Music has many geographical hotbeds that consistently produce artists with an undeniable impact on culture. The same can be said about other forms of human expression, such as visual arts, literature and sports. Where one is from has a sizable impact on what their expression looks like.
From a musical standpoint, not only do these specific locations produce prolific musicians at a higher rate than other places, but these cities have a personality of their own that seeps into an artists’ music.
In the internet era of music, where everyone can easily be both a consumer and producer, music is flooded with independent, underground artists. This is both a positive and a negative. The proliferation and creation of music have exponentially increased, which is great for culture and society. On the other hand, this also means that artists that deserve much more recognition than they are receiving have to toil away under the radar of the mainstream, pop-minded music industry.
Here’s why you should be listening to the following underground artists from powerhouse musical cities that, for a variety of reasons, aren’t getting the attention they deserve.
Los Angeles: Henry Solomon
While Henry Solomon has garnered some attention from being linked to the beloved funk bassist Thundercat, he remains very much incognito in the world of music. His hectic, heavily-syncopated sound is a little overwhelming the first time you listen. But amidst the crazy soundscape of saxophone, synths and drum machines, Solomon manages to make his highly unorthodox music surprisingly catchy. The best way to describe it is jazz-infused indie-pop, but to do it justice, one needs to experience it for themself.
Song to get you hooked: “Little Punk”, 2020’s Night Time Head Crunch
New York: Cumgirl8
Nope, that’s not a typo. The New York post-punk trio only has one album on streaming services, but the 2020 self-titled debut effort offers enough to command some attention. Their music is gritty like the New York punk legends that came before them, but their production and the sounds they achieve give them a newer, refreshingly modern quality. Not every song is particularly great, but their left-of-center style makes every track an interesting listen.
Song to get you hooked: “Blue Planet”, 2020’s Cumgirl8
Chicago: Chris Crack
Chris Crack is an artist that remains out of the elusive hip-hop limelight, despite his prolific output, with 20 albums on streaming services alone. A talented lyricist with a knack for wordplay and memorable album names, such as Crackheads Live Longer Than Vegans and White People Love Algorithms, Crack can flow expertly over a wide variety of beats. Chicago has long been the world capital of soulful rap, and, while Crack’s instrumentals are diverse, he pays homage to his city with plenty of chopped-up soul samples in his music.
Song to get you hooked: “Joy More Important Than Success”, 2019’s Never Hated I Just Waited
Bay Area: Tanukichan
Tanukichan’s 2018 album Sundays is a huge win for American shoegaze, a genre typically dominated by England. The University of California, Berkeley alum combines layer upon layer of guitar with her bittersweet, dreamy vocals to create a shoegaze album with heavy singer-songwriter undertones. It’s poppy enough to get stuck in your head, but creative and textured so that it’s also an intriguing listen.
Song to get you hooked: “Hunned Bandz”, 2018’s Sundays
Baltimore: Snail Mail
Snail Mail is the project of the supremely talented Lindsey Jordan, currently only 21-years-old. Her debut EP Habit was released when she was just 16. Jordan also took guitar lessons from Mary Timony, an underground hero of 90s alt-rock. Snail Mail’s music is guitar-heavy, with a big emphasis on creating a dense sound. It doesn’t take a thorough listen to reveal that Snail Mail is everything you want indie rock to be — catchy, powerful and oozing with talent.
Song to get you hooked: “The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World”, 2016’s Habit