Dead Confederate has always been a band of two halves, split between grunge-inspired aggression and languid country balladry. The group happened upon their unique sound after dense improvisational jams, which they showcased live around their hometown of Athens, Georgia. Since their formation in 2006, Dead Confederate has released three full-lengths (including this year’s In The Marrow), with each one building on their Southern rock foundations. But at the heart of the band’s guitar-based chaos is frontman T. Hardy Morris, a songwriter who’s quietly making a name for himself.
This year also marked the release of Morris’s own solo debut, Audition Tapes. The distortion is dialed down on this one, with the mix favoring Morris’s twang over guitar heroics. Pedal steel and plenty of reverb add atmosphere to the personal collection of songs, which also feature members of the Black Lips, Delta Spirit, and the Whigs. With the stripped-down production, Morris is able to cut to the core, detailing his lyrics with a novelist’s eye. History–both personal and collective–hands heavy over everything, and part of the album’s proceeds have gone to help the Georgia Trust For Historic Preservation.
The title track gets extra poignancy thanks to its Austin-centric video, which you can see below. Filmed with the help of local collective Transistor Six, the clip stars the members of Residual Kid as they act out the heartbreaking coming-of-age tale at the ballad’s center. Morris wrote the song about his own Georgia hometown, but like any great songwriter, he’s able to turn it into the kind universal experience that everyone has grappled with at least once in their lives.