Five Alt-Country Albums for a Twangy Summer

The Waco Brothers. Photo courtesy of Bloodshot Records

Let’s face it, spending the whole summer hopping up and down to dubstep like a jackrabbit raised in Skrillex’s back yard is bound to get old at some point. Right? If you’re planning to get through the season in style, you’ll want to have some earthy Americana on your side to see you through the sweaty, sticky weeks and months to come. That’s why we’ve reached into our bag of tricks for some recent and upcoming alt-country albums to add that crucial touch of twang to your June, July, and August action.

1. The Waco Brothers/Paul Burch, Great Chicago Fire

Containing a couple of Mekons and a few other equally estimable upstarts, the Waco Brothers are old hands at punking up their twang, or is it twanging up their punk? With songsmith Paul Burch joining in, an extra layer is added to their “insurgent country” rave-ups. Out now on Bloodshot Records.

Stream “Great Chicago Fire”:

2. Chelle Rose, Ghost of Browder Holler

Raw, bluesy riffs run through the swampy Southern sounds Chelle Rose cooks up on her new album, produced by alt-Americana icon Ray Wylie Hubbard. When she really bares her fangs on killer cuts like “Alimony,” she can come off sounding like Lucinda Williams’ little sister out on parole with a well sharpened axe to grind. Out now on Lil Damsel Records.

Stream “Alimony”:

3. John Fullbright, From the Ground Up

Twenty-something troubadour John Fullbright hails from Woody Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, OK, but he seems to have spent more time soaking up the sounds of Texans like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. On his debut album, Ground Up, he knows just when to drop some gutsy, greasy licks into the mix and stir the pot to simmering. Out now on Blue Dirt Records.

Stream “Gawd Above”

4. The Black Swans, Occasion for Song

Fronted by sad-voiced balladeer Jerry DeCicca (who has absorbed some of the same influences as John Fullbright), the Black Swans specialize in a moody, sometimes mournful brand of Americana that takes a warmly elegiac turn on their upcoming album when they pay tribute to erstwhile violinist Noel Sayre, who died tragically in 2008. Due out July 31 on Misra Records.

Stream “Portsmouth, Ohio”:

5. Corb Lund, Cabin Fever

Canadian songwriter Corb Lund has one up on the alt-country competition in that he’s been an actual cowboy, and his songs sometimes seem like the soundtrack to a Western directed by Quentin Tarantino. He once even cut a concept album about horse soldiers, but while Cabin Fever might feature fewer equestrian activities, it’ll surely still be stuffed with its share of head-turning tracks. Due out August 14 on New West Records.

Stream “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain”:

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