If That Ain't Country ...

The wide-ranging acts that the Lonesome Heroes have drawn under their new alt.country banner hold little more in common than the Wednesday night Hole in the Wall slot and a touch of twang. Here's a representative culture sample.

The Electric Mountain Rotten Apple Gang

Fronted by the harmonies of banjo-picker Adam Kobetich and the accordion/rhythm guitar stomp of Amanda Kitchens (also of Manny & the Brokeback Boys), Austin's EMRAG is hardly your typical bluegrass band. Kobetich's unlikely path to strings springs from the metal group Conniptionfit but belies the authentic stamp of their blazing, raucous sets.

Leo Rondeau

Rondeau pulls his languid drawl across country ballads braced by banjo and steel, the caustic crack of his voice cut with an ornery attitude. With his debut, Bangs, Bullets and the Turtle Mountains, the North Dakota native's impressive songwriting drifts through easy honky-tonk anthems and supple, aching, country waltzes.

Shotgun Party

Melding swinging, sultry jazz with dancehall sensibility, Shotgun Party falls somewhere between the White Ghost Shivers and Hot Club of Cowtown. Jenny Parrott's distinctively pitched whine kicks against the thudding upright rhythm of Christopher Crepps and the versatile fiddle fireworks of Katy Rose Cox.

Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band

Famously self-described as "New York City-style experimental country," the Windmill Band unloads irreverent narratives of moonshiners, misfits, and mendicants with dexterous harmonies. Formed by Business Deal Records partners Travis Catsull and Cavedweller's Dirk Michener, the group's sophomore album, The Golden Calves, is expected this summer.

Frank Smith

Having reassembled this sextet piecemeal after transplanting from Boston, Frank Smith rolls banjo and pedal steel in the service of folk-pop melodies laced with clever lyrical turns. Last year's Heavy Handed Peace and Love accompanied a collaborative EP with Juliana Hatfield and a tour with the Handsome Family.

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