Support Local Music: 20 Colorado Artists You Need To Know
Written by Shannon Shumaker
Colorado is not only home to some of the country's best music venues, including the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater, but on any given night, on any given street in Denver, you’re bound to hear some form of live music. Whether it’s a jam band playing at a dive bar on Larimer St., a metal band taking over the stage just down the street at Summit Music Hall, or a sold-out pop show a twenty minute walk away at the Pepsi Center, live music is everywhere. Even better than the massive, sold-out arena tours that come through Colorado though are the incredible local bands that the beautiful state harvests.
From folk, indie-rock and pop all the way to metal, electronic and punk, Colorado is home to well over twenty incredible emerging artists (as you can tell by our massive 303 Day playlist from earlier this year) but we want to share some of our current favorite artists both new and old, from all over the state with you, our fellow local music enthusiasts. While increasingly talented new artists are springing up every day, the veterans of the Colorado music scene just seem to keep getting better and better, and now more than ever, we are privileged to live in a state that cultivates all genres of music.
Below are some of our current favorite local artists of all genres. Give them a listen, check out a show, and if you don’t see your favorite local listed below, drop us a line! Who are you currently listening to? Who should we check out? Keep the local love coming!
(Edit: Due to an overwhelming response from local music lovers and incredible artists reaching out, this will continue forward as a series. Stay tuned for part two!)
Fort Collins synth-punk quartet Slow Caves have only been around for about two years, but they are no strangers to the hard work that it takes to break out of Northern Colorado. As they said in a recent interview, “...in a way, being based out of Northern Colorado has gotten us to work harder to try to do something somewhat impactful in our own scene, as opposed to trying to get out of the home state as soon as possible, like so many bands do.”
Slow Caves are getting ready to release their dreamy new EP, Desert Minded, with EP release shows coming up in Greeley, Fort Collins & Denver over the next month and a performance at The UMS later this summer!
FFO: Arctic Monkeys & The Beach Boys
Listen to “Desert Minded”
Though they are only a year old, chances are you’ve at least heard of the rising Denver trio, 888. Comprised of former members of metalcore group Drop Dead, Gorgeous - frontman Danny Stills, drummer Danny Cooper and keyboardist/programmer Aaron Rothe - 888 are no strangers to the Denver scene, and their debut EP, The Decades is the product of years of honing in on their own unique sound. It’s no surprise that 888 has already garnered quite a bit of local and national recognition (the band recently performed to a sold out hometown crowd at The Bluebird Theater) and they can only go up from here!
Listen to “Critical Mistakes”
FFO: Colours, Night Riots & Night Terrors of 1927
Silver & Gold
With two EPs already under their belts (2014’s Compression and 2015’s Headed West) this Greeley quintet is already back in the studio working on a 2016 release, and we couldn’t be more excited! With a beautiful blend of stunning male and female vocal harmonies over bright guitar and piano, Silver & Gold created two hopeful tracks on Headed West and seem to have a very bright future ahead of them.
FFO: The Fray & The Head And The Heart
Listen to “Smoke”
Colorado Springs’ Tigerwine have proven again and again that you don’t have to be based out of the live music hub that is Denver in order to make an impact on the local scene. The band’s newest EP, Lull was released last year to high praise, and with good reason. For a trio, quite a bit of noise comes out of the hard-hitting EP. Driven by a dark, eerie sound of distorted guitars, heavy bass and aggressive vocals, Tigerwine’s sound is one of a kind, a perfect blend of grunge, emo and hardcore. The trio recently hit the studio with Matt Goldman (Underoath, Anberlin) to record their full-length, and we have high hopes for this release!
