The Tennessee Whalers

Let's chalk it up to the fact that I just got through watching O' Brother Where Art Thou? 6 times in a row, (I teach for a living) but I am really digging The Tennessee Whalers. These harmonizing, down home, mandolin playing guys have exactly 2 songs for consumption and one of them is a Christmas song! Nevertheless, the Whalers aim to meld crystal clear harmonies with a modern edge. 

On their gently scathing song "Locks," they sing about a love that did quite a number on them begging her to give their heart back while simultaneously warning not to "come around here no more cause if you do I'll lock the door." These contradictions perfectly captures the confusing nature of a break-up that wasn't so easy. The Tennessee Whalers meld Americana folk with pop sensibilities much in the same way that other band cough-Mumford-cough does. "Locks" is just a taste and I would encourage everyone to definitely come around to listen to these guys more. Grab their free EP on NoiseTrade

The Tennessee Whalers-Facebook


Colony House

Not much can be found about Colony House, an indie alt-rock band from Nashville. Made up of former members of the now defunct band Caleb, Colony House consist of brothers Caleb and Will Chapman and their friend Scott Mills. They renamed the band after an apartment complex in which they all lived at some point in their lives, a way to take Nashville with them on the road. 

But if it's singer/songwriter, down home material you are looking for, these guys from Nashville don't really have those influences to deal with, not on their self-titled EP at least. "Keep on Keeping On" focuses on Caleb's soaring vocals with a powerful message of perseverance. There's also some excellent chugging guitars. You can also catch their song "Caught Me By Surprise" on the 2014 compilation album Nashville Indie Spotlight. It's a mid-tempo rocker that shows off everything to love about this up and coming band- catchy melodies, excellent vocals, and uplifting lyrics. Keep your eye out for their debut full length album When We Were Younger in 2014. 

Colony House- Facebook
Keep on Keepin' On-


Jonny & Shim

Athens, Georgia is a hotbed of up and coming music. It seems everyone is starting a band and trying to breakthrough there. (R.E.M., The B-52's, Widespread Panic and Alabama Shakes all cut their teeth there after all.) Jonny & Shim are a pop-rock looking to be the next big thing. And the funny thing is-they just might be.

On their self-titled EP, Jonny & Shim navigate laid back beats and melodic guitars that would fit in nicely on a Sublime record or even Jason Mraz. They shine on tracks like the groove filled "Blurry" which has a summer-y hook masking darker lyrics- "All of my days they're getting blurry/I was born to live and die". It's a definite highlight. 

But it's on the expansive sounding "One Little Lie," filled with soaring vocals and lush guitars, that really show Jonny & Shim's potential. It starts with clean guitars and snares but melds into a harmonious chorus. It's on this track where they shine both musically and lyrically. If this EP is any indication of where this band is headed, there are big things in store. 

Jonny & Shim- Facebook

One Little Lie


Hydra Melody

Full-blown alternative rock is not dead. You just have to dig for it. Hydra Melody fuse big choruses with catchy guitar hooks and soaring vocals. This San Antonio 5 piece rocks with a modern edge that is reminiscient of Third Eye Blind, which is fitting because they are opening for the '90s mainstays on their fall tour. 

They shine on singles like "California" which  is arena, not to mention radio, ready. Lead singer Jordan Berlanga pleads with a lost love singing "It's been a long time coming, but I can wait for years. Just come back to me," over a shimmering guitar line. And wait for years all of us alt-rock fans have been doing patiently. Hydra Melody provide a much needed rock boost to your playlist. They'll be right at home next to Imagine Dragons and Young the Giant. 

Hydra Melody- Facebook


Jared &the Mill

Folk-rock seems to be having its Golden Age right now. Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and even Avett Brothers are leading the charge. Banjo is no longer the death knell for rock music. In fact, folk-rock lends itself to multiple genres and thus can reach more fans. Jared & the Mill is a six-piece band from Arizona that produces toe-tapping tunes with a plumb. (The American answer to Mumford & Sons if anyone wants a comparison.)

