For this edition of Habitual’s current favorite tunes, we bring you everything from foot-stomping blues and frenetic French electro-swing to sweetly melancholy folk ballads—including a few newly discovered at the inimitable Newport Folk Festival last weekend. Enjoy! And see more music from earlier in the summer in our June Playlist.
At 29 years-old, the blues tradition continues with the wailing steel of Gary Clark Jr.’s guitar. After first witnessing the young man perform in Amanganset, NY to a small crowd (packed with the likes of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and other legends), we now see him bringing his brand of Americana cool to John Varvatos’ ad campaigns. We’re lately loving “Don’t Owe You a Thang,” a classic example of Clark Jr.’s fuzzed-out roots music, from his 2010 EP.
One of the most talked about sets at the Newport Folk Festival, Josh Tillman of Father John Misty interspersed his performance with cigarettes, moonshine, hip-cocking, and sardonic comments, like “I’m not a folk artist…I just got invited here because I’m white and I have a beard.” Closing it out with “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” the band turned the mellow song into a Nirvana-worthy act, ending it by Tillman mounting the drum kit and the bassist smashing his guitar. See the video on YouTube.
In an intimate show with Bonnie “Prince” Williams, Dawn McCarthy, and bandmates in a semi-circle around a single mic, Newport audiences also experienced beautiful Isley Brothers covers from their recent “What the Brothers Saw,” like the above “Omaha,” as well as gorgeously souful vocals from McCarthy’s other project Faun Fables.