Believe it or not, when I was in high school I got made fun of a lot. It wasn’t for the usual reasons, although there was a little bit of that, too…No, I mostly got made fun of because I wore a t-shirt of a band that I really liked once a week, every week, for the better part of two years. Now, that in itself isn’t very unusual. You find something you like and you stick with it. Unfortunately for me, the shirt was tour merch from Hootie And The Blowfish.
My closest friends at the time were very much on board with my love of the much-maligned pop/rock band, but many others were not as kind. They were listening to Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson and were far too cool to lower themselves to the level of liking something so innocuous. If it wasn’t angry, they didn’t want it. I get it, it’s high school.
So they made fun of me and I took it, knowing that if I let them pressure me into not wearing the shirt anymore, I’d be denying something that I couldn’t hide. At the end of the day, I really really like Hootie and The Blowfish and I don’t care what anyone says.
That’s why I’m so happy to hear Mark Bryan coming out with a new solo album this year. I caught the band on their last tour in 2019 and he looked as energized as ever. Like the band touring for the first time in a decade had just filled him to the brim with joy. And it’s that kind of energy that he brings to his latest, “A Little More Rock N Roll.”
The album he’s putting out in April is called Midlife Priceless, and judging from the little bit I’ve heard it’s a nostalgia-heavy look back at good times and bad. Young love, playing music, the highs and the lows of touring…it’s all in the forefront of his mind as the 53-year-old Bryan sings “Back then country was a little more rock and roll.”
Bryan doesn’t have Darius Rucker’s velvety voice, but he is a terrific guitarist and overall musician. He’s also got years of experience and knows a good song when he hears it. It’s no surprise that when his friend Steven Fiore (Young Mister) played him the demo for this one (originally written as a possible Blowfish track), he knew it would be a winner.
“A Little More Rock N Roll” has a nice meta vibe to it, too. It’s a country song, disguised as a rock and roll song, about how country music used to be more rock and roll. A clever trick, but make no mistake, country music is one of many facets in his arsenal. It’s no surprise that after the success of Rucker’s solo country career Bryan would attempt to draw in some of those fans. The other single I’ve heard, “Wanna Feel Something,” is not at all country (almost Foo Fighters-ish, actually).
What the rest of the album sounds like is a mystery for now. We can all find out together on April 2nd when Midlife Priceless is available for us to hear. If you’re interested, you can pre-order the album on his bandcamp page.