By Christopher Treacy
Things seem to be heating up again with new music, and I, for one, am not complaining. This week’s collection features a trio of cautionary tales, a ‘gothic mountain’ instrumental, and a pair of songs steeped in love’s regret. Sounds pretty damn country to me, and it’s all queer. Have at it! And if you’re a queer artist with new music on the way that you think might fit into the CQ scheme, drop us a line via the submission form at the bottom of the page – we want to hear from you.
Song of The Week: Kristian Montgomery & The Winterkill Band – “Annie, Pay Your Band”
Montgomery, who now makes his home in VT after years in and around Cape Cod, never rests: his upcoming album, Lower County Outlaw, will be his fourth in three years. There’s a level of determination and tenacity that comes through his music, and “Annie, Pay Your Band” (available here in a punchy demo form) is no different. The song may be satirical in nature, but it uses a bit of cleverly written humor to speak to the competitive, clique-y nature of the music industry. Musically, it’s a bluesy, barroom stomp that takes folks to task for getting ahead in all the wrong ways. It’s an old story… and also one that you don’t hear people talking about much these days, especially in indie music, despite it being a common problem. We live in a world where we’ve been taught to use whatever means necessary to succeed. But does the end always justify the means? We got to ask Kristian Montgomery some questions about his new song in a Q&A running later this week. In the meanwhile, Annie, pay your band.
Lily Rose – “Truth is”
Rose is sporting a big, commercial country sound on her new single and we think it suits her well. Hook-laden and smooth going down, “Truth Is” takes that ol’ “Tracks of My Tears” sentiment and twists it into a country queer anthem for the 2023 crowd. Buckle up, the undertow is serious on this one!
Bryan Ruby – “Hell of a Year”
Ruby joined together his previous trio of singles and added this in, a cover of Parker McCollum’s 2017 tune “Hell of a Year,” to round off his new EP of the same name. Cover or not, he does a great job with the song, which is really well suited to his voice—truth told, the richness of Ruby’s pipes gives the track greater emotional resonance and depth of feeling. The arrangement is basically the same, so the focus on what Ruby does with the tune to make it his own is all in the vocal… he really delivers.
Keith Andrews – “Abigail”
The more we hear, the more we can tell that Andrews is a born storyteller. “Abigail” is a word of warning disguised as a rollicking hayride. We’d all do well to stay out of the gal’s path, lest we fall victim to, “…what fresh devastation her next destination shall behold.” We’ve all had folks in our lives that thrive on creating chaos, and that’s really what’s at the core of the tune. This one happens to be female, but energy vampires come in all shapes and sizes. Is she a succubus? A personified, un-medicated personality disorder? Regardless, beware, the ‘tribulation queen.’
Laurel Hells Ramblers “Cripple Creek”
Introducing Laurel Hells Ramblers, bringing the ‘gothic mountain folk’ ala Southwestern Virginia and Western North Carolina. You can definitely hear what I’ve come to call the ‘Southern Gothic Strange’ coming through this quick instrumental ditty—featuring banjo, guitar and fiddle—which is the first taste we’ve gotten from this new trio. More to come, we hope!
Amy Martin – “Where the Devil’s Found”
The final reveal from Martin’s stellar new Travelin’ On set (review forthcoming) makes for a trio of cautionary tales in this week’s Roundup. “Where the Devil’s Found” furiously chugs along with outlaw-toned urgency, led by Martin’s chunky guitar with well-placed harmonica, mandolin, and fiddle (the latter two supplied by producer Chance McCoy), driving the tune to a fiery finish. The sentiment is universal: we have a tendency to look for comfort in the wrong places. ‘Wrong,’ not necessarily because we’re flawed (though we certainly are), but more because evil is so insidious and can disguise itself as redemption. The devil’s comfort seems easiest, fastest—but as we might imagine, deals with the devil bring consequences. Sometimes the idea of ‘being good to yourself’ in the modern world is exactly the opposite. Martin knows this.
Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.
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