Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Drag The Rivers-You Can’t Live This Way

March 1, 2008

Drag The Rivers – You Can’t Live This Way

Suburban Home Records

Country that almost anyone could love.

Finding modern country that has a broad appeal to it is an excessively rare occurrence. However, Colorado’s Drag The River has hit gold with its unique brand of country. Blending rock, folk and even some indie in, Drag The River manages to find a very accessible country sound with You Can’t Live This Way.

Most people hold the stereotype that most country is about lost loves, drinking and dead dogs. I’m one of them. And lost love and drinking are featured in the album, but I found no mention of dead dogs. I can’t say I’m completely against country, being a big fan of the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and the like, but modern country does not sit well with me.

It isn’t really obvious at first why the music is so easy to get into. However, I believe it’s because of the lyrics of the songs, which are more akin to indie and also because of the very folk aspect of the music. There’s a very poetic quality to the lyrics that’s more in line with bands like Neutral Milk Hotel than with your standard country artist.

These aren’t pop songs sang with a twang and a steel guitar like a lot of modern country. Songwriters Jon Snodgrass and Chad Price deserve a lot of credit for their ability to take all these elements of country and to mold them into a cohesive whole that is both familiar and completely different. Never have I found the sound of a lapsteel, a galloping drum beat and a country twang so soothing and fun.

Tracks like “Death Of The Life Of The Party,” “Tobacco Fields,” “Defy The Moon,” “Br00tal,” “Lizzy,” and “Bad Side Of A Good Time,” are prime examples of how the band defies genre barriers and brings freshness back to country. The band also had the genius idea of putting a track at the end of the album that plays the entire album as one track. This way if someone finds the CD in a jukebox, then the entire album can be played with one credit.

Let me put it this way: if bands like Drag The River were the standard of country, I’d probably listen to a lot more country.

-Nate Williams

nathanmw@ou.edu

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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