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CCM’s Guide to Independent Artists - Part 2

  • Matt Conner CCM Magazine
  • 2007 2 Nov
<i>CCM</i>’s Guide to Independent Artists - Part 2

As the music business continues to change—and the Internet gives every garage band a worldwide platform—the number of noteworthy artists who have passed on the requisite record deal and taken a different road continues to grow.

To help you navigate your way through this plethora, we present the second half of CCM’s Guide to Independent Artists. …

Delivering rhymes in a more melodic, East Coast style similar to Jay-Z, Thurman Custis, aka Ason, has shared the stage with big-name artists like Ciara, Mary Mary and Nicole C. Mullen—all as an independent rapper. His first album, The Recruiter: Part One, has sold thousands of copies at live shows and without significant distribution. His upcoming Bigger Business looks to be available this winter.

You might be somewhat familiar with Candlefuse, the radio-rock trio who’ve opened for acts like BarlowGirl, Disciple and Kutless. The band’s debut, Never Go Unheard, sparked to comment: “This is a very enjoyable modern rock album. People who love bands like Anberlin and Mae should give this new band a chance.” The band’s relentless tour schedule continues throughout the fall.

Micah Dalton
It’s called “alt-soul, the little brother to soul music,” notes Micah Dalton on his slow, spiritual acoustic vibe. The niche he carved serves him well as Dalton’s latest EP, Advancement, continues to garner praise and grow an already impressive indie audience. It doesn’t hurt that the disc also features American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle’s backing vocal.

SEE ALSO: CCM's Guide to Independent Artists - Part 1

Christine Evans
Aiming to be the next much-heralded youthful singer/songwriter, a la Amy Grant and more recently Bethany Dillon, Canadian 16-year-old Christine Evans netted “Album of the Year” at the Island Music Awards in Vancouver for Push, made famous by the hit single “Break Me.” Most recently, Evans signed with the prestigious William Morris Agency, further positioning her for breakthrough status with such a strong platform.

Exit The Ordinary
Some things just take more time than others. For Exit The Ordinary, a three-piece modern rock outfit from Michigan, it’s been worth the wait. After releasing an EP in 2005 entitled The Place You Are, it hasn’t been until recently that things have picked up, including the title track’s inclusion on The Butterfly Effect 2 soundtrack and a contract for airplay with MTV Networks.

Randall Goodgame
As a member of the Square Peg Alliance, Randall Goodgame surrounds himself with great songwriters—but his own ability is notable as well. His work on numerous Caedmon’s Call efforts plus his own, most recently War and Peace, reveal a deep well of inspiration. His latest project is Slugs and Bugs and Lullabies, a children’s record with friend Andrew Peterson.

Katie Herzig
The former vocalist for Newcomers Home, Katie Herzig moved from Boulder, Colo., to Nashville to pursue a solo career. Now Herzig’s stock stands ready to soar after a year that featured a GRAMMY® nomination for “Best Country Performance” for her song “Heaven’s My Home” and tour dates with The Fray. Her latest album, Weightless, is adored by critics nationwide and has garnered plays on TV shows like “ER” and “Smallville.”

Tyler James
Since debuting with a self-titled EP in 2005, the Nashville-based Tyler James has been the rage—in and out of town. PASTE Magazine notes, “Tyler James’ vulnerable lyrics, uncontrived vocals and memorable piano and guitar arrangements make for a sound as accessible as it is meaningful.” The buzz must be right, after a duet with Leigh Nash found its way to the Bridge to Terabithia soundtrack and another song played on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. The 24-year-old is currently in the studio recording his first full-length album, Windows Facing West.

With a hybrid rock sound that infuses hip-hop and ’80s synth-pop, KNAPSACKHEROES! has teamed with Indie Community to spread its sound to the masses. The Nashville group has shared the stage with Rebecca St. James, Building 429 and Kevin Max and played Cornerstone for the first time this past summer.

Leaving Araby
The impressive progression from debut EP Slightly South of Scene to the recent @&/or shows how high the potential is for the Athens, Ga., modern rock quartet known as Leaving Araby. The band members enlisted producer Barry Blair (Audio Adrenaline) for their latest, and the results are tighter anthems and soaring choruses. The band has recently shared the stage with Kids in the Way, Fireflight and High Flight Society and will book dates through fall.

Maggie McClure
Working with producer Will Hunt (Shane & Shane), 20-year-old Maggie McClure impressed on her self-titled debut with a piano-pop sound reminiscent of Vanessa Carlton and Sara Bareilles. Christianity Today gave her four of five stars and remarked, “In addition to her thoughtful lyrics, the musical side of the equation is equally intriguing.” McClure continues to tour in and around her native Oklahoma area and just shot a music video for her song “What’s It Like.”

Noel McLeary
Nineteen-year-old popster Noel McLeary was discovered during the first Battle of the Bands at Creation West in Washington. Soon after, she began work with producer Danny Duncan on her self-titled EP, which delivers a huge pop sound and solid vocal range. McLeary is currently seeking label representation, while touring at various churches and events.

Son Lux
It’s nearly impossible to categorize the music of composer Ryan Lott, otherwise known as Son Lux. The moniker is as deceptive as the electro-orchestral arrangements the Ohio native creates on his debut, At War With Walls & Mazes. Lott earned numerous awards for his complex compositions, most recently top prize in the new Bandspotting contest at Calvin College’s Festival of Faith & Music.

Matt Wertz
Matt Wertz knows how to write the perfect three-minute pop song, from the spiritually-infused to the relationship-heartbreak-inspired. From his early beginnings leading worship at Young Life camps, right up to the success of his latest release, Everything in Between, Wertz’s soulful style is only enhanced by his honest lyrics and frequent collaborations with the likes of friends Dave Barnes and Andy Davis. In addition, all three of his full-lengths (plus an EP) have been produced by none other than award-winning producer Ed Cash. His tour credits include stints with Gavin DeGraw, Matt Nathanson and Jars of Clay, among others.

Ryan Wilkins
Cleveland native Ryan Wilkins is becoming widely known for his honest, disarming approach to songwriting that matches an impressive Americana-meets-pop musicianship, evoking comparisons to Sean Watkins, Ryan Adams and Howie Day. 2005’s Parts placed him on the map, but it’s his latest, Beautiful Disrepair, that showcases Wilkins’ mature, diverse approach.

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