FFO: Citizen & Balance and Composure
Listen to “Sharp Elbows”
Another Colorado Springs band, Dead Set are full of raw, aggressive energy. Their EP, Lower Than Can Be, which dropped back in February is fast paced and hard hitting, carried by melodic guitar work, pounding drums and aggressive vocals. This fresh sound not only sets these guys apart from the pack of melodic hardcore bands in Denver, but also makes it easy for them to fit in with nearly any bill. Catch them at The Marquis this Friday supporting fellow Colorado heavy-hitters, The Burial Plot for their album release show
FFO: Stray From The Path & Misery Signals
Listen to “Cynic”
The Burial Plot
Speaking of The Burial Plot... We couldn't leave them out! Quite possibly one of the hardest hitting and longest lasting local hardcore bands, Denver’s The Burial Plot already have a massive year ahead of them. The band is just gearing up to release their new EP, Finally Home, and if their new single says anything, it’s that these guys are back and better than ever. Aggressive screams and stunning melodic clean vocals carry much of the song, and chances are, plenty of friends and fans will already be singing along at their CD release show this Friday.
FFO: Zao & Evergreen Terrace
Listen to “Broken Arrow”
Postcards are actually one of the older bands on this list, having formed in 2012, and are easily one of the leading pop-punk bands in Denver. In fact, it’s likely that if you’re involved in the Denver pop-punk scene at all, you’ve seen them live at least a couple of times. Currently, the trio is getting ready to release their new full-length, My Departure on June 10th, with an album release show planned at The Moon Room on June 28th. The band has endured a few lineup changes over the years, but their outlook remains similar to what they discussed in an interview back in 2014. As vocalist Aidan Grapengeter put it, “I take this band more seriously than my actual job - more seriously than I take anything, honestly.”
FFO: Major League & Handguns
Listen to “Finding Common Ground”
Racing On The Sun
Racing On The Sun have spent what feels like the past year touring vigorously, but thankfully, these guys have not forgotten their roots, still performing at venues such as The Moxi in Greeley or The Marquis Theater in Denver when they’re back in town. Recently, the band hit the studio with Joseph Milligan of Anberlin, to work on their new EP, which promises to be amazing if their newest single, “We Are Not Afraid” is any indicator.
FFO: Anberlin & Further Seems Forever
Listen to “We Are Not Afraid”
Formed in the summer of 2015, Native Color is one of the youngest artists featured in this list, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the talent of some of the veterans. The band has only released one single as of January 2016, but it shows much promise, and we’re thankful that this quartet is taking their time to create the best music possible for their listeners.
FFO: My Body Sings Electric, Alkaline Trio & Minus The Bear
Listen to “American Wasteland”
Death metal six piece Skyburial are at the forefront of Denver’s metal scene, and with good reason. Not only do their dual vocalists, Cody Cartwright and Nate Meyr provide an energetic and intense live show, but last year, the band won first place on Headbang For The Highway’s contest to play Summer Slaughter and later went on to play the massive Knotfest in California. Only two years in the making, they’re wasting no time and have already been hard at work this year writing and recording new music, with a new single, “Devoid” out now!
“We’re not trying to fit your typical mold that bands try to fit to sound a certain way,” drummer Shawn Baker told us in an interview last year, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Skyburial will be at Summit Music Hall on June 20th with The Faceless.
FFO: Despised Icon & After The Burial
Listen to “Devoid”
One of Denver’s longest standing melodic metalcore bands, Forty Fathoms have seen it all - the quintet performed at South By So What?! and Denver’s Warped Tour in 2013, played Unsilent Night the year prior and have toured North America relentlessly and performed on just about every stage imaginable in Denver alone. The band released their most recent EP, More To Hate in June of 2015, but it’s their chaotic live performances that you don’t want to miss. And you’re in luck! The band will be performing alongside Dead Set and The Burial Plot this Friday at The Marquis Theater, and if you can’t make it, it’s likely you’ll be able to catch them on stage again soon.
FFO: The Ghost Inside & The Word Alive
Listen to “Hollow Head”
In God We Rust
On facebook, In God We Rust’s genre is classified as “FUZZY,” and we honestly couldn’t describe Carson Allen’s solo project any other way. Allen played every instrument on his new three song EP, Keep It Cool, and the result is a very raw, very human release.
We spent the day with in the studio with Carson Allen while he was working on the EP back in February, and the entire recording process with Colorado’s own Tyler Glasgow was very laid back and organic, which translated perfectly in the sound on Keep It Cool.
