Best of What’s New

A selection of newly released music that caught my attention

Welcome to another Best of What’s New, my weekly revue of newly released music. This time, my picks include some alternative, rock, country and prog rock from a stalwart of the genre. All featured tunes except for the last one are on albums that came out yesterday (October 8).

Scott Hirsch/Big Passenger

Kicking off this week’s post is new music by Scott Hirsch, a producer and singer-songwriter I first featured in a Sunday Six installment last month with a tune of his then-upcoming new album Windless Day. Borrowing again from his Facebook pageYou’ve heard the sound of Scott Hirsch. You might not know it, but his audio production has lurked deep in the cut of many admired recordings from the late 1990s to the present. A founding member of Hiss Golden Messenger, he was integral to the band’s formative years in the studio and on the road. His sonic imprint remains on their productions; most recently mixing the forthcoming album Quietly Blowing It. He recorded and mixed a Grammy nominated record by the legendary folk-singer Alice Gerrard and has produced and played on records by William Tyler, Mikael Jorgensen, Orpheo McCord and Daniel Rossen. Here’s Big Passenger, another track from Hirsch’s above noted new album. To me it’s got a J.J. Cale vibe with an updated contemporary sound. Check it out!

The Wild Feathers/Side Street Shakedown

Here’s another group I first encountered in the context of Best of What’s New: The Wild Feathers, which I first featured in this installment from last December. According to a bio on AllMusic, they prefer the term “American” over Americana when describing their sound, which falls somewhere between the earnest, neo-Southern rock of the Black Crowes, the bluesy swagger of the Black Keys, and the wide-open-road country-rock of the Eagles. Founded in 2010 in Nashville, Tenn., the band’s current lineup features founding members Ricky Young (guitar, vocals), Taylor Burns (guitar, vocals) and Joel King (bass, vocals), as well as Ben Dumas (drums). The Wild Feathers began touring frequently in 2013, playing with artists like Bob DylanWillie Nelson and ZZ Ward. Their eponymous debut album appeared in August 2013. Side Street Shakedown is a track from the band’s fifth and new album Alvarado. This nice rocker was co-written by King, Young and Burns.

Natalie Hemby/It Takes One To Know One

Natalie Hemby is a country singer-songwriter who is also based in Nashville. According to her Apple Music profile, she first gained notice as a hit songwriter for Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Toby Keith, penning the hits “White Liar,” “Only Prettier,” and “Automatic” (all recorded by Lambert), “Pontoon” and “Tornado” (two hits by Little Big Town), and “Drinks After Work” (Keith). After establishing this résumé, Hemby struck out as a recording artist, releasing her debut, Puxico, early in 2017. She became a Billboard 200 Top Ten-charting artist as a member of the Highwomen (Hemby, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires), who topped the country chart with their self-titled debut in 2019. Here’s It Takes One To Know One, a tune from Hemby’s new sophomore album Pins and Needles.

Yes/Minus the Man

I’d like to conclude this post with new music by progressive rock stalwarts Yes, who I trust don’t need an introduction. They are among a handful of bands I warmed to in prog rock, a genre I haven’t fully embraced. Since they were formed in 1968 by Jon Anderson (vocals), Peter Banks (guitar), Tony Kaye (keyboards), Chris Squire (bass) and Bill Bruford (drums), Yes have seen numerous line-up changes. The group’s last original member Squire passed away in 2015. The current line-up includes Jon Davison (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Billy Sherwood (bass) and Alan White (drums). Howe, White and Downes are longtime members who first joined in 1970, 1972 and 1980, respectively. Last Friday (October 1), Yes released their 22nd studio album The Quest, their first with new music in seven years. “Much of the music was written in late 2019 with the rest in 2020,” Howe who produced the album said in a statement. “We commissioned several orchestrations to augment and enhance the overall sound of these fresh new recordings, hoping that our emphasis on melody, coupled with some expansive instrumental solo breaks, keeps up the momentum for our listeners.” Let’s check out Minus the Man, which was co-written by Davison and Sherwood. Davison’s vocals sound remarkably similar to Jon Anderson, even more so on some of the other tunes I’ve sampled thus far.

Sources: Wikipedia; Scott Hirsch Facebook page; Apple Music; Yes website; YouTube

17 thoughts on “Best of What’s New”

    1. I need to take a closer look at Hemby. I think your Sheryl Crow comparison is a great observation, especially for the tune I picked.

      “My big discovery” this week are The Wild Feathers. While I featured one of their songs on the blog before, I didn’t further explore the band at the time. I really dig their new album. Are you familiar with them?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read a Hemby interview just now, and she said: “Listing off her influences for this album, Hemby mentions Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt; earlier in the conversation, she gushed over Amy Grant.”

        I listened to a Wild Feathers song you posted yesterday – it was nice and rootsy.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Please, no worries! I’ve been in “Buddy Guy heaven,” watching the great documentary “Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase the Blues Away” three times within the 3-day span the rental covered. That left even less time for reading blogs as usual! 🙂


  1. Just stumbled across your write-ups. Really concise and to the point with what’s new in the world of music. Some definitive contenders to get my teeth into this week, smashing picks – thanks lad!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very solid list! I like all the ones you have today. Yes…who I can take once in a while sounds good in this…yea that vocalist is very close to Anderson.
    Wild Feathers have my vote as favorite of the list…their sound is great. A big rock and roll throwback which I love.
    I’ve heard of Natalie Hemby and like her…Scott Hirsch

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, 100% agree with you on The Wild Feathers. In fact, I think I’ve become a bit obsessed with these guys and have more from that album in an upcoming post.

      In general, I haven’t much warmed to prog rock. Yes are among a handful of bands I can listen to and reasonably enjoy. Reviews of the new album have been mixed, based on what I’ve seen. The first track I listened to was the opener (“The Ice Bridge”), and it really sounds like Jon Anderson singing – almost a bit creepy!

      I also like to take a closer look at Natalie Hemby and also Scott Hirsch.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can see why you warmed up to them…I took a listen to some other tracks…really really good.

        Prog rock…some of it sounds like musicians sounding like “look how fast I can play!” instead of concentrating on the song…or slipping in difficult breaks just to do it.

        That is an unfair generalization but you get where I’m coming from…The Moody Blues I absolutely love…but to me they should not be considered prog but some do.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hear you, Max. Some prog rock can come across as overly complex for the purpose of being overly complex. Except for a few bands like Pink Floyd, I also tend to get impatient once a song goes beyond 5 minutes. That’s also why I can’t take too much jam rock in a row!

        Based on what I’ve heard, I dig the Moody Blues as well. “Days of Future Passed” is just a masterpiece. I would call it art rock or symphonic rock, not prog rock, but genre labels can also be confusing. Plus, at the end of the day it doesn’t even matter how you label it, as long as you love it!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes…the only jams I get into is the Allman Brothers and things like that. They are complex without sounding that way.

        I think Graham called the Moody Blues Art rock…that fits them much better I believe. They stayed true to the song which is why I like them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jesus, it took me forever to get to this too. As you know it takes a while to read, listen, etc. I like every tune here. Good choices. I like some of that low-key blues. And Yes! With my new friend Jon Anderson. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

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