40 Nashville bands to watch [always more to come]
Tuned Up was overdue for another list. These are so fun to put together. Lately we’ve been really into the Nashville scene in general. We find new artists almost daily that we like from there. Here are 40 of them. Chances are we’ll do a list with another 40 in the near future. Til then, enjoy:
Alaina Cross: I’m including this artist because I picked up on her via Lux’s Instagram stories and I really enjoy the single “Six Ft.” Leave it to this artist to take a song with a somber sounding title and make it so massive and groovy. Her voice reminds me a tiny bit of Kelly Clarkson. I promise that’s supposed to be a compliment. Plus, Alaina Cross is a ubiquitous sounding name that makes me feel like she should be everywhere already, in spite of her being an emerging artist.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/276829678″/]
Andreas Moss: Intricate beats and powerful vocals. That’s about all you need to know about this artist. Live he likes to make references to his “Swedish heart” and comes across as a lot more down to earth than one might expect. The music is arena and Top 40 ready. This is the type of guy I would wish that kind of success on. His singles “Stop Me” and “Thinking About You” are already making waves, with the latter racking up over 2,000,000 streams on Spotify to date!
Biyo: This might be the most creative of the Nashville wave of new-indie pop musicians I’ve heard yet. I checked out their music solely on randomly happening on their Instagram. Their imagery, much like their music, gives me a feeling I can’t quite articulate. If you want to know what they’re all about, start with “Focus.” Their latest, “Moments, is streaming below:[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/318753185” /]
Blind Breed: Life is weird. Sometimes you go to SXSW and meet two brothers who hand you CDs of their own respective solo projects. And then, sometimes you meet those brothers at Audiofeed Festival two years late when you see their band play. That happened, and that band is emotive rock band Blind Breed. I hesitate to call the band emo, because while the music certainly draws from that, the band’s live vibe just isn’t all that sad. They’re starting to do things like play festivals and tour so keep an ear out, please.
Brineaboy: [photo credit – Kristy West Photos] – This band puts a unique twist on electronic rock. Columbus duo Damn The Witch Siren played with this group when they passed through Nashville, and were the primary catalyst for this writer checking them out. I’m really digging the post-punk-ish darkwave vibes that still creep toward electropop territory at times. The black and white aesthetic is perfect. Anytime seeing this band other than late at night would be out of place.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/314714300″ /]
The By-Gods: For anyone that accuses this write up of being too pop heavy and not having enough old fashioned rock – I present Exhibit A. The By-Gods. For fans of White Reaper, I’d say. Also, a quick glance at their Facebook page reveals a rigorous touring schedule. I’d bet money on their live shows being super high energy and raw.
Corey Kilgannon: Ohio Artist To Watch Keyoung played a house show with this dude on his tour with Levi the Poet. His endorsement of Corey is enough for me. A quick listen to his Audiotree live session confirms my suspicion of greatness. “As Above, So Below” is a brutal tune. Corey has no filter, but in a tasteful way.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/317163713″ /]
The Daybreaks: Want to hear a summery jam that also flirts with dream pop? “Do Whatever Gets You High” is a genre fusion lover’s playground. This might seem like hyperbole but this song is just really hitting the spot right now. Plus, I’ve lost count at how many emails this blog has received publicizing this band. Let this be a lesson that persistence can, indeed, pay off.
Faux Ferocious: This garage rock meets shoegaze band is infectious and ideal for the Pitchfork/NPR crowd. They meander freely between a steady driving rhythm and a haze, with songs sometimes squarely remaining on one or the other. Not everything is a hybrid of genres, and I respect that. It keeps things interesting on their EP.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/325127799″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
FJØRA – I’m having a hard time remembering where I first heard about this artist, but I think it was through Fleurie or Whissell. Her brand of pop sounds like female offspring of Glass Animals. Her breathy vocals are some of the most distinct I’ve heard in awhile, and the almost abrasive melodies in her singles are infectious and fun.
Forest Fire Gospel Choir: With a name like that, I really wanted to like this band. Fortunately I do. America needs more straightforward Americana influenced rock on the airwaves and FFGC delivers in a very straightforward, albeit satisfying manner. A quick glance at their Facebook profile reveals that they had a signature cocktail for an evening at Marathon Music Works. That’s pretty cool.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/263971351″ /]
The Foxies: I (Ryan) first came across this band at SXSW earlier this year, and was impressed by their stage presence and confidence. Sometimes you have to fake it till you make in the industry, and that involves taking on the persona of a “big” band early on. This isn’t a knock on the Foxies – it’s an effective way to get folks to take you seriously, and at the end of the day we are all just flying by the seat of our pants anyway. Their single “Wander In Lust” is on the 63rd edition of the iconic “Now That’s What I Call Music!” compilation.
