Album Review – Myron Elkins – “Factories, Farms & Amphetamines” – Saving Country Music

39 Comments
Don’t let the baby face of Myron Elkins fool you. You pipe up Factories, Farms & Amphetamines, and it’s like you’re immediately ferried off to some faraway, ramshackle roadhouse set in 1970s sepia, with some 70-year-old cat in polyester butterfly collars crooning out stories of blood and bruises through a voice eroded from decades of unfiltered Kool menthols, and enough drams of whiskey down the gullet to match the water displacement of an oil tanker.

Not since Colter Wall have you been flabbergasted by the age behind a young man’s voice, and it’s a voice that has something to say, delivered in a style that immediately ingratiates itself to the audience. It’s like a fusion of Southern rock, soul country and country blues, deep fried and smothered in brown gravy with a biscuit on the side for sopping. It may be hell on the heart, but it’s manna for the soul.

The 21-year-old Myron Elkins didn’t grow up in the deep South. But as this Dave Cobb-produced debut album explains, it doesn’t really matter where you’re from. When you venture past the urban boundaries in America, it’s all factories, farms, and amphetamines no matter where you’re at. Elkins happens to be from the small town of Otsego, Michigan, not too far from where the Kellogg’s factories make the air smell like Fruit Loops if the wind is blowing right, and where a hardscrabble blue-collar life is all most people know.

Elkins didn’t set out to become a musician. He wanted to be a welder, and trained to do so. A week before this album was recorded, he was still working his 12-hour welder shifts in Michigan. But a dare to enter a battle of the bands contest had him seeing a different path forward, and an impressed audience goading him along. Next thing you know he’s signed to Dave Cobb’s Low Country Sound/Elektra, and recording with the same guy who helped launch the careers of Myron’s heroes of Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton.
Myron Elkins also grew up listening to Waylon Jennings and George Jones, and picking guitar on the porch with his papaw. But Factories, Farms & Amphetamines takes a decidedly more rock and old school R&B approach overall, and delivers more diversity in the sound than you may expect. Let’s not forget, Motown was birthed in Michigan too, and there is a large sum of that influence mixed into these 10 tracks. At times, it dominates the sound.

You get whiffs of The Allman Brothers and Warren Haynes, maybe Tom Petty as well. But you also get funky rhythms, rounded and watery guitar tones, and slappy bass. If you’re looking for the more country tracks to warm up with, seek out “Wrong Side of the River,” and the title track as well. But even these are only country by approximations. Don’t be fooled by the title of “Nashville Money.” This is the most funky, groove-based jam of the record.

You really are floored that this isn’t the album from some heroin-addicted Muscle Shoals relic that Dan Auerbach or Fat Possum Records pulled out of a shack in Mississippi and propped in front of a microphone to sing his life’s story before he expires in hospice. Some of the time you’re not even sure what the hell Myron Elkins is singing about, but you known it’s damn good.

You also get the sense that Factories, Farms & Amphetamines is just the very beginning, and an auspicious one. Despite the grit and infectiousness, smart guitar tone selections, and solid songwriting, Myron Elkins may have even more and better things in store for the future as he finds more of his own signature sound as opposed to borrowing so heavily, and sometimes, distractedly so from such a wide array of vintage sounds.

One thing’s for sure though, Myron Elkins has “it.” And that “it” would be wasted spending 12 hours a day welding away in Kellogg’s county. What he’s got is fit for the world to hear, and hopefully this album gets it there.

1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)

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Purchase Factories, Farms, and Amphetamines

