“I’ll Go” doesn’t so much progress as creep forward, spidery guitar ricocheting off Ben Millburn’s howl. “Unsettling” is almost too easy of a way to describe the song — it’s downright chilly, like if Kurt Vile’s weirdest stuff was even more glacial and empty. Its folksy guitar is less down-home friendliness and more tumbleweedy desert, no life around for miles. It’s dark, it’s desolate, and — most importantly — those two things combine to make a compelling song.
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Cody Johnson’s country is traditional, inasmuch as any radio-ready country in 2016 can be considered “traditional”. It eschews the hip-hop leanings of Florida Georgia Line and Sam Hunt and the cross-genre wizardry of the Zac Brown Band, instead cranking fiddle, guitar, and a Southern twang to full volume. “Wild As You” is timeless, the pop-heavy end of the genre that fits almost anywhere from the radio to the bar to the stadium. Country, almost uniquely of any airwaves-friendly genre, makes more than its fair share of missteps in the pursuit of pushing the genre forward—“Wild As You,” thankfully, steps confidently and surely over well-worn paths.
The Stray Birds make beautiful bluegrass, a lush sound characterized by tight harmonies and all-encompassing instrumentation. “Sabrina” is no exception, three-part vocal harmonies soaring above mandolin, guitars, and fiddle. It’s more upbeat than some of their other work, a dance song extolling Yuengling and living wild. The song’s bright shuffling is a joy, a tightly-wound chunk of down-south cheer and storytelling.
The Bourgeois’ “Summer of George” rocks like it’s 2007, their form of alt-metal ticking all the boxes which made bands like Evans Blue and Mudvayne so good. Drop-tuned guitars noodle, drums skitter forward, and lead singer Zach Mobley drawls seethingly over it all. It’s an immersive song, bass and guitar enveloping in the verse and overpowering in the chorus. It’s a time-tested style, and if “Summer of George” is any indication, it’ll continue testing well for a while.
The downcast pop of Esh is part Adele, part Tove Lo — mournful and slow while retaining a more nasally inflection and immersive electronic production. Esh makes a strong case for merging these two genres more frequently, spectral synths moaning over unobtrusive drums and impassioned vocals. Esh (Sarai Givaty) casts a dusky pall over her music, looming large above the dull brilliance of the production behind her. Pop is always interesting when it takes a turn for the ominous, and Esh is no exception to that rule.
// Notes from the Road
"McCartney welcomed Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt out for a song at Madison Square Garden.READ the article