk rock singer-songwriter from the Canadian plains. “Neon Blue” and “Whatever Helps You” feature synthesizers prominently, giving Buckley’s tracks about heartbreak and hometown bars a welcome update and an unexpectedly elegant feel. Make no mistake: this isn’t Nashville-goes-new-wave, but a great release from an artist who knows pedal steel guitar and pulsating electronic sounds can get along well if the songs are good. And they are unquestionably good.

Jim Lauderdale
game changer

It’s fun to imagine an alternate universe where Buck Owens’ sparkling Bakersfield sound has been the dominant influence in mainstream country music for the past half-century. In this imaginary world, Jim Lauderdale is one of the biggest stars of the genre, and his new album game changer has country fans everywhere blasting beautiful pedal steel guitars, electrified Telecaster picking and luscious vocal harmonies from their pickup trucks. Back here in the real world, game changer is Lauderdale’s 35th (!) album, and it still sounds vibrant and melodious.

Kelsey Waldon
No regular dog

If they handed out an award for most convincing Southern accent on a country album, Kelsey Waldon might just win the thing. The rising singer-songwriter from a small western Kentucky town seems born to sing country music, and her new album No regular dog overflows with the kind of hard times, heartbreak and hard-won wisdom that has fueled this sound for decades. Waldon dabbles in soul, bluegrass, and rock, but at the end of the day, she’s as country as they come.

Nora Brown
There’s a long time to go

Nora Brown just turned 17, and the oldest instrument she’s played on her new album There’s a long time to go was a 134-year-old banjo owned by his great-great-grandfather. It would just be a mildly interesting anecdote if it didn’t perfectly illustrate the multigenerational divide between Brown, who grew up in Brooklyn in the 21st century, and her music, which sounds like she made it to the hills decades ago. from the east. Kentucky. Recorded in a historic church, the minimalist folk songs There’s a long time to go are dark and sublime, imbued with the sense of space in which they were recorded and treated by Brown with the care they deserve.

Kenny Roby
Kenny Roby

During the heyday of alternative country in the late 90s, Kenny Roby led a band called 6 String Drag that approached the fusion of rock and roots music from a more bluesy and funkier place than many of his contemporaries. All these years later, Roby moved from the South to upstate New York, but his soulful writing style and carefree spirit followed him north. His self-titled album arrives during a global pandemic and after the death of his friend and collaborator Neal Casal, and you can hear the gravity of the loss hanging over these 10 tracks, even as Roby struggles to bring buried hope to light. on the inside.

First Rodeo
First Rodeo

First Rodeo is the product of a cross-country collaboration between Portland’s Tim Howe and Nathan Tucker, a Portlander alum who now lives in Philadelphia (where he stars in Cool Original and Strange Ranger). After months of sending demos and recorded ideas over the internet, the duo got a few people together for a long weekend in Washington’s San Juan Islands and created the core of what would become their self-titled debut album. First Rodeo captures that vibe with 10 laid-back, twangy indie rock tracks that celebrate good times with old friends.

Daniel Ullom
The Swannanoa sessions

Violinist Tatiana Hargreaves appeared in the March column on the strength of Hurricane Clarice, his duet album with banjo player Allison de Groot. Now she’s back, this time as producer for mandolinist Daniel Ullom’s new album, who is just as comfortable playing old-school string band music as he is traditional bluegrass. On The Swannanoa sessions, Ullom leads a talented band through 13 mostly instrumental tracks, playing with serious verve, impressive restraint…or whatever kind of feel the music calls for, really. One thing is certain: they still sound great.

Lee Bains III + The Fires of Glory
people of old

On August 23, Bandcamp released a feature film about Lee Bains III and his excellent new album people of old, a “sprawling Southern punk rock epic about the outlaws and revolutionaries of…Alabama and Georgia”. So why is it in Best of Country? Take a listen and you’ll see. Lee Bains III’s music is punk rock, but it’s also unmistakably country, in that (1) it twangs, and (2) it’s music for the little guy, mainstream folk, working class, ordinary people. Heck, it’s more country than most of the popular music labeled as country these days. There’s plenty of room at the Best of Country table, and Lee Bains III has a seat here whenever he wants.

Little Mazarn
Texas River Song

Albums deeply influenced by the lockdown and resulting isolation of 2020 are coming fast and furiously these days, and it’s interesting to see how artists (and their art) have been affected differently by these circumstances. Take, for example, Austin, Texas slow-folk duo Little Mazarn, whose new album is called Texas River Song because singer-songwriter Lindsey Verrill spent time that year on nearby rivers instead of touring. “Time on the river is meaningless,” she says, and likewise, the songs on this album seem to move at a pace disconnected from the rush of the real world. Verrill’s banjo rolls forward as if blown by a gentle breeze, his vocals flow like honey from a jar, and Jeff Johnston’s singing saw gives the whole album a feel of another world.


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