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New Music: Sturgill Simpson, Switchfoot, Lorde, OneRepublic, and Toad the Wet Sprocket

Neo-outlaw country singer Sturgill Simpson is back with his latest album, The Ballad of Dood & Juanita , on High Top Mountain Records, Simpson's own label. It has been quite a busy number of years for the prolific Simpson, with this being his fourth release in two years and his seventh overall since 2013. Hailing from Jackson, KY, Simpson got his start as the leader of the group Sunday Valley before going out on his own in 2012. His latest effort is a Country & Western concept album that follows a separated couple during the American Civil War. The story follows Dood and his faithful animal companions Shamrock, a horse, and dog Sam, who travel to find Dood's kidnapped true love, Juanita. The wide range of musical styles Simpson incorporates includes traditional Appalachian mountain music to old-style cowboy songs. The great Willie Nelson also makes an appearance, which seems fitting since the record was largely influenced by Nelson's own 1975 concept record Red Headed Stranger . Christian Rock band Switchfoot has returned with their 12th full-length, Interrobang . This is the first record for the San Diego rock group since 2019's Native Tongue . Never wanting to be pigeonholed as solely a Christian Rock band, the guys in Switchfoot have made a concerted effort to incorporate enough straight-ahead rock sounds while keeping the religious undertones in the lyrics to widen their fan base. This new record will satisfy long-time fans as well as spark interest in new ones. Working with famed producer Tony Berg (Paul McCartney, Phoebe Bridgers), the band recorded much of the album at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA. Switchfoot has pushed their sound forward on tracks like "lost 'cause,' "fluorescent," and the lead single "i need you (to be wrong)" by adding elements of new wave style synths to their repertoire. The pride of Takapuna New Zealand, otherwise known as Lorde, has dropped her third long-awaited full-length album, Solar Power . Her self-described "weed album' is a mainly acoustic affair of indie-folk and psychedelic helmed by American producer and musician Jack Antonoff of the group Fun. This album was preceded by Going South , a memoir of Lorde's 2019 trip to Antarctica, which she credits for much of her inspiration on this album. Nearly every track has the ever-present 808 Drum Machine, but it is a much more organic, earthier listen than previous albums. This record will NOT be available in CD format for environmental reasons. It will, however, be available on streaming services and vinyl. Starting in February 2022, in support of the album, fans will get their opportunity to experience Lorde live for her "Solar Power" tour in the United States, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. American pop-rock band OneRepublic has sold more than 16 million records worldwide. They are looking to add to that number with their latest album, Human , through Mosley Music Group and Interscope Records. The original release date was scheduled back for 2019, but lead singer Ryan Tedder said, "it was physically impossible to finish an album in the timeframe that we thought we needed." The album was preceded by the release of several singles, including "Rescue Me," "Wanted,' "Didn't I,' "Better Days," and "Run." There is also a special promotional single, "Somebody to Love,' written by songwriter JT Roach from the TV series Songland. Tedder served as a judge on the program, which aired on NBC for two seasons from 2019-2020. Toad the Wet Sprocket is back with a new full-length album titled Starting Now . The band started back in 1986 but broke up in 1998. They got back together in 2006, playing small clubs in the U.S. during the summer months. In late 2010, the band announced their official reunion as a full-time band. It has been eight years since their last release and only their second album since performing. Lead singer Glen Phillips said if there's a theme to these songs, it's hope. "We've all been through a crazy couple of years," he said. The band will be on tour starting in early September and through July 2022. That should give fans ample opportunity to see and hear the new songs, as well as much loved classics.

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