I threw my back out on Sunday of last week.
I guess two months of sleeping on the couch to keep an eye on a baby who refuses to sleep in his own crib finally caught up to me. This previous week was nothing more than a blur of chiropractor visits and heating pads and steroids and ice packs as I tried to shuffle my way back toward normal. Luckily, my situation improved steadily, and I’m feeling fairly OK today. We’ll just have to see how it all holds up.
The whole thing kept me from doing a few things that I normally do at my day job last week. It did not, however, keep me out of the WDVX studio on Wednesday night for The Americana Pulse radio show. It also did not keep me from tracking down a bunch of new tunes to share here this week.
Let’s get to it.
1. Wilco – “Everyone Hides”
We’re now less than two weeks away from the release of Wilco’s new album Ode to Joy on October 4. This is the second song to be released from the album thus far, and it may actually be a tad familiar to Wilco completists. Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy previously released a version of this song with his son Spencer under their Tweedy moniker on the soundtrack to the 2014 Bill Murray film St. Vincent.
2. Girls on Grass – “Down at the Bottom”
I was not aware of the band Girls on Grass until I saw their name on a list of bands that would be performing in Knoxville last week. This being Knoxville, I assumed they were a bluegrass band, and I went about my way. A few days later, their record arrived in the mail at WDVX, and I found out how wrong I had been. This is a driving rock album produced by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel and driven by vocalist and songwriter Barbara Endes.
3. Jade Jackson – “Aden”
I’ve been listening to Jade Jackon’s newest record quite a bit lately, because it’s one of the records in my daughter’s nighttime rotation of late. For a switch, I wanted to pull one from Jackson’s previous album Gilded.
4. Soccer Mommy – “lucy”
This is the first new music released by Sophie Allison, the Nashville based songwriter behind Soccer Mommy, since her 2018 album Clean. I fell in love with that record last year, and it is what led me in turn to check out other artists such as Lucy Dacus, Pheobe Bridgers, Lola Kirke, Snail Mail and others. This track would have fit nicely with that 2018 set.
5. Kississippi – “Cut Yr Teeth”
6. Pinky Pinky – “Ram Jam”
7. Petal – “Better Than You”
Because of the amount of time I’ve spent listening to artists like Soccer Mommy over the last year or so, Spotify recently recommended a playlist for me called Badass Women. The description for the playlist is “Guitar jams led by badass women,” and that is what it delivers. The playlist is constantly changing and updating, but these are a few tracks that are currently featured. I discovered Petal around the same time I fell into Soccer Mommy and the others last year. Kississippi and Pinky Pinky are new to me.
8. Ben Arthur – “Broken-Hearted Smile”
I’ll admit, I haven’t thought much about Ben Arthur in the last few years, but I was pleased to see that he’s coming to play the Blue Plate Special at WDVX on Tuesday (9/24). These days, Arthur is the host of a podcast about songs and stories called SongWriter and has a new record called Perspective due to be released soon. I used to play this song from his 2004 CD Edible Darling at my old radio station. Also, I just love how creepy this album cover is.
9. Ben Lee – “Divine Hammer”
I discovered Ben Lee around the same time I found Ben Arthur in the mid 2000’s. The Australian songwriter has kept busy by releasing a string of albums that highlight his gifts for catchy pop melodies and clever lyrics. Lee’s recent projects include a collaboration with actor Josh Radnor and a new album due in November called Quarter Century Classix that features covers of Lee’s favorite songs from his teenage years in the 1990’s. He’s taking a go at The Breeders here.
10. Steelism – “Eno Nothing”
No real reason for adding this song this week. I guess I’ve just had Jeremy Fetzer on the brain since sharing a Caitlin Rose song he played on a few weeks ago. Fetzer, along with steel guitar player Spencer Cullum Jr,. is one half of the instrumental duo Steelism. I hosted Steelism a few years ago on WDVX’s First Friday Live show and sat slack jawed during their entire set.
11. Black Pumas – “Fire”
Fresh off an appearance on CBS’s Saturday Sessions over the weekend, the Austin duo The Black Pumas will play a set at Barley’s in Knoxville Monday night (9/23). I would advise checking it out.
12. Brittany Howard – “Georgia”
Brittany Howard’s solo debut was possibly the highest profile album to be released on Friday. As front woman for the Alabama Shakes, Howard has earned a reputation as one of the most powerful vocalists on the planet. The solo setting allows Howard to spread her wings even further in tackling new sonic territories. Several songs from the album were already out in the world prior to Friday’s release date, but this atmospheric album cut gives you just one of the new directions Howard explores.
13. Andrew Combs – “Ideal Man”
Another record that came out Friday is the latest from Andrew Combs. We’ve featured a few tracks here over the last couple of months, and now that the whole record has hit we can share the title track of the album as well.
