Review: Hardy & The Hardknocks: Drownin’ on a Mountaintop

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T. Hardy Morris Press

T. Hardy Morris is back with his second LP and a new haircut (above photo related). Continuing his journey as a solo artist, Morris partners with Dangerbird Records to release Hardy and The Hard Knocks: Drownin’ on a Mountaintop. Igniting with distorted guitar and heavy pedal steel, the album’s leading track, “Young Assumptions,” gives an introduction to what Morris dubs crunge. He describes crunge as a sort of lovechild between alt/country and grunge, which might sound something like Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets joining the Nashville duo Steelism. Creeping into the opening track with soft cooing, Athens great Matt “Pistol” Stoessel (Cracker, The Whigs), utilizes his pedal steel. Stoessel takes the edge off of Morris’ weighty guitar distortion, like a tall adult beverage after a full day of work. T. Hardy uses the length of the album to toy with and explore the newfound genre. Seeing how far he can push in one direction or another, with darker and harder tracks such as “My Me” and the lighter more melodic “Quieter (When I Leave Town).”THM Drownin'

The sophomore LP brings about a more decisive sound than the slightly sulkier 2013 relaease, Audition Tapes. With the writing and recording surrounding the birth of his first child it’s clear that Morris is lyrically coming from a more grounded perspective. Rounding out the album singing, “Just like in the movies I can’t catch each word/ but love is a language with no subtitles”, the Georgia native says he wanted to focus on the simplicity of the lyrics, while making a point to keep things straightforward. Recording at Athens’ famous Chase Park Studios, Hardy and the Hard Knocks take on a sound matured from Morris’ days in his band Dead Confederate. Coming full circle from the angst-y diatribes of an emo-era southern rock band, to the cultivated sound that stemmed from his first solo LP.

All in all, T. Hardy Morris produces a strong yet melancholy album that lyrically echoes the simplicity of traditional Southern lyrics. Sonically, the pertinent pedal steel gives new meaning to the rugged rock that often emanates from the Athens music scene. Having just played AthFest, Hardy & The Hard Knocks are currently touring the Southeast with Drive By Truckers and Delta Spirit. Check out Morris’ old haircut and have a listen to the first two tracks from the album, “Young Assumptions” and “My Me” below.

 

T. hardy old haircut (T. Hardy Morris w/ old haircut)

From Alabama to Texas, Connor Beitel is the Creative Director at Small Batch Productionsin Austin, TX. In addition to being a writer at Vinyl Mag, Connor helps run an organic audio/video experience for emerging musicians called Small Batch Music Project.

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