Pure Americana: Chuck Ragan’s Till Midnight
Chuck Ragan is well known in the punk scene as the frontman of Hot Water Music. Hot Water Music owned the 90’s to 00’s hardcore and melodic punk scene. They were characterized by two vocalists: Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard. Each has moved on to successful solo careers. Ragan however, has received critical acclaim for his incredible raspy, DIY folk. His new album, Till Midnight, continues this strong tradition. Ragan has one of the best story telling personas in all of country. He winds a complex tale through his songs. Though I feel that his earlier works tell more interesting stories—from the blistering deserts of Iraq to the changing streets of his hometown Gainesville—Ragan is an amazing punk rock storyteller at heart. His medium changed, and country music got a much-needed new face.
Till Midnight is a maturation of Ragan. He has evolved and grown from the DIY days of his past. His band is stacked with many instruments and sounds. Till Midnight is a showcase of his full ensemble. Guitars, violins, harmonicas, and mandolins glisten all over each track. Backup vocals are also a strong feature of this record, as opposed to Ragan’s pure solo days of the past. You can hear the camaraderie of the band.
Despite being a much more produced album than his previous works, Ragan maintains an organic sound. Nothing feels forced or out of place. Till Midnight is like a trip down to the hills and mountains of the Appalachians.
Chuck Ragan’s Till Midnight is an ode to nomads and punks everywhere.
“Non Typical” - A fast paced punk song crossed with Johnny Cash.
“Bedroll Lullaby” - The anthem of the modern wanderer.
"Something May Catch Fire" - A catchy young love tale.
“Whistleblower’s Song” - A powerful song about damnation, and fighting it.
“Gave My Heart Out” - A love song to anything and everything.