Nowadays it seems every pseudo-intellectual schmuck wants to hate on America and pretend we don't live in a fascinating and storied place. But America is a bizarre, complicated land, and musician Steve Earle has spent the greater part of a 30-year-career exploring it. He's made 16 albums, recorded with Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, and even written a play and a collection of short stories.
With this past month’s City Series focus on Athens, GA we wanted to take a closer look at one of the town’s defining musical institutions: New West Records.
New West Records is the apogee of modern Americana.
If there were ever a synonym for quality roots-based music, it’s New West. The label sets a standard by which all others are measured. One can simply see the New West name attached to an album and be assured of its caliber.
The nervy folk-pop of NYC singer-songwriter Anthony D’Amato’s new single “Was a Time” brings to mind Simon and Garfunkel’s more amped-up moments, and the theme of it’s new video is a ruined wedding, much like the end of The Graduate, only much, much crazier. “This song was influenced equally by Pete Seeger and Suicide,” D’Amato writes in an email, “which I don’t think is a sentence that gets said very often.”
For its third album, the band Buxton relocated from their native Houston to L.A. to work with producer Thom Monahan, who’s manned the boards for recordings by Devendra Banhart, Vetiver, and Beachwood Sparks that bridge the span between ’60s folk pop and modern indie rock, and together they crafted an album, Half a Native, that deserves to be filed right next to them, thanks to its blend of sugar-sweet hooks and honky tonk twang.
Steve Earle wanted to make a blues record for the same reason he made a bluegrass album in 1999: to try his hand at writing songs in that style. The veteran singer, songwriter and actor premieres “Baby Baby Baby (Baby),” the opening track from his upcoming LP “Terraplane,” today on Speakeasy.
“I’m always arrogant enough to think I can add something to the canon,” Earle says, laughing. “I’m a songwriter, I’ve been doing it a long time, I’m still writing and I think I get better as time goes on.”
Results of the 15th Annual Country Music Critics' Poll
See all our 15th Annual Country Music Critics' Poll coverage: the full list of results, our interview with Sturgill Simpson, our feature on Angaleena Presley, and our critics' comments.
For the Scene's 15th annual Country Music Critics' Poll, we surveyed 90 music writers across the country to determine 2014's top country albums, singles, performers and more. See the results of our poll below.
1. Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (High Top Mountain/Thirty Tigers)
What does it mean to be a wandering troubadour in 2014? Believe it or not, sometimes it means riding the rails, just like in the old days. Sam Doores spent a restless childhood traveling with his family between San Francisco, Washington and Texas; his mother's copy of Woody Guthrie's book Bound For Glory convinced him to try the life of a modern-day hobo , eventually settling in New Orleans. The sound he's cultivated with his bandmates in the Deslondes is streaked with history's dust.