10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: Fall 2014 – Rolling Stone
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10 New Artists You Need to Know: Fall 2014

From Loretta-like traditionalists to the garage-rock-loving granddaughter of a country legend, our picks for 10 must-hear artists

Margo Price, Canaan Smith

Margo Price / Canaan Smith

Micki Leonardi / Jim Wright

The fall edition of Rolling Stone Country's guide to new artists hints at a return to more traditional sounds. There's an instrumental duo that mixes Bakersfield twang with James Bond soundtrack spyjinks, a pair of traditionalists who evoke Loretta and Hank, and a more mainstream artist dedicated to making his audience feel not a fleeting party high, but lasting human emotion. Here's 10 of the genre's most captivating newcomers and why you should be paying attention.

Girls Guns and Glory

Girls Guns and Glory

Photo Courtesy of Shock Ink

Girls Guns and Glory

Sounds Like: Modern-day Buddy Holly plus Dwight Yoakam divided by the Mavericks

For Fans Of: Think-y, soulful lyrics paired with a beat you can dance to

Why You Should Pay Attention: The band, which was named (tongue in cheek) for everything representative of the country music front man Ward Hayden was listening to, is on the road 250 days a year, bringing its Boston-bred Americana sound across the globe. Hayden cites his discovery of Hank Williams' music as a turning point for his own songwriting. "I had never heard something that had hit me on such a deep level." Fittingly, in February, GGG will release a Hank Williams tribute album.

They Say: "When I am going through the process of something, I don't do any writing," Hayden says. "But when I come out on the other side, that's when I can make it rhyme." Hayden thought about the story behind "Centralia," a fire-ravaged Pennsylvania mining town, for two years before he sat down to write. Once he did, the lyrics came in about 20 minutes.

Hear for Yourself: The yearning "All the Way Up to Heaven" from the new album Good Luck
— Margaret Littman

Canaan Smith

Canaan Smith

Jim Wright

Canaan Smith

Sounds Like: A kinder, gentler Jason Aldean

For Fans Of: Keith Urban's Fuse album and Smith's musical hero, Dierks Bentley

Why You Should Pay Attention: Because Smith is a three-tool artist: He sings, plays guitar and drums, and, most importantly, writes, which in the world of contemporary country can be a rare combination. The Virginia native has also paid his dues, humping it around clubs with just a guitar on his back. As such, he's had his share of amazing journeys to inspire him and, he hopes, those willing to listen.

He Says: "I'm not a big fan of bubblegum," Smith says of disposable songwriting. "I hate when people say their music, 'makes you want to roll down the windows and turn it up in the sunshine.' Music should make you feel a human emotion. If that makes you want to turn it up, great. And if it makes you want to punch the radio because it brings up an old memory, then that's great too."

Hear for Yourself: The metaphor-rich "Love You Like That," which Smith calls a "man's man" take on a love song. — Joseph Hudak

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