POP MUSIC / Angela Lewis on pop

Country music is super cool. Orange-haired counter-culture punks whooped to ol' leather chops, Johnny Cash, at Glastonbury, the white blues warbles of Iris DeMent and Sheryl Crow at recent packed gigs drew block vote support from GLR listening, late-20s/early-30s types. . .great stuff. If only someone could tell Country 1035am. Never has Mr and Miss Serious Rock Music Lover been more willing to listen to country, now ultra-positive that the genre isn't all squelchy Jim Reeves hummings, twanging yeehah cliches and weepalong female mewings. During an afternoon listen to Country 1035 however, it was like the Nineties had never happened. Except of course, they played ruddy Garth Brooks. The presenter was a saddled-up, slick tricker, revelling in Nashville-speak naffness and Smashie and Nicey smarminess. Plus being on fuzzy medium wave, it reeked of 'Gold' station moriboundity. GLR programmers will not be losing any sleep.

Still, early days yet. Maybe they'll realize that drip, drip MOR masquerading as country won't entice post-graduate, post-indie-radio twiddlers suspicious of Radio One but looking for a news-overload-free alternative to GLR. Perhaps it'll dawn that Brits are too damn discerning to swallow Seventies-style jock meanderings, and they'll introduce a John Peel-esque, late-night newcomer who'll mix Loudon Wainwright III with fresh faces like Louisville's Freakwater and Palace Brothers, mavericks who redefine country with their passionate, if a little warped, minds. Presently, Country 1035 is less than a month old, but already showing a fortysomething middle-aged spread.

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