Nashville Artists to Watch – 2022

By Ryan G

It’s here. We at Tuned Up continuously have our minds blown by how often people read our lists of Nashville artists we think you should keep an eye on. By no means is this list meant to be exhaustive. But these are some highlights of what have crossed the radar of Ryan Getz (Columbus, OH) and Morgan Fisher (Nashville) in the last year.

We are confident you’ll find something you enjoy below. Take a gander, and then follow the playlist.

Tai Shan

This artist’s vocals grabbed me right away. Her delivery of important truths and personal experience reflecting the times we live in is straightforward and impossible to ignore. The folk-pop artist fits nicely into the Nashville scene, and seeks to bring her pleasant sound to the masses, but doesn’t want to be too nice along the way. Shan is a hustler, making the most of the past couple of years by starting her own school for aspiring musicians who want to learn voice, guitar, ukulele, or songwriting. -RG

Motherly Jet

When you’re in the company of Tuned Up family VEAUX, you know you’ve probably found a gem. Such is the case with Motherly Jet, the alter ego of someone I met at a mid-March VEAUX show (heh, that rhymes) in Nashville. From the nu-disco of “Like a Jet” to the bubbly alt track “Charli” Motherly Jet is a project primed for the masses. -RG

Essy

This artist puts a big emphasis on the “synth” in “synthpop.” If you look up Essy on social media, you’ll think to yourself, “gee, here’s another Nashville pop artist.” But go to Spotify and you’ll see synthwave and retrowave playlists galore. This hidden quality of sorts is a big part of Essy’s charm. “Dancefloor” is a bop of hers that I would definitely consider to be charming. -RG

CHLSY

There’s something angsty and forlorn about Chlsy’s latest single “vancouver.” The trio, who are supporting rising Tik Tok rockstars The Criticals on tour later this spring, have an intangible quality to their sound that immediately hooked yours truly. The aesthetic that this band brings to mind is that of driving down a highway at dusk in early autumn. Not only can you catch the namesake of Chelsy on tour, but you can also hear her hosting multiple shows on tastemaker radio platform 96.7FM YoCo. -RG

HØVDING

Searching for the next big cinematic project out of Nashville? Look no further. This is a father-daughter project, with the ethereal vocals of young Nika Jane and her father, production wiz Geoff Duncan (aka Duncan Sparks). As you may guess from the name, the direction of the project is Nordic in nature and doesn’t shy away from darkness. Catch this band on the soundtrack of the next dystopian Netflix drama. -RG

Manny Blu

Have you ever heard an artist mix country and pop punk? You’re either going to love what Manny Blu does or hate it. No in between. However, it’s undeniable that Manny’s music was made for such a time as this. Could Manny’s persona become as ubiquitous as Post Malone? Time will tell. Catch Manny on tour this summer with Dallas Smith. -RG

Shockley

I have to laugh at Shockley’s self-imposed descriptor of his tunes sounding like “90’s baby making music.” I’m definitely hearing the JT parallels in “The Only One.” I’m particularly intrigued by the way he is able to seamlessly transition between soulful funk and pop bops. Shockley’s next show is at the legendary, back from the dead Basement East venue (June 10th). Support indie venues in Nashville! Also, Charlotte Sands (who is currently taking over the alt scene) endorses this artist. Do with that info what you will. -RG

Nite Tides

“Sun drenched indie rock” is a perfect descriptor for this band. The ironically titled “Live and Die in Misery” almost sounds too perfectly produced. If it were me I’d turn up the reverb a bit more, but this is a welcome introduction to the Lightning 100 endorsed act. For fans of The Cure, The War on Drugs, and Day Wave. I hope those bands are reading this. -RG

Cowboy Mugshot

Cowboy Mugshot emerged from isolation, the loss of home, his first love and his dream career as a touring drummer with his former band Brightside. Brightside rose to the top of the local ranks and graduated to touring nationally, opening for bands like We the Kings, Mayday Parade, Alien Ant Farm, Socialburn, Senses Fail, and any other band that needed to sell tickets in Tallahassee.

