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Best of Nashville Folk/Americana Acts: Taylor Alexander and Aaron Lee Tasjan

 Our Best of Nashville 2017 poll began last week with the Folk/Americana category and, after you-the-people cast your vote, we have the results to share with you!

Overall Poll winner (Jurors vote + Readers' vote): Aaron Lee Tasjan

Readers' Poll Winner (Readers' Vote only): Taylor Alexander

This year's Folk/Americana poll winners represent a genre looking back on the past and forward to the future. Aaron Lee Tasjan's new record perfectly captures the new direction of alternative country while Taylor Alexander harkens back to the genre's classic roots. 

Aaron Lee Tasjan's new record, Silver Tears takes a progressive political stance: "There's a redneck bummer in an H2 Hummer / And he sure does hate the queers / I guess some life choices are cries for help / That nobody ever hears," Tasjan sings on "Hard Life." The genius of Tasjan's songwriting takes the form of a Trojan Horse. He uses the vehicle of roots country to challenge often destructive established southern cultural norms. Songwriting ability isn't the only creative muscle Tasjan flexes on the latest record either. There's a wide variety of instrumentation and production that keeps things interesting. From pedal steel and reverb soaked slide guitar-based rockers to saloon style piano blues numbers, Silver Tears has something to offer country fans of all stripes. 

Taylor Alexander makes the kind of music you'd be surprised to know still thrives in certain niches. Alexander's retro style is decidedly Nashvillian. With numbers you'd expect to square dance to, the songs occupy a unique space in the city's country scene and serve as a refreshing reminder of country music's founding influences. With a country accent and deep cowboy-voice remiscent of George Strait, Alexander tactfully crafts everything from cheerful dance numbers to melancholy narratives about past experiences. 

Honorable mentions go to George Shingleton (second in the overall chart) and Whiskey Wolves of the West (second in the Reader's poll). The full list of nominees can be found under the streaming tracks.

 

Real Good At Saying Goodbye

 

Here is the list of all the finalists in the Nashville Folk/Americana category and their readers' poll results: 

 Aaron Lee Tasjan
  8%   6 votes
 Alyssa Bonagura
  1%   1 vote
 Christ Stapleton
  1%   1 vote
 David Newbould
  0%   0 votes
 George Shingleton
  2%   2 votes
 Margo Price
  1%   1 vote
 SmithField
  0%   0 votes
 Sturgill Simpson
  4%   3 votes
 Taylor Alexander
  57%   40 votes
 Whiskey Wolves of the West
  18%   13 votes
 William Tyler
  2%   2 votes

 

Thad Kopec's New Dream-Inspired Soundscape

Thad Kopec's music is the kind of stuff that makes you remember how alive you are. Like a sun-dappled forrest canopy or light reflected on rippling water, his new track captures a moving image. The soundscape is sparse only to let every instrument fully speak. Strings and horns arrive and depart within a frame, merging together and fragmenting in erratic waves, but they all have something equally important to say. "Second Best" is narrative, and the instrumentation is alive to it. If the song is about remembering yourself by making sense of the past, all the disparate sonic elements mesh so well because of the shared purpose of making a story. Kopec's intuition is to make the unsconscious conscious, to make a pattern of the fragments of memory and dream. If you're a fan of melancholy Sufjan Stevens-inspired folk that creates a space for reflection and self-discovery, this is what you've been looking for. 

- Andrew Strader

Stream Get Real's Debut EP

It's about time for us to all get real, dude.

There's nothing wrong with having lofty dreams and aspirations, just as long as they come with a reality check. Though their name may have been inspired by some wall graffiti in the bathroom of their old practice space, that message is still relevant.

Aside from its bathroom wall writings, it's thematically written all over the self-titled, debut EP from Get Real. Five songs worth of the band's fun rock explore living with modest means while coming to terms with one's own unsavory actions. Sonically, the album blends bits of surf, late 90's indie and a tinge of garage pop, making for a pleasant way to take in empathetic subject matter.

"The songs are pretty much all about low living. Being fucked up all the time, sleeping with people you have no interest in, fantasies of escaping, feeling trapped in a body and personality you're not comfortable with," says Get Real frontman Alex Erickson.

Stream their EP below to prep for their release show tonight with Dogheart and Sea Fuzz at the American Legion.

Turn! Turn! Turn! Keeping Tonight's Show Despite General Strike

Portland is a city of protesting. Our propensity to come together in revolt against major issues afflcting society is one of the greater characteristics of the city, as is what is offered locally in music. Today, most of the country has been participating in the General Strike against President fuck up Donald Trump prior to Monday's President's Day. Those striking haven't been partaking in any activities, especially ones that benefit the country's capatlistic benefit. 

For the most part, everyone wants to aid in spreading this message of strong displeasure, which obviously leaves venues with things scheduled today at a bit of an impasse. Northeast all ages venue Turn! Turn! Turn! was presented with this same problem, and has decided to move forward with the great show they have scheduled for tonight, where Blesst Chest, Sad Horse and Lithics are set to play.

On the decision, Turn! Turn! Turn! said:

After much deliberation between Turn! Turn! Turn!, its employees, the bands and others willing to share their input, we have decided to be open and have our show as scheduled February 17, the day of the general strike. This was a difficult decision, as everyone involved with this show sympathizes with the aims of the strike. Ultimately, we had the opportunity to do more good by having the show than not. To that end, we are making the show free so you don’t have to open your wallet. However, we will be accepting donations at the door for IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization) and Portland Homeless Family Solutions. In addition, Turn! will be offering an all-Portland tap list and spirits by Portland distilleries. Those willing and able to spend a few bucks at the bar will also be supporting IRCO and PHFS, as we’ll donate between 25% (for non-donated kegs) and 50% for donated kegs to these organizations. 

End your day of striking the right way by heading up to Northeast Killingsworth with some cash in hand.

New Hand Grenade Job tracks build off the band's minimalist punk sound

The two teaser tracks from the forthcoming Hand Grenade Job album highlight the band’s minimalist punk sound. Eerie, mystical, and somewhat mournful, the tracks feature the unusual instrumentation and solemn vocals that defined earlier HGJ releases. Often vocally monotone, but always harmonically tonal, the music is evocative, and pleasing for the ear.

Here’s “July” from the album Devotionals, set to be released February 22nd.

-Written by Michael Dranove

 

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