Editors' pick

Austin Lucas

Rock
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Editorial Review

At its core, punk rock is about young people exploding with countercultural rage through primal rock 'n' roll.

But even though a house fire will die down after the accelerant burns off, an against-the-mainstream ethos can be a lifelong ideological eternal flame.

That DIY idealism is what fuels the Suburban Home Records Tour, featuring country-folk singer Austin Lucas, throaty roots rockers Two Cow Garage and acoustic troubadour Mike Hale (who still plays in the much louder band In the Red). All three acts have roots in the punk world, but all have found a way to mature as musicians without losing their core values.

For Lucas the change had a lot to do with the health of his vocal cords.

"I had been screaming in these bands for a long time, and I destroyed my voice," he said. "I really wanted to sing again. The solution for that was to play quieter music and to work on it. It was something I could do myself and it was something I could work on every day."

His new album, "Somebody Loves You," evokes Bonnie Prince Billy and the ghost of Gram Parsons, but it isn't the sound of a hardcore kid slumming in the country. Lucas is the son of Bob Lucas, a songwriter who is known for his association with bluegrass queen Allison Krauss, and he has recorded his son's last two albums.

"Considering what my dad does, I don't think there was any other option that I was not going to be doing this," Lucas said of his turn toward the twang.

For Two Cow Garage's Micah Schnabel, the evolution from teenage punk to Replacements/Son Volt-like singer-songwriter is tinged with some melancholy, as described on the song "Swingset Assassin" from the band's new album, "Speaking in Cursive": "I wrapped myself up in Black Flag / and flew it as my own ... but in the end punk rock just left me empty and alone."

"[That verse is about when] ideology gets ripped away from [punk]," Schnabel said. "It does energize you when you're young, but when you try to hold onto it for too long " for me it wasn't holding up."

But good songs do, and the punk-as-folk Suburban Home tour is full of them.