Sarah Shook & the Disarmers
Sounds Like: A natural-born punk in love with the brutal honesty of classic country
For Fans of: Nikki Lane, Lydia Loveless, Hank III
Why You Should Pay Attention: Sarah Shook's band the Disarmers basically forced her to record their first album Sidelong — before that, she was happy to just play shows for a dedicated fan base around Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Now that the word is out, however, there's no going back. Her sound is a sneering fusion of punk-rock autonomy and say-it-like-it-is country from the classic era, paired with a timeless vocal warble and tons of attitude. Honest to a fault and as foul-mouthed as a drunken sailor, she's a nonconforming spitfire who's proud of not fitting in with mainstream country music. Nor does Shook hold back when writing about whiskey and hard living, screwing up and failed romance (with guys and girls) — whether in her songs or her combative social-media posts.
She Says: "I think that the truth needs to be out there, and the other thing that is really important to me is having a very diverse audience. This genre of music attracts a certain kind of person sometimes who is very close-minded and I want to tell those people, 'Look, you're welcome to be a fan. But full disclosure, I'm a fucking civil rights activist, and I'm a bisexual, and I'm an atheist, and I'm a vegan,' you know what I mean? That's a whole lot of non-redneck shit right there."
Hear for Yourself: With a woozy-but-determined drum beat, pissed-off guitars and whiskey-bent vocals, "Heal Me" (the video for which is premiering below) is like Shook's hard-drinking antihero origin story. Chris Parton