Indie Roundup | 119 Songs Good Enough To Make You Slap Your Mama (Part 4)

Tony Joe While, Shannon McNally, Fences, Vandolier & more acts to root for.

Tony Joe White is smokin’, Shannon McNally is losing it, Allison Russell gets romantic, Fences reveals a snow job, Amythyst Kiah goes wild, Vandoiers are ready to ride — and if you like roots music, climb aboard; things are taking a twangy turn in your Weekend Roundup (for a while, anyway). Enjoy, y’all:


67 | Tony Joe White | Smoke From The Chimney

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Tony Joe White was one of the world’s finest painters. Okay, maybe not in the traditional sense, but the images he conjured with his lyrics have the originality and depth of anything hanging in the Louvre — albeit free of pretension and probably wearing alligator boots. Today, gaze upon Smoke from the Chimney, a slow-burning, nostalgic ballad from White’s upcoming posthumous release of the same name — a great example of his painting skills. Says the record’s producer Dan Auerbach: “As soon as I heard Rainy Night in Georgia — I think I heard it at a record shop, Hymie’s, in Minneapolis — I just remember it blowing my mind. I bought the record and became an instant fan.” An accompanying music video for Smoke from the Chimney was directed by noted artist and designer El Oms, who hand-painted each cell of animation.”

68 | Shannon McNally | I’ve Always Been Crazy

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “I have always loved his defiantly existential but immediately accessible common man’s music and how it boogies,” says Shannon McNally of the man whose timeless music is the subject of her new album The Waylon Sessions. Upon the album’s completion, McNally’s collection of tunes ended up being not so much a tribute as it is a recontextualization; a nuanced, feminine rendering of a catalog long considered a bastion of hetero-masculinity. “The world has changed a lot since these songs were first recorded,” says McNally. “I have never heard a woman sing any of them, but these tunes are poignant and relevant to me and to women in general right now.”

69 | Allison Russell | Persephone

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On May 21, Allison Russell will release her first solo project Outside Child (produced by Dan Knobler). Today she shares the gorgeous track Persephone from the forthcoming debut. “Persephone is an homage to my first love,” says Russell. “She helped me through my early days of being a teenage runaway and taught me that people can be kind … It’s about the healing joy of experiencing a consensual sexual awakening after a decade of abuse and about the transformative rebirth that is possible when we begin to love and be loved with mutual care, respect and honesty.”

70 | Fences | Fake Snow

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Fences has shared the video for Fake Snow from his new EP Wide Eyed Elk Ensemble, out April 30. Fences (Christopher Mansfield) says, “Father to me is such a large word. In the name of the father, the father the son and the Holy Ghost. It’s an almost non gender-based energy that looms above and guides us. When I say ‘you’ve killed me,’ it’s me almost saying father took the guardian angels off pay roll. In this way perhaps the song is me cursing out this vague heavy energy I felt rejected by at times. All the same, I’m also apologizing because we can never truly hate our father because then we would hate ourselves. The cold river cannot hate the mountain it melted from. The video was difficult to consider because the concept to me remains vague. I just stood and lived and we made angelic art around me. Putting halos where they don’t belong. In a larger sense, I think my job is putting halos where they don’t belong.”

71 | Amythyst Kiah | Wild Turkey

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Amythyst Kiah announced her new album Wary + Strange, to be released on June 18. The collection — 11 songs all written or co-written by the artist — finds Amythyst redrawing the lines of roots music, and then coloring completely outside of them with a collision of styles that is fearless, iconoclastic and exhilarating. Amythyst’s writing on Wary + Strange is raw yet nuanced, as she expresses grief, alienation, and ultimately the hard-won triumph of total self-acceptance. Throughout the album, the Tennessee-bred Kiah uses inventive rhythms and textures to create a sound that is genuinely new. But the sonic grandeur of Wary + Strange never eclipses the visceral impact of Amythyst’s storytelling, which is unflinching in its examination of her mother’s suicide, the realities of being a Black and LGBTQ+ woman living in the Bible Belt, her own struggles with alcohol and more.”

