Music

Old Crow Medicine Show: Remedy

Remedy is a noble stepping stone between Old Crow Medicine Show's past and future.


Old Crow Medicine Show

Remedy

Label: ATO
US Release Date: 2014-07-01
UK Release Date: 2014-06-30
Amazon
iTunes

Having bottled lightning on their self-titled 2004 debut, the ragamuffin bunch of buskers known as Old Crow Medicine Show rose to attention with their updated sketch of Bob Dylan's unfinished "Momma, Rock Me", now known as the ubiquitous "Wagon Wheel". Following Darius Rucker's cover of the song reaching No. 1 on the country charts and garnering the band its first million-selling single in 2013, the group was recently inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Yet the group as it stands today is not the same cast of misfits that reintroduced traditional string band bluegrass tinted with punk hunger to the mainstream.

Following a hiatus in 2011 that left the band with an uncertain future, the Old Crows returned in 2012 with Carry Me Back, harkening back to their signature sound following a foray into a more rock-oriented approach on 2008's Tennessee Pusher. Other changes included the departure of founding member Willie Watson, the return of original member Critter Fuqua, the addition of Watson's replacement Chance McCoy, and Ted Hutt as producer.

This year finds the band and Hutt courting mainstream approval with their fifth studio album, Remedy. Opening with their trademark hillbilly badinage on the one-two punch of "Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer" and the frenetic "8 Dogs 8 Banjos", the wine, whiskey women and guns of earlier releases remain, but more so as articles of foible rather than revelatory ingredients as on the twangy "Firewater", a cautionary tale of alcoholism.

Walking a fine line between traditional bluegrass and country, Secor noted the band's new indebtedness to the latter in a recent PopMatters interview: "We’ve always had a passion for country, and as the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry we have a responsibility to country music. I wanna see it become a sustainable music form that pays homage to the pioneers who made it what it is.”

The centerpiece of Remedy is the album's first single, "Sweet Amarillo". At the urging and direction of Bob Dylan, Old Crow Medicine Show were given a song fragment from 1973's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid session that also produced "Momma, Rock Me". Under the Crows, the song is a slow Texas waltz sung by Ketch Secor. Filled out with Secor's fiddle and the band's vocal harmonies, "Sweet Amarillo" is ready made for radio play. Only casually testing the country waters on Remedy, "Firewater" and the trope-filled patriotic tale, "Dearly Departed Friend", with its chorus of "Twenty-one guns for 21 years / An American flag's in the wind / Standing by the grave of a dearly departed friend," are the album's only country-tinged songs.

As a whole, Remedy errs on the side of bluegrass. Celebrating their own history, "Doc's Day" pays homage to the band's beginning and its benefactor, Doc Watson: "If you want to rock listen to Doc / If you want the girls you better pick like Merle / 'Cause them high country blues still blow all the women away." Perhaps playing it too cautious, OCMS's brand of bluegrass is largely tempered, making songs like the whooping "Tennessee Bound", cutesy hobo tale "Sweet Home" and the square dance call of "Brave Boys" and its "hey ho" chant palatable to a more centrist audience. Somewhat bloated at 13 songs, Remedy contains a few toss offs. The too obvious future live staple "Shit Creek" borrows and doubles up Simon and Garfunkel's wordless chorus from "The Boxer". More a fragment of an idea than a song, the lonesome album closer "The Warden" can only serve as a philosophical counterpoint to opener "Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer".

Having gone from busking on corners to serving as ambassadors for traditional bluegrass, Old Crow Medicine Show galvanized a genre and earned its accolades their way. Now faced with a larger stage, one can't fault the band for finally reaching for the brass ring they rightly deserve. By smoothing out the rough edges and sanitizing the content that got them to this point, Remedy is a noble stepping stone between Old Crow Medicine Show's past and future. Not quite the cure for what ails modern country music, Remedy is more a temporary salve meant to sooth multiple demographics of fans old and new.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.

Music

Phil Elverum Sings His Memoir on 'Microphones in 2020'

On his first studio album under the Microphones moniker since 2003, Phil Elverum shows he has been recording the same song since he was a teenager in the mid-1990s. Microphones in 2020 might be his apex as a songwriter.

Music

Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.

Music

'Eight Gates' Is Jason Molina's Stark, Haunting, Posthumous Artistic Statement

The ten songs on Eight Gates from the late Jason Molina are fascinating, despite – or perhaps because of – their raw, unfinished feel.

Film

Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".

Music

12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.

Music

Blues Legend Bobby Rush Reinvigorates the Classic "Dust My Broom" (premiere)

Still going strong at 86, blues legend Bobby Rush presents "Dust My Broom" from an upcoming salute to Mississippi blues history, Rawer Than Raw, rendered in his inimitable style.

Music

Folk Rock's the Brevet Give a Glimmer of Hope With "Blue Coast" (premiere)

Dreamy bits of sunshine find their way through the clouds of dreams dashed and lives on the brink of despair on "Blue Coast" from soulful rockers the Brevet.

Music

Michael McArthur's "How to Fall in Love" Isn't a Roadmap (premiere)

In tune with classic 1970s folk, Michael McArthur weaves a spellbinding tale of personal growth and hope for the future with "How to Fall in Love".

Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.