10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: February 2017 - Rolling Stone
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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

A duo with a pop-punk emo heart, a young California singer discovered by a punk-rock godfather and the gone-country singer for a popular U.K. metal band make up this month's installment of new country and Americana artists you need to hear.

Samantha Klose

Honey County

Sounds Like: SoCal country-pop, delivered by a trio of L.A.-based females who write their own songs, play their own instruments and stack their harmonies three layers deep

For Fans of: Little Big Town's vocal arrangements, Keith Urban's guitar tones and Wilson Phillips' pop hooks

Why You Should Pay Attention: Lead guitarist Devon Jane backed up Keith Urban at the 2012 American Country Awards, trading bluesy bends and riffy runs during a cover of "Crossroads." Years later, her fretwork finds a new home in Honey County, a harmony-heavy vocal group backed by some serious chops. Big-voiced belter Dani Rose is the longest-running member and de facto leader, but this is an all-hands-on-deck operation, with songs like "High on the Radio" – a power ballad about the nostalgic pull of the FM dial – relying just as heavily on contributions from Jane and newcomer Katie Stump. This April, Honey County will play the 2017 Stagecoach Festival, one of the only independent bands to make the cut.

They Say: "I think it's important for country music to have powerful female instrumentalists," Stump declares. "Apart from Striking Matches and Clare Dunn, you don't see many female guitarists taking such an active role in their bands. The whole world needs to see that girls can play, too."

Hear for Yourself: New single "High on the Radio" is a bright blast of California culture, inspired by a drive on the Pacific Coast Highway. R.C.

Lucas Hoge

Lucas Hoge

Sounds Like: Easygoing, optimistic pop-country that won't upset any delicate constitutions

For Fans of: Chris Young, Chris Lane, Rascal Flatts

Why You Should Pay Attention: Hoge has been slogging it out on the fringes of country – and, for a time, Christian music – for 15 years, playing shows and checking off the boxes of a Nashville career. Raised on the catalog of songwriters like Paul Overstreet and Skip Ewing, he was inspired to write his own songs and, after seeing Garth Brooks perform, take them to the stage. Eventually, Hoge found himself on country's most famous boards: opening for the late George Jones at the Ryman Auditorium. His new album, due later this year, features his own material, along with tracks written by heavy hitters Shane McAnally and Sam Hunt.

He Says: "I've learned to be prepared for anything. I've had the honor of traveling overseas each year to perform for our troops with the Wrangler National Patriot Tour. We've been to Iraq, Kuwait, Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Alaska, London and undisclosed places that have definitely kept us on our toes. Touring is an adventure at times, but it's also the most rewarding part of making music. Playing a show and interacting with fans face-to-face is still the best form of social media."

Hear for Yourself: Hoge's effervescent single "Boom Boom" is made not for the club, but for a first date in the park, all wide-eyed innocence and heart. J.H.

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