Written by Shannon Shumaker
A few months ago, we published the first of hopefully many articles highlighting some of our current favorite musicians in the local Colorado scene. In the days, weeks and even months following, we received a steady stream of messages, emails and comments from local music lovers who wanted to share some of their favorite bands with us, so by popular demand, we are back with a second installment of 20 Colorado Artists You Need To Know.
Choosing some of our favorite artists again was damn near impossible, but we've narrowed this list down to 20 more bands - ranging from folk, punk, metal, pop and more - that we think you should check out! Give them a listen, check out a show, and if you don’t see your favorite local listed below, drop us a line! We've only begun to scratch the surface of great music in our home state.
Who are you currently listening to? Who should we check out? Keep the Colorado love coming!
Iona Grove have been providing Denver with their own personal brand of enchanting melodic hardcore for a few years now, but recently, the band took a break to gather themselves and secure a solid lineup before releasing their new single, “Aspire,” which features guest vocals from Brandon Whalen of fellow Denver band My Body Sings Electric. Iona Grove are not only a standout act because of their solid, established sound and stunning aesthetic (see their beautiful single and album artwork as well as the lyric video for “Aspire”) but also their willingness to bend genres, partnering with artists one normally wouldn’t imagine them collaborating or playing with.
FFO: Misery Signals & Volumes
Corsicana is the brainchild of 18 year-old Denver musician, Ben Pisano, and we use the term brainchild very heavily. Pisano wrote, recorded, produced and mixed his new album, Haven by himself in the span of three years, and the polished, solid sound is a direct reflection of the care and precision that went into it. Vocally, Corsicana is reminiscent of early Death Cab For Cutie, but carried by ambient, shoegaze, post-rock, and electronic influences. With his debut full-length out now, and short run of tour dates just wrapped up, great things are in this young musician’s future.
FFO: Death Cab For Cutie, The Antlers & Bon Iver
Boulder’s innerspace are a special breed. With an otherworldly progressive/experimental sound spearheaded by surreal guitars, brothers Spencer and Weston Roberts’ flawless vocal harmonies, watching an innerspace performance is an unreal experience. However, the band is quick to keep you in the now - at their recent show at Lost Lake Lounge supporting Polyphia, the band dedicated their first song to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, capturing the attention and respect from the sold-out crowd right off the bat. With a follow-up to their 2014 release, Earthrise in the works, innerspace are an act to keep an eye on.
FFO: Thrice & Circa Survive
P O P F I L T E R
P O P F I L T E R’s name may be a pain in the ass to type into your search bar, but trust us, it’s worth all of those spaces. This Denver trio is easily one of the more unique groups in Colorado, and thankfully on any given month, they’re almost guaranteed to be playing at least one show downtown, and their refined sound and stunning vocal harmonies are sure to blow you away. And the best part? The band has only been together for about a year. A week after the band’s first single release, P O P F I L T E R was voted as a top 3 finalist for KTCL 93.3's Hometown for the Holidays contest and played their first ever show to a packed Summit Music Hall audience. Since then, they have played countless shows, and have a bright future ahead of them.
FFO: From Indian Lakes, Phoenix, The 1975
I first listened to Autumn Creatures at the suggestion of a friend of mine, and I couldn’t be happier that I did. For some, instrumental groups may be a little hard to get into (typically, it’s the lyrical content or vocals that really drive a song home) but Autumn Creatures’ ability to convey emotion and tell a story with just their sound alone is absolutely incredible. It’s very easy to close your eyes and let the music transport you to somewhere else entirely. The band released an epic music video for their song, “Separate” in June, and just dropped their split with fellow locals Old Sport on October 13th.
FFO: Scale The Summit & Tides Of Man
One Flew West
Denver rock outfit One Flew West have had one hell of a 2016, and the year isn’t even close to over yet. With performances at The Underground Music Showcase and the inaugural Divide Music Festival as well as upcoming shows all over Colorado, they’re showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and we couldn’t be happier. We recently caught One Flew West when they opened up for The Spill Canvas in September, and the band’s live performances are high energy and infectious. Their most recent release, Selective Memory is impossible to listen to without a smile on your face.
FFO: The Spill Canvas, The Unlikely Candidates & The Mowgli's
My Body Sings Electric
One can’t really compile a list of strong Colorado musicians without including My Body Sings Electric. Next year, the band will celebrate their tenth year together, and they are still going strong, recently appearing at Bohemian Nights at New West Fest and First Class Fest this summer on top of tour dates with The Hush Sound. We could go on and on about everything that My Body Sings Electric have accomplished in the past year, let alone the last decade, but that would make up its own article entirely. The short and sweet version: My Body Sings Electric have been a staple in the Denver music scene for years, supporting countless local artists and helping to cultivate an incredible community while crafting a sound all their own.
FFO: Walk The Moon, American Authors & Minus The Bear
Finding Common Ground
Pop-punk group Finding Common Ground are another group of veterans that have made their way onto this list. Formed in 2011, this quartet has carved out their own punchy brand of pop-punk that has brought them success and a devoted following over the years. Last year, the band impressed us with their emotional EP, The Time That’s Passed, driven by a healthy mix of aggressive and melodic vocals and smart songwriting, and this fall, they are back with their new EP, Emergence. The best part? They haven’t lost one ounce of energy.
FFO: Such Gold, Major League & The Story So Far
IAMTHESHOTGUN have been dominating the Denver metal scene for years, and with a new lineup and their fresh new EP, Devout out now, they’re not planning to release their hold on Colorado any time soon. Not only are the band’s live performances chaotic (if you were at Forty Fathoms' final show, you know exactly what I'm talking about) but the five new songs on Devout are sure to hold listeners over until the next chapter, which hopefully includes a full length.
