What do you mean, what is the deal?” This is a news story. We want songs about heartbreak and whiskey with fiddle and steel guitar and a heavy bass drum like every other true country song from the beginning of time.
sturgill simpson new album review – ‘Sound & Fury’ Is A Drag Of A Record, But It Sounds Great Live
Sturgill Simpson has a new album coming this fall called Sound & Fury, and it will be accompanied by an anime film of the same name to be released on Netflix. Strip away the distortion and the defiant “Last Man Standing” could be the kind of country rocker that makes you drive too fast and sing along off-key; “Mercury in Retrograde” is a dancy track that starts with a tale about a haircut in Norway before Simpson sets his sights on glad-handing wannabe friends and the haters who want to be in his band. When he sings that the tour is almost over and he will be home soon, you can almost feel his relief.
You presume Sturgill ever gave a damn about saving country music”. Most of the interviews I have read with him, he has expressed a deep love and appreciation for Country music, but he always warned” he would do whatever he wanted to do (sound wise) album to album.
Wait, what. Sturgill shouldn’t be allowed to be creative. We want songs about heartbreak and whiskey with fiddle and steel guitar and a heavy bass drum like every other true country song from the beginning of time. How dare him do something new and different. We want the same country songs just rehashed and renamed from the 70s. He shouldn’t be allowed to play what he wants, only country.
If you listen to Sturgill’s most recent single and his recent appearance at the Opry with a crack bluegrass band, it’s clear he still enjoys playing country and bluegrass when the mood hits. Because he was in a rock trio, Sunday Valley, it should come as no surprise that he also enjoys playing rock and heavy guitar soloing. He doesn’t appear to want to be constricted by genres and with his talent, doesn’t need to be. Robert Ellis, another great guitar player who has bonafide country chops, has been exploring as well. Shooter and Kacey Musgraves have also crossed genres. Maybe this is what ‘outlaw’ means today, playing across genres and avoid typecasting i.e. an artist doing exactly what they want without the constrictions of Nashville.
If modern country music is best known for the products of the yeehaw industrial complex, including artists like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, whose songs feel tailor-made by label executives to soundtrack beer commercials, Sturgill Simpson has always seemed to represent the best of the genre’s tradition.
Excellent show! Sturgill was absolutely amazing, he may have messed up a couple of the words to songs, but that didn’t take away from the show. It was pretty obvious the band was still experimenting with the set up but they pulled if off really well, Chuck (Bass), Miles (Drums), and Bobby (Keys) were all equally great. Margo Price was also an amazing opening act and a great addition to the experience.
If he keeps producing albums like Tyler Childers ‘Purgatory’ (and his upcoming release), I don’t think his contributions to country music will ever be denied regardless what direction he goes musically. I personally think he gets a kick out of fucking with people and truly doesn’t give a shit what people think.
I love Futurebirds to death. Twangy indie folk-rock with psych influences, and they approach true country in some of their music. I hope his muse will lead him to find some hooks for his songs, whatever genre he is working in.
Futurebirds is great. While I’d say they’re mostly a twangy indie band, I’d have no problem considering their song Rodeo” as at least alt-country. Great Artists (and Sturgill is legitimately great), don’t decide what to do because of what critics (professional or otherwise) want them to do.
Simpson is working with Avengers and Thor writer Jason Aaron to turn Sound & Fury into a graphic novel for Z2 comics, with the publication date set for next September. He has also taken on some acting gigs – playing a zombie in Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die and a cop in the forthcoming Queen & Slim from director Melina Matsoukas. Here’s hoping his next musical project will be as adventurous and rewarding as Sound & Fury.
I knew I wanted to make a concept record in song-cycle form, like my favorite Marvin Gaye records where everything just continuously flows. I also wanted it to be something that when my son is older and maybe I’m gone, he can listen to it and get a sense of who I was. I just wanted to talk as directly to him as possible.”He does just that on opener Welcome To Earth (Pollywog),” which kicks the album off with a tense drone intro that relents to a Bowie-by-way-of-Bradley piano theme. Simpson sings like there aren’t actually thousands of fans listening in: Hello, my son, welcome to Earth. You may not be my last but you’ll always be my first.” A few measures later, the song explodes into a stomping r&b coda that showcases his soulful vocals and the down-and-dirty flash of the Dap-Kings horn section.
