[T]he rag on Cory Branan is he’s too Country for Punk, and too Punk for Country, but I think what we need to start realizing is Cory Branan is a damn fine musician, and an excellent songwriter. His new record, The No-Hit Wonder, follows up his 2012 critically acclaimed record Mutt, and was released yesterday on Bloodshot Records. Over the course of the last month, I’ve turned this record on again and again, it’s been in heavy rotation, and for great reasons. Branan’s songwriting is top notch, it’s vivid and bright and a bit tongue-in-cheek. We’ve all been saying it, but I think this is his most accessible effort to date.
The album opener “You Make Me,” is a nod to Branan’s new wife, new kids, and shows a different Branan, he’s loose, having fun, and just enjoying himself, how could you not when you are recording with Jason Isbell? The second portion of Branan’s 1-2 punch is the titular single, “The No-Hit Wonder,” which features Craig Finn & Steve Selvidge from the Hold Steady. It’s a rockin’ tune that should be played at high speeds and high volumes, the song may be written as a self-deprecating joke, most of the press surrounding Branan has mentioned he should be bigger than he is, writing a song about it might be one way to ditch the stigma, and it’s one hell of a song.
Digging deeper into the record, Branan shows his eclecticism with the rockabilly “Sour Mash,” the ragtime crying in your beer song “C’Mon Shadow,” the traditional C&W “All the Rivers in Colorado,”
even a bit of Springsteenian travel song in “Taking the Highway Home.” The No-Hit Wonder is a full album effort that puts Branan’s songwriting front and center, his songs seemingly always have a hook, can make you laugh, and hit the right chords in a bevy of different genres. If the question still lies whether Branan is too country for punk and too punk for country, who really gives a shit? This record is fun to listen to, and it not fitting in is not going to stop me for a second.
Do yourself a favor, and buy The No-Hit Wonder. Today. Now.