FFO: Wolfmother & Queens Of The Stone Age
Listen to “Keep It Cool”
CITRA are another young band, having only formed in October of 2015, but this quartet has more than ready to make a space for themselves in the local music scene. Fast, fun and loud, this indie-rock band combines guitar driven sounds with soulful melodies to create five unforgettable tracks on their debut EP, Ocean. CITRA are off on the right foot, and only under a year after their inception, they are a force to be reckoned with.
CITRA will be performing this Friday, May 27th at Larimer Lounge.
FFO: Kings of Leon, Cage The Elephant & Young The Giant
Listen to “Settle Down”
The best thing about Monteneros is that it’s impossible to classify them. A little dreamy, mathy and emo, it’s easy to get lost in their beautiful melodies and intricate guitar work on their new Heat Horse EP. Not only does a Monteneros show promise to be an incredible experience, but these guys always play with other great artists. For instance, Montoneros will be playing The Hi-Dive with Tiny Moving Parts on June 23rd.
FFO: Into It. Over It., Seahaven, Tiny Moving Parts
Listen to “Cher The Wealth”
Use The Sun
Use The Sun’s new album Springtiming was released only a month ago, in April of 2016, but it is easily already one of our favorite local records this year. Not only was it released at just the perfect time of the year, the bright guitar work and hopeful vocals providing the perfect soundtrack for spring and summer, but as the quartet have put it, this release is just the tip of the iceberg for them musically. If this is only the beginning, we can’t wait to see what’s next!
FFO: The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Foxing
Listen to “Socks And Sandals”
Shatterproof have been around the block, but continue to release fresh music that ups the game on other local musicians. Theatrical vocals and stunning violin set this quintet apart from the pack, and over the past year they just seem to keep growing. The band released their Paper House EP in January 2016, and although it is only three songs in length, it packs a huge punch. We’re dying to hear what they will do with a future full-length!
Shatterproof are headlining The Marquis Theater on June 4th alongside Almost Maine, Vista Kicks and Saving Verona and more!
FFO: The Venetia Fair, The Used & Get Scared
Listen to “Karma”
Having spent 5 years touring and recording as 2/5’s of the band Ashtree, we had assumed the duo were on hiatus, but to our surprise have been working hard behind the scenes on this new project. Recently, Winter Skin went away to Seattle to record an acoustic session they have dubbed their “Winter Sessions.” Winter Skin are no strangers to the Denver music scene and are providing a fresh new sound to shake things up, both in their winter sessions and studio tracks.
FFO: The Neighbourhood & Colours
Listen to “Sink In”
If a genre like Orchestral Indie-Folk alone doesn’t catch your attention, then just trust us and give Morning Bear’s music a listen, and it’ll be sure to blow you away. Not only is their sound absolutely stunning, but alongside soaring vocals, it features atypical arrangements including cello, violin, mandolin, saxophone and flute, setting Morning Bear apart from any indie or folk musicians in the Denver area. Perfect for mountain drives or lounging around this summer, Morning Bear is the epitome of Colorado music.
Catch Morning Bear at The UMS, which takes place July 28th-31st.
FFO: Bear’s Den, Bon Iver & James Vincent McMorrow
Listen to “Traveling”
Sleep Academy may not have thousands of facebook likes (144 to be exact, maybe you should go check them out!) like some of the other bands on this list, but their music definitely speaks for itself. Their debut EP, Something Miserable, released last year is a stunning mix of the laid back vibes on Turnover’s latest record, but with a little more umph. The deep vocal harmonies provide a relaxing listening experience while beautiful guitar work keeps things progressing forward with ease. Nothing on Something Miserable feels forced and the result is a very easy (and very fun) to listen to release.
FFO: Turnover, Somos & Basement
Listen to “Our Photograph”
I had never even heard of Wolf Poets before a friend recommended them to me, and I've never been more happy that word of mouth is alive and well in the Colorado music scene. This new project written, recorded, mixed and mastered by Keenan Goodwine seemingly appeared out of thin air, and that’s just how we like it. With an already established sound and fantastic production on his debut EP, Wolf Poets has started out strong, and we can’t wait to see where things go from here.
FFO: From Indian Lakes & Gates
Listen to “Out Of My Hands”