Last updated on November 20, 2020
Times are weird. None of us argues that fact. May I say, then: thank God for the likes of Whiskey Myers. Releasing the self-produced, self-titled Whiskey Myers is just what the reality-starved might crave.
Here at Independent Clauses, Stephen Carradini immerses himself in classical and electronic music while I embrace more “traditional” sounds of folk, Americana, jazz, and blues. Whiskey Myers is none of these, releasing this genre-twisting country-rock through the band’s Wiggy Thump Records in partnership with Nashville’s Thirty Tigers.
Authentic grit rising from Cody Cannon’s lead vocals can overshadow the fact he’s on guitar as well. Cody Tate handles the lead guitar, vocals, and rhythm guitar, but the songs are a group effort. John Jeffers shares lead guitar, slide guitar, lap steel, and vocals, creating a massive guitarmaggedon sound. Jeff Hogg’s drums and Jamey Gleaves’ bass work drill down the backline, illuminated by Tony Kent on keys, percussion, and cowbell.
They make magic. These twelve tracks are old school country-rock with an aura of Gregg Allman’s ghost. “Glitter Ain’t Gold” opens the album, setting a defiant tone. It’s musically tame but holding back with palpable tension. Music like this is not normally my thing, but Whiskey Myers defies normalcy.
“Hammer” is a stunner in the traditional blues-rock style, built around the soaring female vocals that weave throughout the lyrics from one of the McCrary Sisters. Her voice is stunning, her aching emotions intertwined with an eerie dark Nashville vibe. “Bury My Bones” as a follow up is an emotional wringer, evoking the empty streets of everywhere in the world we see right now in our new reality. Wow.
Though this album dropped in the fall of 2019, the newly-relevant “Little More Money” roars into this moment like a freight train. Probably the most sonically country of the efforts here, each lyric speaks to the insanity of this time we are in globally. Its upbeat tempo cannot hide the fact there is nowhere to run, right? Thematically consistent, “California to Caroline” hits the escape button again, an anthem to empty hook-ups. Feeling seeps out as each mile passes in this road song.
Soaring with “Die Rockin” seems like a natural progression, shifting gears into a genreless space that outlets like Rolling Stone have praised. Battle cry or celebratory rebellion, there’s a southern revival grind grooving under these marching orders. This is the first cut where lead guitars really stand out, shredding this barn-burning rocker. Achingly sweet, “Bad Weather” is stark in its “after the storm” imagery of love’s lost hopes and dreams. Ghosts lurk on this record, and Randy Scruggs seems to drift here, with songwriting that brings to mind John Paul White. One of the best of the album, even from a non-fan of country music.
Sequencing is a palpable part of this record, and sticking the rock gospel single “Gasoline” in the heart of the record makes sense. There are no preconceived ideas of what this album is supposed to be, since it is self-produced. Redefining the band’s identity somewhat, “Bitch” sits in that same space, strutting with an almost Def Leppard rock feel. Country? Nah, this is a masterclass in musicianship by six men who know themselves intimately and don’t seem to care what anyone thinks. Does “Running” mean that acceptance of this fact has settled in? Gang vocals and a skipping tempo feels to me like they might not care what others think.
Times are strange, and we all know that “Kentucky Gold” is getting a lot of folks through this crazy time we are in. (The Whiskey Myers tour in support of the album included distilleries!) Closer “Mona Lisa” speaks to connection on a spiritual level, and in a sense speaks to the times. Despite the March tour dates being canceled due to our current state of affairs, Whiskey Myers will be hitting the road soon, it appears. Stay tuned, stay irreverent, and immerse in the vibe of Whiskey Myers. —Lisa Whealy