Ole 60

Who the Heck are Ole 60?: The Kentucky Band Topping The Apple Country Music Album Chart Out of Nowhere

February 22, 2024 12:26 pm GMT
Last Edited February 23, 2024 12:11 am GMT

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On Wednesday night (2/21), out of relative obscurity, Ole 60 - a relatively unknown band from Kentucky - have hit No. 1 on the Apple Country Album chart, overtaking monumental mainstays Morgan Wallen and Zach Bryan to become top of the pops.

But who are Ole 60? How has this young band from the south bank of the Ohio River arrived out of absolutely nowhere to earn such an accolade?

There is little information online that reveals anything about the group. Select news articles suggest they are signed to Nashville-based independent label Grey Area, with their live booking bolstered by the national backing of United Talent Agency. Most of their social media, while short on informative details, is littered with well-produced snippets of music videos and covers of Zach Bryan and Dylan Gossett - nothing entirely unusual or revolutionary from a new act in the current climate of what's deemed to be country music today.

In a pretty telling comment, one fan mused, "You don't find Ole 60. Ole 60 finds you". That profound suggestion can be seen in the comments section on one of their posts on TikTok, somewhere we hoped to learn more about this mysterious band.

The five-piece, who are based out of Hawesville, KY and describe themselves as "not your father's country band", have used the platform to slowly share and promote the four songs that make up their debut EP, three twenty four, since December 2022.

But behind their notions of being "your new favourite indie country folk southern rock band" and memes agonising over the fact that water buffalo can't listen to them (??), you still can't truly pull back the curtain that cloaks this group in a buzzy haze.

While you can find plenty of inside jokes and knowing suggestions from early supporters in the comments, the band have mainly used the platform as an organic vehicle to share their own musical wares, finding particular success with consistent repurposing of their song 'smoke & a light'.

One video, where the band are found performing the song in a pizza and BBQ restaurant in Hawesville, has now racked up over half a million views on the platform. It's a pretty inoffensive listen – a blend of southern rock and mainstream indie that wouldn't insult listeners at a Treaty Oak Revival show if it played over the speakers.

That's where the questions of "why?" and "how?" really begin to linger though. What makes this group unique and different from the other acts that have stumbled head-first out of the bloke-folk fire pan and into the fire?

Their budding success on TikTok is obviously beginning to translate into streams ('smoke & a light' has over 600K streams and counting on Spotify), with the band's combination of sad boy country lyricism and Muscadine / Treaty Oak-melodic rock speaking to a community of fans desperate for Zach Bryan tickets, while secretly wondering whether it's socially acceptable to like the new Tyler Hubbard single.

It's upon listening to three twenty four in full, of course, that you get a true sense of who Ole 60 actually are and why they are speaking to such a range of listeners within a switched-on demographic. They are a young group trying to find their sound and place in a genre where the lines are becoming increasingly blurred from the distinctive change in listening habits.

The rise in significance of playlisting and having everything at the click of a finger in the digital streaming era has resulted in listeners becoming less focused on the genre they listen to than the mood, feeling or aesthetic a particular song offers them. It's led to the creation of a playlist like 'Mountain Air' on Spotify, where Zach Bryan can sit comfortably with Bon Iver and Mitski and be heard by nearly 240,000 subscribers looking for a "folksy vibe that gets me in the feels".

Where Ole 60 sit within all this is that their songs all distinctly differ from one another, all while possessing a certain tangible musical quality that has made various acts right now hugely popular across playlisting and social media.

'insane' withers and sobs under the weight of its own insecurity, a song you wouldn't question Dylan Gossett or even Zach Bryan casually including on an album and being shocked by how much of a fan-favourite it's become.

'walls', meanwhile, is haunted by its own stripped-back nature, a song Josiah and the Bonnevilles would have a crowd screaming 30 minutes after releasing, all before recording a "fans live version", complete with unavoidable crowd singalong choruses.

'dust 2 dust', though, is the result of writing a song after listening to Pearl Jam for the first time in high school - all guitar riffs and melodic "gang vocals". It leaves you wondering why the people who have a problem with Beyonce topping the country charts have no complaints about what is essentially a paint-by-numbers rock song sitting comfortably at the peak of the country album chart.

Nevertheless, it means Ole 60 can be casually included in both your anarchic playlist for when you're feeling angry at life and your sad cowboy playlist when you're feeling blue about it. This is a band finding their feet in full view of a growing community, showing their workings out and getting a feel for what may stick and connect most with an audience that wants a taste of everything at once.

As long as country is further layered with folk-pop sensibility by Noah Kahan, red dirt romance by Turnpike and Yellowstone rock by Whiskey Myers and Cody Jinks, more and more acts like Ole 60 will be forged out of the furnace of these disparate influences.

Whether they'll have the success, impact or even possess the same quality as those mentioned, only time will tell.

Written by Ross Jones
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