My fiance listens mostly to modern American country music and I'd like to make more of an effort to find more music that we could enjoy together.

I like a pretty wide variety of music, but in the end, I like music with deep lyrics, music with lovely melodic voices, and music with an edge; not all of these need to be present for an artist, but at least one must be.

Examples of music I like:

  • Megadeth
  • Massive Attack
  • Radiohead
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Pink Floyd (post-Syd)
  • A Perfect Circle
  • Tool
  • Zero 7
  • Opeth

I'd like some suggestions on modern country artists/songs to check out. This should give me a good starting point for a Pandora station to further explore.

  • 1
    Dave Mustaine mentioned together with lovely melodic voices :), Jun 27, 2015 at 8:40
  • My tastes in music don't require all of my criteria to be hit. :) megadeth hits the edgy criteria pretty consistently and the deep meaning sometimes as well Jun 27, 2015 at 14:37

6 Answers 6


This is a difficult question you have posed. Here are some suggestions for you to check out:

1) A group called The Mavericks, who had their best days in the 90s. They were never big stars. I think they have much more of a "rock" sensibility than most country acts. Interestingly their music has Latin influences as well, as their lead singer is a Cuban-American from Miami, Florida.

2) Any one of many individual country songs by many different artists where the session lead guitarist was Kenny Greenberg. He also recorded on a lot of contemporary Christian records -- you might not like those as much, and they don't rock as hard either.

3) There was a genre in the 1980s called "cowpunk" which combined country music sensibilities with the instruments and (very loud) sounds of stripped-down hard rock. The quintessential band in this genre is Jason & the Scorchers. The Georgia Satellites are also worth checking out.

4) In the 1970s there was a movement called Southern Rock, in which bands combined country influences with rock, and often indulged in long lead-guitar-heavy instrumental improvisations. Most modern country music fans love Southern Rock. Bands in this movement include Lynyrd Skynyrd, Outlaws, The Marshall Tucker Band, and Blackfoot. You should certainly check out The Allman Brothers Band, who came to prominence in the late 1960s before the Southern Rock movement, and combine country, blues, rock and psychedelia.

5) Several country music singer-songwriter-bandleaders who had their greatest days in the 1960s and 1970s are revered by American and British rock musicians today. These include: Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Kris Kristofferson.

6) In the last decade, hard rock guitarist Jack White (who recently performed with Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin) has produced albums for several traditional country artists from the 1950s and 1960s who are now quite elderly. These albums are very traditional, but perhaps you can hear what it is that Jack White admired in these artists and their styles. He has produced albums for Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson, and Jerry Lee Lewis. He was also associated with the late Porter Wagoner in his comeback tour shortly before his death.


From the list artists you like, I would pull out these commonalities:

  • Intense and dense
  • Melodic (which you mention)
  • Outstanding guitar work
  • Intelligent and clever

Given that, I'm suggest some specific albums that are representative of the artists, and are usually the album that broke them to a wider audience or were breakthroughs in their own right. Personally, I find my way into an artist's work through a representational album, which then helps me appreciate their other efforts, so that's my intent here:

  • Dwight Yoakam - This Time (and La Croix D'Amour is his best collection of rockin' songs)
  • Emmylou Harris - Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town
  • Willie Nelson - Stardust (and the single "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" from his greatest hits)
  • Drive-By Truckers - English Oceans
  • Garth Brooks - No Fences

These are old, but they are interesting milestones in country:

  • Charlie Rich - Behind Closed Doors
  • Lynn Anderson - Rose Garden (this changed the course of popular country music)

I also agree with Wheat Williams' answer.


While not strictly country (and sweet melodic voices might be a stretch), I would try some Steve Earle. He's done a lot of stuff, I started out with Washington Sqyare Serenade. "Modern" is also a matter of definition, but it's more contemporary than say Hank Williams at least...


You may like Johnny Cash's end-of-career, end-of-life rendition of Hurt, originally written and recorded by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Quite moving, quite disturbing, but pretty far from the mainstream of what most fans of Modern Country would like.

A (slightly) more conventional choice might be the Drive-By Truckers. They are often billed as "Alternative Country". It is still kind of far from the catchy, poppy Country usually heard on the radio, but they do have lyrical heft and also know how to rock.

While these have examples show the creative possibilities of Country Music, "enjoying with your fiance" implies that you may sometimes just want some feel-good music, and for that I must echo what other people have answered and go with The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.


I'm no country music expert, but given that I like several of the bands you mentioned for reference, you may also like some of the country that does appeal to me:

You mentioned Led Zepplin --Robert Plant has an acclaimed Americana album with Alison Krause.

For interesting lyrics, pretty harmonies and a bit of bite, you could definitely do worse than The Dixie Chicks -- I especially recommend their album "Home."

For depth, Emmylou Harris, "Take That Ride".

For edge, try Norah Jones doing Mary Karr's "If the Law Don't Want You".

Some other interesting figures on the borders of country --Rhiannon Giddens, Tedeschi Trucks, The Felice Brothers.

I'll round out the list with my favorite bluegrass instrumental --Mike Auldridge, Greensleeves

(It's also worth noting that Tom Waits, The Shins, Jack White, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, the Magnetic Fields, the Beatles and Queen have all released country and/or country inspired songs)


I think you might like the "Carnival of Excess" album by GG Allin. Not a pure country, more like hybrid of outlaw country and punk, and it's a great album.

There are some more poorly recorded songs at the end of the album (after fictional interview with Tiny Tim), you can just skip them.

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