Reckless Kelly is releasing their ninth album, “Sunset Motel”, on September 23rd. Even more significant, they are doing so as they log their 20th year as a band. It is a rare achievement for any band to make it this far. For Reckless Kelly it is even more significant given the transition of the industry and the genre bending music scene they have inhabited during that time. Twenty years ago the Austin scene was teeming with new acts that were expanding the Outlaw and more traditional Country music roots in the city. Bands like Old 97s were emerging and mixing everything from Punk to Southern Rock with roots music. All of this was done with refreshing originality. There was even a name for this nebulous genre, Alt-Country. Standard bearers like Uncle Tupelo (and subsequently Son Volt and Wilco) were part of a new breed of insurgents. They even had a magazine devoted to their cause, “No Depression”. During this time, Reckless Kelly was on the forefront of the movement with an in your face approach that developed a broad following. They took the legacy of Outlaw Country and mixed it with power chords and hooks that have been a huge influence on today’s Red Dirt music scene. This was also a time when music was physical. During those seemingly ancient days, music was delivered in the form of something known as a compact disc; and reading a review involved turning a page.
Fast forward Twenty years. We now call it Americana. CDs serve mostly as coasters. Streaming has nothing to do with water, but everything to do with the changing economics of the industry. Caught somewhere in the middle are artists that create the content. “No Depression” exists mostly in cyberspace (although a few times a year we are able to get the pleasure of turning the page). Thankfully, Reckless Kelly is unfazed and “Sunset Motel” delivers a group of songs that are as edgy and irreverent as ever. In fact, they are again charting their own path by releasing the album themselves, and avoiding the pressure to compromise from a record label trying to stay above water in an ocean that is clearly hard to navigate profitably. I would expect nothing else. They were quick to embrace the DIY spirit that is growing in the music industry. They have been successful because this independent ethos is in the DNA of the bands founders Willy and Cody Braun. You can feel it on “Sunset Motel”, which provides songs that have lyrical depth delivered with their distinctive impudent attitude.
About the author: Chip and his family live in Birmingham, AL. Roll Tide!