Why the folks at No Depression magazine, which was founded almost 10 years ago in the fall of 1995, waited so long to issue volume one of What It Sounds Like is a mystery, especially considering the wave of controversy surrounding what, exactly, “alt.country,” “twang-core,” “y'allternative” or whatever you want to call it actually is. The arguments continue to this day, with fans staking claims on the subgenre in the name of every band from The Eagles to Uncle Tupelo. For ease of purpose, it can be agreed that alt.country is music that falls somewhere in-between contemporary country and mainstream rock. Hence, the artists collected here were chosen to represent not only a remarkably popular subgenre, but also a certain ethic that calls for music to be honest and true to its American roots, embracing a lifestyle that combines the storytelling of the folk troubadours with the conversational style of classic country and blues, presented in such a way as to appeal to music fans who imbibe a little classic rock every now and then. That's the link that binds these artists, and perhaps what gives alt.country its almost universal appeal. Let's just hope we don't have to wait nine years for volume two.
Release date: March 9
Deep Purple Bananas (Sanctuary)
Standout tracks here include “Silver Tongue,” “Walk On” and “Razzle Dazzle,” but there're plenty of solid rockers to sink your teeth into. Jon Lord's retirement and replacement by former Rainbow and Ozzy Osbourne keyboardist Don Airey is really the only component that doesn't quite mesh. His Hammond/Leslie passages at times sound more like a parody of Lord's signature keyboard work than the texture beds they're presumably supposed to serve as. But with the rest of the band in top form, you'll probably be willing to overlook such relatively minor indiscretions.
Release date: out now