Ah, December. Another year on its way out, and I’m fondly looking over the past year of amazing local music that has hit my ears. Music I am privileged to be able to play on KWSS 93.9FM in Phoenix. It’s always a challenge to not have a list of every single local artist, so I cut myself off at 20. If your band (or a band you would expect on this list) isn’t here, please don’t take it as a negative. There is never a lack of good music and choices, and we should feel grateful we have such a diverse scene of great music in the valley (and the state!). The list is in alphabetical order. No way do I want to open THAT can of worms and claim that one band is better than another. You can fight about that among yourselves. Please follow the links, give their music a listen, follow them on your preferred social media platform, and most importantly see them at a show!
- Adero. This band hit the music scene in 2017, and have been rocking the valley ever since. Love Robbie’s gorgeous yet demanding lead vocals, and watching Adero’s fingers all over the guitar is a sight to behold. They are currently putting the finishing touches on their first EP, and you know I’ll be all over that when it’s released. Find them over on Facebook and Spotify.
- Ali A and the Agency: Are you looking for some funky soul-rock with a side of sass? Look no further than Ms. Ali A. They released their first EP this past spring, and have done nothing but help us get to know them by playing 3600* shows in 2018. I like to think of them as the jam band that isn’t a jam band. You’ll have to see them live to understand. One thing I enjoy besides their music is how they interact on stage. That’s where Ali’s sass comes in again, and I tell you they are just so much fun to watch and hear. Looking forward to much more from the triple A in 2019. Head to their website and find all of their other links to follow along!(*3600 could be an exaggeration.)
- Ben Anderson: Another artist I’ve seen performing non-stop is Ben, who is making the list again this year simply on work-ethic. Last year he released his EP YouTopia, and this year he completed the trilogy of videos that accompany the EP. There is purpose to his writing and art, the next time you see him perform an original song pay attention to the lyrics. Learn more and find all the social links at his website.
Fairy Bones: Early in 2018 brought the release of their full-length album 0% Fun. It’s a very personal and meaningful album to lead singer Chelsey and the band. They have also crushed it with their videos, dropping 4 of them this year, on top of a slew of short videos. I don’t expect the creativity or music to stop as we head into 2019. On a personal note, I have a deep admiration and respect for Chelsey. She is seriously one of the most open, honest, and brave women I know. Connect to all things Fairy Bones from their website.
- Gin Blossoms: Yeah yeah, everyone knows the Gin Blossoms right? Our Tempe icons. I have loved this band since they hit the mainstream, and that was New Miserable Experience in 1992 (you must have heard me at one time or another tell the story of my first child and naming her Allison because my favorite GB song is “Allison Road”). This year they released their 6th full-length album Mixed Reality, and I seriously did fall in love with them all over again. One thing amazing about this band is how down-to-earth they have remained regardless of fame. Their roots have always been right here, and I imagine there is much more music to be made. Website: http://www.ginblossoms.net/
- Hostile Work Environment: When you’re looking for something a little different but still want to rock, give these guys a try. They just released their new album Churlcurlate Murlk, and I always enjoy featuring them on KWSS. You know they have a lot of fun with their music based on the album title alone, but seeing them at a live show also confirms this. Stalk them over on the Facebook Page, and stream the album on Spotify.
- House of Stairs: Jazz but not jazz (that’s more fun to say than “fuzion”). Music that incorporates some amazing funk and soul, I always find something new when I listen to House of Stairs. They fit in to so many genres, and whether hearing them on your preferred streaming app or seeing them live, guaranteed you won’t simply be listening. You will be experiencing. Find all things House of Stairs on their website.
- KONGOS: The boys are back! My love for these brothers has never stopped, and this year they have been teasing us with a new album by releasing tracks starting back in April with the premiere of their new docu-series “Bus Call” at the Phoenix Film Festival. They also began a podcast called “The Front Lounge.” Their new album 1929 drops in January as they begin their winter tour. You can get a taste of a few of their new songs via Spotify (or KWSS!)
- Lighthouse: The next generation of rock artists are here, and Lighthouse is another one to keep your eyes and ears on. Fronted by the amazing voice of Callie Young, they released their first EP this past year. You can also catch Callie on the upcoming season of American Idol too! Find all you need to know about what’s happening with the band on their Facebook and Instagram pages.
