February 10, 2021: The Lethargics released their debut album Maladies & Melodies, which features 13 pretty good songs. March 20, 2021: The Lethargics released their sophomore album Hue & Cry, which features 12 pretty good songs. September 15, 2021: The Lethargics released their third album Rough South Short Stories, which features 13 pretty good songs. (Between March and September there were some non-album singles, also pretty good.) How do they do that? I asked the band’s songwriter Darrel Mendenhall: “We feel like we’ve got a story to tell. We try to shine light on tales and characters that haven’t been pushed to the margins so much as they have been shoved right off the page. We are Hillbillies, and we have all the rage and shame that comes with that. Our message is that we may be Waste People – but we are still people!”
It’s obvious: The Lethargics are not just any American rock band. They hail from the hard beauty of the hills and hollers of the Appalachian Mountains, near Knoxville, Tennessee, steeped in the histories and mysteries of rock, blues, punk, country, folk, and Americana. You can tell by their sparkling guitar-driven music, which is authentic, unflinching, passionate and brooding, with brutally honest songwriting. They call Rough South Short Stories – a telling title – the record they were born to make. It’s folky blues (or bluesy folk), with intensely sung lyrics about real life, love and loss, emotional lyrics that evoke rich images. In my opinion, it’s a record that is meant to be heard in the rest of the world.
Before you know it, there will be new work after the aforementioned trilogy, which I’ve been enjoying a lot lately: “Three albums in a year – I guess that’s mostly a product of not knowing how to do anything else and not having anywhere else to go. Heck, we may get another one out before the end of the year!”
Rough South Short Stories is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp