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Lillie Mae: The New Face of Nashville's Alternative Country

Lillie Mae is the kind of woman who can knock you off your feet with a fiddle. Her new single, off the upcoming Jack White produced album, Forever And Then Some fills a void in an alternative country and folk-rock space sorely in need of female voices. "Over the Hill and Through the Woods" creates a panoramic view of a wide-open country space, which is refreshing in a music scene dominated by the urban and metropolitan. The song comes at country from a heavier rock angle. Distorted guitars and slap-happy drums carry along the simple but heavy hitting chord changes, while smooth but powerful vocals, complete with wide-panned harmonies ride the melody. If this easy country rocker, serving as a rebellious anthem against Nashville's country industrial complex, is any indication of the power of the upcoming album, we've all got a lot to look forward to from Lillie Mae this April.    

- Andrew Strader

 





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





Best of Nashville Hip Hop/Electronic Acts: Soft Bodies and Truitt

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

Overall Poll winner (Jurors vote + Readers' vote): Soft Bodies

Readers' Poll Winner (Readers' Vote only): Truitt

Both Soft Bodies and Truitt craft music that bores right down into the soul. Soft Bodies' dancy, psychedelic sonicsphere nestles right down into the subconscious. Mostly synth-based, their tunes set a mind and body to motion. Rhythm and melody meet in blissful arpeggiating crescendoes, weaved together with deep melanchology vocals that drive the songs forward. Soft Bodies claims the entire atmosphere of a space, setting a tone and collective motion. 

Truitt carries a more structured, pop orientation, influenced by electronic based pop production (take the newest Justin Bieber record, for example). The songs are symmetrical with traditional pop structuring and offer irresistable vocal hooks that seep into your head. Don't expect a uniform catalog of contemporary radio pop tunes with Truitt, however. Their songs offer a variety of production techniques and sampled instrumentation that shatter expectations and leave you waiting for the next one.

Honorable mentions go to Biyo and Jensen Sportag (tied for second in the overall chart) and PHANGS (second in the Readers' poll). The full list of nominees can be found under the streaming tracks. 

 

Here is the list of all the finalists in the Nashville Hip Hop/Electronic category and their readers' poll results:

 Biyo
  0%   7 votes
 Chill Witch
  4%   31 votes
 Facemajik
  0%   2 votes
 Foreign Fields
  0%   2 votes
 Jensen Sportag
  0%   0 votes
 Mike Floss
  0%   1 vote
 Nightblonde
  0%   2 votes
 PHANGS
  27%   199 votes
 Stealing Oceans
  0%   0 votes
 Soft Bodies
  0%   7 votes
 The Trinity Schill Kill
  0%   1 vote
 Truitt
  65%   476 votes
 




Best of Nashville Garage Rock Acts: The Saturns

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

Overall Poll winner (Jurors vote + Readers' vote): The Saturns 

Readers' Poll Winner (Readers' Vote only): The Saturns 

The Saturns come at garage rock from a unique angle. Bringing in elements of classic rock and blues, they tow the line between the kind of heavy, pentatonic guitar style that characterized rock in the 60s and 70s and the fuzzy, lo-fi timbre so common to independent rock records that have come out Nashville's basements for the past decade. They've mastered the art of displaying musicianship without the kind of braggadocio that too often ruins contemporary takes on classic rock. The songs are functional and refined. Nothing exists in them that doesn't contribute to their overall structures, and even flashy instrumentals and solos act as integral building blocks. The composition is well planned despite feeling improvised, much in the same way retro rock bands like The Black Keys find fertile creative space in the peaks and valleys of blues bars, The Saturns take advantage of the variety and opportunity in every little flourish and riff of a song. 

Honorable mentions go to Thelma and The Sleaze (second in the overall chart) and Daddy Issues (second in the Reader's poll). The full list of nominees can be found under the streaming tracks.

Here is the list of of all the finalists in the Nashville garage rock category and their readers' poll results:

 Breast Massage
  5%   4 votes
 Daddy Issues
  9%   7 votes
 The Saturns
  83%   59 votes
 Thelma and The Sleaze
  1%   1 vote
 

 

 

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