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Oliver Buck and the New Madrids play hot country with feeling

Those who have been reading IC for a while have seen me come around to country music. I started this blog on a steady diet of punk rock, and over the past seven years I’ve mellowed out the bulk of my listening. But it’s only in the past year that I’ve been chill enough to embrace even small pockets of hot country. The Zac Brown Band was my first foray into “Yeah, I like country,” and there have been a few others since the original conversion in Summer ’09.

Oliver Buck and the New Madrids play hot country. It’s not as slick as Montgomery Gentry or the Zac Brown Band, but it’s definitely on the high side of Josh Turner in pop sheen. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, no matter what they tell you. If it’s crappy hot country, then it’s just as bad as if it were crappy indie rock. And if it’s good hot country, it can be just as enjoyable as a good indie-rock band.

Mr. Buck and his Spaniards play it right. They put feeling into the tunes without getting sappy, and rock without getting kitschy. A lot of this is owed to Buck’s solid voice, which smooths over any rough edges that the recording may have left. His voice is a nice, low tenor that resonates. He sounds comfortable in these songs, and as a result, I felt good about the tunes as well. I didn’t sense any fakery or winking going on; these are the songs that came out when Oliver Buck sat down to play. “Road to Nowhere” is especially solid in its mournful tone, and . The low-slung “Gina from Tulsa” made me smile, because I’m from Tulsa.

Oliver Buck and the New Madrids’ Prairie Girl is an EP worth getting for fans of Hot Country. It’s not an EP that will make converts to country, but it certainly is enjoyable for fans of the genre.