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‘Y’allternative’ opens inclusive door into country music

‘Y’allternative’ opens inclusive door into country music

‘Y’allternative’ opens inclusive door into country music
February 18
12:00 2022

There’s a new sheriff in country music town and his name is Y’allternative. The word “y’allternative” is a mix of “y’all” and “alternative.” The style is a form of country music that strays away from modern or “stadium” country which focuses on the likes of beer, girls and big trucks or tractors. Instead, it goes back to the roots of country music — a “three chords and the truth” style of country. 

Y’allternative is a folk or storytelling style of country. It is reminiscent of stories told by Marty Robbins and of ‘70s and ‘80s country with Willie Nelson. It is a style that encompasses the best of country, at least in my opinion. 

Subgenres and niche styles within country are nothing new. There’s been “Nashville” country with Eddy Arnold and Patsy Cline, outlaw country with Marty Robbins and my personal favorite revenge country. Revenge country tells of adulterous or abusive husbands and their revengeful (or downright murderous) wives. Think The Chicks, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. 

Y’allternative is not just the style of music, but the aesthetics involved. A blend of gothic and country themes, Y’allternative represents an open and accepting community made up of LGBTQ+, goths, leftists and anyone else. It is the epitome of “y’all.” 

If you want to listen to Y’allternative, but don’t know how to get started, here are five artists you need to check out. 

  1. Charley Crockett

Born in San Benito, Texas, to a single mother, Crockett was raised in a trailer park. Crockett’s journey to a career in music did not come easy. He hitchhiked and rode freight trains to New York where he got by by busking and at one point sold weed and worked the harvest in a clandestine marijuana field. His music has hints of blues and jazz and his work explores personal relationships and the world beyond. My personal favorite song is “Jamestown Ferry.” 

  1. Orville Peck 

Donned with a fringe mask, Orville Peck is a pseudonym and Peck’s true identity is unknown. We do know he trained in ballet for 12 years and has performed in several national tours of musicals. A Canadian country artist, Peck is openly gay and his music has elements of dream pop, indie rock and goth. Peck best represents the mash of strong country with “alt” aesthetics. My favorite Peck track is his collaboration with drag queen Trixie Mattel. Their duet cover of “Jackson,” a duet cover of Johnny Cash’s and June Carter Cash’s song of the same name, will transport you straight back to 1963. 

  1. The Local Honeys 

The Local Honeys are a musical duo based in Kentucky. Comprised of Montana Hobbs and Linda Jean Stokley, The Local Honeys have a sound rooted in Appalachian Folk and they tell stories of the American working class and their fight against industries, such as coal m. While I am partial to Tia Blake’s “Plastic Jesus,” their cover is worth a listen. Other songs that deserve a listen to are “Hares on the Mountain” and “Dying To Make a Living.” 

  1. Sierra Ferrell 

Despite growing up in small-town West Virginia, Sierra Ferrell listened mostly to ‘90s music, especially grunge and punk music, rather than bluegrass. Her love for bluegrass came after she discovered swing music. Ferrell’s unique history in music has made her a bluegrass artist who incorporates elements of country, folk and Latin styles of music. Give a listen to “In Dreams,” “Jeremiah” and her latest release “Hey Me, Hey Mama.” 

  1. Vincent Neil Emerson 

Raised in Van Zandt County in East Texas by a single mother, Emerson got his start in music by playing bars, honky-tonks and barbecue joints across Fort Worth. Emerson’s music has hints of bluegrass, strong lyrics and upbeat fiddles. You can hear the influences of Guy Clark, Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt through his tracks. Personal favorites are “Fried Chicken & Evil Women” and “Texas Moon.” 

Some honorable mentions in the world of Y’allternative to give a listen to are Hailey Whitters, Flatland Cavalry and Yola. 

If you think you hate country, maybe you just hate stadium or modern country. Try and give these artists a listen. 

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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Hannah Johnson

Hannah Johnson

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