A lot of great new sound came out of SXSW this year. Joe Pug’s “Hymn #35″ is one of my favorite songs from the festival–it toes the line of deep-end folk, but his vocals are so sincere that you don’t have to be a devout alt-country fan to enjoy it.
Pug’s Last.fm autobiography is really fascinating. I would link it, but the whole thing is worth a read, and gives his music an even clearer voice. So I’m including it in the block quotes below.
The day before his senior year as a playwright student at the University of North Carolina, Joe Pug sat down for a cup of coffee and had the clearest thought of his life: I am profoundly unhappy here. Then came the second clearest.
Pug packed up his belongings and drove the longest route possible to Chicago. Working as a carpenter by day, the 23 year-old Pug spent nights playing the guitar he hadn’t picked up since his teenage years. Using ideas originally slated for a play he was writing called “Austin Fish,” Pug began creating the sublime lyrical masterpiece that would become the Nation of Heat EP.
The songs were recorded fast and fervently at a Chicago studio where a friend snuck him in to late night slots other musicians had canceled. He was short on money, but his bare-boned sincerity didn’t require much more than a microphone and it dripped off of each note he sang.
In May of 2008, Pug played the first headlining slot of his young career to a sold out crowd at Chicago’s storied Schubas Tavern. Two weeks later he released the Nation of Heat EP, which has garnered near-universal critical acclaim and established him as one of the most respected songwriters of his generation. Pug has since played shows with Todd Snider, Susan Tedeschi, Kasey Chambers, and James Hunter.
Perhaps I’m biased in saying that this story is awesome: as a recent college graduate with a lot of soul-searching to do on the job front, stories like his are warming to read. Also, I am madly in love with anything related to Chicago. But I hope you enjoyed the song and the brief biography.