Sounds Like: Contemporary country-rock, performed by a group of Kentucky-based road warriors raised on Mellencamp and Petty
For Fans of: Turnpike Troubadours, a mainstream Jason Isbell, the midpoint between Hootie & the Blowfish and Darius Rucker's solo career
Why You Should Pay Attention: The band's self-titled debut tackles mainstream country music – a genre still headquartered in Nashville – from an outsider's perspective. "I grew up on bluegrass music," says co-founder Paul Priest, "and when I heard John Mellencamp's Scarecrow, it made me feel like I wasn't so uncool. He embraced rural subject matter and rural music, and he turned rock music into this regional thing." Jericho Woods' songs follow suit, mixing lyrics about the day-to-day lives of blue-collar Bluegrass Statesmen with fiddle riffs, guitar muscle and supersized melodies. The result might be difficult to categorize – "we're too commercial for the Garden and Guns of the world, but country radio doesn't like that we're not talking about sugar shakers and big ol' trucks," says frontman Josh Mitcham — but that doesn't make its punch any less potent.
They Say: "I love our friends in the indie scene, but I love pop hooks too," admits Mitcham. "Our audiences work hard all week. When they drive home and turn on the radio, they don't want to hear a funeral dirge. They're probably tired of songs about field parties, too. We're trying to meet them somewhere in the middle.
Hear for Yourself: Stacking electric guitar and fiddle into the same harmonized riff, "Better Now" builds its way toward an anthemic chorus. R.C.