Charlie Betts, whose “unique, divisive voice” I wrote about in January, has another whole album ready for alt-country fans. It’s very similar to his previous work, so old fans and newly interested parties can check out A New World at his Bandcamp.
Many blogs cover pop-punk in great detail, which is why I’ve written about it less as of late. However, A Road to Damascus‘ brand of pop-punk/emo/screamo has been on my radar since early 2010. Their new self-titled album makes me think back fondly on the year 2003, when Tell All Your Friends/Your Favorite Weapon/War All the Time were the thing, yo. The band pulls out all the stops: pop-punk riffs, hardcore breakdowns, sky-high sung vocals, screams and melodic hooks galore. If you’re into emo/pop-punk, consider your day vastly improved. Pick it up from iTunes and/or check out this music video (which should also induce early ’00s flashbacks).
And Run Hundred released a list of top ten best songs from August to hear while running/working out. From founder Chris Lawhorn:
Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer – “Give Me Everything (Sidney Samson Remix)”
Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass”
Switchfoot – “Dark Horses”
Gym Class Heroes & Adam Levine – “Stereo Hearts”
Lady GaGa – “Edge Of Glory (Bare Noize Remix)”
Pitbull & Marc Anthony – “Rain Over Me”
Nadia Ali, Alex Kenji & Starkillers – “Pressure (Alesso Radio Edit)”
T.I. & B.o.B. – “We Don’t Get Down Like Y’all”
LMFAO, GoonRock & Lauren Bennett – “Party Rock Anthem (Russ Chimes Remix)”
Alexandra Stan – “Mr. Saxobeat”
The alt-country/Americana songs that Charlie Betts presents on Under Construction all hinge on his unique voice. His tunes don’t traverse far from time-honored instrumental traditions in the country genre: snare shuffle, accordion, slide guitar, acoustic strum and stand-up bass. The rustic sound hits the ear very well; the performances are spot-on, and the production is tight and bright. The immaculate instrumentation and songwriting don’t allow for those elements to be the defining aspect of Betts’ sound, and thus that honor falls to his voice.
The British Betts has a voice that you will remember instantly, for good or for ill. Those on the ill side will say that his nasally warble is off-putting and irreconcilable with the otherwise standard tunes. Those on the pro- side of things will say that the instruments provide a vessel for Betts’ real instrument. Those who are drawn in by unusual voices will find much to love in Betts’ songwriting, as it is the centerpiece of each of these tunes. Even The Mountain Goats don’t stress the vocals as much as Betts does.
Again, there are some who will say that he’s leaning too hard on a bad thing. Others will celebrate his songwriting and punk-rock spirit (“Just ’cause you say I can’t doesn’t mean I can’t”). This is a call you’ll have to make yourself, because whether I like it or not will have no effect on how it hits your ear. As for me, I like his calmer songs (“The Meaning of Freedom,” “Remember the Sun”) better than his faster ones, as I feel his voice fits best in them. Fans of alt-country and Americana should check this out.
Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.