H\RPR: This emotive hardcore band is one that we’ve covered on here before. But I gained new perspective last year when I saw them at Audiofeed festival. Frontman Matt Penfound owns the stage, and gets lost in his songs. At one point he threw his mic in the dirt and stormed around the tent with a scowl on his face. I found it humorous, but also respected his dedication to the craft.
Idle Threat.: A combination of seeing this band on the lineup at Audiofeed Festival (I missed them, sadly) and multiple friends telling me to check this band out has them on this list. Sometimes you gotta listen to the people, ya know? But seriously, the band performs an uplifting brand of melodic hardcore that I hope travels through Columbus very soon.
Isaac Stinson: Man, this kid can spit. The 22 year old hip hop artist from Nashville is on his first ever tour at this moment, alongside nerdcore hip hop artist Spoken Nerd and producer Quiet Entertainer. His flow is impressive and his demeanor is down to earth. He pokes fun at himself as a white guy doing hip hop, which I like.
James Droll: I listened to this guy based on a tip from the dudes in Phangs. He started to show up in Instagram stories of artists I follow in Nashville, almost as if on cue. “Bad For You” is an abrasive, eerie pop banger that I love. In a sea of pop artists in Nashville, it’s not enough to just add a little bit of atmospheric effect – you really have to go for it. Droll plainly gets this.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/336028864″ /]
Jeffrey James: The Nashville pop label SouthxSea hasn’t done me wrong yet. They are the team behind Biyo and also have put out a handful releases for Jeffrey James. We recommend the song “Hand Grenade” as a good place to start with this rockin’ synth pop artist. This artist would pair well with Andreas Moss on a show. The feeling I get while listening to these artists is very similar.
Jung Youth: Are you in search of your next banger? This artist’s track “Only One King” ought to do it. Youth is a hip hop artist, but is performs with a decidedly Nashville pop aesthetic. If you’re familiar with this artist you probably already know the aforementioned song was handpicked by the NFL for their Thursday Night Football theme, but it bears repeating anyhow.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/325643216″ /]
Kyle Cox: I have a feeling I’m skipping a ton of worthy country/folk artists on this list, but I’m glad I ran across Kyle Cox at least. Kyle, this list is proof that being persistent on social media pays off. Ha! But in all seriousness, but I respect the songwriting and although this sound is out of my wheelhouse, I’m finding this sound enjoyable. Have you ever heard of a folk artist with twang covering “Seven Nation Army?” Now you have. Kyle’s treatment of the song makes me think of The Decemberists.
Lacquer: The wall of sound ambient indie effect this band brought to the table at the Front Porch Stage was perfect for the end of a long day. I would have watched their full set if I wasn’t about to fall asleep standing up. When listening to “Foundation” I have the sudden urge to hear this band get pumped through a massive PA. Gosh, I sure hope they tour soon.
Light Ends Darkness: This pop duo has a hip hop flair to their music and if the single “Impossible” is any indication the band is arena ready. I actually have no clue what the group believes but I could see them on the Winter Jam tour with their “hype up the crowd” sound and optimistic image.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/280236538″ /]
Little Raven: I wrote about a project Camille Faulker was involved with last time I did a list of Tennessee bands, so it only seems fitting I do so once again. Psych-folk meets indie rock band Little Raven has vocals that arguably are the most distinct of this list. Little Raven rocks hard without ever getting terribly loud, a unique skill.
Lost Stars: Sometimes I listen to music and I just say, “enough with the polish, I just want a straightforward [insert genre here] band.” Lost Stars does that for pop rock. Their music also has a very “wholesome” feel to it. Their sound lends itself to the end of summer. It’s peppy and accessible, yet at the same time thoughtful. I could see this band on a tour with Mat Kearney or someone similar.
Lux: I first heard of this artist via a good friend who moved to Nashville a couple of years ago. Brittany Lane has a massive voice and has made a name for herself tracking vocals for a number of electronic artists. LUX is set to release debut solo material later this year. I recall hearing a song on SoundCloud last year and really enjoying it, so I’m optimistic. I can tell she’s going for more than just being another electropop artist.
Medic: I heard about this band a couple of years ago through a Columbus friend who is a mutual fan of Mutemath and Paper Route. Their soulful take on experimental ambient rock won me over quickly and Tuned Up ended up doing a review of their record Olympia. Now, they have relocated to Nashville and they just released an emotional single titled “Smoke.” The vibey ballad has Jeremy Claudio of Tiger Drive (a Tennessee band to watch from last year) as a cowriter.
Native Tongue: This band plays a sludgy sort of post-hardcore. Seeing them live was definitely a “wall of sound” experience that reminded me of a few times I’ve seen o’brother. They like to perform behind a wall of smoke and let the music do the talking, rather than flailing about on stage. It keeps things a bit mysterious.