But throughout Sound & Fury,” it’s difficult to figure out what Simpson expects of himself. This is a shrill, tetchy, claustrophobic rock album sodden with record-biz pouting and only the dullest shades of pre-apocalyptic ennui. And believe it or not, it’s not without precedent. Back in 2010, Shooter Jennings dropped Black Ribbons,” a similarly mutated country album with a dystopian lyric sheet and at least a half-dozen guitar riffs that pushed the perimeters of good taste.
This site is titled Saving Country Music, Sturgill latest stuff is anything but country. Sunday Valley disbanded before Sturgill even put out his first album.
My actual point would be, I’ve yet to hear anyone actually argue he should be denied his right” to make music in whatever genre and at whatever quality he sees fit. I’ve not seen a single argument in favor of his imprisonment. I’ve not actually seen anyone demanding reimbursement because they were owed” a country record. To my knowledge, not a single civil suit has been filed to date.
Exactly, Mike. Took the words out of my mouth. It’s unbelievable that people still view Sturgill as this guy who had an established hardcore country career and then just abandoned it. High Top Mountain was cut in honor of his ailing grandfather and he made it when he did in hopes of getting it out there before he died. I’m certainly glad he made it, don’t get me wrong. It is abundantly clear that Sturgill is an eclectic guy with a huge array of influences, and he is dead set on exploring them. Can’t believe that people are still shocked by this, and continue to accuse him of abandoning some pre-established hard country standard he never set for himself.
When Simpson does sing, much of what he has to say is similarly self-referential. He’s angstier than ever on Sound and Fury, plagued by his public platform, preoccupied with the way he’s been misunderstood and boxed in by an unforgiving music industry.
I don’t know why I give Willie a pass to be experimental, but not Sturgill? Maybe, because Willie put in his time and created a sub genre of country music.
Hmm. Problem is, people DON’T support chefs who cook whatever they want. People support chefs that make good food they like to eat. I suppose chefs have every right to cook only unedible vegan food if they want but, it is an odd choice if you became a prestigious chef for opening a steakhouse. People like steaks and people like McDonald’s notwithstanding its utter lack of any nutritional” value, otherwise mainstream country radio wouldn’t exist 🙂 People do not support chefs who no longer make good food though.
Higher than negligible, I’d guess. He seems to be a bit of a bookish sort. But the album isn’t going to be called The Sound and the Fury. Maybe he had to read MacBeth in high school and memorize the soliloquy, like I had to? See, that might have been the way to go.
Should Sturgill be considered country”? That’s a murky question, but much like Tyler Childers I will support artists who do their own thing, even if it might not be my favorite.
Sturgill can’t help that a segment of his fanbase foisted that mantle upon him. Hell, even if you don’t like Sturgills new music, we should support artists doing and creating whatever they want.
I mean, shit – he’s played songs from T. REX in his concerts for years! How surprised can people really be when he’s interested in psychedelic, sorta-sludgy rock? Has anyone seen a show from him in the past couple years? Just him, keyboards, bass, and drums, with a distinctively rock-tinged feel.
Formerly the leader of Sunday Valley, an energetic roots outfit that made some waves in the early years of the new millennium, Sturgill Simpson gained greater renown as a solo artist, initially thanks to his muscular 2013 solo debut, High Top Mountain.
Seriously, there might not be a more head-turning release from an established musician this year than Sturgill Simpson’s Sound & Fury, the album and soundtrack to the Netflix animated film of the same name that came out last month.
Sturgill may indeed lose fans with this move. Hell, I doubt I will be buying the album, but that’s his choice. I support him having the rite to take this chance, especially at a time so few artists with noteable careers are willing to push outside the box.
Ill tell you what, I haven’t heard this new music and will give it a chance just for fun. If it is great, Ill happily come back to this very post and concede I deserve to huff a dong” for having the gall to doubt the great Strugill Simpson IF, you’ll huff” a big ol’ dong” yourself if the general consensus is this album isn’t as good as any of the three good” albums; Sunday Valley, High Top Mountain, or Metamodern Sounds. If I’m an idiot, surely it will be better than one of those old albums right? It’s just one dong. Make no mistake, I am not at all happy at how comfortable I am in taking that bet. I’ve been begging Strugill to prove me wrong (in any genre) for a couple of years now and he, like you, seems far more concerned with telling his supporting fans to huff a dong” than making good music these days.
