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?

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

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