50 unsigned bands 50 states Reason Define 2020
[Photo by: Obscvre Photography]

From sea to shining sea, the U.S. is teeming with talented bands and musicians. Every state and region of the country has its own scene, with its own unique flavor, filled with undiscovered and unsigned artists worthy of a listen.

In a time when most of us are stuck inside, take a virtual road trip across the 50 states and experience what each act have to offer. Check them out below.

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Alabama – House Fight

This heavy pop-punk outfit from Birmingham released their debut EP, To Keep From Going Backwards, last year, with a follow-up single in the first half of 2020. With influences such as A Day To Remember and Abandoned By Bears, this high-energy four-piece are heavy on riffs, complemented by catchy vocals.

Alaska – Thera

Since forming in 2005, Thera have gone through lineup switches, which has brought changes in sound. They’ve evolved into a solid post-hardcore powerhouse, with melodic vocals and harsh screams over razor-sharp guitars. Their most recent EP, For Someone, Somewhere, plays to their strengths in writing engaging songs, with layers and subtle sounds that keep them fresh, even on repeated listens.

Arizona – Paper Foxes

This Phoenix group, who describe their genre as “death disco,” present a unique sound that’s part indie rock and part ’80s new wave. Paper Foxes have opened for acts such as iDKHOW and the Wrecks, and their 2019 debut album, Popular Confessions, features the best elements of alternative, pop and dance-punk.

Arkansas – Anchor The Appetite

Little Rock’s Anchor The Appetite hit hard with their blend of pop punk and emo, influenced by bands such as Dance Gavin Dance and Alkaline Trio. Their latest single “Worthless Coward,” released in January, shows off their talent for crafting dynamic songs with interesting key changes. Based on a high-energy, melodic riff over a dense wall of sound, they move through more sparse, half-time verses and alternate singing with screaming.

California – Suburban Paradise

Suburban Paradise have been playing their sunny brand of pop punk for crowds since 2010, including a set at the 2015 Warped Tour in San Francisco, when they won the Ernie Ball band competition for Northern California. Fans of groups such as the Offspring and the Ramones will enjoy their take on the genre.

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Colorado – Goodbye Aurora

Denver’s Goodbye Aurora have only been playing together since 2019 but have already released two singles, with strong pop-punk vibes in the vein of Knuckle Puck and All Time Low. With punchy drums and a wall of guitars, this quartet have a straight-forward sound and catchy melodies.

Connecticut – Pull The Curtain

Post-hardcore act Pull The Curtain mix angry, screaming breakdowns with melodic hooks, along the lines of influences such as Underoath and Senses Fail. They released their debut EP, Counting Sheep, in February, gaining fans with addictive songs such as “Breathing Is The Hardest Part” and “Glass Bones And Paper Skin.” They pull listeners in by balancing lyrics that are easy to sing along to with aggressiveness.

Delaware – Awake At Last

This act from Dover blend dark melodies and energetic riffs to form their own twist on post-hardcore. Mixing guitar-heavy verses with classical string breakdowns, Awake At Last have a talent for writing captivating songs that will keep even the shortest attention span from spacing out.

Florida – Hopout

At their core, this Pensacola trio are a no-nonsense, straight-forward rock band, but they find places to sneak influences from early 2000s emo acts, such as Jimmy Eat World and Fall Out Boy. Hopout’s 2020 release, Some Assembly Required, shows off their knack for combining catchy hooks and edgy breakdowns for a fun yet compelling listen.jimmy 

Georgia – Battle Of Heart & Mind

This Atlanta group bring hard-hitting alt-rock to the table with soulful emo vocals. Fans of the Almost and We The Kings will find a familiar sound to love, with a unique flavor. Battle Of Heart & Mind offer emotive vocals, occasionally morphing into blood-curdling screams, over thick guitars and thundering rhythms.

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Hawaii – Black Square

Ska is alive and well in Hawaii, as evidenced by this Honolulu six-piece. Influenced by classic genre acts such as Operation Ivy and the Specials, Black Square have been skankin’ around the Aloha State since the early 2000s, moving from down ’n’ dirty grooves to upbeat, bouncing rhythm punches.

