To describe Flagstaff’s music scene is to travel a series of hills and valleys — trying to put your finger on it at any given point in time is as about as effective as spinning a globe, closing your eyes, and pressing. In general, Flag can be a hard place to make it, and sustaining a band can be even trickier. Bands come and go, and during the course of a year the scene itself can ride multiple or even one genre. But in 2016, with rock and roll acting as the anchor, the high country has a number of talented groups holding it down, playing venues like the Orpheum Theater, the Green Room, Firecreek Coffee Co. and the Hive. So put a hand in the air and tune-in to the sounds of these 10 Flag bands filling the mountain streets up north.
10. Sol Drop Power-trio Sol Drop is unique in that they have successfully hooked a punk rock sensibility up with the blues, and in turn what gets churned out elicits 100 percent thrashing and sweaty, sweaty bodies. The members of the band, with lead singer Kathryn Meyers at the helm, call it “fast-blues,” with vocals drawn from the Riot grrrl days, marked by snarls and yelps and extended phrasing. Also, Jimi Hendrix — because why the hell not? They just released their debut full-length album, It’s Alright, in September, and it’s got all that goodness wrapped up in seven songs. 9. Tiny Bird They might be named after a small animal, but damn if their sound ain’t big. Rowdy and relatively (emphasis on the word) new to the Flag music scene, Tiny Bird showcases hypnotic melodies, driven by energy, rawness and feeling. Their latest effort, Childish EP, sees the band take off with soaring soundscapes and true emotion. With its lead single, “Watercolor,” paving the way, you can pretty much learn everything you need to know about the band and its music by watching the music video. There’s a cannibal banana, smashing of guitars, masked merriment and So. Much. Paint. All in one take. 8. Four Cornered Room At a show a little while back, one of the guitarists for Tiny Bird commented on the “congregation” of rock bands lighting up Flag’s music scene. Four Cornered Room is one of them. Where they find comfort is in the sunny daze and psychedelic “spock,” as the band likes to say. Mellow and entirely groovy, this — you guessed it — band of four, features smooth, bluesy guitar and keyboards that’ll have you feeling like you’re floating head-first through a kaleidoscope. They just released their self-titled debut, and as good word has it, it’s music to get folks up on their feet and loosen up their dancing joints. 7. Tow’rs
You might be wondering why the “e” in this band’s name is missing. It’s an analogy for construction, of the band’s art making something bigger than just their petty selves — which is exactly what they’ve done since forming just three short years ago. Fronted by husband-and-wife duo Kyle and Gretta Miller, this folk-rock four-piece has built a solid reputation in town and around the world for crafting mellow, ear-catching hymns about life, love and faith, all woven together by acoustic guitar, banjo, trumpet, drums and cello. They’re currently recording new material, but check out their second studio album, 2015’s The Great Minimum—it’s one of the best albums to come out of Flagstaff in years. 6. False North
In the world of college dorm life, and, well … life in general, the tribal identifiers of band stickers can turn into great things. Such is the case for False North — or at least partly. It was rock 'n' roll, specifically tunes from the British Invasion, which brought this foursome first into a basement, then a recording studio, and out popped their debut offering, Burning Fast, released last year. It’s a lighter take on alternative rock, but walks a familiar line to outfits like the Arctic Monkeys, the Kooks, and the Libertines.
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