In honor of the spring break we would have had last week, here is a list of bands throughout the country so that you can feel like you had a road trip of your own. Think of each band as a place you are visiting, whether you are just passing through or staying there for a couple of nights. Each band is extraordinary, drawing on influences from their town or from traditions of their genre. I tried to put the bands in a logical order that you would take if you were driving on a road trip in real life, but you are warned that if you attempt it, it will be a long trip.
📍 NEW YORK, NY: Ratas En Zelo
Ratas En Zelo is a band composed of immigrant Latinas from Peru and El Salvador. They describe their music with “a putazo of estrogen madness.” Their only album is jam-packed with energy and hard-hitting messages in true punk fashion. The moment I heard the accordion player come in, I was hooked. Each member plays off the others well as they are so lively and raw. They are a force to be reckoned with; that is for sure.
Song Suggestions: “Ratas” and “Policia”
📍 CHARLOTTE, NC: Woah
Woah’s music will make you really feel like you are a part of a coming of age movie, despite the title of one of their songs. The scenes you spend exploring, driving around with your friends, feeling invincible and wistful at the same time are embedded throughout their discography. Since you cannot get away on a road trip right now, you will instantly feel like you are when you listen to Woah.
Song Suggestions: “It’s Not a Movie” and “Quiet Days”
📍 LOUISVILLE, KY: Wombo
Wombo is built different. The band is unapologetically themselves and is described as “avant-pop / post-punk / whatever-rock,” which is an accurate way to describe them. The lead singer experiments with her vocals and is not limited by any fear. Eccentricity runs through each member’s veins. There is an interesting dynamic between them as their instruments clash in a weird melodic way where you will also stand back and just dig it.
Song Suggestions: “Sad World” and “Overwhelming”
📍 MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Gully Boys
Gully Boys is a three-piece that only recently learned how to play their instruments, but you honestly cannot tell because the brothers have such a tight bond that fuels their command. You are lured in with their harmonies and more cutting-edge vocals. Their music is reminiscent of the 1990s grunge scene, but they put a fresh spin on it. The brothers balance their enthusiastic and fun spirits with moments where they just rock out.
Song Suggestions: “Neopet Graveyard” and “You Should Sleep Alone”
📍 SEATTLE, WA: Bearaxe
Bearaxe is described as “Led Zeppelin meets Lead Belly.” The band is rooted in soul and prog-rock, but they brilliantly infuse elements of funk, jazz, and proto-punk. Every song is crafted so intentionally with tenacity and ferocity; you can tell they are so passionate about their music. Each member is skillful. The lead singer executes her vocals with so much strength and complete domination. Bearaxe is a powerhouse!
Song Suggestions: “Buy You” and “Ready or Not”
📍 LOS ANGELES, CA: Jennah Bell
Jennah Bell captures Americana perfectly; she effortlessly blends folk, R&B, and soul with pop and country on her 2019 release Anchors & Elephants. She has a real talent for composition as her music is so light and airy with intricate details of chimes and other types of percussion. Her lyrics are so raw and vulnerable, but her words flow so freely and beautifully as she is naturally gifted in storytelling. This album is a foolproof way to start your day off right.
Song Suggestions: “John Forbid” and “Another Louisiana”
📍 LAFAYETTE, LA: T’Monde
T’Monde is made up of such skilled individual musicians that come together to create such a unique sound within Cajun music. Each member gets a chance to shine vocally and instrumentally, each so distinct, so every moment is so special. They are all knowledgeable in traditional French and Creole music, to which they cover an expansive list, and blend their folk influences into their original pieces seamlessly.
Song Suggestions: “Bombay Bounce” and “La Danseuse Noyée”