Jewly Hight: There is always a lull in new music before and during and after the holidays, and then so much new stuff comes out in late January and February and beyond. You took on the most impressive undertaking of cataloging a slew of releases on the horizon. What did it take to compile all that intel?
Stephen Trageser: Wading through lots and lots of press releases, but also just talking to publicists who work with local artists, combing through social media and Bandcamp, and also reaching out to heads of local independent labels.
JH: What Nashville releases did you zero in on that are also on the national radar?
ST: Well, there’s a whole ton of those. One that kind of popped up to the top was Laurel Hell, which is the new Mitski record. She’d kind of taken a breather after Be the Cowboy, had bought a house here and sort of laid low for a little bit, and has made this new record, which is going to be out February 4th. Looking ahead a little further, Jack White fans have got two records to look forward to this year. There’s Fear of the Dawn, which is out April 8th and Entering Heaven Alive, which is coming out in July.
More toward the folk-pop end of the spectrum, you’ve got the new one from Erin Rae. That record is called Lighten Up. It is out February 4th. She worked on that with Jonathan Wilson, who also has produced a record for Father John Misty. Looking a little deeper toward traditional bluegrass, Molly Tuttle, great bluegrass guitarist and songwriter, who’d kind of leaned away from bluegrass a little bit with her last couple releases, has formed a new, more straightforward bluegrass band called Golden Highway. They have a record that’s coming out this year. No title or date for that one yet. However, there is a title and a date for the new one from Old Crow Medicine Show. That’s called Paint This Town and that’s going to be out April 22nd.
JH: Now, what about artists that are either already integral to local, hip-hop, punk, indie rock and indie country scenes or who are rising through the ranks?
ST: There just as many, if not more, of those. Looking at the hip-hop world, Negro Justice, who folks heard a lot from last year—he had that collaborative EP called Resplendent with Gee Slab—he’s kind of officially become part of a crew called Six One Tribe, and he’s releasing his first solo album called Chosen Family. That’s going to be out on his birthday on March 14th.
Virghost and his group, the Capital Minds Entertainment, they’ve got several releases in the pipeline, one of which is the next installment of Virghost’s ongoing series with KingPin Da’ Composer. There’s not a release date for that one, but you can probably guess that’s going to be closer to late summer.
On the more immediate tip, there’s the Kernal. He’s kind of in the cosmic country vein. He’s got a new record called Listen to the Blood that is out January 14th. That is music in the sort of country realm that kind of takes a sidelong look at traditionalism. Also, if you’ve been following the indie rock scene in Nashville for a while, you’ll probably know the name of this band: Mountains Like Wax. They’re sort of in the shoegaze, bedroom pop kind of sphere. They are finally getting ready to release their debut record. It’s called Before There Was Plenty.
JH: If you had to single out a release that you are especially eager for, what would that be?
ST: At the top of my list, not just because it is coming very imminently is Naturale. That’s an LP from Joe Kenkel. He’s one-third of Styrofoam Winos. That is out January 13th. Know he’s not only a great songwriter, but also someone who is very invested in building creative community around town. And we actually have a full feature on that record in this week’s Scene as well.