The folks at Bloodshot Records have been straddling the narrow line between roots music and punk rock for two decades, armed with a roster of artists who blend twang, Telecasters and tube amps into some of the most potent alt-country around. The label turns 20 this year, and to celebrate its anniversary — and to take another look at a catalog that includes landmark albums like Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker, Neko Case's Blacklisted and Justin Townes Earle's Midnight at the Movies — Bloodshot is releasing a compilation of cover songs titled While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records.
Thirty eight different bands make appearances on the double-album, which is due out November 18th. Together, they tackle a wide selection of Bloodshot tunes, from the expected "hits" — including a gospel-geared version of Ryan Adams' "Oh My Sweet Carolina" by Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, whose members replace the acoustic guitar with an upright piano and flip the song's gender perspective — to deep cuts by bands like the Meat Purveyors and Gore Gore Girls. Chris Shiflett, lead guitarist for the Foo Fighters, gets a piece of the action, too, turning in a boozy, breezy cover of Justin Townes Earle's "Look the Other Way" with his Americana side project, the Dead Peasants. Listen to the song below.
Meanwhile, Earle — whose 2012 release, Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now, fulfilled his five-album contract with Bloodshot — is prepping a new record of his own. Absent Fathers will be released on January 13, 2015. Earle recorded the 10-track album during the same sessions that spawned last month's Single Mothers, eventually abandoning his plan to release release the whole project as a double-album once different themes started to emerge.