Milo Greene (Los Angeles) – College classmates Andrew Heringer, Robbie Arnett, and Marlana Sheetz thought folks might take them as more legit musicians if they had a manager. Instead of hiring one, they just created a virtual manager called Milo Greene to promote and coordinate their own individual projects. Then, when they got together as a band, they used the name again.
Milo Greene, which has toured with the Civil Wars and made a strong showing at this year’s SXSW, released a video for its first single, “1957.” The song is off the band’s upcoming self-titled album due out on July 17th (AmazonMP3). Three songs off the album can be heard on the Milo Greene website here. The band has an addictive Of Monsters and Men way about them. I’ve listened to the full album and it’s badass. Pretty sure these folks will explode in a OM&M fashion.
The Tallest Man on Earth (Dalarna, Sweden) – Last month, The Tallest Man on Earth (Kristian Matsson), whose organic rise to fame began just a few years ago after a tour with Bon Iver, released his third full-length album, There’s No Leaving Now (Amazon MP3 & Spotify). Recorded during the winter of the last two years in Dalarna, Matsson has again delivered a collection of songs that have a great sense of adventure both musically and through brilliant storytelling. The album’s opening track “To Just Go Away,” like many of songs on Matsson’s past albums, represent something so beyond singer songwriter, yet so simple. The man has a presence by himself that’s pretty hard to replicate and most singer songwriters can only dream of attaining. Last month, he performed two sold out shows at New York’s Town Hall, returning to the stage where he opened for Bon Iver and took some of the first steps of his journey.
Old Crow Medicine Show (Nashville) – Old Crow Medicine Show might not look exactly like it did a few years back when its song “Wagon Wheel” starting making every southern frat party complete. That said, the refreshed band, which includes Ketch Secor, Critter Fuqua, Kevin Hayes, Morgan Jahnig, Gill Landry, and Chance McCoy but no Willie Watson, will release Carry Me Back on July 17th. With many songs set in the home commonwealth of Ketch, Critter and me (Virginia ain’t a state, y’all), the new album is less outlawish sounding like Tennessee Pusher, and sounds more along the lines of country fair bluegrass (or closer to the first few albums). “Levi,” my favorite track from the album (mostly because I once knew a country-as-cornbread guy from Virginia with the same name), is a song named after OCMS fan Leevi Barnard, a U.S. Army lieutenant who died in the Iraq War in 2009, whose life inspired the band.
Jerry Douglas (Nashville) – Jerry Douglas is hands down the busiest dobro player in bluegrass. While he’s most famous for his longtime gig as a member of Alison Krauss & Union Station, he’s everywhere and everyone wants him to play on their album. But last week, Jerry released Traveler (Amazon MP3), an album of his own. It’s not his first, but it’s probably the most notable as it features a pretty incredible lineup: Mumford & Sons, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Alison Krauss, Marc Cohn and more. This is not just a bluegrass album. Clapton’s track is classic Clapton blues. A country song from Alison was originally intended for her own album. But the track that blows my mind the most every time I listen to it is a brilliant cover of “The Boxer,” one of the greatest songs of all time, featuring Mumford & Sons and Paul Simon himself.
Bonnie Raitt (Los Angeles) – Back in April, Bonnie Raitt released Slipstream (Amazon MP3 & Spotify), her first album in seven years. At the album’s release, Raitt was interviewed pretty extensively by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others about her time off. Slipstream is a collaboration with producer and songwriter Joe Henry and includes two of his songs, two Bob Dylan songs and a few tracks from other songwriters as well. Folks that love the Nick of Time Bonnie will find a familiar place in Slipstream. It’s got soulful ballads like “You Can’t Fail Me Now” and “Not Because I Wanted To,” as well as bluesy numbers like “Aint Gonna Let You Go.”
Mindy Smith (Nashville) – Most folks tend to make their self-titled album their first, but Mindy Smith saved that for her fifth. Smith, who dropped Vanguard Records and started her own label for her new self-titled album (Amazon MP3 & Spotify), released the eleven-track album in late June. I’ve followed Smith since she first popped up in 2003 with her cover of Dolly’s “Jolene.” Her latest album is not a big musical departure from her others, and includes the same deeply honest writing that has wooed her fans for the last decade. For some reason, it’s always Smith’s songs about death that I tend to love the most, so naturally, “Everything Here Will be Fine” and “When You’re Walking on My Grave” (both heavy on death references) are my two faves.