Marc Miner – Smile When You’re Wasted LP

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Whether grinding out a relatively pop-themed country jam in “Warm Welcome,” laying down a slow tune in “Strip You Down,” hammering away at some old fashioned grooves in “Border Town Bar” or crooning away to a vintage rock n’ roll melody in “Last Words,” there’s something very American about what Marc Miner is playing in his debut album Smile When You’re Wasted, which makes it all the more ironic that this artist is coming to us from none other than Vienna this autumn.

Based out of Europe but highly affected by the legends of the American country music genre, Miner doesn’t hold back from giving us some really powerful tonalities in songs like “Everything but Modest,” the Cash-esque “Empty Bottle Blues,” “Nothing Good Bout the Way I Live” and swaggering “Easy Street,” and although his isn’t a sound entirely dependent on his smoky lead vocal, it certainly adds to the overall persona he establishes for himself in this LP. Smile When You’re Wasted might not be what many traditional country fans would be expecting to hear this season, but if you ask me, it’s exactly what the indie side of the genre needed to stay vital in this particularly strange year for music.


There are definitely some pretty strong rock influences in this record, and they’re not limited to the outlaw-ish stomp of “Whiskey & Weed,” and the grungy “Over” (which sports a Seattle-style intro before descending into a familiar country ramble) at all. There’s a stylishness to the lyrical approach in “Sweet Codeine” and even the aforementioned “Warm Welcome” that sounds rock n’ roll through and through, and the same can be said with regards to the compositional structuring of “Border Town Bar” and “Empty Bottle Blues.” I’d love to hear all of this material live sometime if for no other reason than to experience the kind of energy Miner can put into it on stage; in the case of songs like “Border Town Bar,” there’s already so much gusto in his groove that one can only imagine that a live jam would be even more crushing than what he and the band put up in these sessions.

If what I’ve heard  in Smile When You’re Wasted is just a sample of what Marc Miner is going to be building his career around, I don’t think this will be the last time that his music is making headlines in the international underground. Here in the United States, the country mainstream has largely been struggling to keep up with an alternative Americana movement that some have said contains much of the spirit Nashville abandoned in the name of commercial indulgence in the past quarter century, but I think there’s definitely a taste of that element in Miner’s output.

He’s far from a folkie, but in  he revives a moderate strain of outlaw country that stands to really change some perspectives on what the genre’s community of musicians outside of the USA can do to impact its future in 2020 and beyond.

Emily Knudsen

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