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Faders Up!

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Album Review

In an ideal world, alternative country would become country's primary direction the way that Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and their Seattle colleagues made alternative rock the primary direction of rock back in the early '90s. But it's hard to imagine the Nashville establishment allowing that to happen (at least as of early 2008). Regardless, worthwhile things continue to happen in alt country, and a perfect example is Faders Up. The fact that the Greeley, CO-based Turn 4 calls their label F**k All Y'all Records lets you know that they aren't playing corporate country or trying to win over Nashville execs; a fiercely independent spirit prevails throughout this 2006 recording, which draws on direct or indirect influences ranging from Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard to Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, the Band, and the Rolling Stones. Turn 4 aren't pretending to be country purists; Faders Up is alternative country-rock from the 2000s, not a collection of old-time bluegrass or honky tonk from the '40s. But emotionally and lyrically, ballsy tracks like "Nobody Gets Out Alive," "Where I Grew Up," "Half a Tank," and "Whiskey Song" are much closer to the spirit of classic honky tonk than the contrived and toothless corporate country that dominated country radio in the United States in 2006. Clearly, Turn 4 strongly identifies with the outlaw country aesthetic that made Haggard, Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Johnny Paycheck so compelling in their heyday, and their songs have a lot of substance — songs about tough economic times in America, songs about small town life, and of course, songs about alcohol ("The Bottle," in fact, recalls Haggard's "The Bottle Let Me Down," but without actually emulating that honky tonk classic). Faders Up is a very promising effort from these gutsy providers of alternative country-rock.

Faders Up!, Turn 4
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