• James Booton

Underground USA

After spending so much time covering the best new music from across the UK there is often little room to give credit to the amazing tracks the blog gets sent from across the pond. So, after the USA had a bit of a rough start to the year with COVID, the Capitol protests and endless political disputes I thought it might be time to share some positives that America has to offer. So here are 10 underground artists to check out from across the continent.






Similar Kind


Connecticut's Indie-pop collective Similar Kind began as a group of mates just jamming in a garage and now have gone on to support the likes of Sunflower Bean and Charley Bliss. With a positive yet often forceful undercurrent to their music, the band's close relationship really shows. Each track has a tightness between each member which creates a really well gelled and cohesive sound.



Their latest track 'Lost and Lonely' begins as a contemplative space exploration with the soft guitar guiding the vocal thought process. However, this serenity can only last a brief while before the song breaks through the atmosphere into an expansive a thick chorus that rings around your ears.




Haha Charade


The first thing you notice when sifting through Haha Charade's catalog is the incredible diversity that they offer. They sway from Psychedelic Rock to Reggae and then Indie-pop to Funk. A lot of their music is instantly recognisable as originating from the US yet I personally feel they are at their best when they shed their national twang and define their own electrifying sound. This is best seen in one of their more recent singles 'Old Friend'.



The track is constantly adding depth. A swirling guitar solo is taken over by a final chorus that combines multiple vocals and finishes with an uplifting tone that stays with you after the song is done.



Kyns


The delicate yet richly captivating atmosphere that Kyns creates is heartwarming and universally poignant. I say universal because although her lyrics are equally moving as the sound, you do not have to rely on understanding the words for the impact to hit you. The emotion is packed within each intricacy of her haunting vocals and every twist and turn of her instrumental landscapes.



Her new track 'The End' is deeply captivating, using every given second to drag you further into the melancholic sound. Even though this is only her second release you can see the pattern emerging. She loves to draw the listener in with her soft vocals before building up the track with rolling percussion to finish with a more uplifting moment that sounds perfect for long mountain drives.



Grizfolk


By far the most established on our list, LA/Nashville based quartet Grizfolk have attracted a solid following in America with their uplifting, anthemic sound.




Unlike some on this list, you could guess where these guys are from within seconds. Their folk-infused Indie creates vivid semantics of Southern USA with the warmth and wide expanse of their sound matching that of the vast American deserts. Their latest single 'Californian High' follows suit with the sunset soundscapes. The deep rolling textures are pierced by the expansive guitar tones that carry the track higher and higher as it progresses. This new single demonstrates their remarkable consistency and their perfect summer festival vibe.




Angela Jane Bachmann




With a mix of dark electronic textures and haunting vocals, Californian songwriter Angela Jane Bachmann makes music for the wanderers. Her debut album 'Uncommon Likeness', released last month contains spacious contemplations about love, life and masculinity - a suitable soundtrack for journeys among the redwood trees of Northern California. Opening track 'Follow Me' is a almost an invitation to join her in a lucid dream through the natural surrounding where the album was written.





Yet, as loose and flowing as Angela may be as she walks you through the sonic woodland, she is by no means lost. Standout tracks are punchy and mobilising. Our favourite has to be the single 'Get Down' which utilities the simple yet contagious question, "Do you wanna get down?" that clings to to the marching groove it is laid upon. The phrase becomes even more enticing with each utterance and by the time the tension building breakdown arrives there is only one response - YES!.





Brz


Indianapolis rapper and producer Brz has been working hard over the past 12 months, releasing 2 EPs and numerous singles. I don't often cover any form of Rap but there was something about his sound that lured me in.




His new collab with Mylo MU submerges you in a spaced out sonic paradise. As Brz drifts across the beat with his hazy vocals you can feel your biology slow down to the hypnotic tempo of the track. His new EP 'I Will Eat You Before Eutopia' has just as much depth and is just as captivating. So switch off and slide away into Brz's smoky beat-laiden world.





