Music lovers that find themselves doom-scrolling on TikTok are likely to have stumbled into Alex Melton’s amped-up pop-Punk renditions of Country icons like Chris Stapleton and Garth Brooks, or more subdued country takes on the likes of A Day to Remember, or Green Day.
The Florence, South Carolina native is quite the instrumental savant. Proficient on drums, bass, guitar, keys, trumpet, and vocals, Melton is a one-man band. He kicked off his journey with a first-gen GoPro camera, Home Recording for Dummies, YouTube, and a pop punk cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’. As the years passed, Melton’s knowledge of music and engineering grew, as did his following.
In late 2021, Melton signed with Pure Noise Records. For the first time, Melton worked with producers to tighten and refine his talents. Tom Denney (A Day to Remember) oversaw the ‘pop-punk goes country’ tracks, and Alan Day (Four Year Strong) took charge of the ‘country goes pop-punk’ tracks. Together, their efforts breathed life into the half pop-Punk, half-country cover album, Southern Charm.
Our introduction to Southern Charm is a cheerful sashay into Tim McGraw’s ‘Something Like That’ which builds into a true pop-punk anthem; with palm-muted guitar chugs, rock-steady drums, and powerful vocals. Melton is able to let the heart of the original song shine through while simultaneously weaving in his influence.
The album then digs deep and launches into a semi-heavy pop-punk cover of ‘Beer Never Broke My Heart’ by Luke Combs. Here is where Melton’s vocals and harmonies shine, and due to the similar vocal tone, could be easily mistaken for Jeremy McKinnon (A Day to Remember).
‘Play it Again’ by Luke Bryan follows and stays relatively mellow and light-hearted. Garth Brooks’ ‘Friends in Low Places,’ structured similarly to ‘Beer Never Broke My Heart,’ with heavier drums and guitar, and satisfying vocal harmonies. The Chicks also make it onto the record with Melton’s cover of ‘Cowboy Take Me Away’. The violin gets traded in for a plucked guitar riff and then rolling drum chops drop us into the first verse. The chorus is powerful and charging compared to the sweet and tender original.
Sam Hunt’s ‘Body Like a Back Road’ kicks off with the same upbeat riff but with a little more ‘oomph’. Melton brings it one step further and sings parts of the song an octave higher than the original, and it truly grabs the listener’s ear. This song concludes the ‘pop-punk goes country’ half of Southern Charm.
Transitioning to the twang side of things is State Champs’ ‘Secrets’. Acoustic guitar melodies and harmonies, hand clapping, and softer vocals reshape the track into a chill song with a gentle marching rhythm.
Possibly the most impressive cover on the album belongs to ‘Married to the Noise’ by Stick To Your Guns. Melton threw everything into reverse and effortlessly changed this angsty, heavy, unclean-vocals-riddled song into a banjo-infused, plucky, upbeat country chart-topper. No country music fan would be the wiser to the existence of the cover’s forceful origin.
The aggressive tone of ‘Stranger’ by Can’t Swim is peeled away and is replaced with a softer, crestfallen one. Equally, the original and the cover deliver the same pain, but the cover delivers it with lamblike grace.
‘Seventeen’ by Four Year Strong is dynamic, commanding, dominant, and slathered in heavy guitar. Melton strips it down to the bone and opens the song solely with his acoustic guitar and voice. Once the chorus hits, a simple drum beat fills the track, and later is rounded out with violin, banjo, and reverberated guitar.
Melton once again proves how he can smoothly transform a heavy metalcore band’s song into a country anthem. While the lyrics for ‘Soak Me in Bleach’ by The Amity Affliction feel a bit displaced for a country cover, the tone, and composition of the song is precise. Though, the guitar still gets a bit more rock ‘n roll dusting compared to his other turned-country covers. The album closes out with the cover of The Story So Far’s ‘Quicksand’. The charging and upbeat song is revamped with a slide guitar and a relaxed cadence.
Southern Charm proves to be a solid foundation for Melton’s budding career. Anticipation nips at the heels to hear what he creates next, hopefully with some originals added to his repertoire.
Buy the album here:
8 / 10