Idaho – AsFireFalls

Razor-sharp riffs and aggressive vocal breakdowns define AsFireFalls. Weaving techno elements and quieter dynamic passages into their songs, this band have been playing shows around their hometown of Boise and the Western U.S. since forming in 2011. Their energetic live performance has earned them slots at several festivals, including the 2015 Warped Tour and Creation Fest. 

Illinois – Cleveland Avenue

Chicago’s Cleveland Avenue mix pop-punk catchiness with metal riffs, forming an infectious sound that will please fans of acts such as Sum 41 and Neck Deep. Their 2019 EP, True Love Is Not Just A Pizza Tattoo, yields lyrics that don’t take themselves too seriously, with the occasional clever twist over music that’s nearly impossible to sit still to while listening. 

Indiana – NORMUNDY

It’s easy to hear influences by bands such as Linkin Park and Enter Shikari in NORMUNDY’s music, but they put their own twist on the genre. They’ve taken the familiar combination of metal and rap to a new level with their weaving of EDM and screamo.

Iowa – Stars Hollow

Known for their screamo vocals and math-rock-meets-pop-punk instrumentals, Stars Hollow have been a favorite of the Iowa scene for the past few years. Their most recent single, “Tadpole,” drips with emotion, with a sound reminiscent of Bear Vs. Shark and At The Drive-In.

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Kansas – All From Nothing

This Kansas act provide a fresh energy to the early 2000s sounds of pop-punk and emo bands such as blink-182 and Rise Against. Also drawing influence from earlier eras of rock music, All From Nothing focus heavily on powerful vocal harmonies and tight, thunderous rhythms, as evidenced by “Actions Speak (Louder Than Words)” and “Affirmations.”

Kentucky – Next Attempt

Louisville trio Next Attempt blend alt-rock, punk and post-hardcore to form a sound that will take listeners on a wild ride through dynamic rhythm changes and shredding guitar riffs. If that’s your speed, their 2019 full-length, Red Flags, is well worth the listen, full of energy and singalong choruses.

Louisiana – Hand Out

Post-rock meets emo with this New Orleans band. With verses reminiscent of groups such as Modest Mouse and Cursive that burst into powerful, guitar-driven choruses in the vein of Say Anything, Hand Out deliver a raw sound with personal lyrics and solid writing on their 2018 debut EP, Blood & Water.

Maine – DAMN NATION

This alt-metal act fuse razor-sharp guitars with emotive vocal harmonies and electronic elements that bring to mind ’90s staples such as Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson. Though DAMN NATION only have six singles to their name, they’ve also dropped acoustic versions of two of their songs, allowing their raw talent and emotion to show through.

Maryland – DRMCTHR

The airy, atmospheric vibe of Baltimore’s DRMCTHR often treads in dark territory while simultaneously sounding hopeful. With carefully crafted songs, their music is compelling and deep yet accessible with an emo-pop sensibility. If you need proof, try putting on “Blacked Out” or “Apartment.”

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Massachusetts – Attraction To Tragedy

Post-hardcore and emo, with a guitar-driven metal edge, make up the sound of this Worcester group. Fans of Motionless In White and Bullet For My Valentine should give Attraction To Tragedy a listen, as they’ll find much to love. A good song to start with is “Agony”: With its rapid-fire drums, dark guitar riffs and melodic chorus, you’ll hear what this band are all about.

Michigan – Kaleido

This quartet have won several awards in their hometown of Detroit and toured the country with their unique hard-rock sound. Deep, personal lyrics and heavy guitar riffs pour from Kaleido’s music, and their energetic live show connects with fans wherever they go.

Minnesota – Heart To Gold

Heart To Gold give a fresh angle to punk rock. They deliver the punchiness of pop punk, but they’ve traded the typical power chords for something more jazzy. Rather than the usual nasal singing or harsh screaming, their vocalist yells in key. If you want to see what we’re talking about, start by listening to “Smo’,” “Difficult” or “Tokyo.”

Mississippi – Lisbon Deaths

In a state that’s known for Delta blues music, a band such as Lisbon Deaths are a rarity. Their style blends the slower side of emo with the heavier side of shoegaze, bringing to mind Gish-era Smashing Pumpkins, early Death Cab For Cutie and Dinosaur Jr.

Missouri – Outrun The Fall

This St. Louis band convey a straight-ahead hard-rock sound with a focus on heavy guitar riffs and strong vocals. The occasional screaming breakdown and rapid-fire double-kick drum woven into the catchy hooks set Outrun The Fall apart from the pack.

