Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I think I have finally out grown alt.country

I snuck into Mojo's last night to see the new Foundry Field Recordings' lineup and to see whether Dr. Dog was all they're cracked up to be...by friends and acquaintances, not the 'Fork. I even recorded some of the festivities for all to see. (And by "all" I mean the 35-40 people who read lim regularly.)

The Foundry included two members of Bald Eagle and a new drummer as well as front man Billy Schuh. It was sort of strange to see BE's Danny and Justin play such tame music and appear to be rocking out a bit at the same time. Overall, the band sounded very tight, even professional. I only say this because so many locals are often a mess on stage. Of course, as I write this, I seem to remember a Bald Eagle gig last month that was positively rawkin' without sounding towny or amateurish. Although this town has a small rock community, it makes up for that lack quantity with quality.

Anyway, here are two songs from Foundry Field Recordings. The first is "On Wings of Gold and Bone" and the second is "Quiet Failures." I had heard demos for both songs previously and have to say they translate well live (although the sound quality of my video would dispute that claim). "On Wings..." will feature a few more layers of percussion, guitar, and strings once it's released. I really love the bass playing on the demo for "Quiet Failures," but it didn't come through live due to the questionable sound system. Either way, I doubt Dr. Dog will get too many sets from openers as good as this one was.
Foundry Field Recordings at Mojo's #1 07/29/08 from comoprozac on Vimeo.
Foundry Field Recordings at Mojo's #2 07/29/08 from comoprozac on Vimeo.

Now, I can get to the main point of this post: I think I have finally outgrown alt.country. I didn't think it would ever happen, but it sort of has. It may be the change in the genre that seems to value the Beatles more than MC5 or the fact that I just don't feel the same angst I did in the 90's. Alt.country bands used to look to Johny Cash or Merle Haggard as their influences. Now, they look to Wilco. Wilco's a great band, but they have drastically watered down the alt.country aesthetic. Gone are the days of cow punk and Uncle Tupelo. Today's alt.country sort of bores me.

Enter Dr. Dog. I have had people telling me for the past couple of years how great this band is, but I don't see it. Sure, they have an interesting sound and seem to be a fairly accomplished collection of musicians, but I'm just not feeling the alt.country vibe right now. Maybe it will return, but Dr. Dog just doesn't excite me.

As for last night's show, Mojo's was pretty packed for a Tuesday in July. Folks drove in from all around to cheer on the Dr. It's a testament to the band's prowess and fan base that the joint was so full of hippies and alt.country enthusiasts despite being 'forked. (I'm trademarking that one. With their terrible rating of 3.3 from Pitchfork, one can now close the book on The Black Kids. Consider the one-time blogosphere darlings 'forked!)

Even though my appreciation for alt.country is going under faster than No Depression, I did feel an obligation to film at least one song for a couple of my readers who could not be there. I appologize for the shitty camera work, but it got really crowded rather quickly...and I just wasn't in the mood. I hope that you can get the main idea.

Dr. Dog at Mojo's 07/29/08 from comoprozac on Vimeo.

6 comments:

Pizza Cottontail said...

I agree on the alt.country thing. Too many Josh Rouses; not enough Bonnie "Prince" Billies.

I'll stand by Dr. Dog, though. A serious listen tends to work against them, but they're inoffensive enough to make background music that hippies and AAA'ers can agree on.

GE said...

But what about My Morning Jacket, Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, Fleet Foxes, M. Ward, She & Him, Band Of Horses ....et al? Maybe the problem is in the label. When Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks came out, they were just rock bands. Now they would be lumped in the same sub-category as, say, Josh Rouse. I do agree that some of that punk mentality is missing from the some of the new bands in this “genre” (Oakley Hall, is a nice exception, I think), but it is not necessarily an integral part of what I think makes a good alt.country band. Take Bon Iver. They're probably closer to indigenous spirituals than any kind of punk aesthetic. I think Americana is a better label, because that encompasses blues, folk, soul, old-time country, etc. It sounds like what you're missing is the new-ness of it all. Me too. I was just thinking about it today how Uncle Tupelo was so raw and vibrant sounding, and for as good as Wilco is, that kind of magic can never be recaptured.

comoprozac said...

You both bring up good points. I don't want to throw out everything that falls under alt.country. I just think I'm sort of tired with the aesthetic that follows the UncleTupelo/Wilco/Son Volt trajectory.

The groups you bring up don't really do that and have at least stretched what it means to be alt.country. Will Oldham crafts beautiful songs that are almost pop. Band of Horses sounds more like Built to Spill than Son Volt. I don't know where Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, and Fleet Foxes fit.

Maybe I'm just done with the idea of alt.country. If something can't transcend beyond its genre, I'm not all that interested.

Hmmm...

Pizza Cottontail said...

I agree with you both. I think there are still quality bands out there that are combining the country and rock in interesting ways, but the term "alt.country" seems a bit dated...maybe the billion or so mediocre albums from Ryan Adams and Son Volt have watered down the entire genre.

David said...

So, I sort of found your post interesting...and maybe I am misunderstanding you because I am currently listening to Silkworm and am sort of distracted....

Are you saying that Dr. Dog is alt country? That thought had really really really really never crossed my mind.

comoprozac said...

Really? I'd definitely label Dr. Dog alt.country, although I'd welcome any arguments to the contrary.