When: Fri., July 12 2013
rock/Americana , 10 p.m.
Rugged indie Southern rawk got a boot in the ass from Americana, lifting up acts like Drive-By Truckers and Lucero. But the competition’s fierce, and other tremendous acts like BJ Barham’s band, American Aquarium, have found it tough to make it outside their grassroots following. That’s prompted Barham and frontment like him to fill fallow periods with solo tours. Like Lucero’s frontman Ben Nichols, Barham’s voice possesses a gruff, whiskey-wizened swagger, and his band’s followed a similar trajectory from old-fashioned country through cow-punk to a Springsteen-ish blend of soul-tinged rock. They hit their stride with 2009’s Dances for the Lonely, a biting break-up disc leading from the waltzing “PBR Promenade” to the bloozy bar band rave “Ain’t Going To the Bar Tonight” and the ultimate kiss-off, “I Hope He Breaks Your Heart.” That jump-started Barham’s lyrical creativity on 2010’s quieter singer/songwriter-oriented Small Town Hymns and last year’s rocking ode to the touring life, Burn. Flicker. Die. It’s an oft-downbeat and earnest album about chasing a dream that, like a woman, will leave you alone and empty in the dark. Dog-eared and desperate, the songs are a reminder of the ache and disappointment biting at our heels, threatening to overtake us. —Chris Parker FRIDAY