Band of Horses
It’s been six years since we’ve gotten new music from Band of Horses, but the roots-driven indie rock mainstays will release the new album “Things Are Great” on January 21. The effort’s lead single, “Crutch,” is an up-tempo cruiser that blends propulsive guitar crunch with melodic atmospherics, as frontman Ben Bridwell uses vivid memory fragments to ruminate on dependence. —J.F.
Caned By Nod
Fans of outlaw troubadour Cody Jinks might be surprised to learn that it wasn’t long ago that he pivoted from playing lead guitar and singing in thrash metal bands to the more traditional country sounds that have earned him fame. Caned By Nod, Jinks’ current metal project, is much more Metallica and Pantera than Cash and Jennings. “Seeing Ghosts” is heavy metal mayhem, with crushing bass riffs, frenzied guitar work, and growling vocals. It comes as no surprise that Jinks is a metalhead at heart; his spin on country music certainly reflects the rebellion of rock and roll. – D.S.
“Puppy and a Truck”
“My 40s are kicking my ass /And handing ‘em to me in a margarita glass,” Jenny Lewis sings in her hilariously poignant country track, “Puppy and a Truck.” Although she’s known for her work in the indie world with bands like Rilo Kiley, Lewis teamed up with Americana ace producer Dave Cobb on this standalone single, which offers sardonically simple solutions, like the pair mentioned in the song title, for those feeling like they’re aging not so gracefully. And while the tune sounds ripe for a backroads honky tonk, Lewis has been playing it on arena stages during her recent stint opening for Harry Styles. – J.F.
“Where The Dope Is All That’s God”
When I was his math teacher, Jeff Kennedy once invited me to play some mandolin while he picked guitar. I was comically outmatched. Before graduating high school, Kennedy played with Jesse McReynolds and joined Ralph Stanley at the Grand Ole Opry. Back in Dickenson County, Va., after serving in the U.S. Army, Kennedy has released his first album in a decade. “Where The Dope Is All That’s God” is a haunting tale of the plight of southwest Virginia, where much of the mining money is gone, good paying jobs are scarce, and the opioid crisis found its ground zero. – D.S.
“We Shall Rise”
Brent Cobb jubilantly testifies in the lead track from his first gospel album, “And Now, Let’s Turn to Page…,” which will be released on January 28. “We Shall Rise” is one of eight traditional tracks on the new project, which was recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, but Cobb reinvents it with his signature country-soul sound. In addition to a rousing vocal chorus, the track peaks with some greasy, blues-based guitar squalls. With long-held ambitions of making a gospel record, Cobb had a seize-the-day moment in the summer of 2020 after surviving a violent car accident. To make the effort, the Georgia-based artist enlisted some friends, including Anderson East, Caylee Hammack, and members of Antioch, a gospel group led by Cobb’s father. – J.F.
Charles Wesley Godwin
Rustic and rootsy, Goodwin spins an authentic image of Appalachia in “Lyin’ Low,” and every bit of it rings true. From the raspy, wavering timbre of his voice to the memories of the hollers of his youth and his coal mining father, Godwin is West Virginia through and through, and he arrives on the scene when Americana fans just can’t get enough of Appalachian balladeers. Godwin looks to join Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and Tyler Childers as preachers of the Appalachian musical gospel. – D.S.
Funeral Homes is the brainchild of Washington-based multi-instrumentalist Brad Heyne. Proving yet again that great art often evolves from the darkest of places, Heyne’s debut EP as Funeral Homes chronicles the drive south along the California coast following a difficult breakup. “Morro Bay” is emblematic of the rest of the EP, an ambient, synth-driven pop-rock deconstruction of a relationship gone wrong and the dots along the map that helped Heyne, the man and musician, recover. – D.S.
Hiss Golden Messenger
“As Long as I Can See the Light”
“The intention was to make a seasonal record with vibe,” stated M.C Taylor, who performs as Hiss Golden Messenger, upon releasing his surprise holiday album, “O Come All Ye Faithful,” earlier this fall. Taylor brings his familiar soulful folk sound to traditional carols like the title track and “Joy to the World,” but he also includes some less-expected covers like this slow-burning take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “As Long as I Can See the Light.” It’s a perfect track for fireside contemplation and relaxing the pace of holiday chaos. – J.F.
To hear these songs and more, follow the Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Trail Mix playlist on Spotify.
Cover photo by Jenny Lewis