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Trail Mix: Five Anticipated Albums Coming in Early 2020

Nathaniel Rateliff is returning to his roots as a folksinger. 

Plenty of great new albums are on the horizon in the new year. Check out five of our new favorites. 

Drive-By Truckers

“The Unraveling”

The stalwart Southern country-rock outfit will return with their first LP since the politically charged 2016 effort “American Band.” Due on January 31, “The Unraveling” continues on a similar thematic path, casting a weary eye at the state of the union since the last Presidential election. As Truckers member Patterson Hood recently put it: “If the last one was a warning shot hinting at a coming storm, this one was written in the wreckage and aftermath.”

The new effort was recorded at the historic Sam Philips Recording Service in Memphis with production help from the band’s longtime collaborator David Barbe. Lead single “Armageddon’s Back in Town” is a rumbling rocker that features Hood howling personal lyrics about feeling disillusioned in chaotic times.

Dan Deacon

“Mystic Familiar”

Also dropping new music on January 31, Baltimore-based electronic composer Dan Deacon, who returns with “Mystic Familiar,” his first new full-length project in five years. Known for creating idiosyncratic synth-pop, which often incorporates audience-inclusive performance art during live shows, Deacon spent the latter half of the last decade working on film scores and collaborating with NYCBallet choreographer Justin Peck. His latest effort takes inspiration from Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies creative approach, resulting in an album that’s both sonically adventurous and existentially reflective. An early preview track, “Sat By a Tree,” is a blissfully glitchy meditation on life’s fragility.

G. Love

“The Juice” 

G. Love goes the guest-heavy route for his new album “The Juice,” which will be released on January 17. Produced by Grammy-winning blues ace Keb’ Mo’, the record still finds Love—real name Garrett Dutton—blending free-flowing hip-hop lyricism with foundational American roots music styles. But on his latest, the Philadelphia native gets instrumental assists from some well-established guitar heroes, including Robert Randolph, Roosevelt Collier, and Marcus King. A supporting tour with Love’s longtime band, the Special Sauce, hits the Firmament in Greenville, S.C., 

on February 4. 

Nathaniel Rateliff

Title TBD

Nathaniel Rateliff is returning to his roots as a folksinger. The Denver-based music hero gained widespread acclaim fronting his powerful soul outfit the Night Sweats, but prior to starting that band in 2015 he released three acoustic-based albums under his own name. In late November he announced a cross-country solo trek called the And It’s Still Alright Tour that will support a still-untitled new album and feature Rateliff performing songs from his entire discography by himself and with a new backing band. The tour includes stops at the Tabernacle in Atlanta on March 21 and the High Water Festival in Charleston, S.C., on April 18-19.

Dustbowl Revival 

“Is It You, Is It Me”

This high-energy roots-blending crew—known for throwing rowdy hoedowns that incorporate old-time foot-stompers and vintage swing tunes—streamlines things a bit on latest album “Is It You, Is It Me,” which was produced by Sam Kassirer (Lake Street Dive, Josh Ritter) and will be released on January 31. The Los Angeles-based group is now down two members to a sextet, and accordingly its sound is lean and focused, particularly on lead single “Enemy,” which features a bouncy pop arrangement that buoys a stark message about bucking partisan divisiveness. 

Sturgill Simpson Takes Arenas

On the heels of his gonzo fuzz-rock album “Sound and Fury” Sturgill Simpson is bringing his guitar-heavy live show to arenas this winter. With his latest release, the Grammy-winning outlaw country revivalist took on an extreme creative deviation from his expected Kentucky twang, delivering a record filled with distorted riffs and intense synth textures. The album soundtracked and was released in conjunction with a Netflix-released Japanese anime film of the same name that Simpson produced. On the upcoming winter tour, Simpson will be joined by fellow Kentucky troubadour Tyler Childers. Regional dates: U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C., on February 22-23, Knoxville Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tenn., on February 25-26, Rupp Arena in Lexington Ky., on February 28, and Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Va., on March 13.

The Black Crowes Are Back

After seven years the Black Crowes will reunite this summer to embark on a massive amphitheater tour that features the band performing its debut album “Shake Your Money Maker” in its entirety. Brothers Rich and Chris Robinson have seemingly put years of public feuding and well-documented acrimony behind them. They’re also setting aside the jam band leanings the band had adopted by the time it last performed in 2013. Chris Robinson has been quoted in recent interviews saying the band’s beloved tunes like “Jealous Again” will be delivered as they were conceived, with concise, hard-hitting rock arrangements. The Atlanta-born group has plenty of Southern stops scheduled, including Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta on June 27, PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, N.C., on July 3, Coastal Credit Union Music Park in Raleigh, N.C., on July 4, and Veteran United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach on July 10. 

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