Di Harris
January 13, 2023 @ 8:59 am
HO-OLY Crap,
🔥🚀
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11erNothin
January 13, 2023 @ 9:19 am
First pass, the B side brought me to buy what he’s selling. Anyone seeing him live tonight!? Thanks for the heads up, Trigg!
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Hamfist
January 13, 2023 @ 9:42 pm
This is straight FIRE!!
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AlinGR
January 13, 2023 @ 9:35 am
I’ll be at the show in Grand Rapids tomorrow night-can’t wait. For those new to Myron, his EP from a couple years ago is great too.
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Mike Basile
January 13, 2023 @ 9:59 am
Got that whole Gregg Allman at that age thing going on – the unlined face looking even younger than his age and the world weary voice of experience coming from his throat. Good luck, young ‘un. I’ll be watching for you.
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scott
January 13, 2023 @ 10:07 am
What Di Harris said!!
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Timmy
January 13, 2023 @ 10:09 am
I said GOT DAMN! That was a doozy. Thanks for the recommendation, Trig. What a way to start the weekend. I hear the Tom Petty in there a lot, especially on the title track. What a voice. What a record.
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Dawg Fan
January 13, 2023 @ 10:15 am
Jesus! That’s some fine stuff there! Thanks for sharing.
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Paige
January 13, 2023 @ 10:26 am
Well, I was especially surprised by the voice because I am not familiar with the name Myron, and I mistook him for a handsome young lady at first lol. I like the funky influence on his sound.
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jt
January 13, 2023 @ 10:43 am
And this is exactly why this site is one of the few that I peruse daily.
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Andrew
January 13, 2023 @ 11:19 am
Darn, I’d go and see him at the Basement tonight if I didn’t already have a ticket for the Opry. There’s just too much good music going on in Nashville ..
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Kevin Smith
January 13, 2023 @ 11:19 am
Well that’s not at all what I expected. It’s far BETTER. Was thinking it would be more dour,slow, plodding, acoustic dirges about how hard it is to get up and do skilled trades work for a living, boo-hoo, woe is me, I got the working man blues…that we seem to be getting en mass lately.
Wrong…this is interesting. What a strange voice he has, yet it kinda works. A bit frog like, but it sucks your ear in. Clearly it’s got a boatload of echo put behind that vocal from ol’ Cobb. Greasy, southern rock sound, love the song structures and I agree there’s a Petty vibe on that 3rd song you have, almost like You Wreck Me. Guitar tones are way cool. Hmmm…this deserves a deeper listen…
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Bobby
January 13, 2023 @ 11:28 am
Saw them open for Shane Smith at the Exit/Inn last year. Absolute killer show. Quite the picker himself.
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Jaimito
January 13, 2023 @ 3:41 pm
I was at that show, and remember thinking, “This kid is something else!” That was a helluva show in and of itself, and the intro to this dude just made it all the better!
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JWNC
January 13, 2023 @ 11:29 am
Love it! Feels like a blend of Petty/CCR/Jerry Reed
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Strait86
January 13, 2023 @ 11:36 am
I’m going to be the token asshole and say that while his voice is very Greg Allman/Chris Stapleton-esque, the sound of the band is boring and generic. All 3 tracks kinda sound the same. Maybe this is coming from my intense indifference to Chris Stapleton. I do think this guy Myron has a long career ahead of him. The guitar riffs are boring and the guitar tone isn’t stellar. I wish he had a better sounding more creative and nuanced band behind him. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard that lazy bluegrass southern rock sound too much. Listen to what Greg Allman’s solo album ‘I’m No Angel’. The band is so freakin’ good. Maybe it’s because I want to hear organ and other instruments and not a single guitar running strumming power chords at the end of lyric.
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Blackh4t
January 13, 2023 @ 12:05 pm
With you on that. I was getting excited until i saw Dave Cobb and it sounds as expected.
Great voice and good potential but the sound is just more Dave Cobb mush.
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Di Harris
January 13, 2023 @ 12:15 pm
Get rid of the Dave Cobb mush, bring Myron’s voice forward.
All this guy needs are microphones, his guitar, and the band.
Whether it be his cousins, or other fine instrumentalists.
His cousins have a great sound, on some of the early videos out there.
This kid is fire.
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Strait86
January 13, 2023 @ 12:29 pm
The kid is good. The problem with modern country is that the default for mainstream releases is sub-par garbage. On this site it’s ok to compare any traditional-sounding acts with the great acts of the past, you just can’t judge them against the same nuance and creativity that made those previous great acts….”great”.
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Di Harris
January 13, 2023 @ 1:05 pm
This kid is fire.
He totally has it.
Trig did a great job on this review.
The only thing i would change is giving it a 10/10.
But this isn’t my site.
One does not have to pay their dues, to be the real deal.
Only wish he could bring his cousins on the ride with him.
Have no doubt they will be with him in Spirit, as well as joining him onstage at various locations.
Also, not nitpicking but do want to say that this kid is from Otsego.
Knew something was off about that name. Took a couple hours for the lightbulb to go off

Strait86
January 14, 2023 @ 7:04 am
@ DI, I don’t think anyone is calling for him to pay his dues. I’m certainly not. I’m just voicing the type of complaints that typically would take place in the recording studio or in a vintage Rolling Stone Magazine.

Di Harris
January 14, 2023 @ 4:30 pm
I get it.
*& by the way, he actually has paid dues, working 12 hour shifts, welding, then jamming in the barn with his cousins & friends, burning some late nite oil, before getting up at 4:00 a.m. to return to his welding.
Would post some cool videos, but on my way out the door, to head to the music center, where the Christmas Party has been going since 5:00. Don’t mind getting there a couple hours late. But heard it gets pretty funny with Let’s Make A Deal type games, etc.
Want to run over there, check it out

Blackh4t
January 13, 2023 @ 12:32 pm
Agreed, I”d love to see him live with a road band.
Its been a long time since a Dave Cobb album did anything for me.
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Strait86
January 13, 2023 @ 12:47 pm
after listening more to his songs he could learn to use dynamics better with his voice. I don’t know where the top and bottom of his register is at and it sounds like he is singing at level 6.5 the entire time. I’m not hearing him change the levels of his voice to express emotion.