In developing his own sound drawing from jazz, trip hop, EDM, rap and post grunge influences, Cowboy Mugshot emerged into the genre bending chameleon he is today. He ripped his soul open and bled into his new recordings all while having fun along the way and including members of his former band in the process.

He has posted clips of songs like ‘Wires Crossed’ to TikTok and has gained over 2.6 million views. -MF

Old Sea Brigade

Old Sea Brigade has returned, continuing a breakout stretch that’s seen the Nashville songwriter praised for making “some of the best quarantine art” and as one of SPIN’s “favorite musicians” of last year. 

Described as “melodic and memorable with warm and hazy production,” Old Sea Brigade has an ability to chronicle shared experiences so potently. -MF

Daisha McBride

It takes guts to create a social media tag that is simple “@the_rapgirl” instead of your name. That shows bigtime confidence in your music, and you have to have the goods to back it up. Fortunately, this is the case for Daisha McBride. She’s on the road all the summer, including the inaugural NIVA (National Independent Venue Association) conference in Cleveland, OH. Seriously though, not only does McBride have the rap chops, the production and song structures just consistently slap. -RG

Reaux Marquez

The best music referrals are often word of mouth. In this case, Nashville MC Reaux Marquez was a name sent my way by Aaron Wagner of VEAUX – a very well rounded artist and producer, in this music fan’s opinion. Reaux has found himself in a number of high profile environments lately, everything from sporting events to local showcases (the good kind, not the cash grab kind). His 2021 release No Roads is a gritty and compelling listen. -RG

Future Crib

For the five-piece Nashville-based band, happiness isn’t so much a pass as it is a process, or the result of a transitional and sometimes tumultuous period. As drummer and vocalist Noah Pope puts it, the record’s central theme revolves around recontextualizing the parts of life that are less than pleasant. “a catchy, nostalgic-sounding indie-rock bop that effortlessly expresses the euphoria of youthful love in modern times.” -MF

Namir Blade

The Mello Music Group rapper and instrumentalist premiered a single via the esteemed outlet The Fader recently, and is dropping a full length album, Metropolis, in June. The artist draws from a bevy of subcultures that nerds and hip hop heads will appreciate. I’m loving the cyberpunk inspired album art he’s rocking, personally. -RG

Maggie Miles

A visceral and cinematic outpouring of alt-pop and rock energies, Maggie Miles’ debut album ‘Am I Drowning or Am I Just Learning How to Swim?’ was a dark and instantly memorable introduction. Miles’ most recent single release, ‘ASTHMA’ has only further proven her place on this list and is certainly one of the most exciting alt-pop artists in Nashville we are excited to watch grow. – MF

Flight Attendant

In one of my favorite band comparisons I’ve read in some time, Flight Attendant is described by Turnupthevolume as “Warpaint having a dance with Best Coast.” While the band name might evoke notions of a dream pop act (one of my favorites, Fine Animal, had a great track called Boarding Area) the result is something a bit more organic in sound. The sound is at times unpredictable but always cohesive. -RG

Jive Talk

Jive Talk began as the project of longtime friends Oliver Pierce (lead vocals/guitar), Isaac Middleton (guitar/synth/vocals), and Ben Dunn (bass/vocals). After working long-distance for some time, the group solidified in the winter of 2021 in Nashville, adding Philip Walker (drums/vocals) and Andres Ahogado (guitar/synth/vocals). The band has since exploded on the live circuit, capturing audiences with their engaging and high energy performances. We truly haven’t seen a show with so much personality in ages. You can catch Jive Talk rocking jumpsuits with choreographed dances that will make you feel like you’re living in a 70’s exercise class. -MF

Teddy and the Rough Riders

Country rock-n-roll band Teddy and The Rough Riders‘ debut EP is about to take the music industry by storm. The Nashville, TN natives have the unique ability to combine almost every genre, so I would not even single out their music as country rock. 

