Alt-Country's Similarity to Porn, Finally Explained

A decade ago, when No Depression magazine published its first issue, co-editors Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock's mission was clear: to champion a particular, antiquated style of American music that some living artists still had the audacity to write, perform, and record, brilliantly. Several wars, two popes, and a dozen 'tween queens later, the pamphlet's crusade to legitimize traditional-ish c&w has won hearts the world over. No Depression now carries the imprimatur of gospel on the subject of "alt-country."

But success has irreconcilably clouded the advocacy magazine's agenda. In the beginning, spinning positively made good business sense, but now that No Depression is one of the most respected niche publications around, thatEverything's just hunky-dory! tone simply don't fly no mo'. That NoD writers manage to find a Dobro-silver lining in even the crappiest glorified drink coasters is, frankly, an affront to readers, artists, and the art of bullshitting itself.

Perhaps the problem is that No Depression is no longer merely a mag, but a brand. In addition to an anthology of previously published articles, Alden and Blackstock have recently dropped their second compilation. Like pornography, alt-country adheres to no set criteria, but you know it when you see (or hear) it. What It Sounds Like, Vol. 2 does its best to put into song what cannot be neatly, succinctly articulated. Though the tunes are somewhat obscure, the artists, for the most part, ain't—Johnny and June Carter Cash, Patty Loveless, Caitlin Cary with Ryan Adams, Julie Miller. On the mid-tempo "Station to Station," Jay Farrar's fragile yawn of a voice cruises through another batch of his typically sweet melodies. Loveless's "Sounds of Loneliness" could have been an outtake from O Brother, Where Art Thou? And Paul Burch & the WPA Ballclub's "I Am Here" conjures a '40s-era dance hall.

Elsewhere, one of the most generic numbers that's wholly redeemed by its poignant lyricism is the Drive-By Truckers' "Outfit," a message from a father to his son about being true: "Don't call what you're wearing an outfit/Don't ever say your car is broke/Don't sing with a fake British accent/Don't act like your family's a joke." Hmm, honesty. A good quality for journalists too, no?

 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
 

Concert Calendar

  • April
  • Sat
    19
  • Sun
    20
  • Mon
    21
  • Tue
    22
  • Wed
    23
  • Thu
    24
  • Fri
    25
New York Event Tickets
Loading...