Zach Bryan has taken the country world by storm over the past year. Through his emergence into superstardom, the independent country scene has been thrust into the forefront of the country music conversation. However, getting into independent country can be a daunting task nowadays. You might not know where to look for them due to their lack of marketing and label backing. Additionally, you might not know where to start. Between those aforementioned reasons and the cult following many indie artists begin to procure through the years, there might be hesitation to fully embrace the indie landscape in country music.
Here are five independent artists that share the same independent spirit as Bryan.
Charles Wesley Godwin is simply one of the most underrated artists in any genre today. The West Virginian is known primarily for being Zach Bryan’s opener during his 2022 tour. Additionally, he appears on Bryan’s song, Jamie, a fan-favorite of both Godwin and Bryan’s. However, he is more than capable without Bryan. Godwin’s writing and vocals are at the top of the genre. His vocals, in particular, are some of the best you’ll hear in the genre period. Since the debut of Seneca in 2019, he has simply kept getting better. Keep a look out for his third album coming out at some point this year, as confirmed by Godwin himself on Twitter.
Essentials: Cranes of Potter, Seneca Creek, Hardwood Floors, Jesse
Flatland very well might be the hottest act coming out of Texas right now. The group founded by frontman, Cleto Cordero and Jason Albers in 2012, released their first EP, Come May, in 2015. The band has since released four records. Commercially, their debut album, Humble Folks, is their most successful album, filled with incredible tracks throughout. The group has drawn comparisons to the independent powerhouse band, Turnpike Troubadours due to the stellar songwriting from Cordero and their heavy emphasis on traditional instrumentation including fiddle and steel.
Essentials: A Life Where We Work Out, One I Want, Mountain Song, Sleeping Alone
This up-and-coming singer/songwriter might be the most similar to Bryan himself, citing him as one of his biggest inspirations along with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger and Kenny Chesney. Canfield brings a youthful edge to many traditional country songs and concepts. Despite his youth, Canfield’s writing prowess feels much more mature and refined compared to many top 40 songs. At only 21 years old, the The Idea of Me singer is rapidly growing, amassing over 50,000 monthly Spotify listeners. Additionally, he recently opened for Riley Green earlier this month.
Essentials: The Idea of Me, Arm’s Reach, Romeo & Juliet, We’re Young Alright
Like Canfield, Knisell is another young, up-and-comer in the independent country scene. At only 23, Knisell debuted in 2022 with the single, Wrist Tattoo. The track is an absolutely gorgeous, low-fi track with nothing more than Knisell showing off his fantastic guitar playing, finger-picking throughout. The lyrics are especially strong, heartfelt, and youthful. His other two tracks, You & Caroline and Rhubarb, showcase his guitar ability once again with additional production including some great touches of steel throughout. The sky is truly the limit for Knisell.
Essentials: Wrist Tattoo, You & Caroline, Rhubarb
Mike and the Moonpies are the most seasoned band on this list. Forming in 2007 out of Austin, Texas by frontman, Mike Harmeier, the band has released seven studio albums. The Moonpies are self-described “road warriors” who regularly play 250 shows per year. They provide heavy doses of steel throughout their tracks, feeling as lush as a country song can possibly be. Their dedication to making music for the everyday working man brings an added feeling of relatability to their songs.
Essentials: You Look Good in Neon, Hour on the Hour, Steak Nights at the Prarie Rose, Paycheck to Paycheck