In a state dominated by the glitz and “more is more” aesthetic of Las Vegas, it must be hard for any small artist/band to make a dent in the cultural world of the Silver State. There are some that have risen above the bright light city—Panic! At The Disco, The Killers, Ne-Yo, and The Crystal Method among them. But many more are clamoring to get heard above the casino floor racket and across the expanse of Nevada’s desert. As part of the 50 States Project, here are 10 of the best acts that call this Western U.S. state home.
Hometown: Las Vegas
Members: Ken Osborne, Cindy Osborne, Michael Louis Austin, Brenna Luman-Glimp
Current Album: Four EP (2014)
This charming quartet like to lump their sound under the heading of “hillbilly jazz.” Not a bad way to think about The All-Togethers sound at all, really, as the quartet keeps their instrumental simple and acoustic (guitar, mandolin, and cello drive the sound), ready for a back porch jam session, but play a woozy, gin-fueled style of hot jazz that would be welcome in any speakeasy around the world.
Members: Jamil Apostol, Nathan DePaoli, Thomas Hogan, Ryan Widmer, Patrick Zbella, Denise Julian, Kirsten Crom
Current Album: On The Road (2014)
For a band that boasts eight members (and counting?), it’s impressive just how intimate the open-armed, joyous groove rock of The Bonfire Set manages to be. Some of that is due to the long time relationships that the band members have with one another (most of the group are childhood friends) but, as any Arcade Fire fan will tell you, there’s something to be said for the warm embrace that comes when you join in one of this octet’s boisterous sing-alongs.
Member: Jacob Rubeck
Current Album: Ghoul School (2014)
This young Nevadan musician (and member of garage-pop band Surf Curse; see below) finds much inspiration in pop culture (his self-produced videos tend to be scenes taken from movies like The Lost Boys and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet) and the strange allure of the nearby desert. All of that comes to bear on his efforts recorded as Casino Hearts, which expands upon and often betters the lo-fi, hypnogogic pop of forebears like Ariel Pink and Toro y Moi.
Current Album: Black Lung (2014)
While electronic producers the world over wrestle with programming their Monomes or save up for a vintage Moog, DJ Spore is taking the detritus of our technological past (in this case, old school GameBoys) and creating multi-colored, pixilated dance-pop anthems. All fragments of these chiptunes are culled from Nintendo cartridges but they’ve never sounded as dancefloor ready as they do in when molded together by this capable young producer.
Members: Brad Bynum, Clint Neuerberg, Ty Williams, Mike Mayhall, Scaught Bates
Current Album: Party Child (2012)
It’s been a few years since this noisy, hairy monster of a band has released a full-length album, but it’s not as if they’ve been resting quietly. The fearsome quintet recently released a brand new track that shows that they’ve finding deeper crevices to explore within their uncompromisingly aggressive approach to hardcore. Until that gets grown into a new LP, we’ll do just fine with their dirty, brutal work to date, including this fine album below.
Hometown: Las Vegas
Member: Christopher Sanchez
Current Album: 3004003 EP (2014)
When he’s not playing drums for the post-hardcore outfit Narrowed (see below), Christopher Sanchez is indulging in far more experimental fare. Recording under the name ghostofthegardencity, this project is at times lush and gorgeous, and at others, rumbling and industrial. Somehow, Sanchez is able to make these two parts of his musical brain interconnect to the delight of shoegaze, ambient, and noise fans alike.
Hometown: Las Vegas
Member: Oleg Mokhov
Current Album: Future Hope (2014)
Sin City is making a fast name for itself as a hub for dance parties and club music of all stripes. So, there’s little wonder that folks like Oleg Mokhov are arriving on the scene to add a little homegrown flavor to the mix. You may have already heard Mokhov’s music if you’ve downloaded the Sudoku-like app Digits, but if not, you should find much to love about the warm bass tones and jazzy, Ninja Tune-styled beats found on his latest LP.
Hometown: Las Vegas
Members: Christopher Sanchez, Dylan Silva, Charlie Blasco, Samuel Blasco
Current Album:* Thick Skull EP (2013)
One of the best of a current strain of punk that is folding in the unusual time signatures and moods of prog rock with the toothsome and heartfelt lyrics of fellow musical travelers like La Dispute and The Story So Far. This quartet stands out from the pack thank to a healthy dose of political awareness and some truly awe-inspiring guitar work from Dylan Silva and Samuel Blasco.
Hometown: Black Rock City
Members: Jodi McLaren, Kirsten Mackey
Current Album: All At Once (2014)
According to the duo’s Bandcamp bio, this was a one-off collaboration between these two women, captured almost in real time before Jodi McLaren moved to Portland. It includes songs from their first writing sessions all the way down to a track laid down in the back of a truck at the departures gate at the Reno airport. The immediacy and intimacy of this experience is so wonderful to behold, free of all the overthinking and overdubbing that can sink a folk-pop project like this. Here’s hoping a little attention will encourage the two to reunite and make even more beautiful music together.
Members: Jacob Rubeck, Nicholas Rattigan
Current Album: Sad Boys EP (2013)
Don’t let the title of this garage-pop duo’s most recent EP throw you; there’s nothing morose or downtrodden about what these boys are up to. Each of their songs is a peppy blast of sand-dusted jangle and hip-shaking rhythms. Sure, they tend to sing about the beach bunny that got away or the one they can’t get rid of, but you’ll have so much fun bopping to these short, fun tunes, you’ll forget all about the woes of the world.