With one foot planted in the blue-collar alt-country of Steve Earle and the other in the ragged folk-punk of Chuck Ragan's Revival Tour, he stretches his songs to their near-breaking points.— Rolling Stone
Left-leaning roots music that owes more to the rhythmic whiplash of Memphis' Sun Records than the poppy, polished twang of Nashville's Music Row.— Rolling Stone
He’s a powerful songwriter, a world-class guitar player, a singer with enough melody and grit to please the ear and stick to bones. He crafts complex songs, toying with structures and characters in ways most songwriters never consider, let alone have the guts to commit to record.— Noisey / VICE
Like all good country music, Cory Branan is hard, if not impossible, to define.— PopMatters
Cory Branan’s new album is wryly titled The No-Hit Wonder, but despite the self-inflicted jab, the Memphis-bred roots-rocker is at the crest of the new wave of Americana.— CMT Edge
The No-Hit Wonder is brimming with vivid and infectious songwriting. It’s a breath of fresh country air in an otherwise stale market.— Consequence of Sound
I get heartily sick of people saying they don’t write country songs the way they used to – open your eyes and ears; they do and Cory Branan is one of the best, even if he doesn’t wear a Stetson.— No Depression
A country boy with a punk-rock heart, Cory Branan fires twin barrels of barroom boogie woogie and honky-tonk twang.— Rolling Stone
"The first time I heard ["The No-Hit Wonder"] I thought, 'Wow, that’s the best song Jay Farrar has written in years.' Now I think, 'Jay Farrar needs to write more Cory Branan songs.'"— Grantland
ADIOS is Cory Branan’s death record. Not the cheeriest of openings, but like all of Branan’s mercurial work, it’s probably not what you think. As funny and defiant as it is touching and sad, this self-dubbed “loser’s survival kit” doesn’t spare its subjects or the listener.
Not even Branan’s deceased father is let off the hook. In the tender homage “The Vow” he drolly cites his father’s favorite banality “that’s what you get for thinking” as “probably not the best lesson for kids.” For most songwriters that would be the punchline but Branan pushes through words and, in his father’s actions, finds a kind of “genius in the effortless way he just ‘did’.”
Not all the death on ADIOS is literal mortality. “Imogene” is sung from the wreckage of a love that once “poked fun at the pain, stoked the sun in the rain” but ends with the urgent call to “act on the embers, ash won’t remember the way back to fire.”
The trademark lyrical agility is mirrored sonically. Never a genre loyalist, ADIOS finds Branan (much like his musically restless heroes Elvis Costello and Tom Waits) coloring outside the lines in sometimes startling shades of fuzz and twang. While unafraid to play it arrow-straight when called for (“The Vow," “Equinox," “Don’t Go”), ADIOS veers wildly from the Buddy Holly-esque rave up “I Only Know” (sung with punk notables Laura Jane Grace and Dave Hause), through the swampy “Walls, MS” to the Costello-like new wave of “Visiting Hours.”
The blistering punk of “Another Nightmare in America” bops along daring listeners to “Look away, look away, move along, nothing to see here” (the song is written from the point of view of a racist killer cop). And as the mourning singer on “Cold Blue Moonlight” shifts from paralysis to panic, the song’s jazzy drone shifts to an almost Sabbath fury. The tonal shifts are always deliberate and not just simple genre hopping; while the turns can be jarring you can trust Branan to take you somewhere unexpected.
The 14-song album was self-produced and recorded in the spring of 2016 at Tweed Studios in Oxford, MS with a tight three piece: Branan on lead vocals and guitar (both electric and acoustic); Robbie Crowell (formerly of Deer Tick) on drums and percussion, keys, and horns; and James “Haggs” Haggerty on bass. Additionally, Amanda Shires contributes on fiddle and vocals, and Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and Dave Hause provide guest vocals.
Cory Branan has four previous full-length releases: The Hell You Say (2002, Madjack Records), 12 Songs (2006, Madjack), Mutt (2012, Bloodshot Records), and The No-Hit Wonder (2014, Bloodshot). His music has received critical praise from the likes of Rolling Stone and Rolling Stone Country, NPR All Things Considered, Noisey, Wall Street Journal, Paste Magazine, Oxford American, Consequence of Sound, Southern Living, and many others.
Throughout his career, Cory Branan has been too punk for country, too country for punk, too Memphis for Nashville, and probably a little too Cory Branan for anyone’s damn good. He has proven himself as a top-notch songwriter (Chuck Ragan recently called him “the greatest songwriter of our generation”), fierce lyricist (in Lucero’s “Tears Don’t Matter Much” they sing that Cory has, “a way with words that’ll bring you to your knees”), and a hyperdynamic performer with the ability to fingerpick finer than ‘60s Greenwich Village folkies and brutally strum like a proto punk shredder. Throughout his career, he’s made collective struggles poetic and breakthroughs into sympathetic acts of populist heroism.
Cory Branan is a natural-born storyteller, his seemingly conversational, painstakingly crafted anecdotes benefitting from a hard-eyed stare at hydra-headed life experiences. Not unlike his musical and literary pedestal sitters, from John Prine and Leonard Cohen to Raymond Carver and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cory's gift for detail and phrase-turning is a thing of wonder. There's a novelistic flair to his writing, an approach full of layers and depth. Songs seemingly reveal something new with every listen.
Cory has a well-documented history with groups like former label mates Lucero, musicians of his ilk who trend toward the rawer end of roots music (The Loved Ones' Dave Hause, Chuck Ragan, The Hold Steady, The Gaslight Anthem, Two Cow Garage, Drag the River's Jon Snodgrass), and rock stars like Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional), who has covered Cory's gorgeous "Tall Green Grass" and been a reoccurring tour mate.
Never one to shy away from an itinerary of non-stop cross-country shows, Cory possesses a unique performance style that enables him to gravelly sing a coy double entendre in one ear of the audience, while yelling the most beautiful love song into the other.
Official Website: Cory Branan Online