This page is part of an opinionated overview of "alt.country" music, with record reviews by me, Joe Sixpack... Naturally, it's a work in progress, and quite incomplete, so your comments and suggestions are welcome.
This is the first page covering the letter "C"
Shawn Camp - see artist discography
Kate Campbell - see artist discography
Jim Campilongo & The Ten-Gallon Cats "Loose" (Blue Hen, 1997)
One of the most riveting and upbeat albums by this inventive instrumental combo. Guitarist Jim Campilongo and his pedal steel-plunkin' cohort, Joe Goldmark, pick up where Nashville studio legends Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West left off... This disc is packed with dazzling drag-racing guitar duets, many with a country twang but also an experimental jazzy edge. Percussionist Ken Owen and bassist Chris Kee are right there, alongside the string kings, providing spare, punchy accompaniment. A nice record, midway between the poppy tunes of Martin Medeski & Wood and the old-school hillbilly hot pickers.
Laura Cantrell - see artist discography
Cap Gun Cowboys "Girls, Cars And Smoke-Filled Bars" (Rust Belt, 2003)
Cowpunkish Ohio rockers playing at the alt.country game, with songs with titles like "Wal Mart Wedding," "Full Tank," and "Phone Call From Texas." I actually didn't find these fellas as offensive or as stereotype-laden as many of their altie compatriots -- they're actually kind of likeable in a rooting-for-the-nonprofessionals kinda way. But they're also really limited musically and many of the songs lack focus. Still, if you like some of the Bloodshot bands, you might enjoy checking thses guys out as well.
Cap Gun Cowboys "Atomic Horsepower" (Rust Belt, 2005)
Although they've toned down the cowpunkish elements somewhat, these Ohioans still sound kinda clunky to me. Their hearts are in the right place, but their pickin' is pretty rough, and them thar twangy accents sound a bit too forced. This disc is okay, I suppose, but it didn't really wow me. Folks who are more into the whole twangcore thing might like it more that I did, though, so take what I say with a grain of salt...
Brian Capps "Walk Through Walls" (HighTone, 2005)
Nice, understated roots'n'rock in the style of Dave Alvin and the Blasters... Strong original material and a few well-chosen covers, most notably a funky version of the Merle Travis oldie, "Dark As A Dungeon," which sounds like the song is being covered by Marc Bolan and T.Rex... Capps comes from the Midwestern roots band the Domino Kings, and does a nice job here on his first solo outing... Worth checking out!
Grayson Capps & The Stumpknockers "Rott'n'Roll" (Hyena Records, 2008)
(Produced by Grayson Capps & Trina Shoemaker)
Murky, greasy blues-and-rock-drenched Americana, with a sleazy, sludgy, weary edge -- sort of like Robert Earl Keen with a really bad, really big hangover. The smell of whiskey-soured, days-old sweat oozes out of these clompy, thumping tunes -- fans of Drive By Truckers and more rock-oriented alt-twangsters might dig these guys, too. Highlights include "Arrowhead" and "Big Ole Woman"
Brandi Carlile - see artist discography
Hayes Carll "Flowers And Liquor" (Compadre, 2002)
Hayes Carll "Little Rock" (Highway 87, 2004)
The album's title is, of course, a pun... While there is a "little rock" in the mix here, this album is mainly a brash blast of pointedly twangy, bouncy alt-twang. It's also the coming-out party for a major new telent on the alt-country scene. While Carll's debut disc, Flowers And Liquor introduced us to a young songwriter with a knack for nabbing memorable melodic hooks, it was an uneven album -- a few songs stood out as gems, others seemed less well-formed. Here, however, is an album where every song is forcefully bright and passionately presented, a sustained showcase for a guy who has taken the songcraft of Texas indie icons like Guy Clark and melded it to a chunky, bluesy, upbeat full-band sound that suggests a lot of fun, loud nights playing at all the right bars. In his lyrics, Carll namechecks Ray Wylie Hubbard and the Texas alt-billy scene, but now it's clear he's not just some kid looking in the window, he's a newly-arrived peer, a guy whose new records we should look forward to for years to come. Indeed, Hubbard and Clark have cowritten a few songs with Carll, and if that's who he's hanging out with, the guy's alright with me. There's a bit of an overly-aggressive edge to some of this album, but overall it's a pretty compelling release. You should definitely check it out. It's the real deal.