- LUAU: These guys came into the scene in late 2016, and have re-emerged this year with a new song and a release on cassette! I love their unique sound which to me is the definition of alternative rock. LUAU has been playing more shows in 2018, and I look forward to even more in 2019! Find all you need about the band on their website.
- New Chums: This band! Rockin’ their way into the scene in late 2017, the power-pop-rock sounds of New Chums will have you dancing guaranteed! Whether you hear them on the radio (ahem!), streaming on Spotify, or seeing them live, you will have no choice but to become a happier person. Here’s hoping for some new music in 2019! Stalk them on Facebook and Instagram.
- Paper Foxes: Being a child of the 80’s, I always appreciate bands that take a more new wave/dark wave sound. I appreciate Paper Foxes! Their entire image along with their sound takes me right back to a Depeche Mode-New Order era, with enough originality to fit in with just about any band in the local scene. They have been playing shows regularly this past year, and I don’t expect it to stop as we head into a new year. Check their website for all social links!
- Scattered Melodies: I might be somewhat biased in adding Scattered Melodies, because I had the extreme pleasure of being a part of their new album Patterns, which was released this past September. However, even if I were not included I would have to highly recommend that you check out this ultimate collab band. It’s rock, it’s soul, it’s funk, it’s a great time. Their first two albums have more collaborative feel with the local talent they bring in, but Patterns is the first that is entirely a concept album from Josh Montag. The best ways to follow along are on Facebook and Instagram.
- Sophie Dorsten: When I first heard Sophie’s voice I could not believe such a mature sound came out of a 16 year old. Blew me away. Her new EP Roses is a sampling of not just her talent in music, but also in writing. She also recently did a live version of “Oh Holy Night” at a Proof Is In The Pudding music competition that literally brought tears to my eyes (the good kind). She plays many gigs valley-wide so plenty of opportunities to catch this rising star. Website: http://sophiedorstenmusic.com/
- SugarWater: Yet another up-and-coming rock band and O-M-G you need to hear Wade Cota’s vocals because skies open and angels weep when he sings. You might weep too if you weren’t rocking out so hard, and you will rock out hard with this band. Wade is also participating in the next season of American Idol so good luck to him! I believe they are recording for 2019, but for now follow them on Facebook and Instagram and catch a live show!
- Sunday At Noon: The younger generation of talent seems to have no end, and this is a great thing for the future of the Phoenix music scene. They describe their music as “thunderous rock and roll” and I couldn’t agree more with that description. They have been around since 2015, but I feel like 2018 was a stellar year for them, releasing their first full-length album as well as touring the country. I don’t expect them to stop any time soon, and look forward to plenty more from Sunday at Noon (and many more eclectic pairs of Jack’s pants) in 2019! Follow along: https://sundayatnoonband.com/
- The Black Moods: They’ve been around since 2012 with the release of their first album, and I feel like they have done nothing but tour ever since! We’ve had them in our rotation on KWSS for quite some time now, but I’ve not had a chance to see them live until this year. Your socks will be rocked off, I promise you. They have also reached national chart status with one of their singles “Bella Donna” hitting the top 50 on the Billboard Rock 100 charts. However they do not receive play on corporate stations in the Phoenix market, which is rather disappointing because they certainly deserve it. Until that happens, KWSS will continue to brag. Website: http://www.theblackmoods.com/
- Undecided Youth: Just from my list alone I feel like there have been many solid harder rock bands this year, and Undecided Youth is no exception. They won the Proof is in the Pudding music competition and as of this writing, are opening for the Alice Cooper Christmas Pudding show tonight. A perfect addition to the show! They also released their first EP this year, and I don’t expect the music to stop going into 2019. Stalk them on Facebook and Instagram!
- Whstle: I don’t feel like you can put this band in a genre, but the best way to describe their sound is electronic-rock. That being said, I don’t feel that is sufficient and puts this amazing band in a box they shouldn’t be in. They appeal to so many tastes and styles. I’m also a lyrics person, and the lyrics are meaningful and come from the heart. Catch a show, and catch them however you stream music (including KWSS!) Website: https://www.whatswhstle.com/
- Weird Radicals: Last but certainly not least, the garage-band punk style of this band promises a good time whether you are seeing them live or listening to their EP Bangers Ball. I’ve seen them out playing shows more this year, so I hope this trend continues as we head into 2019! Keep track of upcoming events on their Facebook Page, and also follow along on Instagram!
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