Alternative country is something that I don’t necessarily pay much attention to, even though I have a love and appreciation for country music. The alternative scene pushes country in directions one wouldn’t normally hear on KYGO. For those that think country is about daisy dukes, pick-up trucks, drinking, Jesus, and ‘MURICA, I’d ask you to look into alt country music.
The problem, however, is simply finding this stuff. More often than not, my favorite alt country songs and artists I found by chance, such as hearing a lone Buddy Miller song playing on KUNC or Uncle Daddy’s Rise Again on a 30-second YouTube spot for The Last of Us. Alternative country is really something you have to look for, and sometimes it can’t be found under the Country genre on iTunes.
Take 6th Street and Trinity, the debut album from The Deadwood Saints. They call themselves “an Americana-Roots Rock quartet seeking to bring another alternative to the alt-country scene.” Every song on this album possesses that country twang and is steeped with a blue-collar ethos, though one which is not as on-the-nose, clichéd or shallow as mainstream country music. But as far as iTunes knows, The Deadwood Saints is “Rock,” and I don’t think that’s entirely uncalled for. The music itself sounds folkish/rockish at times, calling to mind the likes of Arlo Guthrie or Cat Stevens with more electric guitar and a raspy, whiskey-soaked voice. The Deadwood Saints has the sound of an awesome, mind-blowing bar band that wouldn’t be out of place in Austin, Texas.
The most country song they have on their debut album would have to be “Don’t Think of Me,” a duet between lead singer Jeremy C. Grant and a female vocalist, where the pair tell the other not to think of each other should they hear their song on the radio while driving down the road. I’ve heard many variations of this type of song by mainstream country artists, be they duets or regular songs, and they always give me diabetes. “Don’t Think of Me” doesn’t do that; it still has that same laid-back, relaxed feel of the rest of the songs in the album.
It’s difficult for me to find another way of expressing The Deadwood Saints’ songs other than “laid-back,” and that’s not to say there’s no heft to any of the songs. They do possess a weighty-ness, as if the songwriters wrote them from a place of hard-won, personal experience. But they’re played in a fun, no-care-in-the-world fashion, and that’s something that very few music acts can really do well, especially in country. Country music at times, particularly now, pings back-and-forth between easy listening, Redneck Party Rock fluff (most of Florida Georgia Line’s output) and Achingly Sincere, Lip-Quivering, Serious Attempt At Making An Impact garbage that usually backfires. (COUGHAccidentally RacistCOUGH) This is not a pretentious album, but it does possess a level of sincerity and honesty and heft that’s subtle. This is a fun album to listen to. You pour a glass of bourbon, lean back and listen to this on a Saturday night to relax to. It’s also an album you recommend to friends who sneer at you for simply knowing who George Strait is.
Long story short, if you are looking to get into alternative country music but don’t know where to start, start local. Track down Fort Collins’ own Deadwood Saints, and their debut album 6th Street and Trinity. You will not be disappointed.