By Tim W. Jackson
If you take the great alt-country albums of the mid 1990s and converge them with the “the” bands of the late 1990s (The Strokes, The Shins, The Eels, etc.) you get an idea of the sound of The Prescriptions, who just released their debut album on Single Lock Records April 5 with a release party at Grimey’s in Nashville.
“It was an honor to be able to perform at Grimeys—a place I and the rest of the band, have seen many of our favorite artists play over the years,” says band founder Hays Ragsdale. “The new stage was awesome, and it was great to see so many people whose support was instrumental in making the album happen. These songs were put together over years and years so it’s exciting and freeing to have them finally out.”
Ragsdale and bandmate Parker McAnnally attended Mountain Brook High School near Birmingham, Ala. A few years later Ragsdale had been playing guitar and writing songs in Nashville and was convinced to recruit a band. He started with McAnnally, who had also moved to Nashville, on bass. They met fellow Nashville transplants John Wood (drums) from Houston and Chris Luebeck (guitar) from Southern California to solidify the band as a four-piece in 2016.
“We’ve had some guys to play keyboard on and off but the four of us have been solid since we started,” Ragsdale says. The band worked up some originals and began playing live.
“We played Nashville and Birmingham a lot so the Shoals area (in Northwest Alabama) was a good in-between spot to play,” Ragsdale said of the band’s early connections to Florence, Ala.-based Single Lock Records. “We started playing 116 East Mobile (a music venue in Florence that was an outgrowth of Single Lock before closing in December) and we’d see those guys at other clubs and we just developed a friendship.”
The band recorded much of its new album, Hollywood Gold, at the Sound Emporium in Nashville and finished recording with Jeremy Ferguson at Battle Tapes in East Nashville. “It was all really fast,” Ragsdale says. “We may have spent a total of eight days on tracking.”
The result, though, is a layered and varied album more sophisticated than the band’s years might indicate. And as Ragsdale says, “We think the cool thing is that it has some different pacing and styles. It goes from folk to rock. I think the songwriting styles are influenced by a lot of the greats over the years, and we did want people to hear the lyrics. We tracked the record in a short time but it was years in the works.”
Listening to the album takes you on an aural journey. “Broken Wing” has some extended grinding guitars while “I’m Out” is short in duration but packs a punch. Meanwhile, the title track sounds like it could’ve come from a mid-90s Jayhawks album, “Can’t Ask for More” has definite country undertones, while “Days Go By” feels as if it would’ve fit nicely on the Garden State soundtrack in 2004.
Ragsdale says that the live show, though, is a bit more raucous. “Some of the stuff that’s acoustic on the album is a bit different live,” he says. “I guess we play live without some of the prettiness and with more aggression. We plug in the guitars and play loud.”
While this album is brand-new, Ragsdale says it won’t take as long to get the next one recorded. “We’re already working on new music,” he says.
To get a better feel for the band, check out their YouTube channel.