Crossing a broad range of styles from indie-folk/blues/Americana to grunge/psychedelia/rock n’ roll, OJR blends a variety of familiar influences (Neil Young; T-Rex; Nirvana; Jack White, to name a few) with his own prolific songwriting ability and ear-catching southern vocal style. The result is a soul-scratching, modern homage to a vintage sound that’s completely unique and delivered with tons of swagger.
Nashville-based Oliver John-Rodgers, a.k.a. OJR, is an ambitiously prolific songwriter, whose throwback sound is equally informed by familiar rock influences like T. Rex, Pink Floyd, and Nirvana, as it is by more folk-tinged, singer-songwriter acts like Ryan Adams and Neil Young. It’s hard to pin down specifically which era of classic, guitar-driven rock the 24-year-old is pulling from most, and perhaps that’s his strongest selling point: His sound is warm and vintage and familiar, without being predictable or derivative. Rather, OJR undeniably possesses his own unique voice, one which emotes both passion and playfulness, via his penchant for colorful lyrics chockfull of humorous, topical references and skillful wordplay.
2016 saw OJR touring in support of more well-known acts like The Wild Feathers and Grace Potter, based on the strength of his self-produced, homemade record Nashville Demos (2015). Its single, “Numb,” a scorching grunge-rocker, enjoyed significant airplay in 2016 on many of America’s lead taste-making indie radio stations—WXPN in Philadelphia, WFUV in New York, and KUTX in Austin, to name just a few—and even managed to catch the attention of NPR, earning OJR the chance to grace the illustrious stage of World Café with David Dye in May.
2017 sees OJR following up Nashville Demos with a more professional, polished effort, an EP tracked to tape in Nashville’s acclaimed analog studio Welcome to 1979. Never one to be cornered stylistically, OJR manages to cover an impressive breadth of tones and sounds over these six songs, ranging from classic rhythm & blues (“Görlitzer Girl”) to swaggering country-rock (“Under the Hood”) to the delicate, folk-rock power ballad (“Let You Down.”) Such expansive, widespread efforts could leave any artist seeming unfocused and confusing, but on the contrary OJR’s well-defined, unique voice is the glue that holds the whole thing together.
In addition to writing and performing music, OJR has several years of experience with acting and modeling. He can be seen in Matt Wolf’s award-winning indie film Teenage (available on Netflix), and has been featured in Vogue Italia (Dec. 2014) and The New York Times (March 2017).