Hoedowns and Hipsters: 5 Indie Artists with Country Roots
In the midst of a heat wave, sometimes the only way to beat the blazing sun is to slow things down and listen to chiller music. Musicians from the South have known this for years, which is why we’ve compiled our favorite 2013 releases from indie artists who hail from the country. Whether you’re spinning the folky Appalachian calm of Sam Amidon or the experimental Athens, Georgia rock of Phosphorescent, these guys know how to soundtrack a hot day, and might even make you feel like you're escaping the oppressive Southern heat. It's a virtual glass of lemonade on ice.
1. Sam Amidon, Bright Sunny South
Sam Amidon is somewhat of an enigma in the folk world, giddily circling the periphery of the genre with top 40 covers and jazzy incorporations of electronic instruments. His perspective on folk (usually old Appalachian folk), is unique, quirky, and inexhaustibly interesting. With Bright Sunny South, Amidon further explores the boundaries of the genre, almost as if the summer heat has forced him to speak to us just a little too close, and we’re all the better for it.
Stream "My Old Friend" above.
2. Phosphorescent, Muchacho
Athens, Georgia-based Matthew Houck has been making music as Phosphorescent for over a decade now. His most recent release, Muchacho, follows Houck along psychedelic and hymn-like tangents, always working under an expansive umbrella of humid country-tinged rock. Standout track, “Song For Zula” works as well during siesta as it does at the end of a long summer night.
Stream "Song for Zula" above via YouTube.
3. Jason Isbell, Southeastern
Jason Isbell has calmed down a bit since his rowdy days as the former frontman for Drive-By Truckers, finding love and sobriety, and settling down in Nashville (he was born and raised in rural Alabama). Drawing comparisons to alt-country/rock powerhouse Ryan Adams, Isbell highlights his troubles in sincere detail on his recent release, Southeastern. Put on this album and you’ll want to take the backroads home.
Check out "Songs That She Sings in the Shower," above.
4. Night Beds, Country Sleep
Night Beds is a new act from Nashville, TN. On their debut album Country Sleep, Night Beds mastermind Winston Yelle leads his band from waltzy introspective ballad with “Even as We Try,” to what sounds like a barn party filled with Nashville’s indie elite on “Ramona.” Recorded in a house once owned by Johnny Cash, this album pays plenty of tribute to its country DNA, making Yelle seem wise beyond his years in some hauntingly beautiful ways.
Stream "Ramona," above via YouTube.
5. Iron & Wine, Ghost On Ghost
Growing up in South Carolina and Virginia, Texas-based Iron & Wine are no strangers to the act of breaking through traditional folk boundaries. From hushed living room recordings to '70s lite rock full-band jams, Iron & Wine have covered a lot of territory. On Ghost on Ghost, frontman Sam Beam continues to expand his band’s palette in new directions. This record’s the perfect crowd-pleaser for your next barbecue.
Stream "Lovers Revolution" via Soundcloud above.