Mumford and Sons are back and they never really ever went anywhere after pretty much creating their own genre. Sort of.
It helps that everyone in the East Nashville band Cordovas is a lead singer. Even better when your latest record, That Santa Fe Channel, is produced by Kenneth Pattengale of The Milk Carton Kids who brings a sparseness to the songs that serves to enhance the vocal harmonies. “I’m The One Who Needs You Tonight” is one of the first songs the band played and has been a staple in their sets from the beginning.
Whatever you do, don’t discount Cordovas as just another of those Nashville bands. Sure, they make their home in one of America’s true music hubs, but that is only part of the story here. The new record, That Santa Fe Channel, is part Gram Parsons, part John Hiatt, and heavy on the Sweetheart of the Rodeo era Byrd’s. The Southern harmonies with enough Black Crowes seeping in to make this one a unique Roots Rock listen. The infectious new song and video just released, “Frozen Rose,” has a little bit of everything.
Don’t sleep on these guys despite their eclectically cool band name. The sound is a bit vintage, and they are very proud of this fact. Swirling guitars, hazy vocals, and a very laid back approach make this band unique. Thin Feist and Cat Power here, but only if they grew up listening to Buddy Holly, The Kinks, or The Animals. Their new record is called Back to the City and is well worth a listen.
Power Pop is alive and well in 2018, Gold Star is carrying the torch quite nicely. Also known as Marlon Rabenreither, his given name, his latest record Uppers & Downers was recorded at historic Valentine Studios in Los Angeles. At it’s poppiest the record has a real Greg Kihn or Bodeans vibe to it. When he takes it lower and slower like he does on “Chinatown,” a song that was inspired by the spirit of a recently deceased friend, he evokes the ghost of Elliot Smith or the spirit of Paul Westerberg.
Dan Mangan is one of those guys that should be a lot more famous than he is. Toiling pretty much in anonymity North of the border in Vancouver, Mangan is a two-time JUNO (Canadian Grammy) winner and is a several time nominee for the coveted Polaris award. A couple of singles he has released ahead of his new record shows an artist that is ready to break through in a big way.
Slothrust is songwriter, singer, guitar player, and all around cool Rock Chick Leah Wellbaum along with drummer Will Gorin and bassist Kyle Bann. Their new record that comes out on September 14th hits you between the ears with the fierceness of a wolverine. Think Patti Smith if she wasn’t o depressed back in the 70’s.
River Whyless is a should be on your radar from Asheville, North Carolina. Having started as a more traditional folk band, on their new record, Kindness, A Rebel, they lay on a psychedelic landscape with some Fleetwood Mac style harmonies to create a wholly unique sound that will wash over you like a dip in a cold spring on a hot day.
Mostly known as a jam band, Leftover Salmon plays it pretty much straight on this one from their new record, Something Higher.
With Chris Stapleton between albums and Jamey Johnson continuing to put out material at a snails pace it is up to a new crop of country crooners to catch our ear. Here are five artists that are keeping the Honky Tonk alive.
Midland – Drinking Problem
Straight-Up George Strait vibing is this band from Dripping Springs Texas. They look the part and dress the part. The band name comes from a Dwight Yoakam song, the suits come right out of Porter Waggoner’s closet.
Dawn Landes – Traveling Songs
With the songwriting chops of Lucinda Williams and singing voice somewhere in the Emmylou Harris range, her new record, Meet Me at the River, Just might be the Country record of the year. It doesn’t hurt that the record was produced by the legendary Fred Foster, the producer responsible for hits from Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton.
Courtney Marie Andrews – Kindness of Strangers
In 2017 Courtney Marie Andrews released the highly excellent Honest Life to critical acclaim. This year, she has followed up in fine fashion with May Your Kindness Remain. The voice floats in the like early Linda Ronstadt or a present day First Aid Kit. The entire record is great but pay special attention to thus song as well as “Two Cold Nights In Buffalo”.
Tennessee Jet – Buenas Noches From A Lonely Room
Tennessee Jet is cutting his teeth opening for the big boys of the Outlaw Country revival going fret to fret with Cody Jinks and Whitey Morgan in venues across the country. Never straying too far from his Dwight Yoakam inspired roots, Mr. Jett is an artist on the rise.
Joshua Hedley – Weird Thought Thinker
His new record, Mr. Jukebox, should go to to toe with Dawn Landes for Country record of the year, for our ears anyway. Joshua Hedley could easily have been a Texas Playboy. Here is the latest single from the album.
Right of the bat, the addition of producer Ted Hutt who has knob twirled for Dropkick Murphy’s, The Gaslight Anthem, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones is paying major dividends. The production value is top notch as the band sings of redemption and ruin against a Western Noir backdrop that captives and sucks you in. There is an early Byrds echo throughout the record with some heavy Ryan Adams influence.
The song “Paint My Face” is a song that captures all that is good with this band and their own unique style of Americana. The 60’s jangle guitar flows effortlessly into three piece harmonies that caress the song perfectly, and “All Is Quiet” is a slow burn stunner of a song.
The new record represents a bit more of a sophisticated approach for the band with the addition of Stefan Amidon to make them an official three piece band, hence the name. The change and more polished sound may not put the band in favor with some of their ardent fans that are used to their ramshackle live shows, but heck, even The Replacements had to grow up.
The real beauty of this record is the way that the band weaves different styles and tempos into eleven songs that fit perfectly as a whole and also stand individually as individual artistic entities. Just listen to “Castles” and you will see the light.