Ryan Jennings (Bass, vox), Jack Quiggins (Guitar, vox), Luke Schneider (Pedal Steel), and Nick Swafford (Drums), have something special going on with Teddy and The Rough Riders and we are seeing that with their debut EP.

With any combination of country, rock, Americana/folk, psychedelic pop, and many others, Teddy and The Rough Riders debut is a 6 song EP containing a myriad of sounds. -MF

AMAVA

AMAVA found herself not quite part of the gang after a move to Oregon early in her teenage years, for a slower pace of familial life; try as she might, she just couldn’t fit in.

Hiding behind an extrovert facade, she struggled to find true expression and turned to music – fashioning those anecdotes into song.

And now she’s in Nashville, one of the great musical meccas of the States, 25 years old; and ready to start offering her pure pop vision. -MF

Caroline Culver

Caroline Culver is based in Nashville, but was raised in Atlanta. She describes the connection to her song, “Honest.” The song is about being in denial and hiding from your real emotions. Whether those feelings stem from a toxic relationship or something else; I think no matter what – the most important thing to do in life is get real – confront these things. This song grows a new meaning in my life as I continue to sit with it. Her latest single, “London” is a moody, rainy broken love story. “London reveals how problems follow us regardless of where you flee. This song is me having a wake-up call to letting go of someone, because no city, no matter how new and exciting it may be, could ever mend or revive that relationship.” -MF

The Dreaded Laramie

Photo credit: Mariana Souza

“Where do all the hardcore kids go after the house show ends?” the band questions in one of their most on brand songs. It’s a tongue in cheek reference to existential crises. I can relate to coping with things that way. The band just dropped their EP Everything a Girl Could Ask For via the quickly emerging label Wiretap Records. Look for this act to bring their powerpop sound everywhere in the coming months. Fans of Snarls, Alvvays, and unassuming angst will enjoy this band. -RG

Annie DiRusso

Up and coming indie rocker Annie DiRusso pours her heart out on her latest drop, “Infinite Jest.” On this track, Annie tells the story of a long distance love that’s turned sour. The artist reps both NYC and Nashville, and you can hear the influences of both cities throughout her music. In Annie’s nine singles, she mixes garage rock sounds with catchy hooks. But “Infinite Jest” focuses on the garage rock sound with an emphasis on the intimate lyrics. -MF

Abigail Osborn

Photo Credit: Dawson Freeman

singer-songwriter Abigail Osborn was earning her degree in music business from Belmont University when she started to daydream in her classes about actually being a musician. So she did what any ambitious songwriter living in Nashville would do: She dropped out of school to pursue songwriting full-time. 

Her upcoming single, “Break My Heart,” has a totally different vibe from “Drive All Night.” The song, which drops Friday, April 30, is about Osborn’s tendency to get into relationships with guys who won’t commit.

She says the song is all about female empowerment and flipping conventional roles in which women are being played and hurt by naive, non-committal men; instead, the woman in this song finally takes control of the dynamic. -MF

Distend

Distend started with an endorsement from Delayed Gratification Records, one of the preeminent curators of everything loud in the indie realm. They have managed to befriend two of our favorite indie acts in Nashville at the same time, and run the gamut of several heavy genres (noise, emo, punk, black metal, hardcore, and more) in less than two minutes (“Sin”). This pissed off band might piss you off too. Mission accomplished. -RG

Rock Eupora 

Clayton Waller, the Mississippi-raised, Nashville-based artist known as Rock Eupora, creates a unique blend of gritty rock and shimmering pop. Waller has developed his fuzz pop sound over the course of three full-length albums and an EP – which he wrote, performed, and produced himself.