72 | Vandoiers | Waiting On A Train

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Vandoliers have released their second single of 2021. The Dallas-Ft. Worth band traveled to Bruce Robison’s studio The Bunker outside Austin to record. Produced by Robison (who also lends harmonica to the song), Waiting On A Train finds Vandoliers locking into a shuffling groove punctuated by an instantly memorable guitar, fiddle and harmonica line. Singer-guitarist Joshua Fleming, who continues to refine his compelling lyrical storytelling, sings of lost love and the fear that is so deeply infused in that painful experience. “At its core, Waiting on a Train is about losing love. It’s a powerful fear that I connect with in this small-town Texas tragedy type of way. The fear of losing someone is powerful, it is a burden on the mind, wreaks havoc on the soul, and derails your life. It’s even worse when there is nothing you can do to stop it.”

73 | Manny Blu | Train

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Manny Blu has released first single embracing his country-punk sound, Train. Bringing a new dimension and attitude to the traditional country format, the Montreal native’s approach, mindset and diverse sound is on display in the new track. Produced by Aaron Eshuis and co-written by hit songwriters Jessi Alexander, Ryan Beaver and JT Harding, the new single grabs the attention almost instantly and makes listeners feel alive with an up-tempo, energetic arrangement.”

74 | Sam Eagle | Turn Me Over

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “21-year old multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Sam Eagle just released his EP She’s So Nice. The EP forms the second half of a two-part release, following the EP Something Out Of Nothing. Sam says: “The process for these songs has been about adapting and finding new ways to work and make music. I recorded the tracks at home. The entire mixing process was done remotely over the phone and internet. These challenges have made the songs what they are, just as challenges make us who we are as people.”

75 | Glass Dove | Patterns Of My Mind

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The tinier the pieces, the bigger the puzzle. As if sonically gluing together a mosaic, Nashville’s Glass Dove assemble sweeping alt-pop anthems from shards of live guitar, MIDI, and synths. Those pieces also mirror two distinct halves of founder Josh Benus’s personality. Combining artistic seriousness with clever intuition, the lifelong musician will dissect a turning point in his life by sharing a granular detail — whether he likens old friends to “a pack of cigarettes we smoked just yesterday” or compares arguments to “long-winded games of chess that you never win.” The vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer explores the push-and-pull of personal and universal dichotomies on his independent debut Half Life Wilderness. “I try to approach it from a holistic standpoint and ask questions like, ‘Is this cathartic for me? Is it universal? Will it be cathartic for somebody else? How does it relate to what’s going on in the world?’ There’s a very serious side of the refinement process. I’m always dedicating myself to the craft of songwriting, getting better, and learning from the past in order to do something new.”

76 | Payson Lewis + Emily Rosenfield | In Your Heart

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Indie-pop artist Payson Lewis has teamed up with Emily Rosenfield for a beautiful acoustic rendition of his song In Your Heart. Delicate strings accompanied with emotional lyrics give a detailed look into how paralyzing toxic relationships can be. “Just because a love may end, it doesn’t mean you can’t still hold a place in your heart for the love that once was,” says Lewis. It’s important to always have a space in your heart to give sanctuary to love: Past, present and future.”

77 | Divide Heaven | In My Life

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Divided Heaven are back with a new take on a classic. The indie-Americana project fronted by Jeff Berman added their own touch to In My Life by The Beatles. “Covering The Beatles is forbidden to some. I went for it and put my best effort into In My Life, for my own comfort and to add some beauty to these dark times. All proceeds from the sales/streams of this single will be donated to Lancaster Stands Up, a grassroots organization dedicated to building a better, safer and more equitable community in my new hometown of Lancaster, Pa.”

78 | Kulick | Just Be Friends

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Pennsylvania alternative rock/pop artist Kulick (first name: Jacob) has announced plans to release the EP Sitting in a Quiet Coffeehouse on April 30. Kulick offers a preview with the first single, an acoustic re-working of Just Be Friends. Kulick says, “I created the album Sitting in a Quiet Coffeehouse which gives a new perspective to my most recent album Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood. I have always felt the strongest with songs in their acoustic form. Re-recording these songs with more of a “coffeehouse” vibe made me remember what it was like when I first learned the acoustic guitar and when I first recorded these songs. It made me feel a bittersweet nostalgia in both cases. It also made me realize how sad some of these songs actually are when you take away all of the production.”

