Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Alt.Country: A Manifesto

Crossposted at HickoryWind.

I read something the other day that referred to Dale Watson as "alt.country." I have been trending hostile to this concept for a while, and this was the last straw.

I have some things to say.

1. Dale Watson sings straight down the line honky tonk. Close your eyes and it's 1956. He out Bucks Buck. He is so twang he makes Merle look like a '80s Belgian industrial dance act. Couple of guitars, drums, pedal steel. Songs about cheating, drinking and cheating while drinking. For god's sake, he recorded a whole album about trucks. There is nothing alt about his country.

2. Just because something doesn't make CMT, doesn't mean you can call it alt.country.

3. Theoretically, I like alot of alt.country. M.Ward, The Handsome Family, Lambchop. I appreciate the figleaf of Hip as much as the next socially inept nerd. Uncut and No Depression tell me I should like them. I want to like them. In reality, they bore me senseless. Where is the passion, the mongrel, the blood and tears? If these guys were any wetter you'd stock up on bottled water and Snickers and have to evacuate.

4. The whispering. They whisper the words. Unless your name is Bill Anderson, there should be no whispering in country music. Same goes for mumbling. Country voices should cut through. Rip it up, don't blend in.

5. If you are going to use irony in a country song, you'd better have a damn good excuse.

6. Two words: trucker caps.

7. Can I blame Gram Parsons for some of this? Not sure. I'd like to. He gets more than his fair share of credit these days, so it only seems right.

8. Plaid shirts, thick black rimmed glasses, stupid facial hair and looking perpetually depressed. Stop it.

9. Whatever the question was, "lo-fi" was the wrong answer.

10. Melody is not a dirty word.

Thank you. That is all.

For now.

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