Kevin Smith
January 13, 2023 @ 12:49 pm
Strait 86…it’s true you can’t top The Allman Bros Band. To me, they were the exhibit A of southern rock done to perfection. Gregg’s vocals, Duane and Dickeys leads and tones and the rhythm dynamic , not to mention the sheer sophistication those boys brought. It doesn’t get any better. I liked about half of Gregg’s solo stuff. Dan Toler did some sweet guitar work, no doubt. But it lacked the veracity of The ABBs best work.
As for this kid, I stand by my initial thoughts. I do like the guitar on this. It is true that Cobb is a minimalist in production. He leaves a lot of space open. And much of the great Southern rock had layers and layers of guitar, Sweet Home Alabama just for an example has loads of guitar in it. I am not huge on what Cobb does in general, and I don’t disagree that true to form, this sounds like it might benefit with a bit more flesh to it. And I mentioned the echo behind the vocal, I do think it muddys the clarity a bit. And yet…there’s something here that grabs me more than a lot of other stuff on SCM lately.
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Strait86
January 13, 2023 @ 1:02 pm
I get that, and throwing too much guitar work into a song can quickly make things chaotic. One thing Charley Crockett’s music gets absolutely right is capturing the classic sound of old country and R&B while being fresh and interesting. Lake Street Dive and Tedeshi Trucks band are two of my favorite newer bands that capture that old sound while being modern. And both don’t have more than two guitars.
Myron’s voice does linger in the same register most of the time, and that makes me lose interest more quickly. In my opinion he needs to explore dynamics with his voice and get a better band sound to take it to the next level.
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Dead Mallard
January 14, 2023 @ 10:08 am
Really looking forward to listening to this. Thanks for bringing it to my attention Trigger.
I listen to new music now and constantly compare the guitar playing to bands like the ABB and other greats from the past. That’s a tough road for any artists but I get frustrated that for the most part great guitar playing isn’t valued like it was. There are exceptions like Derek Truck but ask a high school kid if they’ve ever heard of him?
This issue is a primary reason I’ve gotten into Country & Americana but “most of it” still lacks great guitar playing.
There aren’t many new Jimi’s, Eric’s, Duane’s or Chet’s out there and they aren’t in the mainstream anyway.
Simply put Taylor and Beyonce have replaced Keith Richards and Stevie Ray.
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Cackalack
January 13, 2023 @ 11:49 am
Saw this dude open for Shane Smith in North Carolina. Stole the damn show. Go see him live.
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CountryKnight
January 13, 2023 @ 3:33 pm
The dude looks like a girl.
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Trigger
January 13, 2023 @ 3:55 pm
And he’s probably pulling in more tail that any of us.
As another Michigander once said, “Sometimes you can’t hear them talk, other times you can. That same old chiche, is that a woman or a man.”
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Di Harris
January 13, 2023 @ 5:12 pm
“And he’s probably pulling in more tail that any of us.”
i’m sorry – tried so hard not to reply 😇 , but THIS is Hilarious.
And, who wouldn’t love the Seger reference?
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JB-Chicago
January 13, 2023 @ 4:11 pm
When I see Trig put up a review of a new artist 99% of the time (if I have the time) I try and go give the album a full spin before I read the review, comments, or sample the tracks. That way the ears and brain have a clean slate of just a name, title, and most of the time and important to me album cover art. No expectations. Obviously easier to do now than when we were flooded with releases last year. On first listen this has got a little of this and a lot of that. It doesn’t really sound like any one thing per se but I like it. It’s one of those “can’t wait to get it in the car and crank it” albums I need sometimes. He’s only a couple hours away from here so a show shouldn’t be far off? No I’m not driving to Madison……
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Madwolf
January 13, 2023 @ 4:13 pm
I’ll root for this kid (he lives just up the road from me) but his voice is hard on my ears…hard pass for me.
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Jobi
January 13, 2023 @ 5:40 pm
Vinyl Doesn’t come out Until MAY 5th ????? WTH ?
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Trigger
January 13, 2023 @ 6:03 pm
Due to the supply chain issues in vinyl, this is very common. Either you delay the project to wait for the vinyl, or you release the vinyl later, while some artists and labels are not printing vinyl at all for certain albums. This would be a good album for vinyl though.
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MD
January 13, 2023 @ 8:18 pm
Had know idea what I was getting myself into, but this album was a breath of fresh air, wow! Thank you for putting this one on my radar.
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Scott S.
January 14, 2023 @ 7:31 am
Heard the song Factories, Farms & Amphetamines about a month ago and threw it into a playlist. The song really grew on me, and I’ve been looking forward to this release. Overall it’s a pretty good debut. Think Myron has a bright future with room still to grow.
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hallfan01
January 14, 2023 @ 9:31 am
I’m starting a petition to bump this to a 10/10.
This guy is exactly why I visit this site daily. Thanks for another discovery, Trigger.
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DMacc
January 14, 2023 @ 2:21 pm
Once again trigger leads me someone I’ve never heard before and I love it.
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