In all my reading, I haven’t yet come across a book making a connection between punk and alt-country. Perhaps I’m overlooking a book, or perhaps I should get to work: The two seem to overlap in musicians more often than I would expect. Barring a long and drawn-out intro, I’ll just say this: the tunes of PJ Bond‘s Ten Degrees and the Floor EP all started off their lives at the heavily punk Alternative Press’s website as streams. Chuck Daley at Beartrap PR sent them over to me, and he’s a punk lifer.
And the tracks have, uh, nothing to do with punk. Two of the tunes are acoustic and voice pieces, while the third is an Old 97s-style mid-tempo rocker. The first two have pedal steel in the arrangement. These are alt-country songs that seem to come out of the punk world, and this is not the first time I’ve encountered this.
But enough of that. PJ Bond is great at writing songs, and so you should listen to them. He sings from a weary soul on “I’m in a Bad Way” and “Reasons,” but his sturdy strum patterns and grounded acoustic guitar tone contrast with the weeping pedal steel and keep these songs from getting woozy or meandering. (See also: Joe Pug, Rocky Votolato.) Bond has a firm vision of where these songs are going, and they go there. Both of the tunes have memorable vocal melodies as anchors; the latter has a noteworthy lyrical turn.
“Nevermind,” the full-band tune, frames Bond’s voice even better, augmenting it with harmonies. It’s a solid tune; I prefer the first two songs, but this one is no bad mark on his record.
These guys said that pop music would eat itself, and they were right. But I’m not sure it’s the horrible thing they implied it would be. G-Eazy‘s “Runaround Sue” sees him rapping over Dion’s classic pop song – and it’s great.
The video, with near-perfect appropriations of ’50s dress, hair and make-up, is also worth mentioning as awesome.
Independent Clauses tends toward the quieter end of the spectrum these days, but SLTM (The Podcast) features great harder music, some courtesy of Phratry Records and Chuck Daley at Beartrap PR. I’ve covered a great deal of music from both sources, so I was excited to see someone else upping the good work. Hit up the podcast, which just released episode #116. Whoa.
My friend Jeff, who played with me on this album, was in a band called Best Left with one of the guys who is now half of the acoustic pop duo The Motha Folkin’ Soul. Jeff recommended/dragged me to their show at the local dive, and I went along almost entirely on the strength of the ridiculous name.
The band lives up to their eloquent name: the duo plays dirty ditties to make the members laugh, as wordplay, in-jokes (Kunek/Other Lives reference!) and goofy antics abounded in their short set. Their latest single is “Coffee Sex,” and if the song wasn’t so guile-free and catchy, I’d probably not listen to a song with that title. Instead, the songs are endearing and affecting in a “how is this so sweet?” sort of way. Awesome. Hit up their single here.
And that’s all I’ve got. Album reviews will return tomorrow, much to my own glee (and hopefully yours!).
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.