Earlier this month, Ohio-born county singer Arlo McKinley released his great new album (and first for the late John Prine's Oh Boy Records) Die Midwestern, and if you haven't heard it, it's the kind of genre-transcending album that could appeal to fans of other crossover country artists like Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, Tyler Childers (who Arlo's pictured with above), or John Prine himself.
Part of why Arlo's music goes beyond country is that he has roots in punk, metal, and DIY, so we asked him to pick and discuss his five favorite punk and metal albums, and here's what he had to say...
1. Agnostic Front - Victim In Pain
This album was my introduction to the world of hardcore punk music. Punk rock music that was also mixing in elements of thrash metal. The 11 songs that clock in at only 15 minutes and 27 seconds are still to this day as important to me as they were when I first heard them.
2. Youth Of Today - We’re Not In This Alone
I remember one of my older brothers getting this record for Christmas one year and then following them upstairs to give it a listen. I had never heard anything like it before. Ray Cappo screaming and growling over fast heavy three chord songs about animal rights, straight edge, positive thinking and DIY ‘Do It Yourself’. This record was a game changer for me and is still viewed as a classic in the punk/hardcore scene of today.
3. Metallica - Ride The Lightning
I would go through my brothers' records when they weren’t home and I would choose what to listen to by which album artwork intrigued me the most. This time it was the back cover that interested me because these guys looked like four guys that could be from my neighborhood. From beginning to end this may be my favorite thrash metal record of all time. Ride The Lightning is one of those albums that can take me right back to that room full of records where my appreciation for all genres of music was formed. To me it’s a timeless record.
4. Gorilla Biscuits - Start Today
Similar musically to Youth Of Today and other Revelation Records bands of that era, Gorilla Biscuits stood out to me more than the others because of the vocal delivery CIV brings to this record. Going back and forth between melodic singing and full on screaming using witty one liners to speak on racial issues, animal rights, friendships, straight edge etc. This album influenced bands such as H2O, Lifetime, Pennywise and many many others.
5. Megadeth - So Far...So Good...So What?
My final entry is Megadeth’s third release which I still believe to be their best. I stood in line with my brother for hours at Record Theater in my hometown of Norwood for a meet and greet with Megadeth as they toured on this album. We got the cassette that day which they signed and I don’t think I listened to anything else besides that for months after that day. It’s a pretty dark album for a 9 year old to be enjoying as much as I did and I knew that then. That was the appeal I think. Also seeing these guys in a somewhat normal setting meeting their fans showed me that musicians are humans just like the rest of us. That day and that record did a lot for me when it came to deciding what I wanted to when I got older. I knew then that I wanted to be a musician.
Die Midwestern is out now everywhere. Grab your copy.