Every month our editors curate a playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South. This month we’re highlighting new tunes from Kamasi Washington, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Lucius, plus emerging acoustic act Buffalo Rose.
“Next to Normal”
Lucius—the indie roots-rock duo of Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe—go in a dance-pop direction on the new track, “Next to Normal,” an upbeat banger with shimmering production and the group’s signature crystalline harmonies. It comes from “Second Nature,” a new album made with producers Dave Cobb and Brandi Carlile that marks the pair’s first new full-length effort in six years. – J.F.
Old Crow Medicine Show
Rowdy string busters Old Crow Medicine Show are still on the road, headed for another joint, and this spring they’ll be bringing new music from the forthcoming album “Paint This Town.” The title track is a heartland party anthem that celebrates the revelry of youth. And although Ketch Secor and company are decades past their days busking on street corners, they’re still kicking up dust with stomping rhythms, soaring harmonica blasts, and shout-ready choruses. The upcoming record, which will be released on April 22, marks the first the band made at its own Hartland Studio in Nashville. – J.F.
“Shake Your Hips”
Ubiquitous to the promotion of a new record are the endless in-studio interviews and performances. Joan Osborne, during a career spanning nearly three decades, has been savvy enough to collect recordings of her studio performances over the years, some of which have landed in the collection of 13 tracks that make up “Radio Waves,” her latest release. “Shake Your Hips” is pure bluesy fire. The incendiary combination of Osborne’s vocals, the fuzzed-out guitars, and the soaring organ surely blew the WXPK studio doors off its hinges when it was recorded back in 2012. – D.S.
“The Garden Path”
Kamasi Washington leads a wild sonic excursion down “The Garden Path,” a soulful, endlessly propulsive standalone track that marks the saxophone ace’s first new music of the year. The six-minute jazz-based journey features a flurry of brass notes that give way to a lushly enveloped chorus that comments on the chaotic state of the world. With cinematic fervor, Washington’s accompanying singers declare: “Bright minds with dark eyes/ Speak loud words, tell sweet lies.” – J.F.
Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs
Gone almost five years, the late Tom Petty is universally missed, but the late legend’s right-hand man in the Heartbreakers, Mike Campbell, is moving forward with his band the Dirty Knobs. “Wicked Mind,” from the forthcoming album “External Combustion,” channels Petty’s signature crunchy jangle rock, cruising with arena-ready guitar riffs and classic FM radio lyrics about the push and pull between a good heart and a rebel spirit. – J.F.
The Wooks have distilled their old timey strings down to the purest Kentucky bluegrass. Buoyed by silky dobro, at the heart of “Little While” are two sounds emblematic of Appalachian music—George Guthrie’s clawhammer banjo and the hypnotic tenor drone of mandolinist Harry Clark’s lead vocals. “Little While” is a track that could fit comfortably on both a festival stage and a front porch pickin’ session, two places where the Wooks’ spin on bluegrass could easily be appreciated. – D.S.
Yonder Mountain String Band
Yonder Mountain String Band just released “Get Outside Yourself,” the group’s first recording since adding Nick Piccininni to the band’s lineup. Piccininni’s instrumental dexterity elevates the band; as his mandolin work features prominently on “If Only,” a plucky tune radiating a cup-overflowing optimism. The addition of Piccininni is a game changer for a band two decades into its career, proving, yet again, that Yonder is only defined by its commitment to redefinition. While the lineup has changed over the last two decades, the band’s spirit and songcraft continue to evolve in the most positive and passionate of ways. – D.S
Up and coming Pittsburgh folkies Buffalo Rose have joined forces with Grammy-winning songwriter Tom Paxton to record four tracks for their new EP, “Rabbit.” The sextet combines impeccable instrumentation—particularly the frenetic mandolin work of Bryce Rabideau—with the jubilant harmonies of Lucy Clabby and Margot Jezerc on “Runaway,” a whimsical yet wise take on the juxtaposition of trepidation and joy that comes from taking that first step away from the known and into the wild. The song could also serve as a metaphor for the band itself, as they are set to burst from the comforts of home to stages across the country. – D.S.
To hear these songs and more, follow the Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Trail Mix playlist on Spotify.
Cover photo: Kamasi Washington released the new standalone single “The Garden Path” last month. Photo by Russell Hamilton