Not only a brilliant studio artist, but also a great performer. Did many recognizable covers along with stuff from all three solo albums, and performing his latest in his entirety. The band was very soulful and resembles a jam band, doing a 15 to 20 minute version of Call to Arms. Many thanks to Sturgill and all he does.
Fair point, but he is still pretty early in his career. And, I don’t view this or Sailor’s Guide as any real trend of him abandoning country or bluegrass forever. The thing with Sturgill is that there is no rhyme or reason or real trend to what he does. I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops a traditional country or bluegrass album in the next 18 months out of nowhere. He seems to get off on surprising and shocking people, and it’s fun to follow as long as he is putting out quality, sincere material. In his busking livestream outside the CMA’s last year, he said that he would love to do a bluegrass album someday, and also said that he will do another hard country” album…but that it wouldn’t be his next album.
Formerly the leader of Sunday Valley, an energetic roots outfit that made some waves in the early years of the new millennium, Sturgill Simpson gained greater renown as a solo artist, initially thanks to his muscular 2013 solo debut High Top Mountain. An outlaw country record in form and feel – its debt to Waylon Jennings clear and unashamed – High Top Mountain became a word-of-mouth hit in 2013, thereby establishing Simpson’s country credentials and opening the door to a wider future.
Sound and Fury begins much in the same way as Simpson’s recent live set: with an exploratory psych-blues jam. Establishing the tone on the four minute instrumental Ronin,” Simpson is smart enough to cede much of the narrative storytelling of Sound and Fury to his guitar. As a guitarist, Simpson is uninterested in conventional guitar god shredding; his playing is curious, fluid and full of wonder. The most thrilling moment on the record, and perhaps in Simpson’s entire catalog, comes nearly two minutes into Make Art Not Friends,” the album’s shimmering creative introvert anthem centerpiece, when Bobby Emmett’s hypnotic keyboard pattern gives way to a booming staccato guitar riff. Think it’s time to change up the sound,” as Simpson puts it.
Of course you can post what you want. I’m just with the guys who say Sturgill isn’t interested in doing anything for country music as a tradition. That’s perfectly fine. He can go about his angry indie business and write loud rock music for Pokemon world all he wants.
It is his right to make whatever sort of music he wishes, as it is my right to listen, support, or not. I may support his project or veering away from country music, but that does not mean I will listen to it. I really like most of his country stuff, and do not like some of it, especially the stuff that sort of ‘walks the line’ in my opinion. I still don’t have a problem with him trying different genres, though. It’s my opinion and I have the right to be wrong, like everybody else.
Country isn’t the only genre that needs saving”, and if Sturgill wants to save rock too then more power to him. But if the goal of an artist becomes more focused on saving or preserving tradition than innovating and building upon the foundations of those traditions, then they aren’t an artist at all. I’d rather see someone like Sturgill Simpson perform in whatever genre suits his creative expression at the time than chain himself to whatever keeps the genre purist comment sections happy.
Go listen to Sunday Valley he’s always been a rocker, he never claimed to want to save country music. He actually derided comments that he was the savior of country music.
At the same time, I think he’s more than established he could care less about living up to what his well-wishing, financially backing fans, including my food analogy adversary, all agree was special and better about what he was doing before. The nuance comes into play in the reverence for Sunday Valley’s rock music notwithstanding its genre (albeit admittedly hillbilly rock).
Go listen to Sunday Valley and you’d know Sturgill Simpson has been a rocker from day one. Nobody ever has to watch the videos for songs. The album will stand on its own. You don’t need to watch the anime movie.
I’ve never been a Sturgill fan. Sailor’s Guide was too out there for me. It definitely wasn’t country. It sounds like he’s departing even further from country now.
Now, do I think this album is going to be in one of those genres? No, Sturgill has said as much. That being said, Sturgill (fairly or unfairly) is still most commonly associated with Americana and therefore I can understand Trigger posting this news. Especially since anything Sturgill related is going to be of interest to many of the readers of this website.