Denver musicians talk about the local bands that inspire them

Categories: Longform

Art Heffron
Megan Burtt
Every year, we celebrate the impossibly dense and diverse Denver music scene with the Westword Music Showcase and Westword Music Awards. We brought those to a close last week with our awards ceremony; you can find a list of all the nominees and winners at We're starting to think about next year already, considering improvements and, more important, listening to as much Denver music as we can get our hands on. But before we leave the 2014 version behind us, we want to take one last opportunity to recommend a starting place for people who are new to the scene here and to introduce some new bands to veterans. This time, we leave it in the hands of Denver artists, who told us which of their peers they most admire.

We have played with Pale Sun at least three times over the past fifteen months. From my individual perspective, the layered guitars of Pale Sun evoke a powerful form of the ethereal spirit, and the overall effect feels like a culmination in the evolution of Jeff Suthers's projects over the years, as if he combined the dreamlike-state songcraft of Moonspeed with the textures and power of Bright Channel. Brian Marcus is one of the most imaginative-sounding guitarists in Denver. The entire band is pretty wonderful, but what stands out the most to me is the tonality. Listening to Pale Sun instills in me a trance-like state of sonic peace. Though they haven't recorded, they're part of the soundtrack to my dreams.
-- Dave Meyer of Emerald Siam

Some people may not know this about me, but my roots are in ska music. A lot of people listened to punk and then got into ska, but, the saxophone being my first instrument, it was the opposite for me. Squidds [trumpet player for The Dendrites] and I used to play in this crazy ska band called Action Shot. Following that, he helped found the Dendrites, and I've been a fan ever since. There were shows at the beginning where I was the only one on the dance floor, and now I'm so stoked that they play to packed clubs all the time. They make me move like few other bands in Denver. For an instrumental band to engage audiences like that these days takes a lot of talent.
-- Ross Hostage of Allout Helter

The Kinky Fingers have a sound that mimics [its members'] lifestyles perfectly. When they perform, they all do an excellent job of capturing the crowd and including them in the set. Tayler [Doyle] gets down on his Volkswagen guitar, and I get hooked. I love how the Kinky Fingers describe their genre as "snakeskin boot gaze" rather then "shoegaze," because it's so true. One of the main things that inspires me with their shows and sound is that they create their own genre to describe their sound. That's something that I think we all would like to do as a band, especially with new material.

The best show we played with them was when we asked them to join us for our album release on New Year's Eve. Both of us play well together, because we share a similar fan base. Everyone at our shows ends up having the greatest night, because everyone gets along so well. The greatest part about them is that you could be watching them at a sold-out venue on a Friday night or in someone's back yard at a barbecue, and it will still be an amazing show. There's no need for a huge act with them; it's all just a really good time.
-- Jake Supple of A Band in Pictures

I really respect Coral Thief's work ethic. Beyond their Colorado-meets-Southern-California sound -- I've had the chance to hang with them at their studio -- their knowledge of the music business really separates them from the rest, in my opinion. -- H*Wood

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