Midwest Is Best: Seven Promising Artists From The Rising Midwest Music Scene

Posted: by Riley

A new crop of bands are popping up in the midwest U.S. and finally receiving some well-deserved national attention. From small bars in Toledo (NOT the Ottawa Tavern) to sweaty Ann Arbor basements to Cincinnati dance parties, here are 7 bands making waves in the midwest.  

1) Secret Space – Toledo, OH

Secret Space, a Toledo band that houses multi-intsumentalist Dean Tartaglia (formerly of Silent Lions), has released only two songs. In just these distinctly different samples of Secret Space, we’ve got two void-filling guitar rock masterpieces and an unprecedented amount of promise. “Stay For Awhile” is a sludgy, loud-quiet thunderstorm of a track some could associate with shoegaze or – more appropriately – expansive rock groups like Hum and Failure. “Standing and Waiting” is the spirited counterpart which finds Tartaglia utilizing his strong vocal abilities to fashion an emotive, sophisticated rock song. Accordingly, there is no shortage of hype surrounding this trio, as they’ve recently been in the studio with Will Yip and touring the country with The Flats and Northbound. Listen to “Standing and Waiting” below. (FFO: Basement, Citizen, Superheaven)


2) Indigo Wild – Columbus, OH

It’s been a long time coming for Indigo Wild, who gained a following after releasing a sharp collection of folk-rock gems back in 2011. Since then, the members have graduated from college and officially regrouped in Columbus, OH where they’ve begun work on a full-length LP. Shifting from raucuous woodland indie to buoyant dream-rock, the band’s sensational harmonies and nostalgic spirit has remained in tact. The band’s latest – and best – single is called “High Point.” A contender for song of the year, the track is layer after layer of effervescent beauty and finds lead singer Garet Camella commandingly belting the memorable “I just want to see the world the way it used to be.” After the first listen, you’ll be singing with him. Listen to “High Point” below and support their Kickstarter here. (FFO: Local Natives, Yellow Ostrich, Grizzly Bear)


3) Palaces – Detroit, MI

Detroit rock giants Palaces are a mysterious group, but it’s their fantastic output that captivates me more than their mystique. With the release of their newest single “Axiomatic / Let Me Get Higher,” the band impresses with dense hypnotic synth-rock. “Axiomatic”’s shimmering mesmeric quality compliments the new-wave garage rocker “Let Me Get Higher” and vice-versa. The Detroit duo’s upcoming single release finds them annexing Velvet Underground influence and 90’s indie-rock affinity to their formula, making for a very interesting – and extraordinarily enjoyable – outcome. Listen to “Axiomatic” below. (FFO: Joy Division, Foals, Echo & The Bunnymen)


4) Fluffer – Cincinnati, OH

Fluffer does not sound like anything you’ve ever heard before – they are an innovative heavy dance-rock trio from Cincinnati. Mixing explosive math-rock with trap beats and auto-tuned vocals, the band somehow crafts coherence from chaos; breeding strange and danceable super-pop, Fluffer are famous for their unbelievable live show – an affair which is likely to erupt into a dance party and rightly so. Their newest EP, titled OwlPAtDan, is full of vibrant, genre-defying doozies. “Dolla” and “Halle” find the band at their best, harnessing the energy of their gigs and creating expansive pop oddities. Fluffer is one of the most notable and under-appreciated bands in the midwest. Don’t believe me? watch the band perform “Dolla” at SixtyTen Studios below. (FFO: Chromeo, Deerhoof, Innovative Dance Rock)


P.S. if you want to see the hilarious (and equally incredible) side of Fluffer, check out “Sky High” which features Bloomington weirdo rapper Beverly Bounce House

5) Bliss Nova – Toledo, OH

Although Bliss Nova is probably sick of me talking about “chillwave” whenever I promote their EP, I am not sick of their EP. In just their 6-song debut, Toledo dance darlings Bliss Nova have demonstrated a captivating depth and songwriting mastery with their catchy indie-pop numbers. The honeyed textures of “My Nightmare” foster an urgency which recalls Bear in Heaven’s doped night-club creations, while “Nothing to Lose” is a shameless dance-floor essential. The only ones who suffer from listening to Bliss Nova are festival-goers deciding whether to do uppers or downers. (FFO: Washed Out, Neon Indian, Brothertiger)


6) Jacob Sigman – Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor’s Jacob Sigman is the multi-instumentalist and singer-songwriter responsible for songs under his own name and with the band San Cristobal. Throughout his short career, he’s grown from the sincere folk-leaning chamber pop of the Virginia EP to the vivacious big-band rock ’n’ roll maximalism of San Cristobal’s double-single. Sigman’s significant progression is evident in his complex songwriting and strong pop sensibilities. San Cristobal’s “Lovely Lisa” parades the young musician’s enthralling showmanship and exceptional vocal range. Following a quick stint touring as a member of The Flats, Sigman is gearing up to release a batch of self-recorded songs later this summer and continue producing solo material.. Listen to “Lovely Lisa” below. (FFO: The Beatles, Ariel Pink, Diane Coffee)


7) The Flats – Toledo, OH

Hailing also from Toledo, The Flats is the songwriting vehicle of Chris Kerekes (brother of Mat from Citizen). Built out of collaboration, The Flats has seen contributions from Jacob Sigman, Secret Space’s Dean Tartaglia, and Citizen’s Mat Kerekes. The band’s surprise bandcamp-released debut Liberation & The House in Blue is a colorful collection of dreamy indie-rock charmers coupled with passionate lyricism and undeniable sincerity. This atmospheric LP is one that grows and exposes layers with each listen. Like Secret Space, the group has been in the studio with Will Yip and is fated to turn out more special music in the future. Listen to “Fight & Flight” below. (Coldplay, Everyone Everywhere, Mat Kerekes)