"Americana" was a term that popped up in the mid-90's that was initially synonymous with "alternative country" (whatever that is). It became a genre of its own with its own charts and its own magazine ("No Depression").
Uncle Tupelo is often credited as the band at the genesis of the movement, but even if they are the band that finally pulled it all together and gave the movement an act to rally around, it's also true that the roots of Americana music run much deeper. In fact, it's not a stretch to say it runs all the way back to the early acoustic blues and country that was recorded in the 1920s.
But along the way, the thread winds it way through many different acts including Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and many others, and I'd even throw one of today's featured acts on that list - the great Moby Grape. The Grape's debut album in 1967 featured all kinds of different styles in a unique brew that stands as an early example of Americana music. All five of the band's members were lead singers, and one - Skip Spence - had previously been a member of Jefferson Airplane which influenced Moby Grape's model of spreading the singing and songwriting chores around.
Spence, in fact, has the distinction of having played on the debut albums by both bands - Moby Grape which is featured below and Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, your bonus pick of the day.
- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb
CHUCK'S ALBUM OF THE DAY
The Midnight Organ Fight (2008)
Why I Love It
Whew. This is the toughest album for me to write about on my list. After Kendall introduced me to Frightened Rabbit about a decade ago, I became a huge fan of the Scottish band, saw them play live many times and even met them. The first two tracks Kendall played for me were "My Backwards Walk" and "Keep Yourself Warm." I was so blown away by the music and especially by lead singer Scott Hutchison and his unique lyrics. I remember how much those songs struck me as being so different and cool on first listen. The whole album is phenomenal. I had already listened to the record so many times that I lost count before Hutchison took his own life two years ago. Even though it's tough, I now listen to this album on a regular basis even more. Honestly, hardly a week goes by where I don't put on the headphones and hear at least a song or two. The music world lost an amazing talent in Scott Hutchison. I know his music will continue to live on. It's too good not to.
"I Feel Better," "My Backwards Walk" and "Keep Yourself Warm"
Kendall on Chuck's Album of the Day
Nobody's given me more music through the years than Chuck, an I'd venture to say, he's probably more than satisfied with the music I've introduced him to in return. I know this is one of his favorites and one of mine, too. It would have made my list except they made another great album not too long before Scott Hutchison took his own life. I introduced Painting Of A Panic Attack earlier in our countdown, and if you enjoyed that, then you'll love this one, too.
KENDALL'S ALBUM OF THE DAY
Moby Grape (1967)
Why I Love It
Moby Grape's career was mostly a comedy of errors brought on by mismanagement - like Columbia choosing to release five singles at once from this great debut album.
That legendary bungling ensured that none of the singles got enough airplay on its own to give the band a serious hit, even though this album is loaded with them. They should have been huge, but are mostly an obscure footnote in rock history and the answer to a few trivia questions for the serious rock fan.
For a band that was a product of San Francisco's psychedelic scene, there's a hint of just about everything here - some blues, some country, some folk all distilled into a rock and roll masterpiece that stands as one of the true forgotten classics of the era.
"Hey Grandma," "Mr. Blues" and "Omaha"
Chuck on Kendall's Album of the Day
This is one of the albums I was most surprised to see on Kendall's list. However, when I considered how many genres of music Moby Grape squeezed into its debut, it made perfect sense. When it comes to records from the psychedelic era, this album is unparalleled. Even though the sound is distinctively Summer of Love, the music is every bit as vibrant and enjoyable today as it was back then. I'm not sure if Kendall remembers, but there was a record store in Longview called Moby Grape around the time we were in high school. You know you're a damn good band when you have a record store named after you.