FFO: I Declare War, Oceano & Molotov Solution
Line Brawl’s debut EP is short, sweet and to the point. Literally. With not one song clocking in at over two minutes in length, the six songs on Pack Mentality promise to be the eight most aggressive, unrelenting minutes of your life. Line Brawl is currently putting the finishing touches on their follow-up, recently played Stick To Your Guns on September 13th and will be performing at The Marquis on November 11th as part of The Real Giving Toy Drive. If you’ve seen them live, then you can attest that you don’t want to miss their live performances.
FFO: Gorilla Biscuits, Cro-Mags, Give Up The Ghost & Backtrack
As if you didn’t need more proof that Denver is home to some incredible pop-punk bands, Head Injuries are here to remind you. Although the band hasn’t released any new music since 2015's Bail, the fifteen songs on the album will be more than enough to hold you over for the time being. The band just played at the fall edition of So What?! Music Fest and later this year are heading to Pittsburgh for Four Chord Music Festival alongside Mayday Parade, The Spill Canvas, Hit The Lights and more!
FFO: Hit The Lights, With The Punches
In The Whale
Founded in 2010, Denver duo In The Whale are no strangers to the local scene, and they’re still going strong. With their new EP, Quicksand released earlier this month and a promising EP release show coming up on October 28th, this is one group you don’t want to sleep on. Even though there’s only two of them, In The Whale’s live performances are captivating and Quicksand is easily one of their best releases yet!
FFO: Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls & Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Denver’s False Report are another pop-punk band who recently caught our attention thanks to their hard work and unique, emotional sound. These guys really stay busy - on any given month, you can guarantee to see False Report playing a few shows in Denver, and even though they just released their EP, Same Mistakes in April, they’re already hard at work on a new EP, coming soon!
FFO: Citizen & Basement
Overslept is another quickly rising Denver band, thanks to their unique sound, spearheaded by crisp, emotional vocals and mellow instrumentals. Their first full length, I’ve Been Keeping To Myself, released back in December of 2015 is an incredibly ambitious release from the powerful opening track, “Simply Somewhere Else” all the way to the hopeful sounding, “No Sleep Until Susanville.” Earlier this year, the band released a follow-up split with Father Mountain, which further expanded on the strong emotions and complex instrumentals from I’ve Been Keeping To Myself, and with more plans in the works, 2017 promises to be a big year for these guys.
FFO: Tiny Moving Parts, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die & From Indian Lakes
As if Medic’s newest album, Olympia wasn’t already massive and mind-blowing enough, the Denver trio recently released an instrumental version, completely wowing us once again. Things may be winding down for the year for Medic, who performed at Divide Music Festival this summer after wrapping up a string of tour dates with Paper Lights, but 2017 already looks promising for the band, who still have plenty of shows to round of the rest of the year and are teasing a house show tour/pop-up coffee shop early next year. What’s a pop-up coffee shop, you ask? The band plans on performing intimate shows in living rooms and backyards while setting up a coffee cart to serve guests. Count us in!
FFO: A Silent Film, The Colourist & Young The Giant
Progressive alternative rock from Fort Collins, Colorado, Aspen Hourglass offer a little something for everyone. Not only will Grayson Erhard blow you away with his spectacular guitar work, but his vocals are incomparable, only made better by stunning harmonies with talented drummer, Sean Hanson and complimented out by theatrical piano and synth playing from Elvin Holderfield. It’s impossible to believe that so many great sounds come from just a three-piece, but watch any of the band’s live videos, and you’ll suddenly understand why - the passion with which they perform is insane. This four year old band may just be one of Colorado’s best kept secrets, and one that everyone should know.
FFO: Panic! At The Disco & Emarosa
Pandas & People
Voted “Best Folk Band in Colorado” by Westword Magazine two years in a row, it just wouldn’t be right not to include Pandas & People on this list. This band has been working diligently since their formation in 2013, and they just recently hit the studio with Zac Maloy (Tim McGraw, Simple Plan, Blake Shelton) to work on their first full-length album, coming in 2017! Now is the perfect time to get to know Pandas & People, and thankfully, they have a few shows lined up in Colorado before the end of the year!
FFO: OneRepublic, Magic Giant, & Jared & The Mill
Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs
Hailing from Virginia and growing up near Washington, D.C., Matt Rouch may not originally be from Colorado, but he is easily another one of Denver’s best kept secrets. His alt-country indie-folk band, Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs caught our attention a few months ago due to their timeless, easygoing sound and Matt’s soulful vocals. Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs only released their new album, The Beautiful and the Damned in March, but they’re already hard at work writing new music, currently teasing their new single, “Adelaide” coming soon!
FFO: Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons & Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
American Grandma is the project of 18 year-old Jen Keller, who caught our attention earlier this year with the release of her new album, girlcult. Not only is the ambient girlcult a stunning and incredibly powerful release, but it is made even better when you realize just how involved Keller is in the local music scene as the Creative Director at the local record label, First Base Tapes. Although American Grandma doesn’t have any shows planned for the rest of 2016, fans can rest easy knowing that they are already hard at work on their next full-length record.
FFO: The Japanese House, Daughter & James Vincent McMorrow
The Midnight Club
Easily one of the youngest bands on this list, The Midnight Club have been rising through the ranks of the Denver music scene at a surprising speed this year. From headlining at The Gothic Theater alongside locals Postcards, 1000 Miles Of Fire and Manic to winning the opening slot for Channel 93.3’s Big Gig this summer thanks to the help of their dedicated fanbase, The Midnight Club have accomplished quite a bit, and all well before the release of their first album. The band has released a few singles, a new music video for “Immortalized” in June, and is planning on ending the year with a bang, headlining Summit Music Hall in November.
FFO: Panic! At The Disco & Walk The Moon