14. Malcolm Holcomb with Iris DeMent – “I Don’t Wanna Disappear”
Knoxville favorite Malcolm Holcomb is headed to town to play WDVX’s Tennessee Shines on Wednesday night (9/25). Holcomb usually makes it across the mountains from North Carolina a few times a year to play in town, and his gruff and grizzled style has gathered quite a few followers over the years. His Shines appearances often sell out, but you can catch the live broadcast of Tennessee Shines Wednesday at 7:00 if you can’t make it to the show.
15. Chris Knight featuring John Prine – “Mexican Home”
Considering that Chris Knight’s new record Almost Daylight will be his first release in seven years when it comes out on October 11, I feel like this record isn’t getting a lot of attention. That is… I oddly haven’t been hearing much about it from my regular sources. Maybe this track from the album featuring the one and only John Prine will help grab some attention.
16. Rosanne Cash – “I Still Miss Someone”
I’m sure most of you have been watching Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary on PBS. I’m a little behind on viewing myself, but I did get a copy of the soundtrack in the mail at the station last week. Most of what you get on this collection are the standard hits from country music history that you might expect, but don’t overlook this little gem from Rosanne Cash tucked away at the end of this set. This a live recording of Rosanne singing her late father Johnny Cash’s song at Johnny’s Memorial Tribute concert in 2003. The video of this performance has been on YouTube for years, but this is the first time this version of the song has been officially released. It’s absolutely beautiful.
17. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “All My Friends”
Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, and their assembled Band just released a full-length album in February. That doesn’t mean they’re ready to relax, though. Last week, the band announced they will release a new four-song EP this Friday titled High and Mighty. The EP was originally released as an exclusive vinyl for Record Store Day, and this new wider issuing coincides with the start of their six show residency at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
18. Pieta Brown – “Freeway”
Pieta Brown’s latest, Freeway, is another record that we’ve been keeping track of in this space. Like Andrew Combs earlier in the list, we’re giving you the title track now that the full album was released on Friday.
19. The Long Ryders – “Walls”
20. Rose Cousins with Bears Den and Christof van der Ven – “I Would Die 4 U”
21. J.S. Ondara – “I’m Afraid of Americans”
Covers Time! Here’s a few songs that you’re probably already familiar with in their original forms, but got new interpretations this week.
By now, we’re all used to hearing varying arrangements of Tom Petty, Prince, and David Bowie songs. All have been the subject of various tributes since their deaths over the past few years.Here, Paisley Underground mainstays The Long Ryders give us a fairly faithful take on Petty’s “Walls,” while Rose Cousins and J.S. Ondara offer stripped down folkier takes on Prince & Bowie.
22. Bruce Springsteen – “State Trooper”
Bruce Springsteen celebrated his 70th birthday on Monday. Last week, we gave you Lucy Dacus’ new cover of “Dancing in the Dark” to celebrate. This time around, it’s The Boss himself with one from his 1982 album Nebraska.
23. Gram Parsons – “Streets of Baltimore”
On the flip side of that coin, last Wednesday marked the anniversary of the death of Gram Parsons in 1973. GP, Parsons’ first solo record came out in January of that year and gave us a full slate of Cosmic American classics like this one.
24. Christopher Paul Stelling – “Have to Do For Now”
Ben Harper signs on as producer on this new track from songwriter Christopher Paul Stelling. Look for more new music to trickle out from Stelling over the next couple of months as he preps to release a new album in 2020.
25. Jim Lauderdale – “When Carolina Comes Home Again”
Prolific * adjective * Pertaining to the songwriting career of Mr. Americana, Jim Lauderdale.
Seriously. Lauderdale just released a full album in June, and here is again with another new single. He seems to be returning to a bit of a bluegrass feel with this one as well.
26. The Human Experience with Rising Appalachia – “Stromboli (The Human Experience Remix)”
The Human Experience is the musical identity of electronic artist David Block. Rising Appalachia is a progressive folk duo comprised of sisters Leah and Chloe Smith. They’ve joined forces here to collaborate on a remixed version of a song from Rising Appalachia’s 2015 album Wider Circles. A driving percussion track is added to the banjos and fiddles of the original to create something entirely new.
27. R.E.M. with Natalie Merchant – “Photograph”
I’ve been trying to share this non-album R.E.M. track in this spot for the last two weeks. It would be on the playlist when I started, but would ultimately get bumped by one of the new tracks from the upcoming Monster 25th Anniversary set by the time I was done. There’s nothing new this week, though, so just enjoy how great Michael Stipe and Natalie Merchant sound together.
I grew up in the 1980’s, and The Cars were one of those bands that were always around. I remember seeing their videos on MTV and hearing their songs on the radio. I even knew the words to a handful of them even though I never actually owned one of their records. “You Might Think” would absolutely make a playlist of my favorite songs from that era of mid-80’s pop when I can first really remember paying attention to music.
As I got older, I came to own a handful of albums produced by Okasik including Weezer’s classic debut. The Jesse Dayton track was just released a few weeks before Okasik’s death and more than anything goes to show the reach his music had. A Texas honky tonker including his own version of a synth-pop classic on an album of covers of some of his favorite songs (and right in between tunes from Springsteen and AC/DC, no less)?
That actually may be Just What I Needed.