Monday, March 25, 2013

Garden and Gun's 'Nashville's New Sound' Playlist: Garden or Gun?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 6:59 PM

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You know, I shouldn't say something like, "Next time I see a regional or national publication lead a story about Nashville music with 'Not just country!' I'm going to jump off the top of the Batman Building." I shouldn't say that, because I'll probably only make it about a week or two, especially considering Music City's recent and contentious "It City" status. Time and time again (though not every time), we've seen noteworthy publications profile Nashville's non-contemporary-country music scene with a great big, "Forget the Grand Ole Opry, check this out!"

As you may have seen, the recently released "Music Issue" of Garden and Gun — the one with critically acclaimed local songstress Nikki Lane on the cover — features a package titled "Nashville's New Sound." "It isn't just twang coming out of Music City these days," reads the story's lede. "A group of rising talents is shaking up the scene and rocking Nashville in the process." There's talk of an Alanna Royale show at The Basement, there's a shot of Tom Pappas and his crew (labeled simply "a band") playing an in-store at Grimey's, there are quotes from Third Man Records' Ben Swank, there's talk of the Nashville Curse, there's a feature on The Black Keys, and finally, there's a piece called "Music City Medley: Thirteen acts bringing new sounds to Nashville." As a matter of fact, you can hear Garden and Gun's "Nashville's New Sound" mix at this link.

In the dead-tree edish of G&G, writers Matt Hendrickson and Jed Portman run down the 13 artists in question — among them Scene/Cream faves including Lane, JEFF the Brotherhood, Turbo Fruits, Escondido, Natural Child, Caitlin Rose and more. There's a little chill-to-rowdy-scale infographic accompanying each profile, telling us whether the given artist is more the former or the latter. "Chill" or "rowdy," eh? Why not label them "garden" or "gun"? Someone should do that. Ahem:

Shelly Colvin: Garden
The Alabama transplant's "To the Bone" is fairly standard trad-country- and folk-imbued singer-songwriter fare. "Garden-variety" is probably a little too harsh, but I'm not hearing any gunpowder.

Escondido: Gun
The 'Dido were recently given the thumbs-up by David Lynch, and that's pretty doggone "gun." Plus, the outfit has been described as "desert country" and "desert rock" on more than one occasion, and the desert isn't known for heavy vegetation. Garden and Gun labels them "chill" rather than "rowdy," but don't be fooled: "chill" and "garden" aren't synonymous, nor are "gun" and "rowdy." Escondido is chilled out, but packing heat.

JEFF the Brotherhood: Gun
Come on. No brainer.

Johnnyswim: Garden
Vocal-centric soul-pop? This is garden as hell.

Nikki Lane: Gun
By now, we've all heard Lane's Walk of Shame, yes? I'm of the belief that Lane's making that walk without a shootin' iron tucked in her purse. Her forthcoming full-length — reported by Garden and Gun as being tentatively titled Seein' Double — was produced by Lane's good buddy Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, so we'll see just how much firepower the duo packs when working together.

Leagues: Garden
This one's tricky. Arena-ready pop rock with riffs and big, bombastic drums — comes off as "gun," sure. But G&G has Leagues at the dead center of the chill-rowdy spectrum, and the slick production, for me, tips the scale over to "garden."

Jamie Lidell: Garden
Brit transplant Jamie Lidell's totally singular experimental funk-pop is weird and cool and constantly interesting. You're thinking "gun," right? Wrong. This is "garden," but a garden that's totally overgrown with weird, strangely colored and psychedelic shit. Weird garden.

Natural Child: Gun
Nobody with this much grease in their blooze has ever done anything in a garden other than piss on the roses. "Gun" as hell.

Caitlin Rose: Garden
While I might call a great deal of Ms. Rose's material "gun" — she can write a spooky Western ballad with the best of 'em, and she goes off like a 12-gauge when she wants to — her brand-new The Stand-In is a very, very lush record. As much as I'd love to describe someone named "Rose" as a "gun," young Rose grows in the garden.

Turbo Fruits: Gun
They have a song called "Harley Dollar Bill$," for shit's sake. I guess it should be noted that fellow Creamster Adam Gold points out that fruits, you know, sometimes grow in gardens.

The Weeks: Gun
Heavily tatted Southern-tinged indie rock = "gun." Young guns, perhaps, but guns none the less. Their song "Brothers in the Night" — featured on this playlist — has a verse about shooting a guy, after all.

Wild Cub: Garden
Too much organic auxiliary percussion and blooping synthesizer action growing in Wild Cub to land in "gun" land — a gun this complex is doomed to malfunction.

Sol Cat: ???
I've written these guys up. I've seen them live. I can't fucking tell if they're "garden" or "gun." Just as well. That leaves us with six "gardens," six "guns," and one big, fat question mark.

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