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10 Tucson Bands You Should Be Listening To

If you think Tucson bands are all about desert rock and Calexico, it’s time to take another look at Arizona’s second city. From Hotel Congress to the Rialto Theatre, 191 Toole to The Flycatcher, the Old Pueblo almost always injects a little local into every live show. So snatch up Tucson releases at Wooden Tooth Records, check out releases from Leisure Hive, Baby Gas Mask, and Diet Pop, and start listening to these 11 Tucson bands right now.

10. Foxx Bodies
Basically from the instant this group stepped into the scene about six months ago, Tucson crowds were enamored with frontwoman Bella Vanek's ability to be both highly emotive and somehow completely dry all at once. Verses sang in near monotone as Vanek clutches the mic with both hands transform into powerful, shrieking Riot Grrrl-style choruses, backed by distorted guitars and crashing drums. Discordant and heart wrenching at times, but too real to relegate to melodrama, the band's first release in August 2016 offered a strong picture of what you can expect from them in the years to come. 

9. North
While some more literal metal bands on the Tucson scene are getting signed to notable labels, you have to respect North for trudging through waves of metal's popularity in the town for over a decade. Offering a dark, angsty, and unique sonic perspective, North's take on post-metal never hinges on doom, sludge, or death tropes. Instead, you'll find metal in a state of either deconstruction or evolution on their 2016 release, Light the Way.

OHIOAN's O Ryne Warner sought to capture the sonic soul of the desert on his newest album, EMPTY/ EVERY MT. Thematically, he was drawing connections between his upbringing in coal country to the destruction of Native sacred sites in southern Arizona for copper mining. What came out is a fierce and occasionally overwhelming homage to Americana that meets at the intersection of country and psychedelia. Where "Bad Altitude" inundates, though, Warner dials back sweetly on tracks such as "Like Survival," striking a balance that keeps you wanting more.

7. Lenguas Largas
In the past eight or so years, Lenguas Largas has become something of a Tucson legend — an assortment of musicians cobbled together from other notable Old Pueblo acts that became an entity entirely its own. Obtrusively fuzzy with little concern over what a song should sound like, Lenguas Largas offers up a trippy maze of vibes difficult to peg down. When the band plays live, it's a must-see situation, no matter what part of Arizona you're living in.

6. American Monoxide
You might know Dimitri Manos as one of the members of Dr. Dog, or you might know him from Tucson’s Golden Boots. In any case, his solo project, American Monoxide, started as a stream-of-consciousness musical experiment to help keep Manos creating in his own time. What it turned into by the time he released In Flight Mode is an irresistible slice of sunny, quirky indie rock that’s a little bit country and a lotta bit weird, courtesy of Manos' bunch of busted instruments as the backing.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch