New Americana Artist You Need to Know: The Cerny Brothers - Rolling Stone
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New Americana Artist You Need to Know: The Cerny Brothers

Nashville-by-way-of-Illinois sibling duo excel at heartland power-pop on their song “I Wanna Love You”

Cerny BrothersCerny Brothers

The Cerny Brothers, a heartland-rock duo based in Nashville, mix Americana and pop on their song "I Wanna Love You."

Photo Courtesy of the Cerny Brothers

Sounds Like: Heartland rock in the vein of working-class heroes John Mellencamp and Tom Petty, but distinguished by a power-pop sheen

For Fans of: The Avett Brothers, Rhett Miller, Wilco’s Summerteeth

Why You Should Pay Attention: Robert and Scott Cerny grew up in a self-described musical black hole in Rock Island, Illinois, where the only albums their folks owned were the Superman soundtrack and Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits. MTV and the college experience brought them up to speed, however, introducing them to artists as varied as Radiohead and Bob Dylan. But it was an Avett Brothers gig that helped them find their own rootsy sound, one they’re not afraid to strip down to the bare essentials: they often perform thrilling sets as a two-man band, with Scott on a foot drum and guitar, and Robert on piano. “It never feels right to open for country bands with cowboy hats and stuff, but we’ve done it,” says Scott. “We can be chameleons,” adds Robert.

They Say: “We grew up in the heartland, in Illinois, but after college we went to L.A. and had a completely different experience. And touring you meet all sorts of people,” says Robert of the inspiration for their new album Looking for the Good Land, recorded in Nashville at Cowboy Jack Clement’s onetime studio and due May 3rd via the resurrected Cleveland International Records. “Everyone is looking for the same thing, their own little piece of the American story. And we wanted to encapsulate that with this album. We’re looking for ourselves as men and artists, but also asked, ‘What does it mean to be an American?'”

Hear for Yourself: Stepping off with an “ooh-ooh” hook, “I Wanna Love You” is a slice of irresistible power-pop crossed with Americana, with the brothers declaring, “I got the whole damn world in my hand.” It’s delivered so convincingly that you can’t help but believe them.


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