It took some searching, but I knew there had to be some interesting music coming out of one of America’s most interesting states. I was right. Though I was hoping to uncover something in Roswell, it turns out most of the action is in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. What I did find is that there are a lot of bands in New Mexico making music that’s all over the map. These ones are all worth checking out, and a few of them might even become your new favorite. As part of our 50 States Project, here are 12 New Mexico bands worth checking out.
Members: Zacque Dana, Austin Morrell, Lee Sillery, Alec Wilkes
Current Album: Triple-Thick and No. 5 EPs (2013)
Gusher makes noise rock that’s soothing and massive—something they describe as “gruncle-core” (a mix of grandpa and uncle). Their wall-of-noise guitars are met with lyrics thick with irony. Cuts like the seven-and-a-half minute “New Fashion Fuck Song” will gently kiss your forehead before punching you square in the nose.
2. Manuka Piglet
Members: Sam Roberts, Calvary Fisher, Ian Carrillo, Andy Herman
Current Album: Brain-Damaged Toon Underworld (2014)
There’s a lot going on on Mauka Piglet’s latest LP Brain-Damaged Toon Underworld. Actually, that title sort of typifies the four-piece’s off-kilter pop. Under the layer of blips and the ethereal production lie some incredible hooks. The band’s attention to detail makes a good case for OCD. Songwriters Sam Roberts and Calvary Fisher traipse through Vaudeville, psychedelia, folk and British Invasion, and a few listens will have you convinced a place called Brain-Damaged Toon Underworld really exists.
3. Leeches of Lore
Members: Noah Wolters, Andy Lutz, Steve Hammond
Current Album: Leeches of Lorchestra (2013)
Aside from their great name, Leeches of Lore are masters of dark, atmospheric doom that sounds like it’s stranded on the set of an Ennio Morricone film. The band continues to expand outward from its early riff-heavy records. Leeches of Lorchestra delivers boatloads of ear candy (horns, Wurlitzer, accordion), while still retaining some of the doom-laden guitars heard on their excellent 2009 self-titled debut.
4. Predatory Light
Hometown: Santa Fe
Members: Luke Sheppard, Kyle Morgan, Todd White
Current Album: MMXIV (2014)
On this Santa Fe three-piece’s two-song cassette release MMXIV, Predatory Light lure you in slowly with wiry guitars and guttural growls, building to an apocalyptic release. The 10-minute “Spiritual Flesh” is the proof. These blackened riffs will stick in your head long after the world comes to an end. One hell of a metal release for the year MMXIV.
5. Lindy Vision
Members: Deedee Cuylear, Na Cuylear, Carla Cuylear
Current Album: Pink and Black (2014)
These three sisters have fully fleshed out the musical and visual concept of Lindy Vision, which mixes new wave, disco and punk rock into something otherworldly. The New Mexico natives grew up on Motown, and later discovered early-’70s glam and bands like Joy Division and The Clean. They formed Black Natives in their teens, and were reborn as Lindy Vision two years ago. The video for their single “Pink and Black” is a slice of Kubrickian weirdness set to a dance beat.
6. Nuclear Spaceship
Members: Larry LaFramp, Ringo Rosencrantz, Lucille Quinoa, Charles Barnaby
Current Album: Nuclear Spaceship (2014)
Prolific is one way to describe this neo-psychedelic prog band. Nuclear Spaceship’s latest self-titled record is their third in as many months, and word has it they’re already working on a collection that will include covers of songs by Primus, Glenn Miller and the Flower Travellin’ Band. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. They’re from Albuquerque, but I think they should relocate to Roswell.
7. Lady Uranium
Members: Mauro Woody
Current Album: Vulpes Vulpes (2014)
This one-woman show is something else, and on her debut EP Vulpes Vulpes Mauro Woody brings an open-book candidness to her lilting electronic avant-pop. Woody keeps the music light and spacious, occasionally doubling her vocals for optimal dream-sequence effect. The question is: Is it music to take drugs to, or music to make you feel like you’re already on drugs?
8. Bill Palmer’s TV Killers
Hometown: Santa Fe
Members: Bill Palmer, Stephanie Hatfield, Matt McClinton, Shawn Peters
Current Album: The Mines (2014)
Country music with the pop sensibilities of Tom Petty—sounds perfect. Descriptors be damned, Bill Palmer and his crew simply write great tunes fit for barrooms or coke-filled mansions. The harmonies between Palmer and guitarist Stephanie Hatfield are where it’s at. Sometimes meat and potatoes are all you need. And in this day and age a TV Killer might be more ideal than a Heartbreaker.
9. Arroyo Deathmatch
Members: Alex, Beth, Leon, Matt, Jett, Cameron
Current Album: Through the Fear of It (2014)
Folk music for punk folk, or as they put it: “Evil folk for evil folks.” This six-piece is dexterous on the strings, but the vocals have the subtlety of a brick wall. Lyrics intended to change the world are shouted over folky strums (you’ll hear ukulele, banjo, a washboard, and even a banjo-like instrument they created called the “bejota”). Arroyo Deathmatch is proof that you don’t always need volume to make yourself heard.
Members: Antonia Montoya
Current Album: “Softest Sway” (Soundcloud)
Ten years ago Antonia Montoya discovered the upright bass, something she’s said has changed her life. She’s used her musical weapon of choice for years in the Deep Purple-esque band Sin Serenade, and more recently in her own project Alonerly, which quiets things down considerably (and favorably). While she’s released no albums yet, Montoya has a handful of songs floating around—including the fantastic “Softest Sway”—built on her plucked bass lines and vocals, fleshed out with loop pedals and soft electronic flourishes.
11. Nose Blonde
Members: Joe Cardio, Jaime Loren
Current Album: Girls Just Wanna Hvae Fun! (2014)
Nose Blonde’s noisy, dystopian passages are unsettling, but it’s difficult to turn your ear away. Swells of feedback and gurgling guitar noise make up the bulk of the band’s latest output “I Stole Your Raincoat” and “Girls Just Wanna Hvae Fun!” It’s the end of the world as they know it.
12. Thieves & Gypsys
Hometown: Santa Fe
Members: Jared Garcia, Aaron Jones, Adam Cook
Current Album: Break (2014)
Garage rock is played out. But these young lads have songs that take them out of their parents’ garage move them into a tastefully furnished apartment. You’ll hear the Strokes, but you’ll hear a lot of influences. The trick is that Thieves & Gypsys use only pinches and skoshes of those influences in their compact pop songs. This band’s brimming with personality. And jangle.