Their debut album Western Expansion is loaded with twang and hooks to spare. Their signature tune Breathe Me In is a testament to being accepted fully in a relationship. It begins with gorgeous harmonies and acoustic guitar before the tempo picks up to full force. The title track though is what stopped me in my tracks. It's a classic follow your big city dreams song. Lines like, "The call you always thought was best was the very one that drove you out west," sets the tone, and the band builds to such a climax with lead singer Jared Kolesar reaching his vocal limits. It closes out a very solid debut from such a young band. 

With a powerhouse of a debut, Jared & the Mill are sure to force the folk-rock genre to sit up and take notice.

Jared & the Mill- Facebook
Breathe Me In-



 You know that juicer you bought because you wanted to get healthy. And then you read the recipe on the box and you're like, "Spinach, cucumber, flax seed, and a banana is not going to turn out great." And then you taste it...and you're like "uhhh...this combination is delicious. Who knew?" Grizfolk is like that. Americana rock with synth-pop sensibilities just does not sound like it would go down smoothly. One listen and you'll wonder why more bands aren't mixing it up like these guys. 

Lead single "The Struggle" is a bouncy synth-filled ode to 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' with hopeful lines like, "The struggle you are up against makes you who you are." Lead singer Adam Roth kills the vocals at every turn. On some tracks his voice is buzzed out against a percussion heavy beat as on "Hymnals," and others it's piercing with no effects as on the road weary "Vagabonds." 

Grizfolk is mixing genres with expertise and are definitely worth a taste. Pick up their EP sampler Indian Summer right now on NoiseTrade.

Grizfolk- Facebook
The Struggle- 


James Bay

If James Morrison and Ray LaMontage vocally morphed into one person it would be James Bay. The acoustically driven EP, The Dark of the Morning, is filled with soulful moody tracks. The most familiar may be "Move Together" a haunting melody delivered in a slow burn vocal. But it is on the more upbeat "When We Were on Fire" that really shows what Bay can do. With an underscore of an organ, hand claps, and of course, Bay's gravelly vocals, he forcefully sings of a relationship's better days. (We're losing light/Take me back when we were on fire.)

It seems cliche to say that James Bay could sing the phone book and make it sound good, but it fits here. If this is what Bay sounds like on an EP, only good things are in store for a full length. You can get The Dark of the Morning for free on NoiseTrade.

James Bay- Facebook
When We Were on Fire-


A Thousand Horses

Indie country rock sounds like it won't work. Usually bands try to please fans of both genres and end up alienating everyone. It's too country or too rock. A Thousand Horses does one better- they blur them. (Robin Thicke would be proud) Hailing from Nashville, these guys wear their roots on their sleeves. Their sophomore EP, titled The Landslide, is brimming with rollicking energy. "Tennessee Whiskey" is probably their most "country-fied" song with its story of the road taking its toll on a relationship.

Lead singer Michael Hobby has vocal grit to spare on the soaring mid-tempo rocker "What's Happening to Me," the ultimate 'it's not you, it's me' track. Hobby sings, "In the middle of my last free fall I was counting my mistakes/I was cleaning out my closet / Forgot how much these bones could weigh." Put your money on their future now.

A Thousand Horses- Facebook
What's Happening to Me-

Tennessee Whiskey-


The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers are an amalgamation of country, rock, and soul. They've perfectly blended genres to appeal to any person who just likes great musicianship. Their sound is accessibly bombastic with equal parts grit and polish. Their self titled debut comes out in August and if their first few singles are any indication, we are talking Mumford & Sons style domination.

"The Ceiling" starts with plucky acoustic guitar and a driving drum beat played with incredible force before quieting down to take the song into an unexpected direction; an excellent first taste.

"Backwoods Company" is a blistering barn stormer filled with hand claps and electric guitar that never lets up. The Wild Feathers know how to layer vocal harmonies to always ground their sound with strong melodies. Never before has a band demanded you take notice of their unique genre-spanning sound. The Wild Feathers are aptly named. 

