Hearts of Oak
New England [LP; Deer Lodge]

It might be strange to some but I was an alt-country teen. I devoured Uncle Tupelo (and those early Wilco and Son Volt records). I was entrenched with Slaid Cleaves and Whiskeytown CDs and dug into the presumed forefathers of the country-rock hybrids that led me back into new valleys lush with Richmond Fontaine and Richard Buckner. Though many of them disassociated with the confining genre identifier, it’s found a suitor with Nate Wallace’s Hearts of Oak. The Portland based band should be gracing every page of No Depression, a twisted version of country and a twangy version of rock that has been marginalized as weirder and louder have grabbed features and headlines. But this isn’t a Buzzfeed album, full of musical click bait. It’s subtle in how it gains your affection. You hold your nose at its shitty west coast 90s hip-hop mixtape cover, you scoff at the the similarly era’d photo of the band on the back cover. But low budget affairs in packaging only endear New England with a warmth of a forgotten sub-genre. Sure, there’s still alt-country boards and debates raging but its niche has shrunk even as bands and artists it first championed (Jeff Tweedy, Ryan Adams, Alejandro Escovedo) continue to gain larger audiences. So here’s a chance to make amends. Take this at face value and you’ll be damned. Cerberus welcomes Hearts of Oak with open arms, so what’s your hang-up?

Links: Deer Lodge


Cerberus seeks to document the spate of home recorders and backyard labels pressing limited-run LPs, 7-inches, cassettes, and objet d’art with unique packaging and unknown sound. We love everything about the overlooked or unappreciated. If you feel you fit such a category, email us here.

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