Modest Mouse may have just produced the best album of their career, quite possibly the best album of 2015, with A Stranger to Ourselves. The Avett Brothers need no introduction. They didn’t have to travel the world to garner the attention of music’s most legendary singers and songwriters, but to see them live it’s clear how passionate and dedicated they are to their fans. These two headliners alone make Sloss Music and Arts Festival the biggest concert ticket Birmingham has seen yet. But what about the rest of the line-up? These two headliners alone make Sloss Music and Arts Festival the biggest concert ticket Birmingham has seen yet. But what about the rest of the line-up?
The music enthusiast already plugged-in knows that these headliners are just the icing on the cake and the rest of the featured artists are well worth the price of admission. But for those of you who are not as plugged in, well allow us here at Mother Plug Music to do our job. This is everything you need to know about the who’s who of this year’s Sloss Music and Arts Festival, in order of our must-see top picks.
Sturgill Simpson. Deemed “the Savior of Country Music,” by Rolling Stone since his Metamodern Sounds in Country Music released in May of 2014, his fans have been rallying around him since his debut in 2013’s High Top Mountain. His brand of psychedelic, outlaw country has awarded him hero status among the most unlikely walks of life from hipsters to hippies. But perhaps his biggest fans are those within the most sacred circles of country music who began to hear about Simpson performing in Nashville when he first moved there 5 years ago. Simpson describes in an interview on the Joe Rogan Experience that his big break came one night after making his way backstage while at a Billy Joe Shaver concert. “[Shooter Jennings] actually told [producer Dave Cobb] one night, we were all at a Billy Joe Shaver concert, I didn’t know any of those guys and they were sittin’ upstairs, it was like Shooter and Jamie Johnson and some of those guys, and Dave, and apparently Shooter was like, ‘Hey man, you see that guy right there,’ and Dave was like ‘yeah.’ ‘That’s the best fucking country singer in Nashville.'” For your introduction, Mother Plug Music recommends, Turtles All the Way Down.
St. Paul & the Broken Bones. The heart and soul of Birmingham couldn’t be better represented by the sound of native St. Paul and the Broken Bones! Their song, Call Me, was recently featured in the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. But don’t let that turn you away. St. Paul and the Broken Bones is not pop culture, but fifty shades of authentic R&B and Soul. They recently sold out two consecutive nights at Alabama Theatre within minutes, and the demand for them in Europe has recently made them an international sensation. Mother Plug Music says sail over to where the Grass is Greener.
Lord Huron. Did I just say that Modest Mouse may have just produced the best album of the year? Well this Los Angeles indie-folk band will certainly give them a run for their money with Strange Trails. In just their second album, frontman Ben Schneider weaves together a complex narrative that will take you to the Ends of the Earth.
Milo Greene. LA’s Milo Greene creates music as imagined in film. In fact, his debut album serves as the musical score to a series of videos that when played in succession can be viewed as the independent film Moddison. In real life, however, Milo Greene does not compose film scores, arranges or even writes music. In real life, Milo Greene is not a member of Milo Greene at all, much less a real person. The cinematic pop quintet created the name to serve as their fictitious, british speaking booking agent while trying to get gigs. The fictitious Milo Greene was apparently so good at his job that the group eventually named their band after him as well as their debut album. Milo Greene, composed of four lead singers, have been known to switch instruments throughout their shows. You don’t want to miss this one. For a preview, check out Heartless.
Cage the Elephant. Aint No Rest for the Wicked may be the song that propelled this band onto your radio waves, but like Radiohead’s Creep, it may become the one that Cage the Elephant hate the most. Listen to anything else by this band and you will understand that they should not be defined by this one hit. Take Come a Little Closer for instance, and you will also understand why you must catch Cage the Elephant live!
Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires. Birmingham’s own Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires bring “the real Alabama rock n’ roll” to Sloss and should fit this bill more comfortably than any other. From what The Bitter Southerner said “might be the greatest rock record about the South ever made,” about Bains’ album, Dereconstructed, listen to The Company Man.
Primus. Les Claypool, one of the most prolific and adventurous bassists in music history, provides Sloss with just the right amount of diversity and eclecticism this festival needs. After all, what would a festival be without a little mud? Claypool is no stranger to the festival circuit, and for an hour or more will likely turn Sloss into a carnival! Prepare yourself with Primus’ latest album, Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble.
First Aid Kit. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Johanna and Klara Söderberg after their performance at a Lykke Li concert some years back. These sweet harmonizing siblings that make up the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit know how to roar!