The energy of Rock Eupora is fully realized in the live performance. Typically operating as a 4-piece, the band is somewhat of a revolving door of friends. On stage, their camaraderie collides with the electricity of the songs, leaving no room for even a second of monotony. Waller & co. maintain a steady touring schedule, bringing the action-packed show nationwide. -MF

The Minks

The Minks are Nashville’s “psychedelic-blues” band, heavy on the rock and roll. We’re talking low-down, all the way, purse-lipped, eyes-shut, head-whirling kind of groove. In 2015, on a search for creative community, Nikki Barber started the band based on the idea that “if you don’t create, you’ll combust”. Just like a rock and roll circus, you never know what you’re going to get, but you know it’ll be good.

Inspired by the difficult times we’ve all faced over the last couple years, The Minks‘ new single, “Lavender,” is a mantra; it’s encouragement to give yourself a little medicine and let it do its trick. -MF

Khamsin

I’m told this band is recommended for fans of From Indian Lakes, but they are so much more than that. Catching them live with Antlerhead brought to mind a bevy of other comparisons, such as Turnover, several post rocks, and perhaps even more recent Title Fight (if Hyperview can be considered recent). The band has this manner of giving a performance that is high energy and engaging, but kinda laid back at the same time. It doesn’t fully make sense on paper, but you’ll just need to come to a show to experience it for yourself. The band recently ripped a high profile gig with math-rockers Delta Sleep and are promoting their debut full length this spring. -RG

Rynn

“Best known for her single, “Islands,” which has been streamed on Spotify nearly 9 million times, alt/dream-pop artist Rynn has been busy writing for others as well as working on her own projects. After graduating from Belmont University in Nashville in 2016, the Ohio-native released her debut EP, Nightfire’s, and moved to LA to continue songwriting. In addition to the rise of “Islands,” Rynn’s song, “Talkin” took on a life of its own when the artist/DJ R3HAB discovered the song and released a dance version of it featuring Rynn’s vocals. Since then, Rynn’s palette of sounds has continued to evolve as she appeared on season one of NBC’s Songland. Rynn has since returned to Nashville to continue to pursue song writing. -MF

Elke

Musician and model Kayla Graniger released an LP last year produced by Zac Farro (Paramore, Halfnoise) and has been quietly infiltrating significant music cirlces and events worldwide. She recently toured with Natalie Bergman, and is set to bring her eccentric pop-rock to the masses. She is renowned for her emphasis on the lower end of her vocal register. -RG

Winona Fighter

I would describe this sound as a place where happiness and anger meet. This thrash-inspired pop punk artist is polished and chock full of attitude. Recently, she opened the sold out EP release show of previous Nashville artist to to Watch Notelle at the famed High Watt. The debut EP, Father Figure, is out now. Time to let off some steam. -RG

Mozart Gabriel

The fact that this artist’s heritage is underrepresented in the industry piqued my curiosity, but his chops sealed the deal as a Nashville Artist to Watch. Native American by ethnicity, this artist splits his time between Nashville, Barcelona, and New Mexico. So, to say that he’s well rounded might be understatement. His single “Hold Back” is a pop rock gem meant for a late night drive with someone special. The ending titles of his music video for “Hold Back” read, “Don’t hold back on the things that you love, it’s never too late.” Solid advice. -RG

Volunteer Department

Nashville indie label Cold Lunch Recordings officially introduced the newest signee to their roster, Volunteer Department, with the premiere of the single “Robert Downey, Jr.”. The single comes from the Nashville-based octet’s upcoming album Three Dreams with Alma, which will be released later this summer, and it follows the April release of a well-received split single with fellow Indiana native and Cold Lunch artist Heaven Honey. -MF

