Sounds Like: A great American road trip from the beaches of Southern California to the bayous of Arkansas.
For Fans Of: Old Crow Medicine Show, Nickel Creek, the Everly Brothers
Why You Should Pay Attention: The title of fraternal duo PawnShop Kings' folky, redemption-yearning foot-stomper "I Wanna Love Like Jesus" (off their stellar 2014 PSk EP) might come off as audaciously bold, but Joel and Scott Owen are just a humble band of brothers with a grand ambition — to refashion traditional songwriting styles with modern, moody atmospherics. Musically, the pair wear a broad range of roots, country, rock, pop, folk, gospel, blues and bluegrass influences on their (no doubt) rolled-up sleeves, but their sonics are as much inspired by personal experience and a sense of place. Products of their upbringing, the Owen brothers were born in Texas, grew up in Southern California and spent formative years on a family farm in Arkansas, assimilating all the American sounds in between. "We were raised on the storytelling of country music," Joel Owen says. "Our dad wouldn't let us listen to anything else." But as a contemporary country act, even when the Owen brothers are singing about Southern living, they're still a million miles away from the red Solo cups, painted-on blue jeans, backyard bonfires and bro-country tropes of the day. PSk heartstring-tugger "Fall Apart" is a powerhouse of a folk-pop consolation prize for the millions still lamenting the Civil Wars breakup, with a monster chorus as devastating as any ballad on country radio.
They Say: "We have tons of influences, the Beatles being a big one — they were taking from the blues and they were taking from American music and Elvis; all things that they were inspired by, but then they were bringing in the Indian stuff, the sitar; they were taking stuff that they were hearing from other places," Joel Owen says. "We do the same thing," Scott Owen chimes in, finishing his brother's thought. "We're inspired by those guys and what they did and what [Bob] Marley did — all these different artists that we've loved from the past — but we're also inspired by stuff that's going on today, like Bon Iver and all the atmospheric stuff that [Justin Vernon] does."
Hear for Yourself: The meditative, pining "Fall Apart." By Adam Gold