Music is a staple in the Classic City, and the city is home to many prominent bands like R.E.M., Widespread Panic and The B-52s. While those bands deserve the fame and recognition they receive, Athens remains a birthplace for artists who are just as talented and deserve national attention.
Athens artists range from country rock to R&B and each pull from the supportive community that the city offers. Listening to these musicians not only supports local artists, but it also expands your music taste and knowledge. Thus, here are four local artists you should be listening to right now.
Indie pop duo Jade Long and Jessica Thompson founded their musical group as sophomores at UGA in 2018. They released their first single, “Astronaut Kids” which amassed over 1 million streams on Spotify and soon after, released their album “Soft Focus.”
Though they are well-known in the Athens music scene, this duo also garnered attention nationally and is currently on tour in the southeast.
Their music is soft and dreamy with whimsical lyrics and sweet guitar riffs. “Astronaut Kids” evokes nostalgic feelings of childhood dreams and aspirations coupled with the jarring reality that not all dreams come true. The band masterfully deals with themes of broken relationships, collective experiences of imposter syndrome and overall feelings of comradery among young adults.
Through mystifying vocals and understated instrumentals, Hotel Fiction is the perfect group for those who love female fronted bands with a homegrown sound.
Song Recommendations: “Soft Focus” and “Ghost Train”
Christina Schneider, the artist behind the name, Locate S,1, began making music under this moniker in 2018. Through her time exploring her own personal sound, Schneider consistently returns to unabashed self love and acceptance.
It’s difficult to pin down Schneider’s exact genre because she blends pop-punk with psychedelic rock. However, whatever genre one might call it, Schneider expertly crafts a unique sound with dreamy, bubbly vocals and synthetic, electronic instrumentals.
In her newest album, “Personalia,” Schneider takes an authentic approach toward talking about her life and experiences. She brilliantly touches on subjects such as the façades humans put on for others, criticisms of the digital age and the dichotomies of the human experience.
Her electronic pop – almost rock and roll leaning sound creates the perfect danceable songs while still maintaining depth through the intuitive, self-reflecting lyrics.
Song Recommendations: “Whisper 2000” and “Personalia”
This alternative R&B artist in Athens began making music under the moniker, Convict Julie, when she came to UGA to pursue Entertainment Media Studies. She was the first person to receive the Emerging Black Artist grant from the Athens Area Arts Council which provides grant money and mentorship opportunities for Black artists in Athens. With this opportunity and her experience at UGA, Convict Julie produces moving, expressive music.
She combines soulful, rich vocals with a blend of piano and strong backbeat. Her lyrics are raw and emotive and focus on ideas of self-expression and acceptance. Convict Julie expertly tells stories through her music and touches on themes of maturing while wanting to remain young and hopeful.
In 2020, she decided to put her music journey on pause to lead protests in downtown Athens against police brutality. Returning in 2022 with a new visual album, “Exquisite Pain,” Convict Julie expresses her lived experiences from her activism to the isolation of the pandemic in the eight song album.
The album is a self reflective journey of Convict Julie coping with the loss of her old self and emerging into the person she is today. Her music is deeply personal and draws the listener into her individual experiences.
A true blend of indie rock and country folk, Futurebirds is one of the more established bands in Athens. Founded in 2008, this band produces smooth, upbeat rock and roll music with a country twang.
Futurebirds create the perfect music for a summer day in the eclectic college town. The lead vocalist’s gritty southern twang coupled with acoustic guitar riffs creates the band’s unique sound. Futurebirds does not solely reside in the country music genre – the band pulls influences from rock and roll and psychedelic sounds.
The band expertly crafts an album full of carefree lyrics and upbeat instrumentals as well as slower, moody ballads to give a wide range of sounds for listeners to enjoy. The band self pronounces they want to bring light and positivity into the world, and that’s exactly what they do through their music.
Song Recommendations: “Trippin’” and “College Try”
There are so many local artists and music collectives I wouldn’t do the city justice without briefly mentioning other musicians to listen to.
Song Recommendations: “See Through Stares” and “Midnight Wander”
Athens truly hosts a number of talented musicians from a wide range of genres that will satisfy the tastes of almost anyone. I hope this list of artists introduces you to sounds or lyrics that resonate with you and make you long time fans of these skilled musicians.
I’m a public relations student at the University of Georgia with a passion for creative storytelling and content creation. The work I produce reflects my love for music, art and culture, and I strive to create content that resonates with college students.