What a wild year it has been.
If you’ve followed Whiskey Riff from the beginning, you know we started with one thing on our mind – be the voice of the fan. With that came us supporting a lot of new acts no other publication would support until they were “bigger” – we said the hell with that. We continue to post, listen, and share the music of the new artist more than anyone, and will continue to do so.
It was damn-near impossible to narrow down this list to 14 artists but I did, along with an honorable mention. Be on the lookout for these badass artists, and jump on the bandwagons now…
Erik Dylan, Drew Baldridge, Bailey Bryan, Brandon Ray
14. Gable Bradley
Reason: The grit
The raw emotion Gable Bradley brings to a song is hard to find. Comparisons will be drawn to Kip Moore, and rightfully so. It’s hard to find passion in a voice that meets the lyric quite like this…
13. Walker McGuire
Reason: Songs like “Til Tomorrow”
Saw these boys live and they brought the roof down. These two feed off each other and harmonize with the best of them. Songs with substance and no bullshit.
12. Jacob Davis
Reason: The “it” factor
Go see Jacob live and you’ll see what I mean. Dude can move, sing, has that “it” factor (plus the ladies love him, his fan base is insane, in a good way).
11. Caitlyn Smith
Reason: The lyrics
Caitlyn Smith is an artist in every sense of the word. She has an edginess that draws you in and won’t let go. Her new EP Starfire is fantastic.
10. Carter Winter
Reason: The voice
Never judge a book by its cover – you’ve heard that before? One line from Carter’s mouth and you’ll be hearing one of the most country voices today, and a swagger to match it.
9. Seth Ennis
Reason: Songs like “Woke Up In Nashville”
Seth is making waves with his new song “Woke Up In Nashville” and I expect to see those waves get bigger with this kind of songwriting and storytelling.
8. Jon Langston
Reason: That live show
Jon has a passionate (very passionate) fan base and a live show that hits you in the face like a sledgehammer.
7. Carly Pearce
Reason: The perfect blend of old and new school
Carly is country 20 years ago. Carly is country today. Listen to “Every Little Thing” and then thank her for having your new favorite song.
6. Ryan Hurd
Reason: The creativity
Ryan is unlike anyone out there. From the look, to the lyrics, to the live show, it’s hard to find someone carve their own niche so quickly.
5. Cody Johnson
Reason: He’s so country it hurts
Cody Johnson is KNOWN, and known well in Texas, but he’s finally getting some respect outside of the Lone Star state. He’s great, not good, but great, and country as one could possibly be. I wouldn’t call you crazy if you compared him to a young George Strait…
4. High Valley
Reason: The sound
These two bring that thumping Mumford and Sons-y sound with the country twang and a whole lotta awesome. Their album Dear Life came in at #21 for best albums of 2016.
3. Drake White
Reason: The energy
Country Drake brings the foot stompin’ lovin’ back to country music with his unique sound and blending of influences. Huge need for that in the genre, and he delivers big time.
2. Brett Young
Reason: The songs (and his face)
Women think he’s beautiful and his songs make them cry.
1. Luke Combs
Reason: Too many to list
We’ve been huge fans of Luke’s for a long time now. What’s there to say really, listen to the power of that voice, the songs that cut deep, the fans losing their minds and singing along. This guy is a superstar.