Photos courtesy of Goth Babe, Love Lies Bleeding and Snake Cheney
Thanks to Middle Tennessee State University’s prestigious recording industry program and Nashville’s lucrative music industry opportunities, Murfreesboro is home to a diverse, expansive alternative music scene. From that comes some great punk, indie pop, rhythm and blues, hip-hop, emo and more.
Below is a list, in no particular order, of 10 local Nashville and Murfreesboro artists who got their start as students at MTSU and are now making a name for themselves:
Harper and the Bears
Harper and the Bears is a groovy prog-rock outfit. They released their debut record “Theta Waves” this summer, which combines elements of blues rock with jam band-esque chord progression and drum breakdowns. Their sound could best be described as limit-pushing Southern rock. This group doesn’t adhere to traditional rock standards and has created a sound of their own, best exhibited in their lively performances. Hear “Revelation” below:
New Suede is ’70s dad rock made for the 21st century. The four piece group boasts a deliciously smooth sound, featuring groovy keys and a psychedelic guitar tone. While they draw influence from funk and blues, they stay true to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. If you’re a fan of progressive rock, jangly guitar or smooth jams, check out this band. Hear their single, Taxi below:
Michael McQuaid is an R&B Nashville solo artist, hailing from the hallways of MTSU. He makes gritty R&B combined with bluesy electronic. His sound is infectious, sensual and soulful, as reflected in his latest single “Heartbreaker” which you can hear below. McQuaid found success in his 2015 release “Glasshouse” and his musical style has only matured since. If you’re a fan of artists like The Weeknd, you’ll dig this burgeoning musician.
Love Lies Bleeding
Love Lies Bleeding is the experimental dark wave project of local artist Lauren Croney. She uses heavy synth, drum machine sounds, loops, static and elements of shoegaze for a unique industrial sound. Think the “Stranger Things” soundtrack but less sci-fi focused and more ethereal. If you’re a fan of gritty techno or classic shoegaze, check out the EP “92/10/31” from which you can hear a track below.
If you’re a fan of fuzzy, textured shoegaze or garage rock, listen to Goth Babe immediately. This four-piece began as the musical project of Griffin Washburn, an MTSU alumnus. The band has found success on Spotify and through extensive touring over the past year. There is no shortage of fuzz pedals in their punk-influenced lo-fi dream pop sound. Their sound is reflective of artists like Ty Segall and Together Pangea but stands on its own thanks to unique guitar tonality and well-executed vocals. Their EP “Shall We,” released this year, is full of catchy guitar riffs and swoon-worthy lyrics. Listen to “Dazed” below:
Bogues is the solo emo project of MTSU student AJ Gruenewald. If you’re a fan of Julien Baker or Turnover, check this out. Bogues is fresh off the release of debut EP “Mulligan,” a conceptual album that explores heartbreak, growing up and depression. This artists really brings something special to the table. His brand of alternative rock is emotive without asking for a pity party, and evokes the tiny voice of doubt within all of us, bringing to the forefront those feelings of insignificance and failure that are relatable to every human being. Bogus could be categorized as emo revival, but is better described as coping music. Check out “Sometimes” below (but be sure to grab a box of tissues first):
Reign makes no-nonsense Nashville alternative rock. The best part of this band is the female-fronted vocals, provided by powerhouse Ashley Nite. The group is signed to MTSU’s Match Records, and recently released their single “Words Left Unsaid.” If you’re into bands like Paramore and The 1975, you need to listen to Reign now. This band boasts really excellent songwriting and industry-level professional talent. Check out their video for “Breathe” below:
VANN is a DC-to-Nashville transplant and pioneering hip-hop artist. His sound is vibey and raunchy, featuring some powerful beats. The artist has found success with sexually charged single “Backseat,” which you can hear below. His slow jams and freaky lyrics automatically make this track a hit. VANN has worked his way to the forefront of the Nashville hip-hop scene, and he’s definitely an artist to keep an eye on:
Snake Cheney is a four-piece of MTSU students that makes funky, R&B-inspired rock. The group has been busy, having released two EPs in 2016 and seem to always be playing shows in the area. Their sound is reminiscent of artists like HOMESHAKE and Mild High Club, with a jazzy pop influence. The vocals are floaty and dreamy, perfectly complemented by a smooth tonality and psychedelic riffs. Listen to “Flubber” from “Roll w/Me” below:
Mountains Like Wax
If you haven’t heard of Mountains Like Wax by now, you need to listen immediately. This Southern post-rock outfit started at MTSU and have made their way to the big ranks in Nashville, having played Live on the Green this year. Tracks from their debut EP “Tetralogy” can be heard on Lightning 100 most days. Their ambient rock and coming-of-age lyricism has secured success for them in Nashville and beyond. If you’re a fan of chill wave indie rock, this band has the sound for you. Listen to “Control” below: