Our music recommendations include Whiskey Myers' Yellowstone-worthy, rockin' brand of country and more.
If you haven’t heard of them yet, you will. After their music was featured in four episodes of Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone — including a live performance in the fourth episode of Season 1 — Texas-country Southern rockers Whiskey Myers moved into the Top 10 of the iTunes country charts.
Their breakout album, Mud, hit No. 1 on iTunes, with their previous two, Firewater and Early Morning Shakes, not far behind. Now fresh off a stadium tour opening for the Rolling Stones, Whiskey Myers band members John Jeffers, Cody Cannon, Cody Tate, Jeff Hogg, Jamey Gleaves, and Tony Kent have dropped another red-dirt rocker, Whiskey Myers, and are on tour supporting the album.
“Keeping the whole record within the band’s inner circle really spoke to us and made it so that this record really is a statement piece for us,” says founding member and axman Jeffers. “Self-written, self-produced, self-drawn artwork, and self-titled — this record is all Whiskey Myers.”
With it, they’ve managed to sidle up to the mainstream without tempering their “Gonna rock until I die/Gonna die rockin’ ” approach. It’s a thunderous, revved-up honky-tonk album with an unapologetic streak of lacerating rock ’n’ roll. From the gritty, supercharged, group-defining opener “Die Rockin” to the gospel-inspired, slide-guitar-driven “Bad Weather,” the 14 songs keep you on your toes — or get you on your feet.
The songs aren’t just musical. They’re visual. “I ran across an experiment where sound frequencies can actually take physical form — sand, in this case,” Jeffers says. “So I got curious: Could we take the average hertz level of all 14 songs individually and translate that into an image? Where every song has its own identity? Long story short, after almost going deaf listening to all the frequencies for way too long, I was able to create an image for every track. I thought it was unique, and to my understanding, has never been done before.”
That’s not all. The cover art will take you back to your blacklight-poster, stereo-blasting party days. “I wanted a clean concept on the cover for more of a statement, so hiding the goods behind the cleanliness throughout the artwork seemed appropriate. I haven’t used a blacklight since I was a kid.”
We haven’t either, but we’re going to get one just for this die-rockin’ record.
Room 41, by Paul Cauthen. Traditional country meets ’70s soul when the dynamic Texas troubadour Paul Cauthen performs. With honest lyrics that convey Cauthen’s difficulty producing the album — one that he says simultaneously nearly killed him and saved him — and a voice that conjures the spirit of Johnny Cash, Room 41 is a dark yet riveting musical exploration that covers drugs and alcohol, religion and faith, and death versus life. Altogether, it’s a little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll, and a ton of heart and soul.
Okie, by Vince Gill. Multiple Grammy winner Vince Gill has been busy touring with the Eagles in place of the late Glenn Frey since 2017, but he found time to create a new, deeply personal solo album. The 12 songs on Okie are still powered by his smooth voice, masterful guitar work, and songwriting skills, but this time around the Oklahoma native shines his light on tough subjects such as teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, and racial inequality. There are also songs of love and admiration inspired by Guy Clark, Merle Haggard, and Gill’s wife, Amy Grant, making for some especially memorable country soul.
I Don’t Dream Anymore, by Logan Ledger. When Rolling Stone calls a new talent “a modern George Jones” and legendary Americana musician T Bone Burnett produces his debut EP, you’re going to give him a good listen, right? California singer-songwriter-guitarist Logan Ledger’s first outing doesn’t disappoint — and it doesn’t hurt that he looks the part, down to the throwback sideburns. A full-length album has been in the works; in the meantime, the EP whets the appetite for more cool, rootsy country through a distinctively dark and moody prism. Sample Ledger’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Oh, Sister” for proof that he’s not a tribute guy but an artist in his own right, fleshing out solid songs with some serious pros.
The Highwomen, by the Highwomen. The self-titled debut from this supergroup collaboration of Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, and Natalie Hemby went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart for a reason: It’s not just gal power, it’s great music. Shires came up with the idea of an all-female answer to country supergroup the Highwaymen as both an homage to the guys and as a challenge to the underrepresentation of women on country radio and the festival circuit. Shires called Carlile, and the rest is going down in country music history with every satisfying listen.
Well, Hell, by Brother Oliver. The duo Brother Oliver — brothers Andrew and Stephen Oliver — is so beloved in their hometown the mayor of Greenville, South Carolina, officially (and rightfully) proclaimed the release date of their new album Well, Hell “Brother Oliver Day.” Well, Hell is a shining example of their captivating blend of indie-folk and psychedelic rock. What’s even better than their latest album? Catch them live and you will be hooked.
Threads, by Sheryl Crow. For her 11th and supposedly final album (she still plans to release singles), Sheryl Crow enlisted other superstar artists including 1970s rockers Stevie Nicks, James Taylor, and Eric Clapton, country crooners Willie Nelson, Chris Stapleton, and Maren Morris, and indie heroes St. Vincent and Lucius. The result is 17 songs, old and new, covering an array of genres and showcasing Crow at her best.
Dragons, by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. The latest body of work from Americana band Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors is their most collaborative yet. Dragons features co-writers — Lori McKenna, the Lone Bellow, Natalie Hemby, and Ellie Holcomb — on five of the 10 tracks. From its high-energy, toe-tapping album opener “Family” to its more serious, somber, synth-pop closer “Bittersweet,” the family-centric album covers everything from grief to hope and dreams.
A Dobritch Did as a Dobritch Should, by the Hackles. Two core members of Blind Pilot, husband and wife Luke Ydstie and Kati Claborn, create a new spin on indie-folk. Both impressively talented players, the duo’s explorations of several unexpected instruments — vibraphone, accordion, clarinet, and more alongside the guitars, keys, and harmonica — generates a unique soundboard for mesmerizing and layered vocals on their sophomore album.
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Photography: Courtesy Khris Poage
From our January 2020 issue.