The Wild Feathers- Facebook
The Ceiling-


Surfer Blood

While not a new band per se, alt-rockers Surfer Blood is back with their sophomore album Pythons. (out June 11) I've never really given these guys a chance until recently. Chalk it up to music tastes changing I guess. From the stuff I have heard off their new album, Surfer Blood has grown their music in leaps and bounds from their debut. Their songs seem more bombastic, hummable, and all around more mature.

"Demon Dance" kicks off Pythons with a hook so strong I'm singing in my head right now. Lead singer John Paul Pitts nails the vocal delivery with gusto on the closing moments of the song. This guitar driven album has many more alternative radio gems to spare. I envision Surfer Blood really hitting their much deserved commercial success much in the same way Passion Pit did earlier this year. If you're ready for smart, dark lyrics set to sunny hooks, check out Surfer Blood.

Surfer Blood- Facebook
Demon Dance-



Buzz is building for Bastille. These English lads create danceable synth-pop. A bit of a departure from my usual taste in music, but something about lead singer Dan Smith's voice piqued my interest. Vocally I'm reminded of Twin Atlantic, and musically I can hear a little of Phoenix and Franz Ferdinand. 

They released their debut album, Bad Blood, in March, and it is filled with excellent tracks. "Laura Palmer" is a yearning mid-tempo track about following one's heart. It's on "Pompeii," though, that they really find their groove. Filled with choir chants, drum solos, and bouts of killer harmonies, Bastille provide a refreshing take on pop. 

Bastille- Facebook


Bad Suns

One single and I'm sold. Formed in 2012, up and comers Bad Suns have a laid back groove. Before you know, you've listened to the whole song and hit replay without even realizing it. "Cardiac Arrest" lays the groundwork for the future for these guys. It tells of a single kiss being so electrifying that it literally stops your heart.

Bad Suns sound a little like The Bravery on first listen. They meld indie rock with pop sensibilities. Lots of electronic elements sprinkled throughout. Can't wait to hear more. 

Bad Suns- Facebook
Cardiac Arrest-


New Politics

The "Harlem Shake" is dead. Long live "Harlem." The new single from Danish alt-rock band New Politics, is not a dance craze, but it will sweep the nation. Lead singer David Boyd delivers your new favorite line "Shake it like a crack whore up in Harlem," with distorted vocals, while drummer Louis Vecchio keeps the beat at the forefront to give it some dance-ability.

Their new album, A Bad Girl in Harlem, is slated to drop on May 21st. New Politics rocks hard with a pop/punk sensibility, which is only to the listener's benefit. Mark my words, New Politics are about to blow up. Hop on the train now my friends. 

New Politics- Facebook


American Authors

Brooklyn's American Authors combine alt-rock and Americana in one fell swoop. With only a couple songs under their belt, American Authors are sure to catch on much like Imagine Dragons and fun. before them. Led by the bombastic vocals of Zac Barnett and the banjo licks of James Adam Shelley, these Authors bring something a little different to the scene.  

The optimistic "Believers" opens with a driving drum beat and plucky banjo, but these guys are far from your average Mumford & Sons bandwagon hoppers. They round out their sound with fuzzy guitars and vocals. 

But it is on "Best Day of My Life' that asserts itself as an earworm begging to dig itself in your subconscious and stay there. With its affirming chorus, Barnett is almost willing himself to have "the best day of [his] life." Only two songs and a cover of Ellie Goulding's "Lights" (that will make you actually want to hear that song again) American Authors are hitting all the right notes.

American Authors- Facebook
Best Day of My Life-



Greg Holden

I love it when new music lands in my lap, and I don't have to go digging for it. Target's latest commercial features music from the raspy voiced Scot, Greg Holden. Most notable for co-writing American Idol winner Phillip Phillips' "Home," Holden is your new obsession. 

The song featured in the ad is "She's Got Something" and is an acoustic ode to the girl you fall for in a distant city and can't seem to catch. (or really any girl you fall for that doesn't quite work out) "She was a tough one to restrain/She was the one that got away/Get me back to New York." Greg Holden's voice and songwriting are the real stars here. His genre is very modern right now combining Americana and singer/songwriter sensibilities. A great find that is sure to blow up after getting such great exposure from this ad.

Greg Holden- Facebook
She's Got Something-