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Our Favorite Songs in June

Best New Music from the Blue Ridge and Beyond

Every month our editors curate a playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South. In June we’re highlighting new tunes from Dr. Dog and the Dead Tongues, plus Chris Stapleton’s Tom Petty tribute.

Dr. Dog

“Talk is Cheap”

After embarking on a declared “final” tour in 2021, Dr. Dog has regrouped to make its first album in six years. The self-titled effort will be released on July 19, but ahead of that we get lead single “Talk is Cheap.” Bassist Toby Leaman wrote the love song for his wife, and it highlights the indie roots crew’s longtime calling cards, including a raggedly charming retro-rock groove and soaring harmonies. The Philly-born group recorded the album outside the city in a wooded Pennsylvania cabin and had it mixed by Memphis studio wiz Matt Ross-Spang. – J.F. 

Tony Trischka, featuring Vince Gill

“Bury Me Beneath the Willow”

On “Bury Me Beneath the Willow,” banjo maestro Tony Trischka enlisted some heavyweights to help lay down the track; country legend Vince Gill handles the high tenor vocals while Grammy winner Michael Cleveland roars through the fiddle breaks. This latest single from Trischka’s “Earl Jam: A Tribute To Earl Scruggs” is a stunning revisiting of an iconic song, showcasing Trischka’s peerless banjo chops on this Carter Family staple, first recorded during Ralph Peer’s Bristol sessions in 1927. – D.S.

Jake Xeres Fussell 

“Going to Georgia”

Jake Xeres Fussell, the indie artist known for reinterpreting traditional folk songs with a fresh eye, is back with a new single, “Going to Georgia,” a wistful, reflective tune that’s seen many iterations, including a version recorded by Ralph Stanley. Fussell’s take, which features gentle finger-picking and an atmospheric arrangement, can be found on “When I’m Called,” his forthcoming album for Fat Possum. The record features a great cast of players, including Blake Mills, Joan Shelley, and Joe Westerlund. – J.F. 

Rising Appalachia

“The Bones”

Rooted in the musical sensibilities and stunning vocals of sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith, Rising Appalachia have been crafting world music tinged with Appalachian folk for nearly twenty years. This month, they return with “Folk and Anchor,” a collection of cover songs that represent some of the sisters’ favorite tunes. “The Bones” is the sisters’ take on the Maren Morris/Hozier megahit. Their acoustic spin is buoyed by old time banjo, spirited fiddle, and the sisters’ impeccable harmonies. – D.S. 

The Dead Tongues 

“I’m a Cloud”

North Carolina’s Ryan Gustafson keeps finding new ways to push the boundaries of his folk-rock project the Dead Tongues. He currently has two companion albums on tap, “Body of Light,” which comes out this month, and “I’m a Cloud,” which will be out in August. The title track of the latter is a trippy, spiritual searcher, a seven-minute dusty ramble that finds Gustafson moving between spoken word and singing as he unravels old memories among effects-colored fiddle and guitar fills. – J.F.

Chris Stapleton

“I Should Have Known”

A big cast of country and roots artists are coming together to honor the late great Tom Petty on the new compilation album “Petty Country,” which drops on June 21. Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Margo Price, and Steve Earle are all on board, and a highlight is Chris Stapleton’s riff-heavy take on “I Should Have Known,” which comes from Petty’s 2010 album “Mojo.” – J.F.

Robert Jon & The Wreck

“Dragging Me Down”

Robert Jon & The Wreck play music that hits hard. From the first distorted notes of “Dragging Me Down,” there’s an edgy swagger to the driving, vintage blues rock vibe of this California quintet. Set to release “Red Moon Rising,” their ninth album in thirteen years, this month, “Dragging Me Down” is a guitar-driven tour de force, with Henry James’ lead licks sizzling over a hammering rhythm section and singer Robert Jon Burrison’s soulful vocals. Fans of bands like Blackberry Smoke and the Steel Woods take note, this band is coming for your eardrums. – D.S.

Will Kimbrough

“Every Day”

A world weighed down by tribalistic pessimism needs a healthy dose of Will Kimbrough. Keenly aware of the heaviness the world heaps on our shoulders, Kimbrough penned “Every Day,” an unapologetic ode to positivity and the faith in renewal of all things good. With Kimbrough, the gray clouds are parting, the sun is shining brighter, and togetherness and love abound. What a tremendous message for this time so wrought with division and turmoil. Such a positive missive can only mean that things are getting better. – D.S.

Cover photo: “When I’m Called,” the new album from Jake Xerxes Fussell, comes out on July 19. Photo by Kate Medley

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