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Montana – MASS FM

MASS FM offer a post-rock core that’s similar to Say Anything and Cursive, with psychedelic overtones from the occasional synthesizer and special effect. Strong grooves and emotive vocals drive this Missoula band. Their 2019 EP, What Will Divide Us Is Love, shows off their unique sound, opening with “Spooned-Out Man,” which is an interesting sonic journey in its own right as it’s driven by punky guitars and synth accents.

Nebraska – Death Cow

This Lincoln band and their unapologetically Nebraskan-sounding name unleash an all-out sonic assault, with heavy guitars and thundering drums. With layered vocals reminiscent of ’90s alternative outfits such as Meat Puppets in their Too High To Die era, Death Cow’s 2020 album, Pioneer, is a must-listen.

Nevada – Mineral Point

Mineral Point merge hard-hitting post-hardcore choruses with quiet shoegazing verses for maximum dynamics. Throw in some psychedelic guitar effects and gripping rhythms and you’ve got their debut album, Free Yourself, released at the beginning of 2020. Check out “Narcoma,” with its soft guitar picking intro giving way to a wall of distortion. The closing title track is an epic slow-burner that doesn’t reach its peak until more than three minutes in, with a blood-curdling scream in the final minute. 

New Hampshire – Delaney

Bringing a pop-punk-meets-emo vibe influenced by bands such as Jimmy Eat World and Jack’s Mannequin, this New Hampshire group radiate an airy sound perfect for summer listening. Their recent EP, A Small Remaining Quantity Of Something, highlights their penchant for addictive hooks, lush vocal harmonies and ambient string layers.

New Jersey – Modern Chemistry

This duo from New Brunswick deliver heartfelt music with soaring vocals. Dreamy and atmospheric, Modern Chemistry are the kind of band that you could easily get lost in. “Please, Don’t Let Me Disappear,” released earlier this year, shows them at their most imaginative and dramatic, while tracks such as “Swimmers” and “Tripping Over You” demonstrate their pop sensibilities.

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New Mexico – Fighting Monsters

Dynamic emo meets post-hardcore, with snotty punk vocals. Fans of Say Anything and Glassjaw should check out this Albuquerque band. Fighting Monsters’ debut EP, Old Money, earned them slots opening for acts such as the Devil Wears Prada, Broadside and RIVALS last year, allowing them to showcase their music for a growing audience.

New York – So Last Year

Fans of Something Corporate and the Rocket Summer will want to check out this poppy emo act from Rochester. Guitar-heavy hooks with smooth vocals and the occasional piano form So Last Year’s catchy sound, and with three albums’ worth of material to dig through, you’re sure to find something to love.

North Carolina – Reason Define

This Charlotte five-piece give a metal edge to their hard-rock core. Anyone who likes Doll Skin, Edge Of Paradise or Lacuna Coil should make sure to check this group out. Reason Define are true road warriors, touring extensively across the country in support of their latest album, In Memory…Pointing Fingers” and “Reaper” are good songs to start with, showcasing their strength in soaring vocal harmonies and razor-sharp riffs that occasionally step into progressive-metal territory.

North Dakota – disappear forever

Shoegaze and post-rock are the bedrock of disappear forever’s music, with influences such as the Cure and Modest Mouse, while also treading into noisier territory at times. Their sound drips with jangly guitars and heavily reverberated vocals, which is apparent on songs such as “Crumble” and “Telescope.”

Ohio – As Time Fades

The Cleveland area has quite a scene for emo and pop-punk bands, making it difficult to stand out, but As Time Fades shine with addictive hooks and engaging dynamics. Their debut EP, Growing Season, calls to mind 2000s acts such as blink-182 and Seaway.

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Oklahoma – Hazelwave

Forming only a year ago, Hazelwave have already crafted a memorable sound, though aggressive at times, with a pop sensibility that keeps them accessible and catchy. With a new single released in June, “Beside Me,” they’re developing quickly. Which means you have the chance to watch them rise from the ground up.

Oregon – All Hype

Originally from Honolulu, All Hype have made a home in Portland, Oregon, with their loose punk style. Their 2019 debut EP, Misadventures, brings to mind Dude Ranch-era blink-182 and DescendentsI Don’t Want To Grow Up.

