In conjunction with the May/June issue, American Songwriter presents The Muse May Sampler, a free album available for download that features 12 killer tracks from some of our favorite artists. Click here to download the sampler.
Boy & Bear, “Arrow Flight”
“I belong here, basking in the autumn sun,” Dave Hosking croons during this summery, sun-baked tribute to romance and reconciliation. He apparently belongs in the 1970s, too. “Arrow Flight” is a dead-ringer for the mellow, California folk-rock that filled that decade’s airwaves … and we’re certainly not complaining.
Jeremy Messersmith, “Heidi”
While guitars and keyboards swirl in the background, Jeremy Messersmith sings this spacey, swooning love song to a girl who’s in love with the wrong man. The chorus is deliciously ’80s, the sort of undeniable refrain that could’ve soundtracked the breakup scene in a classic John Hughes movie.
John Fullbright, “Happy”
Fullbright pines after the one who got away on this down-in-the-dumps tune from his second LP, Songs. Just when the melancholia threatens to get the best of him, he breaks into the smoothest whistling solo this side of Roger Miller, proof that he’s no Americana sad sack.
Chuck Ragan, “Non Typical”
Mixing a rootsy stomp with a punky sneer, Chuck Ragan rasps his way through this rough-edged slice of post-hardcore Americana. He gets a little help from his friends, too, filling his backup band with players like Jenny O, The Wallflowers’ Rami Jaffee and Lucero’s Ben Nichols. Good company; better song.
Jasmin Kaset, “Porno Mtn”
The last time we heard from Jasmin Kaset, she was singing R-rated country tunes with Birdcloud. We love dirty jokes as much as the next guy, but it’s nice to hear the Nashville songbird rediscover her solo wings with “Porno Mtn,” an indie-pop tune that takes off at running speed and never slows down.
Luther Dickinson, “Blood ‘N Guts”
On his newest solo album, Dickinson puts his trademarked boogie-blues on the back burner and fires up something new. “Blood ‘N Guts” is a raw, stripped-down ode to a life spent in bars and band vans, laced with acoustic guitar riffs that fly by like mile markers.
PUJOL, “Pitch Black”
Stuck somewhere between garage-band rock and roll and Stones-worthy booze-blues, “Pitch Black” trains a critical eye on the chaos of the modern world … and then sets the whole thing to a funky, swampy, punky soundtrack.
With its mix of sugary pop and Gen X-worthy alternative rock, “Brainfreeze” could pass for a Breeders song, something brought out of storage and polished up (but not too much) for the iPod generation. Best line: “Your lies are thicker than my milkshake/ But they both make my stomach ache/ And they’re both slowly weighing me down.”
Ruby The RabbitFoot, “Ways”
Ruby sings with the cool, cutesy poise of a coffeehouse folk singer, but this kiss-off to a no-good lover goes down like something much, much stronger than java. “I know you’re thinking of ways to be good to me,” she chirps, “but let me help you spare your precious energy.” Ouch.
Stone Jack Jones, “Jackson”
Halfway through this dark, gothic country tune, an organ crashes the party like a drunken vagrant, splashing dissonance and blue notes all over the place. It’s the perfect addition to a song that’s simultaneously gorgeous and spooky, a song that’ll lull you to sleep while convincing you to leave one eye open.
The Gents, “My Days”
From the three-part bluegrass harmonies to the old-school country guitar riffs, “My Days” barrels its way through the roots of American music, even throwing in a barbershop-worthy a cappella intro for good measure.
Wake Owl, “Candy”
Tune in and drop out with this heady slice of electronic indie-pop, which revolves around a ’70s groove that tips its funky hat to the Bee Gees, Air and Tame Impala. If Studio 54 ever reopened its doors, these guys are a shoo-in for the house band.