MP3 At 3PM: Cory Branan

We’re not sure whether he smokes, but on his debut album for Bloodshot, Mississippi songwriter Cory Branan‘s vocal chords sound like the cigarettes have run up and down them with a metal rasp a few times. It works great with his hard-bitten, bitter-as-fuck folk/punk/pop, and anyway as he says, “What didn’t kill you/Make you wish you had died.” Having left previous label Madjack over what sounds like pretty harsh “creative differences,” Branan struck out on his own, going to fans and friends for a successful Kickstarter campaign. Thanks to the support and passion of Bloodshot staffers, the venerable label took him on for his new album, MUTT. Highlights include the gentle “Lil Heartbreaker,” the ’90s bombast of “Hold Me Down” and two radically different takes on the teeth-gnashing “Survivor’s Song” that bookend the LP. MUTT is an album torn between a kind of helpless rage on one hand, and a hopeful love on the other—and it sounds kind of like an early Tom Waits fronting the E Street Band. Download first single “Bad Man” below.

“Bad Man” (download):