Intern Picks of the Week – Local Artists

Chris Stapleton - Website

Choosing a song by a Nashville-based artist is no easy feat due to the sheer amount of talent in this town – but we decided to take on the challenge anyway. Check out some of our favorite local music in the latest edition of Lightning 100’s Intern Picks of the Week.

Sarah’s Pick

Chris Stapleton – “Nashville, TN”

It doesn’t get much more local than one of Nashville’s most timeless voices so for this week’s intern pick I’m going with one of my favorite songs from Chris Stapleton. This (understandably, I mean look at where we are) has been the toughest pick for me because there are so many amazing voices in Nashville. But I went with this one because for so long, I loved country music. Then I moved to Nashville, and it was everywhere, so I found myself listening to other genres. Now that I’ve been here a few years, I’ve let the country music slowly find its way back into my playlists. Something about driving across the Cumberland makes you want to blast Stapleton’s music from your car speakers (or Zach Bryan, or Tyler Childers, or any of the other country artists taking the genre by storm). 

“Nashville, TN” is the closing track on Stapleton’s 2020 album “Starting Over”. His exhibit – Chris Stapleton: Since 1978 – is now open at the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Yvette’s Pick

Billy Strings – “Heartbeat of America”

When I heard this week’s intern pick theme was local Nashville acts, I immediately knew I wanted to feature one of my current favorite artists, Billy Strings. Billy Strings is a bluegrass artist and guitarist who is bringing an entirely new sound to the genre. Taking elements from psychedelic music, jam bands, heavy metal and more, Billy has created an exciting cosmic sound that many are referring to as “newgrass”. Born in a small town in Michigan, Billy moved to Nashville in 2015. His debut solo EP was released the next year, and he has since released three full-length albums. His 2017 album Home was Grammy award winning, and he has received multiple other nominations as well. 

“Heartbeat of America” was released as a single off Billy Strings’ latest and third solo record, Renewal. Renewal was released in late September of 2021 and features sixteen tracks overflowing with otherworldly musicianship. “Heartbeat of America” is a perfect example of how Billy’s beautiful, intricate guitar playing weaves perfectly through other moving parts of the song. The accompanying video features Billy wandering through downtown Nashville with vibrant visuals swarming around him.

Jules’ Pick

All Them Witches – “Mountain”

The hard rock scene in Nashville isn’t a big one, but there’s no denying that it has produced some gems over the past few decades. One of those gems is the band All Them Witches—a Nashville-based, heavy, psychedelic rock band that pays homage to the members’ love of folk and blues. Since formation in 2012, All Them Witches have released seven albums and have become a widely known band.

My intern pick, “Mountain,” is the eighth track on ATW’s 2013 album Lightning At The Door. This song is straight dynamic goodness. “Mountain” has one of the best builds out of all the songs in ATW’s repertoire. Beginning with just solo drums, the song ends in a full-fledged, fast-paced, hard rock outro. Michael Parks Jr.’s vocals on the song are intentional and wistful, with a twang in his words and a yearning in his voice.

All Them Witches are my favorite local band because they’re creating a unique sound that many have feared to venture into. It’s grimy psychedelia with folk inspiration. It’s heavy metal with blues riffs. It’s like listening to a Brothers Grimm story being told over a dark, enchanting, echoing melody on a misty mountain night. In general, it’s a merging of genres and sounds that to traditional rock lovers, might seem strange. However, the sound works and its changing the game for all future hard rock bands.

Austin’s Pick

Jive Talk- The Wallflowers

In going with the theme of Nashville artists, I knew I just had to do a tune from some of my favorite up and comers, Jive Talk.  My pick is “The Wallflowers” from the group’s 2021 EP High Waisted. The synth heavy track has an intoxicating groove to it, with a very disco inspired groove and an almost haunting chord progression that pulls you in further and further to the point where not dancing is simply no longer an option. 

The track feels right at home with the rest of the group’s earworm-inducing discography. Releasing music since 2018, they bring a sound all their own to the Nashville indie scene, one filled with everything from disco to new wave. The band also does an amazing, high energy live show that every Nashville music fan or any fan for that matter should see. You can check out the track below and the rest of their music here!