Here at Holler, we just love to find an artist or band to harp on about to the high heavens.
Whether it's a new Appalachian six-piece from Kentucky or a country-pop duo from the heart of Music City, if they're good, we love to tell you about them.
With that in mind, Holler is launching a monthly round-up of our favourite new finds; a who's who of the most exciting prospects to begin leaving their mark on the Country and Americana landscape.
This month, we've got a Dallas singer-songwriter who's introducing us into his dark and vivid world, a former member of Runaway June who's now kickin' it solo and a Bob Weber-inspired natural romanticist who could give Tyler and Sturgill a run for their money.
Here's Holler's 10 New and Upcoming Country Music Artists You Need to Know for September 2023.
Warren Zeiders was just 21 years old when he released his debut single, ‘Ride the Lightning’, back in 2021. A rough home recording of grizzled outlaw country, the song went viral on TikTok, helping him to over 85 million streams, over 200 million views and 1.3 million followers on TikTok.
Two years later, he stands on the cusp of being the next big country singer to take on the mainstream and win. After releasing the 717 Tapes - a collection of stripped-back singles and songs from his early EPs – alongside two sets of acoustic covers, Zeiders released his debut full-length studio album, Pretty Little Poison, in August.
Born and raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Zeiders is as far from the sweet tasting air of his hometown as it’s possible to get. His intimacy and honesty is rooted in the country storytelling of the 70’s outlaws, with a voice that goes from a whisper to a full throttle roar in under two seconds.
"I was raised on country, rock and Christian music", says the Pennsylvania native, who grew up in Hershey before relocating to Tennessee. "That music helped shape me into who I am. I needed this album to touch all of those bases, because if I'm going to create something, I have to believe in it".
Zeiders began playing guitar in his bedroom, picking along to songs by Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton. One night, while out to dinner with his family, a local musician asked the room for song requests.
"I asked her to play 'Beautiful Crazy' by Luke Combs, but she didn't know it", says Zeiders, who offered to play the tune himself. The crowd loved his performance. "I went onstage and had an out-of-body experience", he recalls. "In that moment, a lightbulb went off and I thought, 'This is something I should pursue'".
Not long after, he recorded an acoustic cover of Stapleton’s ‘Tennessee Whiskey'. The homemade video went viral on TikTok almost overnight. He continued releasing music on the platform during the months that followed, alternating between covers of his favourite artists and his own compositions; the kind of heartfelt, hook-driven songs that we’ve got to know him for.
Pretty Little Poison is the sound of an artist hitting his straps and holding the audience in the palm of his hand. Wrestling tirelessly with heartbreak, he takes the weight of the world and lifts it high above his head, before bringing it crashing down around him over the course of 14 cuts of deep soul-searching country rock.
Songs like the thumping ‘Black and Blue’ and the breezy ‘Comin' Down High’ might be southern rock party anthems built for an audience readied by the rise of Morgan Wallen, but Zeiders rough and gnarly drawl is truly purposed for more measured introspection.
Songs like ‘Painkiller’ and ‘Love's A Leaving’ explore the darkness and demons that surround him, while ‘Pittsburgh Steel’ and ‘Cowboy Rides Away’ prove that Zeiders is equally capable of soundtracking life’s quieter moments as he is its rough and rowdy nights.
Zeiders' even has a full circle moment on the record in the form of ‘Inside Your Head’. It was written by eight-time Grammy winner Chris Stapleton, whose ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ had started the whole thing off for Zeiders when he covered it on TikTok.
If you like your country music well-built and brawny with an old fashioned, weathered sensitivity, then Warren Zeiders will tick boxes you didn’t even know needed ticking.
Listen If You Like: Morgan Wallen, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church.
Nathan Mongol Wells is a Dallas-based singer-songwriter making underworldly outlaw country music for the modern age.
On the debut solo album from the founding member and frontman of Texas garage-rock band Ottoman Turks, Wells magnificently reinvents himself as a kind of washed-up lounge singer, sloshing around in dive bars and dark alleyways, still able to silence a room with just one syllable whenever he stumbles up to the microphone.
