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10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: May 2017

From a country-soul chanteuse to a hard-stomping band of Southern rockers



Sounds Like: Frankie Ballard doing what he really wants to do – front a rock band.

For Fans of: The Cadillac Three, Old Dominion, "Chicken Fried" era Zac Brown Band

Why You Should Pay Attention: Solo artists and duos may seem to rule the Nashville roost, but artists like OSMR – short for Old Southern Moonshine Revival – prove that country's bands are having their biggest moment since Alabama in the Eighties. A trio of North Carolinians now living in Nashville, OSMR hail from a town not too far from the birthplace of Eric Church, and their twang-rock hybrid is born from the same local blood. Fast finger-picking, crunchy guitar and plenty of anthemic refrains are packed into songs like "Sweet Life," from their new EP of the same name. Led by singer Marcus Kiser's casual, slightly scruffy delivery, their penchant for playful, poppy hooks is what makes their music stick. On Sweet Life, which boasts three songs co-written with TC3's Neil Mason, they show a side of country that emphasizes both fury and fun.

They Say: "If you could create a spectrum of Old Dominion on one side and the Cadillac Three on the other, we are going to cut the middle of those two," says Kiser, who makes up OSMR with Brent Lain (lead guitar/vocals) and Brian Smith (drums). "We can go a little gritty like the Cadillac guys, and go a little slick like the guys in Old D., but end up somewhere in between. We're more or less a rock band with a country lyric, and a country vocal."

Hear for Yourself: "Sweet Life," currently rising on SiriusXM's Highway Finds, is a decadent confection that shows how country can both catchy and swampy at the same time, with a handclap, sing-along chorus to prove it. M.M.