Musical Discoveries: April

Good day to you, Findettes! Today we are going to dispel the myth of the musical Guilty Pleasure. Let your pleasures be no longer guilty!

Be proud of your music taste –a catchy tune that sells by the billion is far harder to write than a load of critically acclaimed white noise. Just because something invokes the snobbery of others doesn’t mean it has no value, right? Today we will be examining (in the usual glib and insubstantial way) the latest wave of country music, a genre often derided for being tacky and formulaic that more often than not boasts serious song-writing muscle.

Personally, my re-interest in country has been piqued by E4 twangathon Nashville, the hit US TV drama following the trials and tribulations of a bunch of country music artists as they follow their fortunes in the famous music city. The show’s trump card is a powerhouse performance from Hayden Panetierre as hard-as-nails rising star Juliette Barnes (allegedly based on the very real Carrie Underwood). If you haven’t been sucked in yet, you need to get into this series – fast. It’s compellingly glitzy but there’s real depth to the characterisation and a bucketload of brilliant, strong female characters – what else would you expect from the creator of Thelma and Louise? But the best part of all is that there’s a ton of original music in every episode, and pretty much all of it is genuinely good.

You can download the soundtrack now – and note that this is only volume 1 of this season’s music… this is merely a redneck’s whisker of what we’ve heard on the programme so far. Here’s a taster of Juliette teaming up with arch rival and country grande dame Rayna James (played brilliantly by Connie Britton):

But these days country music isn’t always about bottle blonde and rhinestones. There’s been a cool edge to country ever since the alt-country/Americana explosion of the noughties ushered in a new breed of serious artists who wanted to move away from the Kenny Rogers cheese factor and towards some serious indie credibility. Welcome then to Caitlin Rose, whose latest record is smooth, sophisticated and intoxicating, like bathing in tub full of bourbon. Highly recommended, especially if you like your songs with plenty of stories to tell:

Caitlin Rose: No One To Call

Finally, just a little more lovelorn, we have Indiana’s Austin Lucas who is currently on tour in the UK with the equally brilliant band The Glossary, whose latest album is due to be released in the UK soon and is well worth a bend of your ear. Do go and see them live if you can – I was lucky enough to catch both last week it was a phenomenal performance.

Austin Lucas: Sleep Well

Tell me Findettes– do you love country music? Seen Nashville? What are your pleading-not-guilty pleasures?


PS! Find Penny at her new blog: All We Need is Radio Gaga or on Twitter @TokaiPenny

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17 thoughts on “Musical Discoveries: April

  1. Ooo, Penny, have you heard Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil? Here, have a listen – you can thank me later 😉 Check out this:

    …and their album Victimes, Enemies and Old Friends on Spotify.

    I’mn a long-time unashamed country fan – I blame long car journeys in Ireland listening to the radio as a child. I was even thinking about having a Don Williams song as a first dance at our wedding. I saw him in Newcastle live last year and, by God, he’s got a voice like melting honey. Love!

  2. Ah ha! I was quite far off on my guess about this post yesterday!

    Have to admit country isn’t high up on my list of favourite genres but I tend to find that I like certain artists or particular songs rather than genres. I’ll have to have a listen to these tracks when I’m not in the office later.

    My guilty pleasures are always pop tunes that feature in the charts, we all love them but they often attract the tag of not being very on trend/ edgy.


  3. I’ve had the wrong song in my head for the past 2 weeks! It replaced Mama’s Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert which is ridiculously catchy and also has a wonderfully bonkers video. We love us a bit of country in our house! I’ve forgotten the name of one guy James recently found who is great – I’ll ask him tonight and pop back.

    • There are some right earworms on that programme, I’ve had Undermine, Telescope, Love Like Mine and Wrong Song all vying for position in my brain for the last few weeks ….hoping Boys & Buses is on vol 2! Must check out that Miranda Lambert song.


  4. Have always had a bit of a soft spot for folky, country sounding music. And am now totally hooked on Nashville, downloading the Season 1 soundtrack is on my to-do list for this week! 🙂

  5. I have only seen 2 episodes of Nashville so far, must catch up, but I did spot a favourite Civil Wars song during those 2 episodes. They are amazing. Also along the country music line are The Be Good Tanyas. We saw them at The Barbican earlier this year; brilliant live. I haven’t heard of your two suggestions, will be checking those out!

    • I really rate the Be Good Tanyas! Hadn’t spotted the Civil Wars song but remember being enamoured when I saw them on Jools Holland a while back. I think Nashville may be a real launch point for a lot of bands- the latest episode I’ve seen has Rayna’s kids singing a Lumineers song (which is now EVERYWHERE)


  6. I unashamedly love country music, and I think the Nashville soundtrack is pretty representative of some of the best stuff coming out at the moment. My current favourites are Little Big Town, Luke Bryan and Alison Krauss, although she’s a bit more of the bluegrass fiddle sound. Highly recommend a listen to little big town at least. Need to get the Nashville soundtrack now!

  7. Love Nashville! Isn’t it crazy how big the country music scene is in the States but we know hardly anything about it here?! Some of the big names sell more records than Coldplay have ever sold. Weird.

    Great post, as always, P.

  8. So pleased I’m not alone in my love for Nashville. I bought the soundtrack last week! I usually prefer my alt-country, and love love love Ryan Adams….but I have to confess to have a fair few Garth Brooks albums stashed away!

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