Pennsylvania – Cheer Up Dusty

This Philly act released their debut EP, Last Year Gave Me The Business, within the last couple of days of 2019. Cheer Up Dusty are a solid pop-punk act with slightly bratty-sounding vocals, in the vein of early Alkaline Trio. With four songs, clocking in under 10 minutes total, the EP is the first taste of what they offer.

Rhode Island – I Among You

This multi-instrumentalist from Providence generates a layered progressive-metal sound that goes from quiet and haunting to brash and screaming. With influences ranging from Dream Theater to Nine Inch Nails, I Among You is a fascinating listen from beginning to end, with standouts such as “Destination: Mind” and “Alien Nation.”

South Carolina – Little Stranger

The Charleston duo known as Little Stranger are a refreshing mix of breezy, summertime alternative rock and hip-hop. With intricate arrangements, well-crafted hooks and quirky delivery, this unique band are worth giving a listen. Try starting with their debut LP, Buddha The Beast, which dropped in 2015.

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South Dakota – Skin Of Our Teeth

This heavy stoner-rock band are full of chunky guitar riffs and thundering rhythms. Fans of Queens Of The Stone Age and Crobot should check out Skin Of Our Teeth for their fuzzy guitars and dry sound. Their 2019 album, Gods Of The Gaps, opens with a rumbling bassline that you can feel in your gut, leading into fuzzy guitar and vocals yelling in key and doubled by a low growl.

Tennessee – Raviner

In a city bursting with country and bluesy indie rock, Nashville’s Raviner are a cinematic alt-metal band reminiscent of Eyes Set To Kill and Set It Off. Beautifully haunting, with electronic and pop elements sprinkled in, this group put a refreshing twist on a familiar genre.

Texas – NDGO

Innovative and intriguing in their blending of metal and radio pop, NDGO (pronounced Indigo) present an infectious, unique sound that’s practically a new genre of its own. Their single “Flicker Fade,” released in May, shows the band as a creative powerhouse with no sign of slowing down. Listeners may find it difficult to sit still as the subdued electronic intro explodes into a breakneck drum beat with razor-sharp guitar riffs and vocal harmonies.

Utah – Late Night Savior

This alt-metal act offer an all-out blitz of heavy guitar riffs, with strong melodic vocals that morph into spine-tingling screams. Fans of Adelitas Way and Egypt Central should check out Late Night Savior’s song “Angel” for a taste of their dark and punchy vibe.

Vermont – Suburban Samurai

Emerging from a city known for its jam-band scene, Suburban Samurai are a rare loud, fast and melodic punk act. Bringing to mind Life In General-era MxPx, this trio supply an unapologetically brash tint to catchy punk rock.

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Virginia – Wring Out

Metal riffs with pop-punk vocals are the basis of Virginia Beach outfit Wring Out. If you listen to Assuming We Survive, Sum 41 or Keep Flying, this is a band you should check out. “Gamer Girl” is a good representation of their bright, upbeat sound, played at top speed.

Washington – The Nixon Rodeo

This four-piece from Spokane have a familiar hard-rock core, with soaring, melodic vocals, thrashy breakdowns and snarling scream sections. The Nixon Rodeo are both fun to listen to, as well as good for getting out your aggressions.

West Virginia – Fear The Dreamer

Fear The Dreamer bring an aggressive metalcore style, with verses of emotive vocal melodies giving way to screaming choruses. Influences from bands such as Atreyu and Killswitch Engage are evident in their sound. You can’t go wrong with their two singles, “Hold On” and “He Without Sin.”

Wisconsin – Slowburn

This Milwaukee group combine the sharp guitar riffs of post-grunge acts such as Sevendust with the strong, soaring vocals of Chevelle to deliver a heavy and dark yet melodic sound. Slowburn’s latest album, Eos, is full of songs that feel like they should be played on a festival stage. “Dirt” is a great example of their anthemic potential.

Wyoming – Harpoon, The Whale

This four-piece from Laramie are equal parts dreamy, atmospheric emo and bouncy pop punk. With influences ranging from Sunny Day Real Estate to Circa Survive, it’s easy to see how Harpoon, The Whale have come together to create something as unique as they have. Check out their 2019 album, Buntes Bild, starting with “Wish Me Luck (On My Journey)” for a taste of their songwriting.