As well as putting out two wonderfully unique studio albums since forming in 2009, Ottoman Turks also gave the world the solo careers of the band’s guitarist Joshua Ray Walker and bassist Billy Law. Now, Nathan Mongol Wells joins them on his own solitary adventures with the release of From a Dark Corner (co-produced by Walker), a glorious introduction to his unsettling cinematic universe.
Mixing the melancholy of Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on The Edge Of Town with the jazzy nonchalance ofTom Waits’ The Heart Of Saturday Night, Wells sounds old before his time, as he recounts his tales of too late nights with pitch-black humour and unsparing autobiographical intimacies.
Listen If You Like: Terry Allen, Orville Peck, Warren Zevon
‘Meet Ryan Larkins’ is the title of the new EP from the Nashville-born singer-songwriter. Trust us, after just a couple of seconds, you’ll be glad we introduced you.
Beginning his songwriting journey at just 12 years old, Larkins found his distinctive baritone sound while singing and playing guitar weekly at his home church. Those early performances eventually got him noticed by the Nashville music industry community, soon leading to a publishing deal with Sony Music Publishing.
As well as having one of country’s warmest and most welcoming voices, Larkins is also a gifted songwriter, writing for artists like Tim McGraw and Cody Johnson. Now stepping out on his own, the first tastes of his debut EP will be taken to heart by any country lovers with a soft spot for the creamy country of traditionalists like George Strait and Randy Travis.
Listen If You Like: Cody Johnson, Scotty McCreery, William Michael Morgan
Having premiered the video for Lady Apple Tree’s self-titled single on Holler earlier in the year, some of you might already be familiar with Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Haylie Hostetter.
Originally from Northern California, she moved to Los Angeles in her pursuit of music, becoming involved in projects including Sam Burton, Sylvie and Drugdealer.
Hostetter released her debut single, a cover of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Didn’t Want to Have to Do It’ in January, while performing as support on Weyes Blood’s European tour. Her first original composition ‘Silver Hands’ was released in April, followed by ‘Lady Apple Tree’ and the latest single, ‘Flame.’
Her ornate Californian country folk is distilled from the greats coming out of Laurel Canyon in the late 1960s and early 1970s; think Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Emmylou Harris, as well as their turn of the century successors like Cat Power and Jenny Lewis.
Listen If You Like: Courtney Marie Andrews, Jess Williamson, Plains
Born and raised in the heartland of North Carolina, 19-year-old Eli Winders arrives in town like a fully formed country superstar with his wonderfully evocative debut single ‘Pack My Hometown’.
“It amazes me that a song so specific to my life resonates with other people”, says Winders about the song. “It’s a song about leaving the place I have lived my entire life and all the memories I have there. It’s about chasing a dream, saying goodbye to everything I know and all the people who have supported me so far, and about the people I love who made it so hard for me to leave.”
For the last year, Winders has dedicated his days to working in a feed mill and attending college classes at night, while scribbling down song ideas in between. When he began sharing covers and his own compositions online, Winders quickly gained an enthusiastic following, drawing in listeners with his warm likability and vivid depictions of small town life, eventually catching the attention of Atlantic and Bad Realm Records, who swiftly signed him to their roster.
Listen If You like: Charlie Worsham, Hailey Whitters, Craig Campbell
If hearing the phrase “Let’s Go Girls” prompts you to excitedly grab the hands of every girlfriend in close proximity and run charging towards the dancefloor, then Naomi Cooke Johnson has a new power anthem for you.
As the former lead vocalist of Runaway June, Johnson co-wrote many of the trio’s acclaimed hits, including the Top 5 smash ‘Buy My Own Drinks’. Now, Johnson is stepping out on her own as a solo artist, with a bubbling burst of summer fun that sounds like a cross between the high-octane 90’s country of Shania Twain and the frenzied noughties-pop of Girls Aloud.
