Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Mark Stone and the Dirty County Band, an outfit based in Minneapolis that is preparing to release their third record, titled ‘Trifecta,’ on April 1. The three song EP is a jaunt through the band’s unique brand of “a honky tonk bar brawl between Skynyrd, The Eagles, and Alice in Chains.” Is ‘Trifecta’ worth giving in a spin in a few weeks upon its release? Let’s dig into it and find out!
There’s something immediately infectious about Mark Stone and the Dirty County Band. The opening track of ‘Trifecta,’ ‘Kickin Up Dust,’ is a foot-stomping, intense jaunt through an aggressive, raw country blues sound. Stone’s gravely vocals sound like they’ve been summoned from the soil itself, something further accented by the sparse instrumentation provided by the Dirty County Band. There’s a searing electric guitar, a thunderous bass and percussion section, and that’s it. That’s all the sound needs, though, and it’s fun through and through.
The range of Stone’s voice is particularly impressive, showcased on ‘Never Drinkin Again’ as he traverses several octaves pretty effortlessly. He doesn’t have a conventionally good voice, but it sounds authentic and real. (I'd levy this same observation toward most of the best country artists in history, so it's a compliment, in truth.) This music feels lived in, worn by life. ‘Never Drinkin Again’ is a gritty hangover tune, thematically reminiscent of ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ or the like.
‘Settlin Down’ is a good finale to ‘Trifecta,’ offering the most upbeat performance of the three songs on the EP. This is where that Skynyrd influence is apparent, and it’s clear that Mark Stone and the Dirty County Band would be a wonderfully enjoyable band to see live. 'Settlin Down' is good country dancing music with an edge. The vocal harmonies are nicely executed, too, and the distorted sonic landscape suits Stone remarkably well.
This is a great little EP. There aren’t any performances that’ll completely blow your socks off, but it’s not designed to be a lyrically profound or instrumentally experimental experience. It’s designed to be a good romp through southern rock and roll with a unique rawness to it. Mark Stone and the Dirty County Band provide that in spades, and I’d recommend checking out their live shows in the Minneapolis area if you’re a local.
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