10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: July 2016

From a British singer-songwriter to an Internet-born firebrand

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William Tyler
Angelina Castillo6/10

William Tyler

Sounds Like: Ry Cooder playing Kraftwerk (part country twang, part mechanical European rhythms), yielding driving music perfect for passing through ghost towns

For Fans of: Bill Frisell, John Fahey, Buddy Miller

Why You Should Pay Attention: In 2013, Lambchop guitarist Tyler had just started touring for his solo album Impossible Truth when he had a sudden attack of agoraphobia in regards to the U.S. highways system. The only way he could continue was to avoid interstates and travel the back roads. So Tyler, who was picked by Jack White to open his 2015 Nashville arena gig, spent the next few years exploring America's bypassed and dying small towns, while also reading books like George Packer's decline-of-empire narrative The Unwinding. Tyler's musical response was his new album Modern Country, a collection of beautiful instrumentals that evokes the stark desolation of this new invisible dustbowl. Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche and members of Hiss Golden Messenger are among the contributing players.

He Says: "Detouring through these weird little small towns, I started seeing this thing I tried to put my finger on: What is changing about our country during this slow fade? There's this box culture of cities and interstates and suburbs we live in, but it has also destroyed small-town commerce and left those people with nothing. I started thinking about it from a nostalgic, socialist angle. That's what I wanted this record to be about."

Hear for Yourself: Modern Country's "Gone Clear" balances clattering electronic effects with a modal folk-rock riff that recalls classic Richard Thompson. David Menconi

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