The Unsigned Uprising: Carolina bands on the move

The Southeast is known for a plethora of things: college football, sweet tea, and unpredictable weather patterns to name a few. One thing that often gets overlooked is the amount of raw, local talent that exists and flourishes in the area. Recently, some bands in the Carolinas have been kicking up some buzz with new music, new videos, and new announcements that are all helping to increase their profiles across the board. While there is no shortage of talent in the area, here are a few bands that are currently putting in the work and on the move for big things in 2017.

Something Clever

Breaking boundaries and defying labels, Something Clever continue to be a fox in the NC music scene- intriguing, sly, and unpredictable. Having spent the last year reconfiguring their ranks with the addition of a new drummer, rolling directly into opening Carolina Rebellion 2016, and recording a new album- busy doesn’t begin to describe them. The band’s previous EP Season of Darkness was released in 2015 and 2016 was the year of “light” for the band. In the midst of all the other things on their plate, the band still found time to tour, promote their new album, and share behind-the-scenes studio session updates. Now, having released their full-length follow-up, Season of Light, the band is hoping to take 2017 by the horns and tour more in support of the record. With an incredible stage energy and intense vocal dynamics, Something Clever is something to look for at a venue near you.

A Light Divided

Once referred to as “ like Paramore for adults,” the pop-punk alternative stylings of A Light Divided turns more than a few heads. Their 2015 full-length release Mirrors saw the band releasing two hyper-visual and engaging music videos directed by film mastermind Justin Reich for “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World,” and “ I Am the One Who Knocks.” Fronted by the vivacious Jaycee Clark, ALD is rife with spirit, passion, and boundless energy. Clark and company own any stage they step on and always make sure to engage their audience in every show. Even if you’ve never seen them before, from the moment they step on stage you’re at home- like having a beer at a friend’s house party. With the band taking on new management and announcing big plans for the year ahead, look for A Light Divided to come “knocking” on a door near you.

Blackwater Drowning

Are you looking for the face of an angel with a voice that can both charm and terrify you? If the answer is yes, then look no further than the dichotomous and deceptively dangerous vocals of Blackwater Drowning’s own Morgan Riley. A dark fairy in disguise, don’t let Riley’s sweet face fool, many a man has had his face melted by the power that lay in the belly of this she-beast. Pair that with the cadre of highly trained musical assassins on stage with her and you have a band that is both melodic and dangerous, enthralling and ensnaring. These guys and gals have been sharpening their teeth on shows at venues all over the Southeast and are ready to unleash some hell on a venue near you. Their debut EP Delusionary features songs that range from entrancing to daring with a common thread of finely honed art running throughout. It’s obvious that they took their time crafting these songs and since it was released in 2015, perhaps new material is on its way down the pipeline for 2017?

Reason Define

Undergoing a transformation from The Reason You Stayed to Reason Define, these 2016 “Best Rock Band of the Year” Carolina Music Award winners have a new name and a new focus. With a fresh start, come fresh tunes and fresh ambition. These Charlotte, N.C rock n’ roll renegades released a video for their single “Kingdom” in December and are back at it again with their latest video for the single “Start Me Over.” The band’s cd release party will be held at The Fillmore Underground on March 24th and they are sharing their bill with some other popular N.C locals: Auxilia and Blackwater Drowning. If you’re looking for a badass cavalcade of fierce, fun and talented musicians, look no further than the colorful stage dynamics of Reason Define.

Kelen Heller

This upstate S.C band has toured garnered a national following that always seems to eagerly await their every move. These guys have all been in the Southeast music scene in one band or another for over ten years, but it wasn’t until they put their talents together to form Kelen Heller in 2009 that the vision took shape.  Recently, the guys released a new music video for their latest single “Cut Me” which is intense and gripping with a surprising twist ending. After years of hustling, several impressive shows with Saliva, and collaborating with Shinedown producer Rick Beato again, Kelen Heller will be releasing their first full-length album on March 24th.

Beyond the Fade

The men of Beyond the Fade have seen a resurgence of attention with their return to the Charlotte music scene last year. The band released their new album Welcome to the Pain last year and have garnered interest from around the globe, including a nod from Tremonti frontman Mark Tremonti on Instagram. Beyond the Fade’s brand of hard rock also earned them accolades from local paper The Independent Tribune of Concord, N.C, being voted “Best Local Band” last year. Picking back up where they left off, the band recently played the farewell show for the beloved venue Amos Southend to rave reviews. These guys are just getting warmed up and looking to take 2017 by storm.

Vices & Vessels

Metalcore, anyone? Not falling into the trap of overproduction, Vices & Vessels delivers insane stage presence and powerful vocals without pretense. These guys are not afraid to get down and dirty, sweaty, and crazy. With a stage show that is both explosive and unsettling, V&V is not afraid to break boundaries and defy your comfort level. Underneath the posturing, though, is a band that knows their sh*t and how to get sh*t done. Every step is measured, every breakdown crushing and deliberate. They released their latest EP The Evil Inside in 2016 and have since announced that they are already working on a new single. With a series of tour dates lined up this Spring, these guys have only just begun to wreck sh*t in 2017.


These guys are like the Tool of the Carolinas. Not to say that vocalist Will Moss bears any semblance physically or artistically to Maynard James Keenan, but in regards to scarcity. Lifecurse is a regional favorite that brings heavy riffs, throat ripping gutturals, nasty basslines, and impressive string work to stage time and again. Unfortunately, they haven’t played nearly enough to whet the local music community’s sonic appetite. Recently playing at The Orange Peel in Asheville, Lifecurse reminds us why we love them when they’re here and miss them when they’re gone. Their last album Elysium was released in 2013 and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

Patricia Jones

Patricia Jones

I am a writer with 10 yrs experience in Entertainment, Media, and Marketing. My work has been featured and shared on artist websites, press releases, and microblogs. I've had the opportunity to interview a variety of interesting artists, cover major national festivals, and pen biographies and reviews for various artists. Former contributor to, Unsung Melody, and Front Row Report, other works can be currently found on and When I'm not writing, I'm reminiscing about the grunge era, exploring new music, or binge watching cooking shows or legal and medical dramas.