By WILEY BELLE FRUMKIN – Music is incredible. Musicians are the best people, the coolest people. They see the world differently than any non-musician-human-being would. The experiences that the world has to show them soak into their minds like a sponge. It’s something that’s come to my realization a lot lately, which is why I’m going to talk about all the cool jams I’ve been listening to.
I was going to make a list of my favorite songs or albums or something like that, but then I realized that lists are pretty boring. So here’s me talking and bein’ real about what I’ve been listening to recently.
I have found myself listening to a lot of early Americana/country/folk stuff. Blaze Foley and Steve Earle are two guys I’ve been listening to often. It bothers me when people come out and say, “I hate all country music.” No honey. You can’t just do that, you’re forgetting that, oh! It doesn’t all sound the same!
It really says something when people generalize a genre’s sound by one Kenny Chesney song. Maybe twangy country doesn’t please most ears but hating Willie Nelson because you hate Luke Bryan is just straight up disrespect.
There are a lot of forgotten folk musicians from the 60s and 70s that I’ve stumbled upon. In particular, Michael Hurley is one guy I just can’t believe more people aren’t appreciating. The first song of his that I discovered was Be Kind to Me, originally released in 1971. It was such a sweet simple sound that had a good message about being nice. “I told you once and I told you twice / why be mean when you can be nice?”
I knew I had to dive deeper. His song Sweedeedee is the epitome of classic porch folk, talkin’ tunes. It’s a spoken word song with the chorus being sung. He wrote it about his “little woman” and their past. Super cute!!
There’s such an accomplished feeling that comes along with finding a modern Americana band that actually represents the genre while incorporating just enough of a twist to where it’s not too modern. A band called Natural Child does that so well. This trio formed in 2009 out of Nashville, Tennessee and combines the classic rock n’ roll “I don’t care, I’m living my life” mentality with a simple picker-circle-acoustic-guitar sound. Wild boys Wez Traylor, Zack Martin, and Seth Murray make up the unique outlaw band.
They say they’re influenced by artists like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. After listening to these country kings while traveling on tour they decided to spice up their sound by recruiting fellow Nashville native Luke Schneider to play pedal steel, and Benny Divine out of New Orleans to play the keyboard.
Their newest album, Okey Dokey, was released on September 16th, 2016. It’s a fresh way of bringing traveling tunes back onto the scene. I think it really helps some of the younger generation appreciate this type of sound a lot more.
In the 60’s an instrumental band called The Ventures swept the west coast off their feet with their style of beachy surf rock. There are so many good bands that have taken influence from them and are recreating that sound today. Tijuana Panthers, Jurassic Shark, together PANGEA, Wavves, FIDLAR, they’re all doing it and doing it pretty well. All of them just sound like whiny boys with bad attitudes who mostly don’t shower. But there’s something very liberating about that.