Nightly: The pop group’s aesthetic fits pretty accurate their music. This band is taking heartthrob songs and making them sound cool. Who says love songs have to be corny? “Talk to Me” and “No Vacancy” I’m especially in love with.
Okey Dokey: What in the world is psych soul? Okey Dokey is here to teach you a lesson. Want to hear something that sounds like it was straight out of the early 60s but dipped in reverb? Here ya go.
On Point: I’m only 30 seconds into listening to this band and I feel like I’m back at Audiofeed Festival. The vocals remind me of Josh Gilbert of Household before he blew out his vocal cords and had to sing the normal way going forward. Sometimes shrill yelling and a fast rhythm section is what you need, and On Point is what the doctor ordered.
The Outer Vibe: This band is a great mix of old-school and new-school alternative rock and roll music. Frontman Sean Zuidgeest has a versatile voice, and they’ve been making a name for themselves on the festival circuit with their sultry, sunny rock songs. They recently relocated from their hometown in Michigan to Nashville and I’m excited to see how they’ll integrate into the scene.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/300783767″ /]
Pale Lungs: A lot of the bands on this list are groups I’ve been hearing buzz about for a long time amongst my group of underground music loving peers, and Pale Lungs are no exception. I turned on their Strawberry EP on a night where I was in the mood for some pensive indie rock and “Sanctuaries” hit the spot. Jake from Everyone Leaves is fully backing this band, and I think that’s a pretty rad endorsement.
Phangs: You guys already know why, we write about him all the time. And we’ve booked him in Columbus twice. But in all seriousness, Get in My Arms jams and the single “One and Lonely” (not on the record) will probably be in my top ten for the year. Phangs shows seem to be following in the footsteps of Vesperteen in terms of drawing dedicated fans from the far reaches of the country.
Pinion: [photo credit – Errick Easterday] – Tell us you have come across a blog that throws a bunch of pop artists at you and then shocks your system with some deathgrind. I dare you. Go listen to the existential brutality of Pinion and try not to bob your head to that breakdown in “Lithium Extermination.” I added this artist to this list so long ago I forget how I found them but I’m glad I did. My goodness, those vocals are out there. “Abrasive” might be my favorite genre description I’ve seen in some time.
The Persuaded: When a prolific spoken word poet touring with all the great CCM artists of today tells you to check out a metalcore band, you pay attention. This band takes me back to my high school days of listening to RadioU in my room. This sound is nostalgic and will always feel a bit timeless to me. Who said metalcore has to be dead? These guys are touring hard and I really like the song “To My Brothers.” It reminds me a bit of Inhale Exhale.
Raviner: Honestly, it took a minute for this band’s music to completely win me over. But Kamber’s powerhouse vocals and the growth in songwriting from their Disconnected EP to the Beast EP is a pretty convincing argument to hop on their train. Their sound is somewhere between PVRIS and old school Flyleaf. I could see them touring with Starset. And tour they must!
Ron Gallo: This artist was one of the lone artists on the Nashville House SXSW lineup that wasn’t some form of electropop. Now, he is quickly rising with his brand of aggressive Americana inspired rock n’roll, and he is garnering radioplay (such as on the tastemaking CD1025) and placement on up and coming festivals (such as Nelsonville). Opinions of the enjoyability factor of his music seem to be pretty universally positive, and he has toured with Tuned Up favorites White Reaper.
Salina Solomon: [photo credit – Megan Perez] Salina might be the most prolific songwriter I’ve ever met. Songwriting comes as naturally to her as sleeping and eating, and the single “Nightmare” proved to me she’s got the right stuff. She seems content for the moment to tour a little off the beaten path. She holds keen interest in several genres and so far her favorite Tuned Up discovery is Keyoung – which I didn’t expect.
Sweettalker: When I asked for Nashville bands to check out on my personal page at least five people backed Sweettalker. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’d heard their name already – generally a good sign. I’m happy to report that Sweettalker is good at writing summery straightforward rock and roll, because that’s what the song “’95” is. No frills. Just fun. When the curator of “Nashville Unsigned” and your friend in a southern Ohio nu-metal band back a group, that’s a good sign.
Truitt: I heard about this duo via Phangs at a show in June. There on here just for being dang catchy, and for being endorsed by another artist that I feel is going places. “Petals” is an early favorite of the band. The low end instrumentals are especially enjoyable to this writer.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/334771738″ /]
Whissell: This artist is entrenched in the Nashville pop movement, but stands out with a richer, deeper, and dare we say sultry voice. Her Spotify plays are taking off with good reason – the EP “Old Souls, Young Bodies” is aptly titled for the music entrenched within. Soulful vocals over the top of current-sounding arrangements of melodies. “Whiskey Please” is a Tuned Up favorite.