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Our Favorite Songs in July

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 July we’re highlighting new tunes from 49 Winchester, Red Clay Strays, and Phish.

49 Winchester

“Fast Asleep”

Next month, fast-rising Virginia alt-country band 49 Winchester releases the new album, “Leavin’ This Holler,” which was made with help from producer Stewart Myers in various studios across the country while hard-touring group gigged incessantly, opening for the likes of Tyler Childers and Luke Combs. Preview single “Fast Asleep” is a big-hearted twangy rock ballad that evokes a full-throated Chris Stapleton epic, with a sweeping string arrangement that features the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. – J.F. 



Ears can catch some fresh Phish this summer, courtesy of the jam titan’s new studio album, “Evolve,” which comes out July 12. The title track is an upbeat, melodic rock tune with orchestral strings that lift the arrangement, while guitarist Trey Anastasio offers big picture reflection about not dwelling on trivial problems. Phish is set to embark on a lengthy summer tour that includes the band’s own four-day Mondegreen Festival in Delaware in August. – J.F.

Dolly Parton

“Southern Accents”

It’s hard to determine just how many chapters the songwriting of Tom Petty would occupy in the Great American Songbook, but there is no denying that his contributions would be significant. A bevy of iconic country music stars recently released a collection of Petty’s work, “Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty,” that includes Dolly Parton offering a stunning interpretation of “Southern Accents.” Parton’s lofty vocals are lifted by a soaring string section, offering a beautiful homage to what Petty himself considered to be one of his finest songs. – D.S.

Nathan Bowles Trio

“The Ternions”

Banjo picker Nathan Bowles is best known around the region as a member of old-time expansionists Black Twig Pickers, but this month he’s releasing a new album, “Are Possible,” with his own trio project. The first revealed track, “The Ternions,” is a powerful, acoustic-based instrumental, with Bowles’ droning fret work elevated in intensity by the driving rhythm provided by double-bassist Casey Toll (Jake Xerxes Fussell, Mt. Moriah) and drummer Rex McMurray. – J.F.

The Red Clay Strays

“Wanna Be Loved”

Shot through with old school Sun Records rockabilly vibes, the Red Clay Strays are establishing themselves as one of the hottest bands in Americana. Following a recent appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and in the midst of a nationwide tour, they will release their new record, “Made By These Moments,” produced by the Grammy-winning Dave Cobb, this month. On “Wanna Be Loved,” singer Brandon Coleman grittily asks seminal questions: Am I good enough? Have I worked hard enough? Am I important enough? And within the lyrics he offers a lament to every insecurity anyone seeking affection or validation has ever felt. – D.S.

Hermanos Gutiérrez

“Low Sun”

Hermanos Gutiérrez specialize in atmospheric instrumental guitar rock that will please fans of Khruangbin. Brothers Alejandro Gutiérrez and Estevan Gutiérrez have been honing their sound for nearly a decade and last month they released a new album, “Sonido Cósmico,” on Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound label. Standout track “Low Sun” is a dreamy composition with ambient notes that surface like calls of nature, perfect for a road trip playlist on open highways at dusk. – J.F.

Bessie Jones, John Davis, & The Georgia Island Singers

“Buzzard Lope (Dance) –
In That Old Field”

In 1965, Alan Lomax, American folk music’s most storied chronicler, assembled a group of Black American roots musicians for a concert to document the Black experience through song. Recorded that evening is this rendition of “Buzzard Lope,” a staggering testimony of how the bodies of slaves who died in the fields were often left to rot in lieu of a proper burial. Despite the horror recounted in the song, there is a triumphant jubilation in the singing. The singers find solace in testifying to the souls of the fallen ascending to heaven, regardless of where their bodies might lie, ultimately overcoming the evils of man through their trust in a divine reward. – D.S.


“Grieve On”

Blake Christiana recently found himself at a creative crossroads. Unsure if Yarn, his band of nearly 20 years, was going to continue, Christiana found himself performing solo, but the opportune meeting with a new producer and a rekindled inspiration brought his bandmates, along with some special guests, to the studio to create “Born, Blessed, Grateful, and Alive,” which drops this month. Christiana is at his somber best in “Grieve On,” chronicling the challenges of grief over a slow shuffle of brushed percussion, guitar, and keys. From cursing the divine to drinking too much alcohol or struggling with guilt and anger, Christiana makes no bones about the difficulties of dealing with grief, but he does return to the truth that, eventually, things will be alright. – D.S. 

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