A playful depiction of fleeting romantic encounters and those summers that always seem to end too soon, it’s the kind of song that’s best served with a pitcher of Pimms and a punnet of strawberries. Look out for her sophomore release, the autobiographical ‘Livin’ Ain’t Killed Me Yet’, later in the year.
Listen If You Like: Shania Twain, Kelsea Ballerini, Runaway June
Austin Darnell and Shoni Rancher, the two frontmen of The Howdies, have taken very different paths to get here.
Darnell has been playing around Athens for more than 20 years, gravitating toward the classic country of the ‘50s and ‘60s, while Rancher loves Jerry Jeff Walker, Waylon Jennings and the outlaws of the 70’s.
At 48-years-old and having never played a live show, Rancher joined The Howdies as his very first band.
Their debut long player, Howdies All Around, is a joyously ramshackle take on 70’s outlaw country and fifties rock n roll, the sort that makes you want to hook up a keg and move the furniture out onto the lawn.
In the grand tradition of other twin-singer songwriter country bands like Uncle Tupelo, The Jayhawks and Drive-By Truckers, The Howdies music surprises you at every turn. A little bit loose, a little bit weird and high as a kite on the sheer joy of coming together to create something none of them would be capable of without each other.
Listen If You Like: Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, Nude Party
“I wake every day, thinking today’s gonna be my day / and I lie down at night, nothing has changed”, sings Ryan Curtis in the opening lines to the song ‘Codependent Heart’, taken from his latest album Ain’t Ever Easy.
It feels like we’ve been telling people that they need to know Ryan Curtis for a couple of years now, while the singer has been quietly carving out a name for himself in what we used to call alt-country.
His songs are natural sketches of life’s great triers - of which Curtis is undoubtedly one - and the disappointments that they rub up against along the way. He finds down-and-out townies, bar room drifters, forlorn lovers, and resilient loners hiding away in the dark corners of Midwest America, bringing them to life with his blend of old school honky tonk and gruff heartland rock.
Listen If You Like: Steve Earle, Drive-By Truckers, Hayes Carll
From washing cars and selling merch for Easton Corbin, to opening up for Sam Hunt, Old Dominion and Billy Currington, Roman Alexander is proof that hard work definitely pays off.
Born and raised in the blue-collar farming town of Parkville, Missouri, Roman's country loving mom, punk loving dad and grandpa who sang gospel helped shape his music tastes. When his uncle’s country band Outlaw Jim and the Whiskey Benders invited him up to join them, it gave him a taste of what being on a stage felt like. From there, he was hooked.
Early releases, ‘Between You and Me’ and ‘Cocktail Conversations’ set the ball rolling, while his cover of ‘Between You and Me’ featuring Ashley Cooke and duetting with Alana Springsteen on ‘Trying Not To’ pushed him further out into the spotlight.
With the release of his debut album, Downtime, Alexander pulls together previous singles ‘One Tequila’ and ‘Mess Me Up’ with the stunning title track and the brilliant ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, taking centre stage with a traditionalist sound that’ll sit perfectly in your country record collection next to Midland and Jon Pardi.
If Elvis had lived long enough to make a 90’s country record, it might sound something like Roman Alexander.
Listen If You Like: Midland, Randall King, Jake Worthington
"I try to be as honest and vulnerable as I can with my songs", says Moose Miller. "I want people to not only hear what I’m singing, but to feel what I’m saying as well".
Taking his name from a Bob Weber comic strip, Moose Miller is an Ohio native with deep Appalachian roots, raised on Southern gospel and bluegrass. There’s something crisp and clear about the way he delivers his songs; it’s like taking a bracing early morning walk through the backwoods and hills he calls home.
Drawing as much of his inspiration from his rural roots and upbringing as well as his musical heroes - Willie Nelson, Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers and The Isaacs - his songs are filled with the romanticism and elusiveness of nature. Like butterflies, they flutter freely; never allowing themselves to land and be captured.
Listen If You Like: Tyler Childers, Anderson East, Jeff Buckley
For more on New Country Artists here at Holler, see below: