Songs of Summer

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Rootsy Jams to Add to Your Playlist

Right now festival season should be in full swing. Many of us would love to be navigating stages and set times, and breaking a sweat while dancing to the sounds of our favorite bands, both new and old. But unfortunately the future of live music is still uncertain, so we need to create our own sonic experiences. To make a mix for your backyard grilling or gardening, here’s a list of some of our favorite new songs by artists from the South and beyond. 

Wilco “Tell Your Friends”

Wilco released this one-off single back in May via Bandcamp with download proceeds going to World Central Kitchen. Lyrically, the song has an optimistic, straightforward message for the times (“Don’t forget to tell your friends/When you see them again/O’ I love you”), while the atmospheric arrangement will one day be just right for swaying arm in arm with your favorite concert buddy.

Margo Price “Twinkle Twinkle”

Ahead of the release of her upcoming album, “That’s How Rumors Get Started,” which comes out July 10, country-soul singer-songwriter Margo Price dropped a couple singles from the highly anticipated effort. “Twinkle Twinkle” is a hard-hitting fuzz-rock scorcher with a cautionary message about the price of success. 

Price also released a surprise live album through Bandcamp in May. “Perfectly Imperfect at the Ryman” culls highlights from Price’s three-night stand at the legendary Nashville venue and features guest appearances by Emmylou Harris, Jack White, and Sturgill Simpson. 

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “Be Afraid”

This rumbling anthem from Isbell’s latest collection of songs, the excellent “Reunions,” is about facing fears and doing what you believe is right, set to a motivating backdrop of uplifting heartland rock. 

Lucinda Williams “You Can’t Rule Me”

As the opener of Williams’ fourteenth studio album “Good Souls Better Angels,” the punk-blues swagger of this defiant rocker sets the tone for the rest of the record, a turn towards angst-fueled protest from an Americana legend.  

American Aquarium “The Luckier You Get”

The North Carolina outfit made their latest album, “Lamentations,” in Los Angeles with producer Shooter Jennings, and it’s easily the group’s most sonically fulfilling effort to date. But the driving force is still the blue-collar wisdom of band leader BJ Barham, who celebrates the value of a hard day’s work in this soaring alt-country rocker. 

Woods “Can’t Get Out”

The lyrics lament frustration, but the arrangement of this earworm from Woods’ new album, “Strange to Explain,” is cathartic and inspirational, with sweeping synths, crashing beats, and a sing-along chorus. 

Futurebirds “Trippin’”

The Georgia psych-country stalwarts dropped a gem of an album, “Teamwork,” at the beginning of the year and this jangly jam is a standout full of nostalgia and mischief. 

Waxahatchee “Fire”

If you take a road trip or even just a backroads drive this summer, this breezy standout from Waxahatchee’s excellent new album “Saint Cloud” is made for windows-down introspection. Singer-songwriter Katie Critchfield offers open-hearted reflection on relationship complexities, backed by watery keyboards and a steady groove. 

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