Sun Seeker

Nashville’s Sun Seeker plays with the effortless precision that is hard-won over time — emanating the breezy confidence that comes with years of collaboration and friendship. Alex Benick (guitar, vocals), Asher Horton (bass guitar), and Ben Parks (drums) have cultivated their tight-and-loose pocket of psychedelic folk rock since they were high schoolers cutting their teeth in the immersive underbelly of Music City’s early-aughts indie rock scene. The trio’s jangle-pop lens on timeless folk songwriting has landed them on genre-spanning bills with the likes of Whitney, Beach House and Peach Pit; and on the roster of Jack White’s Third Man Records, which released the band’s debut EP Biddeford (2017) to wide acclaim. -MF

YOUR BEST FRIEND’S FAVORITE BAND

YOUR BEST FRIEND’S FAVORITE BAND found the theater world and fell in love with the art of rich storytelling camouflaged within catchy tunes. He believes we live to make the world a better place for those we love and those to come. This is one of the most energetic shows we have seen in Nashville in ages. For fans of Walk The Moon, Neon Trees and New Politics. -MF

Stephen Sanchez

After blowing up on Tiktok with his single “Lady By the Sea”, Stephen Sanchez has been stunning us with new creations, one after the next. His debut EP What Was, Not Now takes us on an emotional journey through a broken relationship. Raw and beautiful, Sanchez writes from the heart, sure to give listeners all the feels. Stephen’s romantic new single, “Until I Found You” is one of the trending sounds on TikTok today and has touched the lives of many. -MF

Baybe

Baybe started as a voice over artist for children’s dolls when she was three years old. As a teenager she was in various bands as a keyboardist, guitarist and background vocalist. At 17 she started a folk project “Love, Abbey” and released an EP. That EP caught the attention of a synch-licensing publisher in Nashville and she began flying up frequently to write with other producers and artists. Since then, her sound has evolved into a marriage of Hip Hop and Heavy, inspiring a name change to “BAYBE”, so that she could have more sonic freedom and explore sounds she is passionate about. -MF

Holden James

Holden James is Nashville’s very own e-boy, putting pop punk on the map in Nashville. His new EP ‘Coping Mechanisms’ dives into the themes of vices helping us endure the challenges of life and love. Holden has a gift of storytelling in a very tangible and relatable way without compromising the integrity of his own journey. As a member of country outfit, The Boat Boys, Holden has proven his ability to diversify his writing style and genre bending abilities. -MF

Rusty Shipp

Rusty Shipp is a nautical rock ‘n’ roll band from Nashville, TN, named after frontman Russ T. Shipp, whose goal is to make the most creative, catchy music possible, as evidenced by their thought-provoking, underwater grunge sound.

Nashville-based independent rock band Rusty Shipp dropped their latest single earlier this month, a track titled “King of the Deep.” 

The song is a blend of melodic guitars and ghastly and enchanting choruses, all with an overtone of water like echos to complete the seaboard vibes. -MF

Anna Mae

Anna Mae is a Singer Songwriter with an ethereal pop sound. As heard on The Ellen Show, The Bachelorette, and in various television shows and films, she has proven to write relatable songs that are compatible with the big screen. Anna Mae’s full length album, “For The Romantic’s” released 5/13. We recommend Anne Mae to fans of Lana Del Rey, Lorde and Lykke Li. -MF

Wraithfinder

This blackgaze artist got a rave review from our own Nat Fitzgerald, an expert on all things heavy and atmospheric (I kid – but not really). So, I’d be remiss not to include. The brand of heavy music this artist puts out is compelling and gripping. There’s dark beauty in their sound that was oddly therapeutic to hear when my own mood was in a bit of a weird place. -RG

Roanoke

One a whim, I found myself at The Basement to experience a single release show by Roanoke. The Weird Sisters, a previous pick of mine for Nashville artists to watch, was the name that brought in the door, but it was the single “Selene” that really sold me on Roanoke as one to watch. This band definitely carries themselves in that quintessential indie Nashville way (maybe its something I’ve entirely made up as an Ohioan who likes to go to Nashville). But it’s this intangible “thing” that is exclusive to this scene that sells Roanoke for me. To call them an an Americana band is too limiting. There’s something cosmic at play here as well. -RG

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