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 November we’re highlighting new tunes from Rhett Miller, Lucy Dacus, and Deer Tick.
Rhett Miller “Heart Attack Days”
Old 97’s front man Rhett Miler helped pioneer the late-90s alt-country movement, but on his latest solo album, “The Misfit,” he moves beyond roots-based borders and embraces colorful studio experimentation with help from producer Sam Cohen. With the steady patter of a drum machine, swirling synths, and vocals soaked in reverb, “Heart Attack Days” is a playfully weird track that exemplifies the sonic shift, as Miller sounds lost in space singing about the irresistible urges of toxic attraction. – J.F.
Deer Tick “Cake and Eggs”
On November 11, Deer Tick will release an expanded, remastered version of its 2011 album “Divine Providence.” Included in the updated set is the first recorded version “Cake and Eggs,” an irreverent country love song that’s long been a staple of the twang-punk outfit’s live shows. Led by a lighthearted piano shuffle, the tune features Tick head John McCauley scruffily singing comedic lines, both corny and horny, with some wry wit reminiscent of the late great John Prine. – J.F .
Emily Scott Robinson “Built on Bones”
In 2021, singer/songwriter Emily Scott Robinson composed music for an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” for the Telluride Theater. “Built on Bones – Songs for Macbeth” is the result of the project. Featuring the six songs written for the production, Robinson and fellow vocalists Alisa Amador and Lizzy Ross sing as the three witches, weaving Macbeth’s tragic tale throughout the intricate threads of their haunting harmonies. “Built on Bones” fits perfectly in a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s writing while also standing on its own as a somber, beautiful song. – D.S.
Wild Pink “See You Better Now”
Big-swinging folk-rock group Wild Pink is poised for well-deserved breakout success with newly released album “ILYSM.” The guest-heavy record mixes wispy ballads with epic soundscapes, but “See You Better Now” is a down-the-middle pop-rock song that recalls Tom Petty’s FM heyday. The band’s leader and main songwriter John Ross sings about nostalgic little moments from youth amid sun-kissed acoustic guitar chords, and it’s all punctuated by a ripping guitar solo from J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. – J.F.
Lucy Dacus “It’s Too Late”
Lucy Dacus is a top song scribe in modern indie rock, proven on last year’s revelatory studio album “Home Video.” But here she looks back at her influences and gives a glowing edge to the heartache anthem from Carole King’s landmark “Tapestry.” The cover, originally recorded as a seven inch for Jack White’s Third Man Records but recently released to streaming, is a faithful yet refreshingly vital update, as Dacus uses her entrancing voice to sing about relationships that can’t be saved. – J.F.
Glen Phillips “Big Changes”
Glen Phillips soared to stardom as singer and guitarist for Toad The Wet Sprocket in the early 1990s. Though he still tours and records with his old band, Phillips has crafted a successful solo career since Toad first went on hiatus in 1998. “Big Changes” finds Phillips staring down helplessness in the face of adversity, only to rediscover his resolve as he works to overcome those challenges. Over a deliberate rock beat and arching electrical guitars, Phillips delivers with a voice that has matured over his 30-year career, though he still reaches those upper registers that long time Toad fans readily remember. – D.S
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers “Listen to Her Heart – Live at the Fillmore, 1997”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers began 1997 with a 20-night residency at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore Auditorium. Six of the concerts were professionally recorded and those tracks are now the focus of the band’s first live release in 13 years. Petty’s unexpected passing five years ago left fans reeling, and this performance of “Listen to Her Heart” reminds all how significant his absence has been. There is a joyousness captured in the recording, both in the band’s playing and the crowd’s reception to the song. Petty is certainly missed. – D.S.
Wayne Graham “Taking You In”
Eastern Kentucky’s mountains have birthed some impressive musicians in recent years. To the list that includes Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, and Tyler Childers, add the name Wayne Graham. But be clear, Wayne Graham is a we, not a he. Named for the grandfathers of brothers Kenny and Hayden Miles, the band has spent recent years doling out folky country rock. “Taking You In” is stripped down and intimate, with Kenny strumming and singing over Hayden’s restrained drums, all set in a wash of spacey pedal steel and fuzzy guitars. This marks a sterling addition to the songbook of the Bluegrass State. – D.S.