You know something you can do at home, alone, without transmitting any viruses? Listen to these six great new songs.
Mickey Guyton – “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?”
As an African-American woman, Guyton’s been battling uphill on two counts toward Nashville success. If this ballad, about the gap between what we promise girls and how the world thwarts their dreams, is what finally gets her on the radio, it’d be poetic justice.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – “What’ve I Done to Help”
Americana’s most exceedingly decent American turns a critical gaze toward himself, expressing past sins like “I lied on a Bible just to feel a little free” in an easily soulful voice over a fluid acoustic guitar groove. Am I just going to keep listing everything he releases here until the album comes out? Just try and stop me.
Margo Price – “Twinkle Twinkle”
Recorded in an L.A. studio with Sturgill Simpson producing and members of Chavez and Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers rocking out, Price charts out the long trudge toward stardom: "If it don't break you/It might just make you rich/You might not get there/And on the way, it's a bitch." No news there, but the riff that drives this is so heavy that her old label boss Jack White must be crying into his 78s.
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – “Temple”
Thao Nguyen hasn’t released an album since 2016, and has been ambivalent about recording music since. This new single feels uncommonly personal, with lyrics that seem to allude to her parents’ experiences in Vietnam. Gotta love that central guitar riff, which finds the sweet spot just between Tuareg blues and Spaghetti Western.
Western Centuries – “Before That Final Bell”
A deceptively peaceful song about driving between two tiny Montana towns from some Seattle roots-rockers you should be more familiar with.
CupcakKe – “Lawd Jesus”
I knew she couldn’t stay gone. Last year, the filthy Chicago rapper went dark on Twitter after expressing guilt that she was a bad influence on her young fans. But now she’s back, and though there are precious fewer bodily juices and orifices this time around, she still raps as hard as ever.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2020 playlist.