We’re not even half way through the calendar year, but the Yallternative scene has already produced some killer tracks that should get every country fan losing their mind with all of this left of center goodness.
Whether it be an alt-country veteran or a pair of red dirt artists joining forces, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Here are 7 quick clicks of songs that you should be checking out.
- Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen – “Standards” – This Yallternative power duo got together to make one of the year’s finest albums so far Hold My Beer, Vol. 1. Bowen has never been shy of poking fun at country’s establishment (see last year’s “Song About Trucks”), but with Rogers they hit the nail on the head with “Standards” where they honestly sing, “I don’t have hits, I’ve got standards. Tell me how can I sell out? If I barely sell at all. You won’t see my name on the billboard. Every night I pack the dance floor. There’s your answer. I don’t have hits, I have standards.”
- Aaron Watson – “Fence Post” – I’m gonna admit, I didn’t know Watson’s music prior to our Country Music #CMchat Twitterview the week his contender for Yallternative album of the year The Underdog was released. But I’m a huge fan now. “Fence Post” is another shot at the industry and it’s well deserved. Watson sings, “’Cause you know I’d rather sing my own songs. Than be a puppet on a string. I’ll wear what I want to wear. I’m gonna sing what I wanna sing. Heaven knows all I need is my faith, my fans, my friends and my family. Besides I’d rather be an old fence post in Texas, than the king of Tennessee.” Watson won as his album debuted at No. 1 on the country charts. Not bad for an artist you won’t hear on “new country” stations.
- Rhett Miller with the Black Prairie– “Most in the Summertime” – I will always have a soft spot for the Rhett Miller and his iconic alt-country band the Old 97’s. Not only is he one of my generation’s best songwriters and performers, but he’s also a standup dude and all around nice guy. Every lyric he sings is urgent and vital.
- Blackberry Smoke – “Too High” – Surprisingly, this song isn’t about inhaling too much weed. It’s more about knowing one’s limitations. These guys have more of a southern rock vibe, but this tune finds them in a fantastic mid-tempo country groove.
- Lilly Hiatt – “Get This Right” – I picked up Lilly Hiatt’s Royal Blue on Google Play for cheap with very little knowledge about her and thusly discovered one of 2015’s hidden Americana treasures.
- Ryan Bingham – “Broken Heart Tattoo” — Gravelly voiced New Mexican Ryan Bingham has been plying his trade since 2007’s debut Mescalito. His latest album Fear and Saturday Night is one of the year’s finest Americana albums.
Chris Stapleton – “Whiskey and You” – This will certainly be controversial selection as he’s been writing hits for country artists for years and is a fan favorite of country fans who look beyond the radio and are begging for something more. But let’s be honest, while he may have recorded one of the best albums of the year, he lacks what Aaron Watson’s “Fence Post” sings about, “commercial appeal.” While image is everything on the radio, Stapleton’s substance is off the charts. Many country artists have performed this song over the last few years (Julie Roberts knocked it out of the park…Tim McGraw not so much), bug it could be a smash with Stapleton’s gravelly voice behind it…If only he was pretty boy.
I’m humble enough to not know it all. What Yallternative songs have I missed in 2015? Leave a message in the comments or hit me up at @sneezeguard
Author: Scott Colvin
Scott has 20+ years experience as a writer/editor and is #CMchat’s Executive Editor. He’s a rabid music fan and a sports junkie. If there’s a cat in the room, he’ll pet it. If there’s a beer in the room, he’ll drink it.