It's time to refresh your music queue, and Corey Flegel from This Is American Music is here to help. The indie record label, which launched in 2009 as a platform and support network for emerging Southern artists, has worked with bands like The Pollies from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and Hurray for the Riff Raff from New Orleans. Corey spends most of his free time checking into new bands and albums, so he's the right guy to guide your musical discoveries. Here, Corey tells us about the 10 bands he's tuning into for 2015.
Great Peacock (Nashville, TN) "Great Peacock started out on a semi-drunken whim by friends and Music City veterans Andrew Nelson and Blount Floyd. The two Alabama natives were longing to create a simple, straightforward, five-song, folk rock record in 2012. That was about 300 shows ago, and these days the band is a six-headed, arena rock monster. Their latest album, Making Ghosts, out this spring, is like a best-of-Ryan Adams amusement park ride."
Futurebirds (Athens, GA) "Hailing from The Classic City, the freewheeling Futurebirds carved out quite a path over the last few years. Touring endlessly with a dynamic sound, which the guys do like no one else is at the moment, the music evokes memories of R.E.M and Neil Young, with Beach Boys-like harmonies. The 'Birds release their third full-length album later this year."
Lilly Hiatt (Nashville, TN) "With her second full-length record, Royal Blue, set for release on Normaltown Records/New West in March, Lilly Hiatt is poised to show that she has a lot more going for her than just a famous last name. While her first album, Let Down, faithfully mined the clever singer-songwriter territory staked out for decades by her father John Hiatt, what we're hearing from her upcoming songs show she is ready to unleash some rock 'n' roll. As Lilly says, 'I'm just getting into power chords.' She'll be on the road this year in support of Royal Blue, with a slew of new thoughtful lyrics and crunchy riffs in tow."
Caleb Caudle (Winston-Salem, NC) "Caleb's 2014 release, Paint Another Layer On My Heart, was one of the most highly regarded records of the last year. It's not just your typical, heart-on-your-sleeve, singer-songwriter type of album, it reaches way deeper and darker than most anything you've ever heard, while sounding gorgeous with great glimpses of hope. Caleb goes into the studio this spring and will surely be living up to his road-warrior prominence. Do not miss him."
Bohannons (Chattanooga, TN) "A hotshot Nashville music writer once declared that Bohannons were the 'best thing to come out of Chattanooga since Bessie Smith.' The group possesses a blistering sound that we like to call 'Black Metal Moonpies,' which is equal parts metal and classic indie rock, with quintessential Southern imagery uniquely mixed in. It's hard rock for any Southern literary types. Bohannons pumps out their third LP, Black Cross/Black Shield, early this year. Have earplugs and fist pumps handy."
Holy Ghost Electric Show (Oxford, MS) "The wall of sound brought about by the guitars, bass, drums, banjos, and horn section of The Holy Ghost Electric Show is either exactly what you'd expect from a college-town band led by the son of a preacher man—or the exact opposite. The band has amazed audiences all over the South touring with their debut album, The Great American Holy Ghost Electric Show, and they are currently holed up with Simon Felice (of the Felice Brothers) in Woodstock, New York, working on a new batch of songs."
Ruby The Rabbitfoot (Athens, GA) "The queen of Athens, Ruby Kendrick (a.k.a. "Ruby The Rabbitfoot"), released one of the finest pop records of 2014, New as Dew, on New West/Normaltown Records. There's just something about Ruby. The girl radiates lightning bolts, lollipops, cat memes, and sweet tea—on stage and off. She's a treasure."
Have Gun, Will Travel (Bradenton, FL) "Florida's finest are working on their fifth album, Science From An Easy Chair, and it's no small undertaking. It's a concept album that commemorates the 100th anniversary of Sir Earnest Shackleton's famous 1914-1917 expedition in Antarctica (read Alfred Lansing's Endurance if you are unfamiliar with the subject matter—it is an amazing tale). The band uses social media and podcasts to involve fans with updates that reflect the recording process, as well as pertinent dates in Sir Shackleton's journey that trace events as if they were happening in real time. The album is anticipated for spring, and it promises to be massive."
Water Liars (Water Valley, MS) "The band recently added a bass player, filling out an already huge sound that has only gotten better with each of their three albums. With lyrics that harken Flannery O'Connor and Larry Brown, and a sound that is reminiscent of Neil Young's Crazy Horse at its loudest, Water Liars also has the ability to turn way down and be very intimate. The music is as stunning in a club on Friday night as it is over a cup of coffee on late Saturday morning. Lucky for us, they also tour relentlessly and will likely be visiting your town very soon."
Blue Blood (Athens, GA) "Blue Blood started as a solo project by Athens music veteran and critically acclaimed fly-fishing guide Hunter Morris. As the songs came together, Hunter teamed up with members past and present of MGMT and The Whigs to flesh out these bigger ideas which would become a sort of distant, Southern third-cousin to indie rock idols Nada Surf and Jesus and Mary Chain."