Ryan Bingham, Southern Drive, Dedringers

Ryan Bingham would probably fare better if he didn't call Austin home; Lord knows there's a crap-ton of Americana, alt-country and folk artists traveling around Texas—probably too many. And in that glut, it's easy to see how a talented singer-songwriter like Bingham might get lost in the shuffle. Especially if his cred ain't up to speed.

And that's the knock on Bingham. Without a close listen, you might even dismiss the accessibility of the songs on his major-label debut—last year's Mescalito—as clichéd. But here's the thing: Bingham's songs aren't accessible because he's just another faker in the scene; his songs are accessible because, when you listen to them, you can hear how heartfelt they are, you can see the stories hidden within them. The opening tracks on the husky-voiced singer's Mescalito, "Southside of Heaven" and "The Other Side" are all the sample you'll need; he's a roadhouse rocker trapped in a folk singer's mind. And while he might not be shaking up the scene, he sure is honing it admirably.


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