10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: May 2016

From an unapologetic cowboy singer to a dazzling chanteuse-wordsmith

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CJ Solar

CJ Solar

Sounds Like: Southern-rock muscle country with a hint of alt-rock sneer

For Fans of: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Brad Paisley, Stone Temple Pilots

Why You Should Pay Attention: Naming your debut EP Hard One to Turn Down is pretty bold, but Baton Rouge-born guitarslinger CJ Solar can back it up. His first five-song set rocks in all the right places, fusing influences like Skynyrd, STP and Jason Aldean into a familiar-yet-modern Southern-rock sound. Solar's a 23-year-old millennial, but his style owes more to classic-rock radio than electronically-inspired Top 40. Boasting a warm, raspy voice, strong guitar chops and simple, honest songs, he’s connecting with mainstream listeners without pandering or acting like a tough guy. First single "Tall Boy" has racked up 200,000 Spotify streams in the space of a month.

He Says: "I remember being crazy about guitar and Southern rock and wearing Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirts to school and having kids be like, 'What are you doing?!' Solar says about his throwback vibe. "Britney Spears and 'N Sync, all that stuff was huge when I was a kid, but I was like, 'This isn't real music. . . what are y'all listening to?'"

Hear for Yourself: With its boozy narrative and clever, repetitive hook, "Tall Boy" feels like a ready-made radio hit, as much about a 16 oz. can of something frosty as it is about holding your head high. Chris Parton

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