The 10 Best Metro Phoenix Bands Under 21 You Should Hear in 2017

Vintage Wednesday
Vintage Wednesday Photo by @surrealsisterphotog
One of the most exciting things about watching the local music scene over the years is the neverending stream of young bands who are fresh and ready to make their music come alive. Anytime there's a perceived lull in the scene it's always a wise idea to start looking toward the kids, who will carry the weight of it soon enough. One day they're playing in garages and at parties but soon enough they're packing hip house shows and getting into venues.

It's a fairly fascinating cycle of time watching the older guard fall away to make room for the new. It's what keeps this scene vital, urgent and relevant. For every band listed here, there are certainly five or 10 more working on their first single or record, getting ready for their first show. Let's face it, there is a certain urgency in the music of youth that cannot be tapped at any subsequent age, and that's what makes catching these bands now all the more rewarding. These are the fresh young faces of today's ever-changing local music scene.

Vintage Wednesday

Some bands you can see are in it to win it and loving every minute of it. That's Vintage Wednesday to a tee. These kids have an indomitable spirit and talent to match their smiles and good graces. It's one thing to have a band blessed with the vocal prowess of someone like Taylor Sackson who could carry the weight alone, but every member here is a powerful source of their sound. It comes through the new record Heartstrings they just released and becomes vitally clear when you see them live. They combine the elements of their classic rock childhood perfectly with a modern trajectory and run with it. Sackson has voice that compares to Stevie Nicks, but it wouldn't mean as much if she didn't have a band that could back it up like Fleetwood Mac, and she does.

Joe Vito

Joe Vito most recently opened for Vintage Wednesday at a packed house for the band's record release at Last Exit Live. Last year he released one of the best local albums of the year with State Street, and it's a fascinating record that begs for repeated listens. Vito's album possesses a similar genius and vision that you could find in the early records of Stephen Steinbrink when he was laying down platters as French Quarter years ago. Not only is Vito's voice pleasant, the album is a journey for his songwriting and arrangements.

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Photo by Zac Wolin
There are underage bands and then there are seriously underage bands, and no one in sunlaand is over 17. I haven't been able to stop listening to this band since they released their debut EP in October, and I'd feel bad about that, but everyone I've gotten to listen to them says the same thing. It tows the line between straight foward skate punk and girl fronted indie rock. It's catchy as all hell, but certainly shys away from commercial perfection and over production. I'd say it's all Sara Windom's doing, but then Michael Chmura makes a great case for when he's handling vocals. Every listen still seems remarkable and they have a hook that is as strong as it is difficult to define. Pure excitement.

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Photo by Jacob Reynolds
Sunday At Noon
Sunday At Noon put out one of the best EPs of 2015 with their Burning Pictures EP and followed up with a stunning single for "Brain Damage" last year. Since that time they've been getting down and dirty in the studio recording their follow up at SoundVision Recording with Michael Beck. This is one release that everyone should be stoked about for 2017, because this band has some of the best rock energy I've experienced in ages. "Brain Damage" took them to new, harder-edged territory, and I can't wait to hear what their next record has in store. It also looks like they're taking the bull by the horns this year and they will be throwing a lot of shows starting this month supporting Never Let This Go at the latter band's CD release party with Something Like December. (NOTE: One member of Sunday At Noon is 22, all the rest are under 21).

Divided Minds

Riding the line between emo and punk Divided Minds debut EP Perception from last year has all the urgency and energy it needs to showcase their talents. It will be curious to see what the video tally is for the record since every song plays like a single and there are two videos from it already. This band has everything it needs intact and ready to go, but their potential is what makes me more curious. It feels like they're playing it safe on record, which is not necessarily the case when they take this to the stage. Divided Minds seems to be picking up more and more shows and that's the best place to watch these high energy tunes unfold.

To be honest, Headstrum didn't make sense to me until I saw them live. After the fact I could listen to their debut EP on repeat for days. I'm not sure what explains that, but if you're not immediately taken by their record, I'd highly recommend checking out their live show to recalibrate. It worked for me. That said, once it clicks, Without Love, is a brilliant hard rock debut in a world where that kind of thing is getting hard to find. Yeah they get into the blues a bit, but I wouldn't call them blues rock—they might call themselves that though. What it is good rock'n'roll that works hard at being just that and nothing more. Plus, the clever connection between the EP title and the final song is one of the most clever things I've seen in a while.

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Mitchell Hillman