Tuesday, September 26, 2017

MID-WEEK MUSIC MOMENT: COOL COUNTRY FROM MIDLAND

I tweeted about this the other day, but it bears repeating in this context: I am not a country music fan. Or at least, I wasn't. Sure, I listened to the Dixie Chicks growing up, and was a hooked on Johnny Cash's music in the wake of Walk the Line. And who among us hasn't turned Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About" up full blast on the radio while driving? But current country? Most country? I snubbed my nose at it every chance I got.

That is, until I went to Nashville. I leaned into the kitsch and took myself to a honkey tonk by myself in the middle of the afternoon on a Monday—and to the Country Music Hall of Fame—which is really fun, by the way. I learned about the links between Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan and started a running list of old school country artists to check out when I got home. And since I was staying with two Nashville music scene insiders, I was pointed to amazing recommendations like Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings and Linda Ronstadt.

A little later in the summer, Caitlin emailed me a song from an up-and-coming current country band she thought I'd dig, Midland. Listening to this song, "Drinkin' Problem," I was immediately taken back to my favorite night we had in Nashville, trying to two-step to the incredible live bands at the American Legion in East Nashville. She knows me well, and she was right—I'm a woman obsessed!

This trio has the vibe of the old school country music really like, but with big pop hooks and 2017-level production. "Drinkin' Problem" is apparently a huge country hit right now, but I care not for the charts. This is a song that makes me want to throw on my cowboy boots and slow dance with a man in one hand and a whiskey in the other. Oh, and book a trip back to Nashville immediately.

In fact, Midland's whole debut album, On The Rocks, which just came out on Friday, is like that. It is mostly excellent and unlike so much cheesy current country music that feels like sonic summer, this music has more of a rich, fall-ready sound. Check them out and let me know your thoughts!

// Listen to the entire On The Rocks album here, and my favorite tune below. //


"People say I've got a drinkin' problem, but I've got no problem drinkin' at all"

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