Americana - Classic or Dud?

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I discovered this message board late last night, via Simon Reynolds Blissout site. I am neither a reader of FT, nor a music journalist. It seems from a swift overview of the site that there are a few journalists and a lot of interesting/interested people here. On Simon's site he was writing about his most over-rateds of 1997, the one which smarted the most was 'Americana'. I don't know how I feel just now; some sort of disarray. Young as I am I still have a lot to learn: not to take journalists views to heart, the cynical apparattus behind the mainstream UK music press (here's me applying to IPC for work-experience, Ha!) Now, I was just wondering what the patrons of ILM think of this Leviathan (Americana)? I did note some applause for Wilco and some disdain for Golden Boy (Adams).

Dud, you say?

David, Friday, 1 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Like any purported scene, ups and downs and all arounds. Inspired worthiness sometimes hidden in obvious glop. Said it before, say it again -- the Walkabouts over most of the current nonsense (with an honorable mention for Neko Case for putting on a good show).

Ned Raggett, Friday, 1 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Clud, then. Walkabouts shmalkabouts.

David, Friday, 1 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

*cries*

Ned Raggett, Friday, 1 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Are The Silos still any good? I see they're playing at SXSW this year, I thought I might check 'em out.

Andy, Friday, 1 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Silos are great band. Been around forever with many lineup changes. Walter is the one constant and is always consistent. I've seen them many times and have quite a few of their records. Never been disappointed.

Pump Wellington, Friday, 1 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Argh! One of the more annoying things about you Brits is the way you toss around the term Americana. Please let it not be so that this flippant, useless label has successfully infected our shores as well! There's nothing wrong with the term itself (which has long been used to refer to true Americana such as Woody Guthrie and John Sousa), but the way it's been used to describe just about every acoustic whiner that comes along these days.

Jack Redelfs, Friday, 1 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I'm going for Americana as a blanket-term for alt.country, insurgent country, No Depression, etc. which are all essentially the same thing. "Materials relating to American history, folklore, or geography or considered to be typical of American culture". Not that I know anything about American history, folklore, or geography.

David., Friday, 1 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I love alt_country. I got into it about 3 or 4 years ago. Whiskeytown/R.Adams, Old 97s, Slobberbone, Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Jason & the Scorchers etc etc. I like the fact that this sort of music seems to be leading me into more traditional country music which I never would have otherwise given a chance. Any yes, Ryan Adams does take a beating on these boards for reasons I can't quite understand. Those 3 Whiskeytown albums are instant classics and his solo stuff ain't to shabby either.

Mark M, Friday, 1 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I actually like Mike Daly from Whiskeytown better. Through happy coincedence, I saw him open for Chris Mills -- a most cool feller -- in Glasgow a year and a half back. Liked Daly's set so much I bought his homemade CD EP he had.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 2 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

The problem with "Americana" is that it's already a word, usually used to connote some vaguely kitschy artifact or knick-knack, like a porcelain tarbaby, or a Sousa march, like Jack said, or those motel postcards that were linked somewheres. "alt.country" is usually trying for the exact opposite of this connotation - that is real, authentic, humble, etc.

Tracer Hand, Saturday, 2 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I am quite the fan of alt.country, but less so when it dips into pop ala Wilco, Old 97s. Stuff I dig: Richard Buckner, GIllian Welch, Chris Mills, Ryan Adams, Will Oldham, other sad bastard music.

bnw, Saturday, 2 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Oh, is that what they're calling it now? 'Cos frankly I don't see why quilts and log cabins and coal mines are any more 'Americana' than freeways and subdivisions. I prefer Tracer's definition...but then again, I would also prefer music inspired by that definition, i.e., kitsch. I don't know how much 'authenticity' there is anywhere in this country and that's probably a good thing. I love the word 'Americana', it's so fifties and airstream and googie.

Kerry, Saturday, 2 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Although it would never occur to me to check out what's new in the Americana section, a lot of people I enjoy happen to work around the margins of the category: Handsome Family, Will Oldham (Ease Down the Road was a fantastic album), Papa M, Edith Frost, Neko Case, Silver Jews, Lambchop, Sparklehorse, Volebeats, Pinetop Seven, Black Heart Procession. I guess most of them are too weird to bear the label.

Americana people whose appeal utterly escapes me: Alejandro Escovedo, Robbie Fulks, Freakwater, Jayhawks, Olds 97s, Bottle Rockets, Cheri Knight.

The label itself, of course, is classic. Anytime you can water down the meaning of a word by sticking an "a" on the end (electronic, erotic), you've struck a blow for devolution.

Curt, Saturday, 2 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Marxisma! Fascisma!

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 2 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Ragetta de Blanca?

Curt, Saturday, 2 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Well, I am pretty pale.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 2 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

The Brits' adoption of "Americana" is revenge for what the Americans did with "electronica".

Tom, Sunday, 3 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I thought you were going to say "revenge for Britpop", but I guess that was self-inflicted.

Curt, Sunday, 3 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

...and indeed, the year SR bemoaned the overratedness of Americana in summing up, 1997, was, of course, in the states the same year all the glossies had Electronica scheduled to repace Grunge (right).

Curt, Sunday, 3 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

twelve years pass...

http://www.citypaper.com/blogs/noise/bcp-with-its-awards-show-the-americana-music-association-embraces-blues-gospel-and-rb-20140922,0,3909868.story

Geoff Himes article:

To accurately represent roots music, you have to include country rock, string bands, and folkie singer-songwriters, but you also have to widen your umbrella to cover blues, R&B, and gospel as well. Though the organizers and audiences are still overwhelmingly white, they are making a good-faith effort to include African-American artists in the hope that African-American audiences and music buzzers will begin to feel welcome.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 04:59 (eight years ago) link

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2014/09/24/351141281/roots-plugged-in

Ann Powers' take. No mention by her of the lack of African American artists

curmudgeon, Thursday, 25 September 2014 04:53 (eight years ago) link

five years pass...

African Americana:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Enn0_EvFdms

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Thursday, 23 July 2020 12:47 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

the new Jake Xerxex Fussell album is so good, in fact all his albums are.

calzino, Saturday, 22 January 2022 11:45 (ten months ago) link

X post - just checked out that video with its lyrical reference to Americana!

curmudgeon, Saturday, 22 January 2022 19:09 (ten months ago) link

ten months pass...

https://www.pastemagazine.com/music/americanafest-bristol-rhythm-roots-reunion-2022-re/

Geoff Himes asserts in this article:

And if it’s going to be an Americana song, it should be rooted in music older than your James Taylor and Roberta Flack records. I actually like Taylor and Flack, but they are not useful starting points for a musical tradition. Carlisle found his launching pad in the vein of the weird, wonderful blues and Celtic songs from the 1920s found on the Anthology of American Folk Music.

Eh, not sure of that.

Article covers many folks I don't know -- Willi Carlisle, Sunny War, Christina Vane, Queen Esther, Tiffany Williams, Bette Smith, John R Miller, Tami Neilson

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 22 November 2022 15:54 (one week ago) link


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