June found us turning our focus to America: specifically in an attempt to broaden the musical definition of the term Americana. For far too long, Americana has merely been a stand-in term for a very narrow brand of music: typically that which encompasses ‘traditional’ themes, and is performed (mostly) by white men on acoustic instruments. And while there’s still some of that to be found here, the idea was to find other examples of music that is capable of reflecting quintessentially American themes and settings.
And it seems that debut albums are a particularly fertile ground for these examples. After all, debuts are typically the records in which their creators are most influenced by — and most in tune with — the settings that they know most intimately. Call them ‘honest’ or ‘authentic’ if you must, but these are the albums that tend to sound — and feel — the most like home.
Instead of pulling brief excerpts from our daily mini-reviews, this month we’re specifically highlighting the settings that these thirty records evoke. We’ll be shifting our emphasis to a new theme in July. To see those picks in real-time — and to read our past and future mini-reviews in full — give our Instagram and Facebook pages a follow.
June 1 (#152)
This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About
Setting: A mostly abandoned highway; somewhere in the ‘lonesome crowded west.‘
June 2 (#153)
Setting: A tiny beach town along the Eastern Seaboard, on the last few days of summer.
June 3 (#154)
Folksongs and Instrumentals With Guitar
Setting: The creaky front porch of a modest home in the Appalachian foothills.
June 4 (#155)
Setting: A small border town at nightfall.
June 5 (#156)
Setting: A hot summer day in the Queensbridge housing projects.
June 6 (#157)
Setting: An early autumn afternoon on the quad at Columbia University.
June 7 (#158)
Setting: ‘Flyover country,’ but from a birds-eye view.
June 8 (#159)
Setting: A long-abandoned, kudzu covered rail trestle, off of the beaten path in the rural South.
June 9 (#160)
Setting: Inner-city Detroit, after the riots.
June 10 (#161)
Setting: Autumn in New England.
June 11 (#162)
Setting: A tiny logging town in the Pacific Northwest, as afternoon turns to evening.
June 12 (#163)
Setting: Springtime in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
June 13 (#164)
The Modern Dance
Setting: An abandoned factory in the deindustrialized Midwest.
June 14 (#165)
For Emma, Forever Ago
Setting: Winter in a remote cabin along the Great Lakes.
June 15 (#166)
Blind Joe Death / John Fahey
Setting: Creekside at sunset.
June 16 (#167)
Setting: An early summer evening in East Point.
June 17 (#168)
Setting: A quiet cove on the Chesapeake Bay.
June 18 (#169)
Slanted and Enchanted
Setting: The town that you grew up in — after a few years spent away.
June 19 (#170)
Valley of Rain
Setting: A western highway, under dark storm clouds.
June 20 (#171)
Spirit They’re Gone Spirit They’ve Vanished
Setting: A secluded forest deep within the Eastern Woodlands.
June 21 (#172)
Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
Setting: A suburban Midwest garage.
June 22 (#173)
Setting: Aboard a train moving slowly across the landscape.
June 23 (#174)
Horn of Plenty
Setting: A campfire under a new moon.
June 24 (#175)
Setting: A poorly lit subway platform.
June 25 (#176)
The Creek Drank the Cradle
Setting: The rural South, captured in a grainy photograph.
June 26 (#177)
The Milk-Eyed Mender
Setting: A meadow surrounded by golden aspen trees.
June 27 (#178)
Almost Killed Me
Setting: A Minneapolis bar, as the Saturday night crowd starts to gather.
June 28 (#179)
Come On Pilgrim
Setting: A dark forest, in the sleepy west of the woody east.
June 29 (#180)
I See a Darkness
Setting: A dilapidated, overgrown churchyard.
June 30 (#181)
Setting: On the road to someplace better…