Cock of the Walk

Old Crow Medicine Show defines the in sound of 21st-century bluegrass. A li'l bit country, a whole lotta rock ´n' roll, the Nashville-based quintet is all about the American roots tradition. Lyrically, this translates into smart, political tunes that are so slick the far right can't even tell if it's been skewered or flayed. Then there's the band's take on old-school spirituals, wherein they sing the Almighty's praises without irony (which is so punk rock). And no fan can ignore the group's road-warrior infatuation with a certain powdery distillation of the magical coca leaf, which, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, is all the rage among today's hipster youth.

Despite OCMS's bright, lyrical songwriting, the combo's musicianship is what draws in listeners from all over the map. The fleet-fingered string-pickin' on acoustic geetars, banjo, fiddle, and upright bass is more fun than a wild boar on a truffle farm. And the vocal harmonies are fowl — as in down on the farm at dawn when all the ducks, geese, and red-topped cocks crow to God's great morning light. It's scary how down-home this band really is. And its dirt-path cred has been verified by no less an authority than the Queen of Americana herself, Gillian Welch. There's no truer endorsement in all the U.S. of A.

 
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