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On their debut album, Chicago’s Tobacco City get to the roots of their wistful country

Chicago country five-piece Tobacco City formed to cover Neil Young songs for a Halloween show, but thankfully they’ve since developed their own sound. Like Young, they have a way with plaintive melodies, but their music is rooted in bluesy honky-tonk and earthy, wistful country, with supple, pop-driven harmony vocals. Tobacco City’s surefire rhythm section—drummer Josh […]

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Chicago’s Thomas Comerford assembles a cast of local musicians for an album of beguiling country

Chicago has its share of bands playing country or alternative country, but Thomas Comerford’s lonesome sound is in a category of its own. Comerford straddles the singer-songwriter era of the 1970s and the dusty, deadpan observations of psychedelic iconoclasts such as Bill Callahan. He’s also an independent filmmaker—he teaches film and art history at the […]

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Valerie June leaves her roots for the stars

Valerie June’s best-known album, 2013’s Dan Auerbach-produced Pushin’ Against a Stone (Sunday Best), is a raw, playful mix of blues and country. Eclectic and ambitious as that effort is, though, it doesn’t capture June’s full range. On the cover of her new fifth album, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers (Fantasy), June wears a […]

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Margo Price tackles her personal and professional growing pains on That’s How Rumors Get Started

On her new third album, That’s How Rumors Get Started, Margo Price spins her modern outlaw-country sound into golden strands of pop-friendly Americana, tackling her critics, rock ’n’ roll mythology, and expectations of success. The LP, which was produced by fellow country renegade Sturgill Simpson, showcases Price’s knack for storytelling that pulls at the heartstrings; […]

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Steve Earle examines a mining tragedy to engage listeners across the political spectrum on Ghosts of West Virginia

On April 5, 2010, a coal-dust explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, killed 29 miners. Though subsequent investigations found that a pervasive pattern of negligence and safety violations had led to the entirely preventable tragedy, in 2015 Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship got off with a slap on […]