Tune in to Trail Mix, our monthly playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South. In October we’re highlighting new tunes from Wilderado and Gov’t Mule, and the anticipated return of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.
“Head Right” — Our brains are scrambled, still trying to navigate these confusing times. And while indie-rock trio Wilderado don’t claim to have answers, they do have a cathartic anthem to share while we’re searching. The lead track from the Tulsa-born indie-rock trio’s new self-titled album, produced by James McAlister (The National, Sufjan Stevens) features a relentlessly uplifting arrangement with soaring guitar chords and a shout-along chorus about shaking yourself out of a mental funk. – J.F.
“Heavy Load” — Guitar hero Warren Haynes and his longstanding band will release Gov’t Mule’s first-ever blues album in November. The project features a mix of original material and takes on traditional touchstones from the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Junior Wells. “Heavy Load” is a slow-burning acoustic porch tune that features rustic slide guitar and Haynes using his husky voice to lament life’s burdens. – J.F.
“Rescue” — Nashville alternative rockers Elliot Root pulled a disappearing act, dropping off the map after touring hard on the release of the band’s last record, 2017’s “Conjure.” This month signals Elliot Root’s return, as the band—stewarded by singer/songwriter Scott Krueger—has reemerged with a collection of new material. “Rescue” is classic Elliot Root—somber piano chords resonate over echoing bells, a crafty studio polish, and Krueger’s vocals, which prove yet again that he is one of the most versatile, and underappreciated, singers out there. – D.S.
The Georgia Thunderbolts
“It’s Alright” — Our Southern brethren have a way of churning out outstanding rock and roll. Following the path lit by Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, and Blackberry Smoke now come the Georgia Thunderbolts. “It’s Alright” showcases the quintet’s swagger, a tight, bluesy shuffle and gritty guitars fortifying what is a peace offering to a former lover and a plea for starting over. These Georgia rockers have penned a great singalong rock song, so roll the windows down and belt it out. – D.S.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
“Survivor” — After releasing a solo effort last year, Nathaniel Rateliff reconvened his rowdy soul-rock crew the Night Sweats to record a new album “The Future,” which was made with North Carolina-based producer Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Hiss Golden Messenger). Lead track “Survivor” is a retro stomper with plenty of Rateliff’s trademark growls punctuated by punchy horn fills. And although the title implies resilience, the track is actually about feeling overwhelmed behind a mask of strength. – J.F.
“Bucket List” — Folk musician John McCutcheon is an acoustic wizard. With a career now spanning five decades, McCutcheon is masterful on any number of instruments, including guitar, piano, banjo, fiddle, and hammered dulcimer. On “Bucket List,” the title track from his latest record, McCutcheon turns on its head the whole notion of what a bucket list truly is; instead of a list of adventures not yet done, it should be a vessel overflowing with experiences and memories already gathered. One could find contentment in that sentiment. – D.S.
“The Storm” — Southwest Virginia singer-songwriter Dori Freeman moves beyond her acoustic leanings on the new album “Ten Thousand Roses,” which was produced by her husband Nick Falk. Lead single “The Storm” is a breezy slice of jangle rock with a sweet, pop-minded chorus, but under the easy listening is a darker message about trust and fidelity. Freeman, who hails from Galax, grew up around traditional mountain sounds, and now she’s refreshingly pushing those influences forward. – J.F.
Abby Bryant & The Echoes
“Tried” — Asheville’s Abby Bryant has pipes for days. With a voice dripping Southern soul, Bryant, along with longtime collaborator Bailey Faulkner on guitar and their mates in the Echoes, are hitting on all cylinders on “Tried.” A laid-back, funky groove soars on every chorus as Bryant, lamenting a failed relationship while pulling no punches as she considers its end, sends her vocals surging skyward as she matches crescendoing organ and guitar. A featured track on “Not Your Little Girl,” the band’s debut record, “Tried” is guaranteed to serve notice that this is a band on the rise. – D.S.
To hear these songs and more, follow the Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Trail Mix playlist on Spotify.
Cover photo: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats will release the new album “The Future” on November 5. Photo by Danny Clinch