John Myers

Mike Farris is unflinchingly optimistic. You can read it on his Twitter, hear it in his music and feel it in conversation when you talk with him. He can even have a laugh about the name of the band he played in during his 20s while signed to Atlantic Records, The Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies.

As a gay, left-wing woman living in the South, Indigo Girls' Amy Ray says she's in love with a place that doesn't always love her back. But she draws creative fuel from the differences of opinion and expresses gratitude for the village that's helped Ray and her partner raise their child in rural Georgia. On her latest solo album, Holler, Ray calls out the difference between Southern pride and Southern hate and imagines what Jesus might have thought of a border wall.

Hope you brought your volume knob. J Mascis co-founded Dinosaur Jr. and over the past decade, the band sounded just as vital as when it debuted in 1984. Mascis has also been just as prolific when it comes to his own solo albums. He's recorded three records in the last seven years as a place to showcase some of the quieter (yet still loud) songs.

The band Lawrence is led by two siblings, Clyde and Gracie Lawrence. The New York City-raised pair started the band, now an eight-piece group, with a love of pop and soul music. They've had artistic talents for a while: Elder brother Clyde scored his first songwriting credit at the age of 6 for the movie Miss Congeniality and Gracie's pursuing an acting career.

Johnny Marr has a lot of accolades. From co-founding The Smiths to playing alongside folks like The Pretenders and Talking Heads, from invigorating Modest Mouse in the aughts to a successful solo career, Marr has earned himself a legion of devoted fans.

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