B ands coming out of Colorado can have a hard time attracting a major national audience, but that doesn't mean the scene on the Front Range isn't full of talent.
Boulder and Denver are home base for a handful of bands and solo acts that are grabbing attention across state lines. They're playing festivals, inking record deals, collaborating with top talent and getting noticed by national press. Some are just inches away from the big time, others have a little further to go and a few are already there.
They're all worth watching.
These guys have come a long way in just a few years to become one of Denver's biggest nationally-touring acts. The alt-hip-hop group signed with Hopeless Records, delaying the release of their next album, and it seems like they've been hopping around to some of the country's bigger stages non-stop. They spent the summer on the Journeys Noise Tour and enjoying the success of their Warning EP.
This Boulder-based band, made up of Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken, incorporates live instrumentation in their electronic music, with Lalli on sax and Salken on the drums. They've already made a huge impression on the local scene, and over the past two summers, they brought their national game hard with a stunning number of festivals. On Sept. 28, Big Gigantic will headline Red Rocks Amphitheatre for the second year in a row.
Everything BLKHRTS has churned out of the studio so far has sounded great, but this band needs to be experienced live. The trio of MCs had a well-attended, unstoppably high-energy show at the Underground Music Showcase this year. The music, in their words, is about "Sex, Drugs, Violence, Money, Death and LOVE."
Call of the Void
Metal is scarce around here, but Call of the Void have become the best there is. The Boulder band earned a spot in an official South by Southwest showcase this past March and got the attention of Pitchfork for a couple album reviews. They're burning up and deserve a bigger hometown audience.
Cold River City
This six-piece Boulder band is relatively new and young, but they're poised for popularity, especially on a scene where a dance-ready mix of musical styles and positive vibes always play well.
There's nothing Colorado can do to shake The Congress, and surely no one wants to. On top of a full enough schedule of shows in their hometown of Denver, the blues rock trio frequently plays mountain towns and stripped-down shows in Boulder.
It feels like only a matter of time before Denver's synthy indie rockers The Epilogues really blow up. Their latest, Cinematics, was strong enough to send them on a nationwide tour, playing some impressive rooms. Stay tuned for even bigger things.
In The Whale
In The Whale, the Denver-via-Greely duo of Nate Valdez and Eric Riley, will rock your face off. Their Bandcamp page -- where you can gobble up the Cake EP -- declares, "We like our shit loud and aggressive and fun." It's balls-to-the-wall rock with no apologies, and that's going make something of this brand new band soon.
The Photo Atlas
"Dance punk" sounds like the type of thing that makes for wild live shows and, yeah, The Photo Atlas live up to that. The Denver band plays some seriously high-energy stuff that'll remind you of the pop-punk of your childhood, only cooler.
Travis Egedy, one of the forces behind Denver DIY space Rhinoceropolis, has hardly been in America lately, let alone Denver, but he still calls the city home. Making scuzz-house (yes, that's a thing) under the name Pictureplane, he's been touring the world and making visual art as well. His last album, released in early 2012, was a set of remixes from his 2011 album Thee Physical, but that's all the more reason to keep an eye out for the next.
Denver native Rob Drabkin just released his Little Steps album, named for the first song he ever wrote. The story is sweet and so are the acoustic rock tunes. Don't miss his Paul Simon covers, either.
South of France
Luckily, you don't actually have to go to the south of France to find some indie pop, though it might feel like it sometimes. South of France is making sweet tunes right here in Boulder. They mostly play shows in Denver, but it's well worth the drive to go check them out in person.
West Water Outlaws
These guys have been road warriors for the first half of 2013. They return home to Boulder for a CD release show at the Fox Theatre in November. If you like your rock straight up and loud, this is your band.
The Yawpers have settled in as a mainstay on the Front Range and they keep up steady touring outside of Colorado. The alt-country trio has two albums behind them, and an EP of covers and new original LP in the works. The new material promises to be more influenced by metal and psych rock.