The rise of Americana and alt-country in prominence the last few years has left an impact I don’t think many fans realize. Ten years ago you wouldn’t hear as much about these independent, non-mainstream acts because they weren’t on the radio or on a major label. Nowadays with the prevalence of the Internet, any act can standout if they play great music. Whiskey Myers is an undoubtedly a group that has benefitted, as this Red Dirt/southern rock outfit from Palestine, Texas is one of the most beloved country rock bands today. Made up of Cody Cannon (lead vocals, guitar), Cody Tate (lead guitar, vocals, rhythm guitar), John Jeffers (rhythm & lead guitar/vocals), Gary Brown (bass) and Jeff Hogg (drums), this band came onto a lot of people’s radars with their last album Early Morning Shakes in 2014. It was a great album that perfectly timed with the rise of alt-country and made them a lot of fans (this is also another album I wish I reviewed in 2014). Not to mention Dave Cobb produced it, who has absolutely exploded and is the most beloved producer amongst traditional/alt-country/Americana fans. Cobb returns with this new album too. So their new album MUD was certainly an anticipated one for a variety of reasons amongst Red Dirt fans and after listening to it thoroughly I think many fans are going to be quite happy with it.
The sounds of fiddles play in “On The River.” It’s the perfect upbeat, country rock tune to kick off the album. This is pretty much what you’ve come to expect from Whiskey Myers: just a fun song with Cannon just absolutely belting it on lead vocals. It definitely fires you up for the rest of the album. The album’s title track features some rollicking guitar licks. It’s about living the country life on the family land and carrying traditions on from previous generations. It’s life born and lived throughout in the mud. There’s a tinge of gospel influence on this song too, as the organ fades in and out. “Lightning Bugs and Rain” was one of the songs released before the album came out and I imagine many fans of Whiskey Myers were surprised when they heard horns on it. This isn’t common in their music, but it works really well surprisingly. The song itself doesn’t have much to say, as it’s about a couple spending time together in the mountains. But the great instrumentation helps cover up for the somewhat shallow lyrics.
The only song I didn’t like on MUD at first was “Deep Down in The South.” As you can figure out from the title, the song is about southern pride and living. If you’re from the south, I’m sure you’ll immediately enjoy. For me it took a few listens to appreciate it more than the average southern pride songs we hear churned out from mainstream country. But this is still the weakest track on the album. The next song is “Stone.” It’s a piano-driven ballad and one of my favorites on the album. The song is about a heartbroken man drinking his sorrows away and knowing his heart will probably break again and again. It’s just the life he lives. Everything in this song just sort of works perfectly together and shows Whiskey Myers at their best.
“Trailer We Call Home” leans more country than rock and it’s a nice look at the lighter side of the band. In fact there’s mostly just acoustic guitar. The song is about the everyday family and a man who has to work his tail off everyday to make ends meet for them. He wishes he could do more for them, but at the end of the day they’re proud of what they have and the humble trailer park where they live. For a group that’s known for their hard-hitting southern rock, they’re excellent with this sad country song. This is followed by “Some of Your Love.” It’s a solid love song with a catchy hook and some stellar electric guitar play. The instrumentation might be at it’s strongest on “Frogman,” as the electric guitar licks are just so infectious and inviting. The song is about a former military man who’s much happier spending his time fishing than dodging gunfire. But he reminds us he’s still not someone you should mess with. This is just southern rock at it’s finest, as I find myself enjoying it more each time I hear it.
“Hank” is basically an ode to the importance of music on your life. As Cannon sings in the opening lyrics, his first record was Hank Jr.’s The Pressure Is On and it’s an album he turns to when he’s singing the blues. Once again Whiskey Myers just knows how to do southern rock, as the fiddles and electric guitars are equally impressive on this song. MUD comes to a close with “Good Ole Days,” where Brent Cobb joins Whiskey Myers. It’s a good old, down home country tune about ignoring the bad news being spewed by those around us everyday and telling us the good old days are gone. Cobb and Whiskey Myers tell us we’re still living the good old days because we still have many of the great simple things in life to enjoy. It’s positive without being preachy and sappy. It’s the kind of feel good song we could all use when having a bad day, as you can’t help but smile after hearing it.
There are many Red Dirt and southern rock acts out there today, but Whiskey Myers reminds us they’re one of the best with their new album MUD. While I don’t think this is quite as good as Early Morning Shakes, it was going to be difficult to top that album. MUD is a really solid album full of fun southern rock jams and some well-composed heartfelt tracks that capture the thoughts and feelings of the everyday man. I think it’s definitely worth your time, especially if you enjoy some rock and roll with your country. If there’s one thing this album does near flawlessly, it captures both the spirit of country and rock music. That’s a credit to both Whiskey Myers and Dave Cobb, who once again delivers as a producer. MUD is certainly no dud and is another really good album from Whiskey Myers.