For a young artist, Iowa folk troubadour William Elliott Whitmore has a timeless sound. His thick, growly voice and affinity for acoustic guitar and banjo link him to the icons of country and folk, from Woody Guthrie to Ramblin’ Jack Elliott to parts of Bob Dylan’s early career. On his new album Field Songs, Whitmore appeals to the age old traditions of gospel-influenced bluegrass and southern work songs. Going even further to contextualize his work, William Elliot just released a pair of covers, taking on compositions by the legendary Johnny Cash and the more contemporary country group Red Meat.
If you’re a big fan of Bad Religion, you should know this about me up front: I had no idea that they were as influential as they apparently are. I knew them simply as a decent punk band that, for reasons I didn’t fully appreciate, seemed to be on constant rotation on my hometown radio station. So you can imagine my confusion when I heard that a pretty solid lineup featuring the likes of Tegan and Sara, Switchfoot, Ted Leo, the Weakerthans, and others were covering their favorite Bad Religion songs for the tribute album Germs of Perfection: A Tribute to Bad Religion. “Does the world need this?” I wondered.
As it turns out, I was kind of an idiot. Bad Religion’s been around for 31 years—as in, since 1979. Their guitarist for most of that time has been Brett Gurewitz, founder and owner of Epitaph Records and affiliates ANTI-, Burning Heart Records, Fat Possum Records, and Hellcat Records. Germs of Perfection, which was released by SPIN and MySpace Music as a free download today, commemorates the 30-year anniversary of Epitaph, which is as good a reason as any for such a tribute.