10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: February 2017

From a goth-folk chanteuse discovered by Social Distortion's Mike Ness to an acerbic DIY singer-songwriter

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Walker Hayes

Walker Hayes

Sounds Like: Genre-blurring songs with soulful vocals, quirky lyrics and unorthodox arrangements that should delight pop-leaning fans and have purists up in arms

For Fans of: Sam Hunt, Brett Eldredge, pop-culture references

Why You Should Pay Attention: Walker Hayes may be the first country artist ever to take a page out of Kim Kardashian's book, titling his most recent mixtape 8Tracks, Vol. 2: Break the Internet – he even calls out Kim K. by name in the set's title track. Truly an artist of the Internet age, Hayes writes songs that are damn near impossible to classify, and that's what makes them so interesting. Unpredictable and versatile, on single "You Broke Up with Me" he's casually beat-boxing to get over a failed relationship, while on ballad "Beer in the Fridge" he's singing plaintively about trying to get sober. One of the first signees to the recently resurrected Monument Records, Hayes can also count high-powered industry stalwarts Shane McAnally and Jason Owen as fans.

He Says: "A year ago I was working at Costco, wondering how I was going to pay our mortgage. Now, I've signed to Monument Records ... so things are looking up. 'You Broke Up With Me' is the first of many songs that I'm excited to share with the world. The reaction so far is better than I could've ever imagined. For me, it was the obvious first choice as it's really what started this whole project and turned everything around for me."

Hear for Yourself: Hayes' single "You Broke Up with Me" is a laid-back, breezy kiss-off to an ex, with a heavy dose of Southern swagger and some beat-boxing to boot. B.M.

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