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Top Tunes in July: Our Favorite 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 Judah & the Lion,  John Moreland, and a duet featuring Wynonna and Katie Crutchfield.

Teddy & The Roughriders new album was produced by Margo Price. Photo by Monica Murray.

Teddy and the Rough Riders
“Livin in the Woods”

Nashville upstarts Teddy and the Rough Riders channel the effortlessly soulful country-rock of The Band on the new track “Livin in the Woods,” a retro rambler featuring ambling, dusty piano and swaying horn accents. The track comes from the group’s eponymous new LP, which was produced by Margo Price, who, in a statement, aptly sums up the band’s sound: “Given the chance, they will unite the hippies and the cowboys—the bikers and the stoners—with their groovy country songs.” – J.F.  

Wynonna and Waxahatchee
“Other Side”

When Wynonna Judd lost her mother and longtime musical partner, Naomi, in May, she pledged to keep singing. She does just that in “Other Side,” an easygoing duet with indie singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield, who performs as Waxahatchee. The artists cut the standalone single on Judd’s farm outside of Nashville and together—with help from Judd’s husband Cactus Moser—crafted a breezy slice of acoustic Americana featuring lyrics full of faith and resilience. In the wake of her mother’s passing, Judd is still moving forward with a planned final tour that will feature newly announced appearances from Brandi Carlile, Trisha Yearwood, and Faith Hill, among others. – J.F.  

Umphrey’s McGee
“Dayville Monarchy”

Hidden behind the dreamy, beachy vibe of “Dayville Monarchy,” from the long running jam band’s new record, “Asking For A Friend,” is a curious, almost sinister feel. Whether prophetic or wrought by the reality of the pandemic, there is a dichotomy between the easygoing nature of the melody and the perplexing darkness of the lyrics. It makes for a fascinating listen. Coupled with the release of the new record is a podcast, “Umphrey’s McGee: Talking Circles,” that explores the evolution and production of the new album. For serious fans, it’s worth the deep dive. – D.S.

Judah & the Lion

Long known for creatively blending folk and hip-hop, Judah & the Lion swing for the fences with this stadium rock-style anthem about releasing tension through a good scream. The lead single from the group’s new album, “Revival,” hits heavily with a stomping rhythm, colorful synthesizers, and lyrics about finding relief from overwhelming frustrations often caused by spending too much time on the internet. – J.F.  

Revelators Sound System
“George the Revelator” 

M.C. Taylor of North Carolina folk-rock favorites Hiss Golden Messenger gets experimental in this new project with Cameron Ralston—house bassist for Virginia’s Spacebomb recording studio. This standout from the group’s new album, “Revelators,” is a spacey funk workout with limber drums and a deep groove that blends elements of dub reggae and psychedelic jazz. It’s an instrumental track with broad vision that evokes a variety of moods, thanks to the inclusion of sweeping strings and soul-stirring horns. – J.F.  

Circus No. 9
“Steampipe Coffee”

Mandolinist Thomas Cassell describes the title track of his band’s new album simply: “It’s the craziest thing on the record, which is why we chose it for the first single.” The tune opens quaintly, with the quartet staying close to its progressive string band roots. But then, behind the banjo and mandolin, an electric guitar opens things up, and guest drummer Jeff Sipe drops in, and it’s apparent that this tune has taken a turn. The song runs its course with the band balancing electric crescendo with acoustic elegance and it’s absolutely delightful. – D.S.

John Moreland
“Ugly Faces”

John Moreland is a songwriter singular in the ability to reach into your belly and twist up your innards like bread dough. He pens songs that are so easy on the ears but so hard on the soul. “Ugly Faces” is brilliant in that the dishonesty, doubt, and failure he sings of could easily be self-reflection or an indictment of someone else. Melancholy is his hallmark, and yet again pounds his tattooed fists into the dysfunctions and troubles with which we are all familiar. – D.S.

John Moreland tells hard truths. Photo by Angelina Castillo.

Andrew Duhon
“Everybody Colored Their Own Jesus”

With a spirit dispossessed of judgment and a fresh box of Crayolas, life’s possibilities are endless. Andrew Duhon zeroes in on the zeal of a fresh coloring sheet and the childlike willingness to wash it with color in reckless abandon. That spirit of creativity is God-like, and Duhon revels in that joy, but he sees the sadness of discrimination when those same colors become fodder for fracture. Duhon offers a somber reminder that we all need to revel in the love we gather from humanity’s hue and eschew the differences it causes. – D.S.

To hear these songs and more, follow the Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Trail Mix playlist on Spotify

Cover Photo: Teddy & The Roughriders new album was produced by Margo Price. Photo by Monica Murray.

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