Hayes Carll "Live At Bend Studio: 10/21/06" (Bend Studio, 2006)
Hayes Carll "Trouble In Mind" (Lost Highway, 2008)
(Produced by Brad Jones)
A loud, lusty, robust dose of hard-rockin' alt-country, pure pop pleasure for folks who like their Americana to sound booze-soaked, smoke-stained and twangy. Carll sings about barmaids and sweaty nightclubs, booze, pills, wild sex and never looking back. He might be laying it on a bit thick, but he's got lots of good licks and a killer band backing him up: this is what outlaw country should sound like, and if you're into it, this is a pretty fun album. Carll is also a superior country craftsman, both as a lyricist and tunesmith -- his lyrics don't run down poetic rabbitholes or trot out bloodless stereotypes. The subject matter is raw, but believable, and the music packs enough wallop that you can easily imagine yourself pounding back a few in an old-fashioned honkytonk, nodding along and thinking, hey, this kid knows his stuff. One of the strongest alt-country albums of the year, and another strong offering from an artist who's really hit his stride. Check it out.
Hayes Carll "KMAG YOYO" (Lost Highway, 2011)
Hayes Carll/Various Artists "Country Strong: More Music From The Motion Picture" (Madison Gate, 2011)
Carolina Chocolate Drops "Dona Got A Ramblin' Mind" (Music Maker, 2006)
Carolina Chocolate Drops "Heritage" (Dixiefrog, 2006)
Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson "Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson" (Music Maker, 2006)
Live at Merlefest...
Carolina Chocolate Drops "Genuine Negro Jig" (Nonesuch, 2006)
Carolina Chocolate Drops "Leaving Eden" (Nonesuch, 2012)
(Produced by Buddy Miller)
A wily mix of old-timey music and backwoods blues from a contemporary band that mines the more obscure corners of the African-American musical heritage, hearkening back to the minstrel show days and jug bands of yesteryear. Their fourth album pushes the group into more self-consciously modern terrain, with songs such as "Country Girl" and "Leaving Eden" that stray from their more traditional roots, and bring them closer to the style of Americana groups such as the Be-Good Tanyas, et.al.. You gotta love their unruly sound, though, with the squeaky fiddle and super-plunky, thrashed-out banjo, particularly when paired up with now-arcane, old-school instruments such as the hambones, as heard on their version of "Ruby, Are You Mad At Your Man." I have to confess, sometimes Rhiannon Giddens' vocals get on my nerves, though it depends on the material: "Boodle-De-Bum-Bum" is a great jugband tune, but the funky, overwritten "Country Girl" is kind of a drag by comparison. Still, I suppose you gotta mix things up... not everyone's going to want to hear a whole album's worth of uptempo, Grandpa Jones-ish tunes like "Run Mountain" and keeping it eclectic will keep modern listeners tuned in. A richly diverse, challenging record from a vigorous, intelligent band... Definitely worth checking out!
Carolina Story "Chapter One" (Stitched Together, 2013) (MP3)
(Produced by Blake Chancey)
The husband-wife duo of Ben and Emily Roberts have crafted an elegant 6-song EP of classic country-flavored, folk-tinged melodic Americana, rich and resonant with banjo, mandolin, lots of pedal steel guitar and -- most importantly -- the kind of tightly meshed vocal harmonies that musicians in love with each other seem to excel at. Fans of the Bruce Robison/Kelly Willis team will find a lot to cheer about here, with catchy, twangy hooks and yearning, heartfelt lyrics. The first time around you may be surprised this album's so short, but there's something to be said for concision: this is a fine record, and every song's worth a whirl. Recommended!
