Nashville has a fitting nickname: “Music City.” As the capital of country music, iconic artists like Elvis, Johnny Cash, the Everly Brothers, and Bob Dylan all flocked to the Tennessee capital to record seminal albums. But the city is undergoing a rock renaissance. Big names like Paramore, Kings of Leon, and Jack White all call Nashville home, and outside the Grand Ole Opry, a young indie rock scene is blossoming.
The annual Next BIG Nashville summit — which runs from Sept. 29-Oct. 2 — celebrates all corners of the city’s scene, and like the music it honors, the event is growing. This year, national acts like Yeasayer, Wavves, and RJD2 join a bill packed with about-to-break local acts that could soon step out of the shadows cast by Nashville’s country music juggernaut.
Below, check out SPIN’s top five up-and-coming artists from Nashville.
Sounds Like: The Runaways, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, PJ Harvey
Why They Matter: Kings of Leon and the Dead Weather picked this co-ed rock quartet to open for them on tour — and for good reason. Led by frontwoman Coco Hames’ hefty, throaty call, their catchy garage-punk sound is equal parts bristling and sexy.
You Should Know: Three quarters of the Ettes — Lindsay “Coco” Hames, Jeremy “Jem” Cohen, and Maria “Poni” Silver — moonlight in a band called Parting Gifts, fronted by Greg Cartwright (The Oblivians, Reigning Sound). Other well-known Nashvillians — the Raconteurs/Greenhornes’ Patrick Keeler, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach — lent their talents to Parting Gifts’ upcoming LP Strychnine Dandelion, out in October.
Sounds Like: Black Keys, Black Lips
Why They Matter: Jonas Stein (pictured) had a glimpse of mainstream success as the guitarist for now-defunct garage-rock outfit Be Your Own Pet, which signed to Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace label before their 2008 split. But as the frontman for Turbo Fruits, the 22-year-old rocker has stepped into the limelight and found his swaggering fit: a more matured surf- and blues-punk sound delivered with the youthful fun of his former band (lyrics about marijuana vaporizers, fried brains, stripping naked).
You Should Know: Turbo Fruits appeared in Drew Barrymore’s roller derby-focused directorial debut, Whip It, portraying the backing band for Nashville musician/actor Landon Pigg (who played the love interest of actress Ellen Page’s character).
Sounds Like: Bon Iver, Gillian Welch
Why She Matters: This alt-Americana singer/songwriter has a wide array of famous fans — Bon Iver, the Swell Season, and bluegrass star/Robert Plant collaborator Alison Krauss have all recorded or performed covers of Siskind’s songs (Krauss’ A Hundred Miles or More compilation, featuring a cover of Siskind’s “Simple Love,” even scored a Grammy nod). Siskind’s music is tender with personal lyrics, acoustic guitar, piano, and ethereal electric guitar, and her latest album, Say it Louder, is her best yet, highlighting her elegance and tight songcraft.
You Should Know: After Siskind wrapped a European tour this spring, she locked down in Colorado for six weeks this summer to cook up songs for Louder‘s forthcoming follow-up.
Sounds Like: The Ramones, The Kinks, Wavves
Why They Matter: Because Jack White says so. The gritty, rumbling garage-punk sound of Daniel Pujol’s surnamed project has earned the support of the White Stripes/Dead Weather/Raconteurs rocker, who’s produced a new Pujol single to be released October 2 via Third Man Records (naturally, on White’s preferred method of musical output: vinyl.)
You Should Know: Pujol’s also been releasing music via Infinity Cat Records, the homegrown label launched by JEFF the Brotherhood’s Jake and Jamin Orrall, which first earned recognition as the label home of the Orrall brothers’ former band, Be Your Own Pet. This fall, Pujol will be touring with JEFF the Brotherhood and the aforementioned Turbo Fruits.
THE HONEYMOON THRILLERS
Sounds Like: The Killers, Weezer, Kings of Leon
Why They Matter: This quintet’s slick, anthemic modern-rock sound is tailor made to conquer FM airwaves — and it’s already found a fan in one bonafide radio ruler: Kings of Leon bassist Jared Followill. He added low-end to the Thrillers’ self-titled debut, out now.
You Should Know: The Barlowes became Nashville rock-scene staples with their other project Luna Halo, which released a Rick Rubin-produced self-titled LP in 2007. Local girl done good Taylor Swift even covered Luna Halo tune “Untouchable” on her Fearless Platinum Edition release.