If you’ve been reading ETTG for any length of time, you’ve heard about Josh Turner and Carson McKee, aka The Other Favorites. Turner’s viral YouTube station works to bring some really incredible music to our ears on a regular basis, so we love to share it. Now that the duo have struck out to develop their own successful career of original music and live performance, we were dying to get the album into our earphones. Here’s the quick take – this is an amazing album and you should listen to it RIGHT NOW.
The album is called Fools, a hilarious misnomer if you’ve ever gotten to know either of these guys. They are both quite articulate and well versed in music history. The opening track “The Levee” shows off that intellectual songwriting style, giving some credit to artists like Paul Simon and classic 70s chill rock music. The lyrics show a depth and complexity in understanding of Americana themes but also this pithy perspective about a lost love. It’s snarky and smart, introducing the listener immediately to an intriguing, easy to listen to new artist.
The second track “If I was a fool” is equally interesting, conveying an image of a lover the writer wishes he had. There’s a careful “dreaminess” to the lyrical content that is highlighted brilliantly with a light and airy string part. Where the duo can obviously handle tons of runs, this one is calm and enjoyable. There’s a Chris Thile vibe to the syncopation and string work on this one, showing that these guys are not just rockers.
The song that The Other Favorites sent us via SubmitHub was “Angelina,” a really sweet love song that puts me in mind of Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” for some reason. The balance of Turner’s guitar and McKee’s vocals are really good on this one, like always, but something about the crooning style works great with McKee’s tone. The little line about being “Queen of the Bushwick Scene” makes me laugh every time. Who writes like this in 2017? These guys do and we eat it up.
The following “Flawed Recording” defies genre conventions, so I’m just going to call it Americana. Loyal fans of the band know they did a video showing that it was written several years ago by McKee with a pretty incredible old fuzzy recording. They’ve since updated the recording and I would assume the arrangement to a new, cleaner version. The polish that these guys have on this track is really wonderful. Turner’s guitar work crawls up and down the melody line while his vocals highlight McKee perfectly. It’s an easy going song about playing at music for fun and as a way to make life worth living.
It’s really hard to pick a single for this album because they’re all so good, but “New York Town” is definitely a contender. The song has a delightful folk song structure to it, talking about going to New York to find work. The modern quips about swiping in the dating scene and similar references show that folk doesn’t all have to be old timey and disconnected. The acoustic guitar solo shows that Turner’s been working on his country picking, too. The way the song develops as the hours pass is really great. But my favorite line is “part time king and full time clown.” If that doesn’t make you think of Dylan, ain’t nothin will.
“Flower in the City” brings the album home. Of course we could all do for a few more of these songs, but as this one calms down the crowd you get the sense that these guys can really tell a story. Some of the chord progressions on this one show a complexity that is really intriguing, conveying something more like the kind of Americana that Jason Isbell is making rather than the yee haw country music we hear on the radio. The heartfelt lyrics on this one remind us that all songs are love songs. Some are about love that worked out and most are about love that didn’t.
This is an exceptional album by two fantastic artists. To think that these young men recorded this in a New York apartment, with several tracks going straight to YouTube, just makes you wonder what they might do as they continue to grow as artists. The versatility in terms of genre continues to stun me, despite covering their music for several years now. We will keep our ears out for more from these guys, but don’t sleep on this album. If you want this kind of revival of real music to flourish, go out and buy the album. It helps these artists more than you know as they forge an indie artist path in the purest way.