Bonding over their shared love of American roots music, The Americans are the Los Angeles based three piece shaking up rock music. Made up of Patrick Ferris, Jake Faulkner and Zac Sokolow, the three piece wanted to take their love of classic American music and blend it with a modern rock’n’roll twist. As frontman Patrick says, “We were suspicious of modern rock music. I think we were all curious whether we could summon the spirit of old blues and country through what we’d learned firsthand, and create something brand new, leaving behind the nostalgia and musical aesthetics.”
What this has created is a refreshingly contemporary sound with all the hallmarks of the musical greats; their latest album, I’ll Be Yours, is their best yet and a brilliant example of their innovative and unique style.
Giving us an exclusive insight into what it takes to create The Americans’ sound, the guys take us back to the beginning with a playlist of all the songs that have made them the band they are today.
Joe Liggins – “Going Back To New Orleans”
Joe Liggins was born in Oklahoma and relocated to Los Angeles when he was 23 where he had a triumphant career beginning with his hit “The Honeydripper.” This song features a particularly ripping solo from Little Willie Jackson. The lyrics get me sentimental for New Orleans every time I hear them.
The Breaux Freres – “Ma Blonde Est Partie”
The Breaux Freres were featured in the third instalment of American Epic, which we were lucky enough to be a part of. Amede Breaux recorded this song at the dawn of the Cajun music boom. Later, it would cement into the cajun anthem “Jolie Blonde,” but in this intimate performance, the chords change in surprising places and the singer expresses isolation and longing. This is easily one of my favorite Cajun recordings.
The Gun Club – “Like Calling Up Thunder”
This recording is from The Gun Club’s second album. The Gun Club drew heavily upon rural American music styles to invent their brand of Los Angeles punk. On “Like Calling Up Thunder”, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, singer and leader of the band, harkens back to a Carter Family-esque opening lick while adding his modern and poetic lyrics. The fearlessness to so violently blend these musics was obviously inspirational.
Odea Matthews – “Something Within’ Me”
Recorded in Angola State Penitentiary in 1959. That’s her sewing machine making noise in the background.
Benny Joy – “Rollin’ To The Jukebox Rock”
Benny Joy released a few singles that were popular around where he lived in Florida, but never made it much beyond that. When we started out as a band, we were traveling all around the country playing songs like this for drunk people.
Eck Robertson – “Sally Gooden”
Eck Robertson was from the Texas Panhandle. He travelled to New York to record this in 1922. It’s a very common fiddle tune, but he played it his own way with a bunch of variations. It’s hard to not feel kind of hypnotised while listening to it.
Ariel Camacho – “El Karma”
This song was a big hit and gets played all over the radio in Los Angeles, but maybe not so much in other parts of the country. It’s a song about a guy who gets caught up in drug trafficking, and dies trying to save his daughter who was kidnapped.
Woody Guthrie – “Harriet Tubman’s Ballad”
The biography of Harriet Tubman—start to finish—in six minutes. Woody Guthrie transmutes somber, precise research into heartbreaking verses.
Convicts of Bellwood Prison Camp, Atlanta GA. – “Longest Train I Ever Saw”
Recorded by John Lomax on-site in 1934 for the WPA. An American folk tune sung sadly by an “unidentified group of Negro convicts” whose names are forgotten.
Bob Dylan – “Cross The Green Mountain”
Dylan takes after Woody Guthrie with a piercing Civil War epic. “It’s the last day’s half hour of the last happy year / I feel that the unknown world is so near / Pride will vanish, and glory will rot / But virtue lives—it cannot be forgot.” For how many successive verses can a song give you goosebumps?