MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Up-and-Comers: Shovels & Rope

South Carolina-based Shovels & Rope (who released their record O’ Be Joyful this week) is a duo consisting of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, playing a blend of alt-country, folk and rock that is strong, raw, passionate, and extremely catchy. From the first few notes of the opening track, I was completely hooked.

The origin of this band is a bit confusing, but let’s see if we can unravel it. As it turns out, the band name Shovels & Rope comes from the title of a record that Hearst and Trent made together several years ago—so while O’ Be Joyful is technically a debut record for the new moniker, this pair has been playing together for awhile—and it definitely shows on the recording. Trent and Hearst are totally natural together.

This is a duo that operates on the apparent assumption that “less is more.” They typically perform without a backup band, handling as much of the instrumentation as they can handle themselves. Labeling their musical style “sloppy tonk,” according to their Facebook page, their instrumental arsenal includes a drum kit that was literally reclaimed from a garbage heap. Add to that a couple of guitars and harmonicas, occasional guest trumpets, and a pair of twangy vocals and harmonies, and you have a primitive, raw sound that resembles the garage rock vibe of The White Stripes, except with a decisive Appalachian flair. Or think of it as how The Civil Wars might sound after consuming a couple of quarts of moonshine. Either way—it absolutely works. After listening to a couple of songs, I was already scouring their website to find out when Shovels & Rope were coming to my home town. Seriously. This band is that good.

Along with the release of O’ Be Joyful, there is reportedly a feature documentary in the works about Shovels & Rope. I found a couple of songs from the documentary on YouTube, which I embedded below. Neither of the songs are on the album, but they give a great indication about what to expect from this band. Enjoy!


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About the Author


Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Kim Phelps found her inspiration and love for music listening to local bands play in the coffeehouses around town. She soon found her own voice as a singer-songwriter, and eventually began playing her own gigs in the coffee shops. Her personal influences include Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Ingrid Michaelson and Cat Power, but as an indie musician herself, she has an affinity for any band or artist who pursues creative freedom on the outskirts of the music industry. As our Indie correspondent, Kim makes a point of highlighting up-and-coming independent acts who are creating a buzz and building an audience. When she's not blogging for us or playing in the coffee shops, Kim works as a barista herself to help pay the bills. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Posted in: Featured, Indie/Alternative Music


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