Summer is the time to roll down your car windows or sit on your porch and crank some tunes. But not just any tunes. You should listen to music that fits with Colorado’s summer vibe in particular, not just the auto-tuned flimflam produced by big record labels Los Angeles. In that spirit, here are six local Denver-area bands whose raw, unfiltered tunes you should be listening to this summer.
#1 The Milk Blossoms
The three-piece, all-female band The Milk Blossoms ambitiously mixes beatboxing with piano, ukulele, and breathy pop vocals—and makes it work. Despite the group’s seemingly strange combination of instruments, its experimental indie pop songs are accessible to casual music fans of all stripes in large part due to the wonderful harmonies found in its songs that are somehow simultaneously laid-back and jamming. The band’s latest album Supermoon (2018) includes an eclectic mix of eerie, heartbreaking, and upbeat songs that are undergirded by poetical songwriting. Suffice to say, this record might be the perfect soundtrack for the next full moon.
#2 Gasoline Lollipops
The Gasoline Lollipops is a folk-rock band fronted by Clay Rose. The band’s songs incorporate Rose’s bluesy vocals with funk, jazz, and country influences as well as a punk-rock attitude. The Gasoline Lollipops’s latest album Soul Mine (2017) includes songs that range from dark and brooding to more high-tempo and rambling in tone. In sum, the band’s music is evocative of the open road. The next time you cruise down I-25, these dudes will more than keep you entertained. The band’s most popular song “Love Is Free” is an emotionally-resonant tune about freedom and relationships that’s fitting for the Fourth of July—except it’s love that has the power to free you, not America.
Wildermiss, Denver’s hottest alt-rock band, emerged from the dissolution of local group Red Fox Run. With three instrumentalists from Red Fox Run and the new, energetic vocals of Emma Cole, Wildermiss fuses alt-rock with pop influences and an earnest mentality. The resulting songs on the band’s first EP, Lost with You (2017), are so well produced and professionally executed that they fit perfectly on the radio with the tunes of national touring groups. In fact, the band toured in support of Texas folk-rock duo The Oh Hellos this past spring, and it has already performed on the iconic stage of Red Rocks. Jump on the Wildermiss bandwagon before it leaves without you.
#4 The Reminders
Although Colorado’s music scene is thriving, the state still isn’t well known for its hip-hop. That may change due to up-and-coming acts like The Reminders, a husband-wife duo that brings its own spin to hip-hop. Aja Black’s dynamic R&B-inflected vocals complement the smooth flow of Brussels-born Big Samir, who speaks in both French and English. At its best, the duo channels the same sort of rap and singing back-and-forth as found in the songs of the popular Broadway musical Hamilton. The duo also mixes in reggae and jazz into its socially-conscious, highly-personal songwriting. The act plans to release new music this fall. Stay tuned.
#5 Los Mocochetes
This 7-piece Chicano funk band performs what its bandmembers describe as “protest music you can dance to.” This is an apt description of the group’s groovy, high-energy songs that feature both Spanish and English lyrics and directly engage with social issues in meaningful ways. With the violent child-parent separations that ICE has enacted along the U.S. border in the past couple of months, Los Mocochetes’s uplifting and impactful style of protest is more necessary than ever. The band members back up their words with actions, often playing local benefits that support causes close to their hearts like immigration rights.
Avenhart follows in the footsteps of Colorado’s foundational genre-bending bluegrass band Elephant Revival. Female vocalist Andrea Pares’s deep, soulful singing gives the band an especially distinctive sound for a group that uses instrumentation typically found in traditional bluegrass outfits. This, combined with simple, honest songwriting, and a tendency to perform fun covers of rock and pop songs like the Pixies’s “Where Is My Mind,” makes them one of Colorado’s most dynamic rising bands.