If there is such a thing as an alt.country/Americana/whatever buzz band, this year it was Shovels & Rope. Heading to Pickathon this year, I was mostly excited to reunite with my Portland folks and drink during the afternoon for a few days. But Shovels & Rope was high on my short list of bands not to miss, largely because I kept hearing great things about them, from people who’d heard great things about them, and everyone had heard great things about them without having heard them.
Luckily they lived live up to the hype. Shovels & Rope are a two-piece South Carolina band generating great country-driven folks rock steeped in a heavy Southern drawl. They are one of those bands that sound greater than the sum of their parts. Both Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent had solo careers before coming together to record as a twosome. Their new album, O’ Be Joyful was released this summer, preceded by 2009′s self-titled release.