79 | Serena Ryder | Better Now (ft. Steve Earle)

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Serena Ryder shares a very special duet of her current single Better Now, featuring the one and only Steve Earle. Better Now is a song about getting sober and Serena describes it as “kismet” to have Steve join her on the track. The duet is part of a forthcoming collaborations LP that will feature new releases and reimagined tracks with Kevin Drew, Shawn Hook and more. Serena and Steve met nearly 20 years ago when Serena opened for him on her first solo overseas tour. “It was such a joy to share the road with Steve and he really took me under his wing” explains Serena. “I was drinking a lot at the time, and I remember him telling me ‘Hey, you gotta slow down, hon’. His voice still rings in my ears almost 20 years later.”

80 | Wolfe Hybrid | All I Ask

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Wolfe Hybrid are the musical collaboration of songwriter/producers Jeff Wolfe (vocals) and James P. Noon (acoustic/electric guitars). They plan to release an LP of original songs in spring. On All I Ask, their interplay gives the sound true heart, propelling the song forward with a joyous energy. With nods to classic rock and Americana, there is a deeply felt tenderness to their work, from the driving rhythms to the fantastically sculpted riffs that contain so much depth. Nimble to its core, there is a kindness to their lyricism, one that retains a sense of hope behind it. They play with such fire and passion for they burn through the track duration in an intensely focused fashion.”

81 | Morning Crush | Tightrope Dance

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Refracting the wisest of life lessons through prismatic indie-folk arrangements, Morning Crush (aka Tim Ostrowsky-Thomas) has released his new single Tightrope Dance. Produced and arranged by the legendary Frank Turner, the track is a quietly breathtaking ballad surrounding themes of identity, romance, and the challenges that come with them. Morning Crush says: “The song was born out of the idea of a relationship ending at just the right time, without any baggage or drama. I had almost given up on the production for this song before Frank started working on it. I just couldn’t get it right. Frank brought it to life, he took a folk song inspired by music from the ’60s and modernised it without sacrificing any of the song’s authenticity.”

82 | Set Into Motion | Only A Sith Deals In Absolutes

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Pop punk trio Set Into Motion have released their new single Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes. The single gives listeners just a small taste into what’s up next on their new EP,  to be released on May 7. Although the zany trio have a laid-back demeanor on their social media accounts, their approach stems from wanting to remain both relatable and down to earth with their listeners. This mindset carries over into their sound, but still upholds a vivacious and boisterous energy. The band state: “This is about a relationship that keeps going in circles. It used to be a perfect relationship but other people and obstacles prevent them from being in a committed relationship. In a perfect world where all that mattered was loving each other they could finally be together.”

83 | Traumatomy | Inducing Intragenic Deformity

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Excitement is building among the sick and depraved for the release of the heaviest album of the year — Traumatomy’s Extirpation Paradigms, which will be unleashed on May 7. To keep the ravening hordes sated til then, they unleashed a third track from the album: Inducing Intragenic Deformity. This bestial slam fest is a guaranteed bone breaker! Strap yourself in and hit play.”

84 | Wings Of Destiny | Memento Mori

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Power metal kings Wings Of Destiny release Memento Mori, the title track from the band’s upcoming album. They say: “The song is about the actual meaning of the words Memento Mori — the simple reminder that we all gonna die soon and that we cannot think of ourselves as immortal beings, comparing often ourselves with God. It is a real introspection in personal fears and thoughts about life and death. The song sets the whole feel of the upcoming album that is a raw true metal, full of catchy melodies and deep and meaningful lyrics, interpreted by one of the best power metal singers on the scene today, accompanied by the absolutely amazing musicians.”

85 | Bloodred Hourglass | Veritas

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Finland’s Bloodred Hourglass just released their single Veritas, taken off the upcoming album. The new disc is expected to be a melodic death metal assault, with an epic feel and a very modern approach. “When the pre-production of the album was almost finished, Eero got the idea of making a song with absolutely no holds barred. All the parts were composed in one rush of inspiration. Veritas carries a ton of intensity with its adrenaline-filled riff and super-fast pace and really is a straightforward raging roller coaster-like nothing we’ve done before. Lyrically it is very much a temptation-filled fairytale all gone down too well.”

86 | Dream Ocean | The Great Silence

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Turkish/German symphonic metal band Dream Ocean have released The Great Silence, the first single off their upcoming studio album The Missing Stone. Singer Basak Ylva shares, “The Great Silence, like the rest of the upcoming album, is not a silent song at all. Our bass guitarist Sebastian wrote this song within a few hours. I was instantly inspired by the powerful composition that he created, so I immediately wrote the vocal lines and the lyrics and we finished the song in a day.”