Carolina Story "Chapter Two" (Stitched Together, 2014)
(Produced by Blake Chancey)
The husband-wife duo of Ben and Emily Roberts join numerous skillful masters of rootsy country duet singing -- notably contemporaries such as Joey + Rory, or Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis -- with vocals whose resonance is as rooted in their emotional connection as in technical skill. This 2-song set is Carolina Story's second EP and like the first, it's a strong dose of well-crafted, compelling country-pop tunes with sleek but traditionally-rooted production -- plenty of pedal steel providing sweet counterpoint to their vocals. With veteran Nashville producer Blake Chancey at the helm, the pair is clearly open to contemporary country sounds (with mainstream success a distict possibility) though still willing to write more personal material and skirt the edges of the mainstream. In short, this is a pleasant set which can appeal to Nashville and Americana fans alike... Definitely worth a spin!
Joe "King" Carrasco & The Crowns "Tales From The Crypt" (ROIR, 1984/2000)
Picking up where Doug Sahm and Peter Rowan left off, garage popster Joe Carrasco hailed from Austin, Texas, where late in 1979 he corralled together the raggedy band that plays on this CD... Originally a cassette-only release, this features a healthy batch of lighthearted romps through brown-eyed soul and Tex-Mex rock, all handled at a clip that tips you off that you don't have to take this too seriously... just settle back and enjoy. It's fun stuff; the punk era DIY ethos spun off into an entirely new direction, and the pull of these recordings is fairly irresistible. Fun stuff! All this and liner notes from John Morthland... how can you go wrong?
Joe "King" Carrasco "Tex-Mex Rock-Roll" (ROIR, 1989)
Joe "King" Carrasco "Bandido Rock" (Rounder, 1990)
Joe "King" Carrasco "Anthology" (One Way, 1995)
Joe "King" Carrasco "Royal, Loyal & Live" (Crystal Clear Sound, 1999)
Joe "King" Carrasco "Joe "King" Carrasco" (Tornado, 2002)
Carrie Ann Carroll "You Should Know" (Treehouse Productions, 2014)
(Produced by Joe Carroll)
An enthusiastic though uneven set by a newcomer from Austin... Carroll sings poppy twang with angst-y, confessional lyrics, sort of spiral notebook/lonely diary type stuff. She gets strong backing from her band, particularly the delicate pedal steel and driving electric lead... The song that's designed to get the most notoriety, an jilted-lover-watching-her-ex-get-married anthem called "You Know What's Really F*cked Up?," is too loosely structured for me, but others, like "Call Me Darling," are a little subtler and more evocative. This set rides the edges of alt-country and confessional folk, and while she could probably have used a little more seasoning, Ms. Carroll may emerge as a potent force on the twang scene.
Caitlin Cary - see artist discography
Neko Case - see artist discography
Laura Cash "Awake But Dreaming" (Cash House Records, 2010)
(Produced by Laura Cash)
The debut album of singer Laura Cash, wife of John Carter Cash, a gal who pays allegiance to old-school country heartsongs and western swing. Backing her are several top-flight studio pickers, including steel legend Lloyd Green, fiddler Bobby Flores, Pig Robbins on piano and Pete Wade on guitar. The songs are classics from the likes of Harlan Howard, Hank Snow, Bob Wills and other hillbilly composers... Cash herself contributes one original tune, a tribute to Appalachian impresario Roy Acuff -- "Song For Roy (Country Music's King)" -- which is one of the album's highlights. Can't say I'm actually that wild about Cash's vocals, but her heart is definitely in the right place, and she knows her hillbilly history -- a very sincere and thoughtful set of traditionalist twang.
Buzz Cason - see artist discography
Cattletruck "Bourbon And Black Crepe" (2007)
Alt.Country Albums - More Letter "C"
Hick Music Index