Every year on KWSS Radio, I publish a list of 20 local artists I fell in love with the past year.
There is never a lack of amazing music in the Valley, and narrowing it down to 20 is not easy. The list is in alphabetical order, so it's not a "best of" list. The goal is to share a bit of what stuck in my mind this past year. Please follow these artists on social media, give their music a listen, and see them at a show.
Last week, I shared part one, so here's part two.
Killa Maus has been around for several years with amazing groups like CooBee Coo and Scattered Melodies. This year he debuted his first album, Desert Rats, and it is everything you expect from this talented artist. Hip hop, funk, groove … just a good time all around.
The Kongos brothers had a rocky 2018, which is chronicled in their docu-series Bus Call, but hit 2019 with new strength and gusto with their two-part album 1929. Now, they are back touring and creating music on their terms. It has been a joy watching their journey and listening to their music over the years.
I admit I’m late to the party on Mergence. I have loved their music for years thanks to KWSS, but my first time seeing them live was at Apache Lake Music Festival in October for their reunion. I fell in love all over again. The entire state of Arizona is hoping for more, but until then, we still have their music. Adam Bruce, the lead singer of Mergence, just released his new EP, Sonoran Symphony, and it is an absolute delight for your ears.
Nothing makes me happier than hearing a band take me back to the dark wave pop I grew up with in the ’80s. Therefore, Paper Foxes make me extremely happy. So much talent and energy in this band! They also released their debut album, Popular Confessions, this year. Get off the wall and dance!
They only have a couple of singles out, but I’ve seen them live several times this past year. Pretty Years are about to break out and blow your minds. You can’t help but dance to their “new modern '80s rock” combined with a little garage dad rock. Wait, did I just create a new genre?
Promise To Myself
One of my “guilty” pleasures I feel zero percent guilty about is pop-punk: Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Blink 182, and Promise To Myself. They're working on their sophomore EP for next year. I walk around humming the chorus from their single “Another Tragedy,” and you will, too.
Ben Anderson has a way of sneaking into my list every year in one form or another. His new project Radio Blonde has crept into my psyche, and I want to see them play live all the time. They are in the studio working hard to bring us recorded music, which will be like unwrapping a new toy on Christmas morning when I get my hands on it.
The Real Fakes
Many know lead singer Kevin Michael Prier from his time with The Black Moods, but now, he has a new band. I love their blend of bluesy garage-groove-psychedelic-rock. Be sure to check out their first EP, Steampunk Sessions #1, and see them live.
The Runner Up
These boys came to play. In June, they dropped their EP, but I first discovered them at the Humdinger Festival at Mesa Amphitheatre early in the year. Now, I'm a fan for life. They have so much energy, and it shows not just in their performance but in their music. They haven’t shown any signs of slowing down, so catch them live soon.
Last year, Wade’s band, Sugarwater, was on my list. This year, he went solo by auditioning for American Idol and subsequently coming in fourth place. He has a new single, just returned from a whirlwind tour, and is working on plenty of new things as we head into the new year.
Be sure to take a listen to these artists with my Rock Local playlist on Spotify.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.