Every month our editors curate a playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South. In April we’re highlighting new tunes from Kurt Vile, Cloud Cult, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
“The Last Dance”
Apocalyptic vibes run through “The Alien Coast,” the new album from indie soul mainstays St. Paul and the Broken Bones. The group is known for updating the heartfelt gospel front man Paul Janeway grew up singing in Alabama churches with rock energy, but here the band makes sonic shifts towards industrial and electronic tones that sound ominous. The larger overcast mood is juxtaposed with hip-shaking funk on “The Last Dance,” which suggests that cutting loose might be the best way to get through the end times. – J.F.
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway “Dooley’s Farm”
Molly Tuttle, who has made her mark with her songwriting and stunning guitar work over the last five years, is now set to release her first record with her bluegrass outfit, Golden Highway. “Dooley’s Farm” is a modern spin on a bluegrass standard about a Blue Ridge moonshiner, only this time around the farmer’s entrepreneurial spirit runs from corn and tomatoes to a different shade of green. Co-written with Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor, the track features guitar brilliance from Billy Strings and Jerry Douglas’s scorching dobro. – D.S.
“Like Exploding Stones”
Philadelphia’s cosmic rock tunesmith and crunchy guitar hero is back with “(watch my moves),” another collection of hazy ruminations delivered with feel-good grooves. Lead single “Like Exploding Stones” is a seven-minute space jam with a relaxing tempo and Vile languidly singing scattershot lines like “Feedback massaging my cranium.” He sounds like he’s working his way through a mushroom trip with the enviable energy of not feeling anxious. – J.F.
“One Way Out of a Hole”
Emerging from a six-year break, eclectic indie collective Cloud Cult have returned with an uplifting anthem filled with dramatic orchestral swells and cathartic shout singing. The lead single from the group’s new record “Metamorphosis” has a straightforward message that radiates positivity, with front man Craig Minowa and his crew offering encouraging directions away from despair. – J.F.
Jake Xerxes Fussell
The son of a folklorist, singer-guitarist Jake Xerxes Fussell has built his craft around remaking forgotten songs buried deep in the Library of Congress and unearthing old field recordings. It sounds scholarly in practice, but Fussell reinterprets these lost songs with a singular style that has a mellow, well-worn edge. “Love Farewell,” the opener from Fussell’s new album “Good and Green Again,” is a reworked traditional ballad that recounts the tragedy of love lost during wartime. The wistful song’s mood is enhanced by haunting background vocals from Will Oldham (AKA Bonnie “Prince” Billy). – J.F.
“Forever On My Mind”
Blues icon Son House was 62 years old, two decades removed from performing, and destined for obscurity when he returned to the American musical consciousness in 1964. “Forever On My Mind” is the title track of a collection of tunes recorded at Wabash College soon after his rediscovery and recently unearthed by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Available to hear for the first time in 60 years, blues fans will revel in the moaning, growling vocals and staccato guitar strumming that established Son House as a genre legend. – D.S.
Cowboy Junkies culled through the collection of cover songs long a part of their songbook to gather the nine tracks on Songs of the Recollection. Described as songs that informed the band both as musicians and music fans, tracks from the likes of Dylan, Bowie, and Young are represented, but it’s Vic Chesnutt’s “Marathon” that is truly notable. Margo Timmins’ vocals, delivered over a quavering, effect-laden guitar, add an unyielding, palpable ache to the late Chesnutt’s missive on struggle. True to Chesnutt’s original work, you can feel the hurt in Cowboy Junkies’ rendition. – D.S.
“Ain’t Just Luck”
We’ve all been beaten down and left under the dogpile. Some of us might even be there now. If that’s the case, take a listen to Justin Golden’s “Ain’t Just Luck.” Don’t be fooled by the deliberate, easy-going shuffle, as Golden is singing about going hard after the rebound, picking yourself up by the bootstraps, and getting back after it. Reclamation is always easier said than done, and Golden highlights with savvy recognition that it’s hard work, and not luck, that gets the train back on the rails. – D.S.
To hear these songs and more, follow the Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Trail Mix playlist on Spotify.
Cover photo: Kurt Vile releases the new album, “(watch my moves),” on April 15. Photo by Adam Wallacavage