10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: March 2018

From the Hank Jr. honky-tonk of Dillon Carmichael to the ethereal Laurel Canyon folk-pop of Savannah Conley

Whiskey Wolves of the West
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Greg Giannukos1/10

Whiskey Wolves of the West

Sounds Like: What the players and songwriters for your favorite country stars do when they want to have fun making music

For Fans of: Sturgill Simpson, the Black Crowes, Wheeler Walker Jr.

Why You Should Pay Attention: Leroy Powell and Tim Jones' previous credits are too numerous to count, with Powell a go-to session player for Dave Cobb for the past decade and Jones an equally prolific songwriter who fronted the band the Truth & Salvage Co. The two didn't meet until they attended a party in Los Angeles, where Jones found Powell – there on a date with Winona Ryder – in a hot tub drinking Cristal from a boot. The flamboyantly named Whiskey Wolves of the West made their debut at Stagecoach Festival in 2016, channeling the psychedelic theatricality of Powell's previous band the Messengers into a good-humored, though genuine, exercise in country fundamentals. Combining an outlaw sensibility with some astute commentary on the Music City establishment, the pair penned songs full of double entendres and allusions to the life of a working musician. Country Roots, the band's first LP, was released March 2nd via Rock Ridge Music.

They Say: "It's nice to be a part of so many different things. When you're playing in a band, you're doing the same kind of music. Then you get thrust into these other scenarios and you're able to just play a character. You're not really working on yourself so much, like an actor," Powell says of his side work, which includes playing for Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton and Shooter Jennings. "We've lived so many different characters through this," Jones adds. "We get the sense of irony, we get the sense of entertainment. The first song we wrote, 'No. 1 (The Ballad of Dallas Davidson),' I was like, 'I just want to call it "No. 1" so we can say the first song we wrote was Number One.' So [we went] into it with that kind of humor, but then it became a really serious song about songwriting and inspiration. It's a good mixture of both."

Hear for Yourself: "Lay That Needle Down," a loose sing-along jam that crosses Neil Young with Lynyrd Skynyrd, connects the act of songwriting with addiction, romance and the simple joy of dropping the needle on a turntable. J.G.