Monday, September 14, 2009

Tempo Changers

So where does this 'twang' or 'southern swagger' reside in Indie these days you ask, well it seems almost everywhere.

Ryan Adams, Beck, Wilco and Kings of Leon have all garnered massive success from altering variations of the country-pop-rock formula, which is often condoned by the Brooklyn type Indie snobs, but which often yields the biggest commercial success. Jack White is a huge advocate of the southern folk sound because he respects the purity of it, the blues lyrics, rock rythyms, simple time changes and the walking basslines that, once again make ya move and make ya feel good and enjoy what you are listening to.

My Morning Jacket's Jim James has managed to cover the full spectrum of music it seems (some more succesfully than others I'll add) and he's done it all southern style. But often it is not as obvious to others what that sound is.

Earlier this summer I read a review from Bonnaroo that included a quotation from Yeah Yeah Yeahs Karen O, in which she exclaimed "there are a lot of country acts here." I went to Bonnaroo, and yeah it's southern, but it hadn't hit me until I read that how much of the music I witnessed and currently listen has that country-southern-folk thing going on, music that to the likes of Karen O, probably sounds a little country and mabye a lot redneck.

Some bands of late embrace the sounds, The Avett Brothers and Band of Horses along with Conor Oberst, M. Ward, Ben Kweller, Drive-By Truckers (and variations thereof), almost exploit it, making music that stresses the twangy side and rockabilly. The music sounds amazing to me, but to a passive listener it can be too much.

Like it or not, it's gotten big.

Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, Elvis Perkins, Bon Iver and Joh Ritter have all recieved huge critical aclaim in the past few years for their 'new approach' to music and have been tagged as bands to watch for the future. It's almost amzing to me to see how succesful Fleet Foxes has become with such a tried and true formula, how many bands do you think are green with envy that they were the Indie darlings of 2008 and all they play is folk music...that stuff has been around for over a 100 years!

I can list endless bands that fall under this scope (Black Keys, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Great Lake Swimmers, Iron and Wine, Old Crow Medicine Show, Yonder Mountain String Band, Vetiver etc.) and I know this piece is running dry so I'll wrap up the preface here and I'll move on to review albums from the bands of 2009 that are best embracing this movement.

1 comment:

Andy said...

You knew this comment was coming, LTME...

Very nice post. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it, even if I detect a bit of hesitancy on your part to embrace this musical movement.

Some personal faves that walk a fine line of being "almost" or at least part country:

The Avett Brothers, Iron and Wine, Bellwether (check them out), Jimmy LaFave, Greg Trooper (the album, "Floating" is a high mark), and Lucero/Ben Nichols (brings in a hard edge to the proceedings, and his voice is an acquired taste, but damn, they are good!)