Band of the Day

2012.04.04

Lydia Loveless

A young Ohio rocker merges country and playful power pop
You didn't mean to be mean/but everything sounds more meaningful when you scream.
lyrics from Can't Change Me

Lydia Loveless is a twenty-one-year-old country-rocker originally from the small farming town of Coshocton, Ohio. Loveless grew up surrounded by music as her father owned and ran a country music bar. Without much to do in the rural town, Loveless spent her teen years playing in bands before moving to Columbus, Ohio to continue pursuing her music dreams. Loveless' music is filled with cutting attitude, combining classic country instrumentation and formats with punk rock energy. Loveless released her debut album The Only Man on Peloton records. This was followed up with 2011's Indestructible Machine, released on Bloodshot Records, which includes a collection of high energy country, spiking the sound of classic country singers like Loretta Lynn with rock and roll.

Twenty-one-year-old Lydia Loveless was pretty mild in her rebellion against her parents. Growing up in rural Ohio, her father owned a country music bar, and Loveless follows those country roots, but pumps them full of playful rock and roll vitriol. The cover of her recent album Indestructible Machine shows a cartoon Loveless guzzling from a gasoline canister; visit her site and you can buy a beer cozy with the message “Drink More. Love Less.” This cheeky fatalism appears throughout Indestructible Machine. The album is full of classic country heartbreak, but you're pretty sure that at the end of the day Loveless just wants to have some fun, and that sentiment is infectious. Loveless roars out of the gate with “Bad Way To Go,” the first track on the album. The song combines racing banjos, pounding punk rock drums and crunching rock guitar into an exuberantly restless ball of energy. Loveless is heartfelt and on-point with “Can't Change Me,” a slow burning rocker that sees the singer belting lines like “You didn't mean to be mean/but everything sounds more meaningful when you scream,” in her powerful twang. “Learn To Say No” is another great cut straddling the line between country and rock with it's raw country-blues lead guitar and down in the dumps attitude, “I can't go anywhere without being three sheets/I guess I'll always be this goddamn unhappy.” It's reminiscent of artists from Whiskeytown to Tom Petty to Liz Phair, distilling the earnest power pop that made those bands so great into her own brand of bourbon-soaked rock sorrow. At other points, Loveless drops the earnestness in favor of feel good humor, employing country-style story telling. “Steve Earle” imagines the country-rock rebel (who has famously been married seven times, twice to one woman) as a too-insistent suitor, “he says he isn't hitting on me, he just wants to write some songs/and I keep asking Steve, would you please introduce me to your son.” Loveless isn't embarking on untouched territory here, but she shows she can skillfully combine country and rock into a fun and energetic package, and make it her own.