Zoo Culture: Birmingham
Zoo Culture, affectionately called “the zoobies” by their most dedicated fans, describes their infectious sound as “post-surf-pop.” The band’s warm vocals and bubbly guitar riffs are a perfect retreat from the quickly cooling weather.
The band rose to notoriety this year with a sonic embodiment of summer love, “Sundress.” The song has garnered almost 650,000 streams on Spotify since its release in September of last year.
Alex Drummond and Cole Manasco, the band’s vocalist and lead guitarist respectively, both feel that their newfound fame has pushed them as artists.
“Regardless of who hears it or what numbers we do, I think we’ve acquired this mindset to try and make stuff that we think is dope,” Drummond said.
Zoo Culture is currently working on demos for an upcoming release. While their first EP, “Moonflower,” was inspired by indie greats like Hippo Campus, they’ve described their new material as genre-fluid. More than anything, Zoo Culture wants to remain authentic in their work as they continue to evolve.
“For us, it’s non-negotiable that we are honest with ourselves in selling the most genuine music we have,” Manasco said.
Zoo Culture plans to release new music within the year.
OMB Peezy: Mobile
OMB Peezy, born LeParis Dade, delivers trappy verses that redefine regional rap. Peezy grew up in Mobile, but moved to Sacramento at age 12. Both Southern and Northern Californian influences are apparent in his unique sound.
Peezy first broke out with his 2016 single, “Lay Down.” The song has received over 9 million streams on Soundcloud since.
Peezy’s career continued to progress after that song: he signed to 300 Entertainment in 2017, a label that also represents artists like Megan Thee Stallion and Gunna. Early last year, Peezy released his first studio album “Preacher to the Streets.”
Peezy sits scribbling in a notebook on the album’s cover, and from the music it’s clear that Peezy has a talent for creating catchy raps. Peezy’s flow is best when he’s telling the truth—on “Project Baby,” he describes his challenging childhood in Mobile’s Orange Grove housing projects while optimistically pronouncing, “In order to be a boss, you gotta take a loss.”
This year, Peezy put out another full album, “In the Meantime.” In the past month, he released a remix and a music video for his most popular song to date, “Big Homie.”
Jahnah Camille: Birmingham
Jahnah Camille’s simultaneously self-aware and relatable lyrics reflect an artistry well beyond her 16 years. Camille’s delicate melodies create an aura of innocent beauty while her verses detail the struggle and self-doubt that comes with young love.
Camille’s most recent release, “Alabama Tears,” displays a promise in lyricism similar to that of her greatest musical influence, Fiona Apple. On the track, Camille sings “I’d be like those red lights / Always invade your sight / On that path for six years / Crying Alabama tears.”
The song’s instrumentals further highlight its melancholic message: it begins with somber but simple guitar chords before adding a slow and deliberate beat. Towards its end, Camille repeats “I wanna be someone to miss / I wanna be someone” accompanied by an electric guitar.
Camille has become more intentional with her work’s message over the course of quarantine.
“Honesty is my inspiration,” Camille said. “I’ve been putting so much more care into everything I write.”
Camille will be releasing a new single before the end of the year.
Drop Diver: Huntsville
Drop Diver sports a sound with stadium potential from the Huntsville underground. The band creates raw rock influenced by the 1960s and early 2000s.
The band’s self-titled 2019 album piques listeners’ interests with its powerful guitar solos and vocals, but Drop Diver’s talent shines best in live performance. Garrison Lemmond, the band’s lead singer, screamed every word like it was new and headbanged along with crowds back when venues were open earlier this year.
Though the band was on a social media hiatus for much of this summer, they are currently in the studio working on a 10-12 song album. Lemmond says the new record is influenced by the pain and frustration caused by the current pandemic and breakups.
“There’s a lot of personal experiences we’ve gone through recently that have played a part into writing these new songs… I hope that people will be able to relate to some of that,” Lemmond said.
Drop Diver will be releasing a new single and a music video within the next two months.
Early James: Birmingham
Early James makes southern blues rock for the 21st century. Songs on James’ 2020 album “Singing for My Supper” build on each other to portray the overwhelming experience of existing in modern society. The record’s opening track “Blue Pill Blues” progresses instrumentally and lyrically to create a sense of urgency.
James vacillates between raspy whispers and impassioned belts on the song to portray the confusion that can come after euphoria. In its chorus, he yells “tick tock, tick tock, there goes my fuse” before returning back to self-deprecating verses. James croons millennial struggles in such a timeless fashion that his lyrics invoke the larger human experience.
James’ sound has progressed since the release of his self-titled EP in 2018. Though James’ raw talent for songwriting and acoustic guitar shined on the earlier record, “Singing for My Supper” employs a wider range of instrumentals to create a more complex sonic tone. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys produced James’ recent album, and “Singing for My Supper” was released with Auerbach’s label, Easy Eye Records.
Editor’s Note: This story was corrected on Oct. 31 to reflect that Jahnah Camille’s new album is not called “Undecided.” The album does not have a name yet.