There’s plenty of live music to look forward to throughout the summer – check out our summer guide for recommendations on outdoor and low-capacity shows. But the musicians of Music City keep releasing loads of great music, and our writers have eight new tracks to recommend. Add them to your streaming queue, get a physical copy from your favorite record store. Or put them on your wishlist for #BandcampFriday, the promotion in which the platform forgoes its artist fee cut, the next installment of which will be on June 4.
Also check out our previous lists for even more recommendations:
- 2020: March, April, May, June 1), June (2), 1st of July), July (2), September (1), September (2), Best of Nashville Writers’ Picks (October), November, December, Critics’ poll of the best local albums (December)
- 2021: January, February, March, April
Barber Rahsaan, Mosaic (Jazz Music City)
The set of two discs Mosaic illustrates just how formidable multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Rahsaan Barber has become in the more than 10 years since his previous release. He works here with several excellent contemporaries, including his brother trombonist Roland, trumpeter Nathan Warner, pianist Matt Endahl, bassist Jack Aylor and drummer Derrek Phillips. It’s also a very original price: 15 songs written by Barber and all recorded over a period of two days. It is a rich, harmonically and rhythmically ambitious material with expressive and extended solos from all musicians, and with Barber playing not only his familiar tenor sax, but also the viola and baritone. There are also plenty of intriguing moments, among them Roland Barber’s conch shell contributions to “Jambo Rafiki”, the gospel-tinged “Sunrise Service” and the rich blues fervor of “Pink Piranha”, as well as the rugged feel. and earthy of ‘Swang Ce Thang. RON WYNN
Jillette Johnson, It’s a beautiful day and I love you (Moss pink)
On his third album It’s a beautiful day and I love you, Jillette Johnson offers the kind of writing that can make a record truly timeless. From the sometimes reckless freedom of youth (“Many Moons”) to the guilty pain of wishing you had another person’s luck (“Jealous”), Johnson looks at our own collective faults with grace and wisdom. With a soundscape often reminiscent of the best of ’70s folk-pop – anchored by Johnson’s floating piano and smooth, crisp vocals – this is a record that was custom-crafted for a Sunday morning spin on platinum. LORIE LIEBIG
Tomahawk, Tonic immobility (Ipecac)
The title of the brilliant new album by hard-rock supergroup Tomahawk Tonic immobility refers to a state of temporary paralysis due to fear, so it’s no surprise that the record is something of a sound cliché of the times. Probably no song reflects the mood we live in more than “Doomsday Fatigue,” with singer Mike Patton’s abstract lyrics – “Sometimes the Truth Doesn’t Rhyme” – and guitar lines from the Nashvillian spy movie. Duane Denison riding a hypnotic groove, courtesy of drummer John Stanier and bassist Trevor Dunn. Provocative lyricism, muscular and inventive guitar riffs and tight rhythms abound on the album’s 12 tracks, which were recorded in Nashville and San Francisco. DARYL SANDERS
Volk, Cashville (Romanus Records)
The liberation of Cashville is both a coming-out night and a big expiration for Volk, the Nashville duo, from east Texas and obsessive about Townes Van Zandt, Christopher Lowe (guitar and vocals) and Eleot Reich, child of the theater California-born and Motor City punk garage fanatic (vocals and drums). Reich and Lowe have spent the last few years confusing econo with their coarse but effective, but overwhelming drum and guitar setup. Cashville they leverage their unique backgrounds and skills, increase loyalty, and swing for the fences. AC / DC’s indebted flagship song “Welcome to Cashville,” comes in at six minutes, feeling both a statement and a challenge. They later cover Ray Wylie Hubbard’s 2006 song “Snake Farm” with Sass for Days, and air the early White Stripes as well as Alison Mosshart’s pre-Dead Weather band The Kills on the barnburner “Honey Bee. “. The vinyl version of Cashville even shredded dollar bills in the file. Ambitious DIY concerns like Volk took a big hit in 2020 – away from touring, the duo sat down Cashville for over a year – but whatever the post-COVID landscape for Lowe and Reich, their chemistry and personality is sure to support them. CHARLIE ZAILLIAN
The Orange and Namir Blade, All imaginary (Mello Music Group)
Namir Blade and former Nashvillian L’Orange have each established a reputation for extraordinarily immersive instrumental hip-hop. If you’re familiar with their independent work, it won’t be surprising that the two together make a full movie to your ears. Blade, also MC and accomplished singer (as you hear it on his 2020 album Traveling circus of Aphelion), serves as a lyrical and vocal talent on All imaginary. He weaves his way through the funky and gritty environment The Orange has built for him, while also developing the story of a character who seems to be trying to decide whether or not to make big changes to his. situation. STEPHEN TRAGESER
Dara Tucker, Waking up dreams: music for a better world (Green Hill Productions)
Vocal stalwart Dara Tucker, a former Nashvillian now in New York City, has delivered perhaps her finest collection of updated and reworked classics adapted from non-jazz genres with Awakening dreams, released May 28. The songs are performed in a way that celebrates the rigorous tradition of excellent jazz while addressing contemporary social and political issues. The best examples are his views on Stevie Wonder’s denunciation of hypocrisy and decades of injustice “You did nothing” and Donny Hathaway’s proclamation of impending freedom “One day we will be free. “. Tucker’s original “Do We Sleep” poignantly addresses the trend that many Americans – especially those in power – must ignore or ignore the simmering issues and unresolved issues that still plague this nation. RON WYNN
Visit Tucker’s website to distribute and buy Awakening dreams.
Wellsprings LTD., Hell of a ride (Produtron Rex)
This is clearly happening throughout the early days of Wellsprings LTD. Hell of a ride is the gestalt of soul music as it existed between the early 1960s of Ray Charles and Solomon Burke and the 1970s when Willie Mitchell produced the work of Al Green. Part of this brutally produced album amounts to a clever revamp of the soul subgenre called Northern soul – a category invented in the 1970s by English fans of semi-obscure records by performers like The Parlements and Dobie Gray. Wellsprings LTD. features Nashville singer-guitarist Patricio Johnson alongside bassist Mike Therieau, who lives in Texas, and drummer John Kent, a Californian. They are all involved in the songwriting, and the best track on the album, “Doing the Best I Can,” Johnson finds referring to, for example, Graham Parker’s post-pub-rock growl. EDD HURT
Battery, In the corners of a room filled with spheres (self-released)
If the Boston-based, Nashville-based rock group Pile is a universe in itself, In the corners of a room filled with spheres is the background radiation it echoes their acts of creation. The release consists of 14 tracks of improvised sound experiences, incorporating found sounds and tape loops, mostly captured during the making of their 2019 album. Green and gray. While In the corners doesn’t tell stories the same way Pile’s songs do, it opens a window into the band’s creative process. STEPHEN TRAGESER
Visit Pile’s Bandcamp profile buy In the corners of a room filled with spheres, which cannot be streamed prior to purchase.