AMA #10: Reckless Kelly

For the next two weeks, we’ll be trying out a series where we do a feature every day on the top 10 Austin bands of 2010-2011 according to the Austin Music Awards, which were announced on March 19th. This will give all of us a sense of the diversity and excitement of the Austin music scene as we explore Latin Rock, Country, and Goth, in addition to our usual Indie Rock fare. We hope you all find this helpful and interesting, and, as usual, look forward to hearing your feedback in the comments.

When I moved to Texas, I envisioned two-stepping every night and honky tonk every day. Having been bicoastal for the last two decades, I naturally assumed that Texas – as a buffer between the South and the Midwest – would be filled with all that red-state country music I’d been hearing so much about. And yet, here in Austin, I found a plethora of the kind of energetic indie rock and electronic music that I had been exposed to on the coasts. Where was the Texas I’d had such quaint, preconceived notions about?

I don’t want to say that Reckless Kelly are exactly that, but they’re damn close. Named after an Australian outlaw, they are Red Dirt country to the core (that’s like the indie rock of country music). They’ve only recently started cracking the Billboard Top 200 in what’s nearly the 15th year of their existence, but definitely remain different from the slick country pop you’d hear on the radio. Think Kenny Chesney, but with less polished production and a gruffer, more badass singer and rhythm section. Or Steve Earle but…less badass in the aforementioned areas. They’re akin to Oklahoma bands like Cross Canadian Ragweed and the Great Divide, pumping out catchy midtempo songs about life and love without ever turning on the schmaltz that turns so many of us off to most country.

That said, they lack the bite and attitude that makes someone like Steve Earle so appealing to a rocker like myself. So many times in listening to their music, I was hoping that they would build up to something more energetic. There are some good lyrical moments but nothing that drops my jaw. All told, Reckless Kelly are a band that makes solid, if not entirely distinctive music, but I could see it translating really well to a live setting and I do hope to catch them in person soon. Unfortunately, the closest they get to Austin in the next couple of months is San Antonio on April 9th, and that’s just not happening. Stephenville, Texas, guys?! Really?

Reckless Kelly - Wicked Twisted Road
Reckless Kelly - Seven Nights in Eire


Anyway, here are my two favorite songs of theirs: “Wicked Twisted Road” and “Seven Nights in Eire,” both from 2005’s Wicked Twisted Road. I think you’ll get the best of their uptempo side alongside the best of their ballad side here. Hope you all enjoy, and are looking forward to more from this great city over the next several days.