Telescreens


It is normal custom for a new young band to build their following and hone their sound over a few years before finally building up to that exciting debut album! Well not for NYU students Telescreens who have jumped straight in at the deep end and released their debut album 'The Return' almost out of the blue! This method may have left their record a little bit under the radar however for those who do discover them, they have a host of synth twisted Indie-rock to sink their teeth into.



Lead singer Jackson Hamm's London-born origins give the band an undeniably British feel with his gritty, bittersweet vocals best shown on 'Fade away'. On this track Hamm acts as a powerful under layer leaving space free for a soaring riff to send the chorus into orbit. Yet, there is an added emotive depth to their music, with the guitar and synth working together to conjure almost poignant tones that trigger something inside that fills you with a love for music!


Koalra


One of the most prolific underground artists operating in the states right now has to be Chicago's atmospheric garage rockers Koalra. The Chicago arrived with a debut album in 2019 followed by another record and EP in 2020! They have kicked off 2021 in the same fast paced fashion with two singles released already.




The first of which, 'Water's Push' encapsulates their trademark sound. It is a sound led by the rolling drums that create perpetual movement in the track. This percussive base is complimented by an echoed and somewhat dreary Ian Curtis esc vocal delivery. This, with a fuzzy surf rock guitar added into the mix, produces an upbeat coastal road trip feel comparable to the likes of The Drums. So just stick them on shuffle and drift away in the heat.



Ja'Wuan


Hailing from Washington D.C, the guitar wielding solo artist digs right to the heart of music with his characterful, and sometimes abstract, Rock constructions. His new 6 track EP delves into every space of Psychedelic rock and roll taking an almost spiritual journey through each track.




The EP's opener and my personal favourite 'Cell Science' places thick guitar layers underneath his smooth, warming vocals. Although the track begins, with a retro front-porch performance feel that is characteristic of American rock, many African influences seep into the music as the song and the album progresses. Later tracks such as 'Space' combine retro rock sounds with his guitar at acting as his spiritual expressor at the centre point, a variety of times he uses his guitar as his main




Deva St. John


Although not strictly American, punchy indie-songwriter Deva St. John was born in London to American parents and blends an urban London sound with her American roots. The result of this is a devilishly intriguing concoction that pricked our ears the moment her vocals hit our ears.


She explained to me how the combined American and British influences of her parents have led to her unique sound. "My dad’s a Kentucky boy, so he of course has a soft spot for country - but he’s also into hard rock and metal and will often unwind to something classical.


My mum’s taste, on the other hand, is a lot more like mine. Her first love was The Beatles, and that sent her down a British Invasion rabbit hole that eventually led to her emigrating to the UK in 90s. She adores The Clash and David Bowie - though British music is just one part of her musical identity. Albeit a big part. When I was young, she also introduced me to Iggy Pop, The Ramones, Patti Smith, the New York Dolls, Aerosmith, even more off-beat artists like Think Tree and Nina Hagen. Really, it’s because of her that I have such a profound love for music."


She had success earlier in 2020 collaborating with Split The Dealer on the Lo-fi beach side single 'XV' however this track may be misleading as an introduction to Deva St. John. Although it showcases her ability to create a heartwarming and captivating vocal display, her latest release 'Reckless' does better to show what she is all about.



'Reckless' is bold, unforgivably brash and appropriately forceful. The verse acts as a vessel to display the stunning range that Deva possesses. Yet it is the explosive chorus grabbed our attention. Soaring vocals lie on top of the instrumental roar creating a chorus reminiscent of Pale Waves - one that you can't help want to sing over, if only you had the ability to do so! It lulls you in with her initial softer tones before smacking you around the face with constantly increasing power. 'Reckless' then ends with a tension building riff almost teasing you for her next release.


Check out tracks from all these artists and more of our favourite underground American artists on our Spotify playlist!!