12 Denver Musicians to Listen to This Spring

When’s the last time a spring season has felt this special? Vaccines are rolling out left and right, and so too are musical artists imaginations. The gradual reopening of our country leaves limitless possibilities for new sounds and styles across all genres — especially considering the looming concert season ahead.

Trees are turning green, flowers are blooming, and bands are gearing up. Here at 303 Magazine, we’re seeing these changes happen, and we’ve got you covered — here’s a collection of our favorite artists and their accompanying projects for the spring season.

American Culture — For My Animals (Album)

Photo courtesy of American Culture’s Facebook

Who says DIY music can’t be grandiose? Certainly not American Culture. Their newest album, For My Animals, is rapid and thrashing — tight percussion and the occasional guitar squeal sprint alongside Chris Adolf’s wailing voice. There’s so much music to unpack here, and this Denver collective touches nearly everything based under their genres umbrella. Where songs like “Natural Violence” rip the sonic barrier apart, “No Peace” is pushed forward by loose chords and a soothing wind instrument (a flute, presumably). A track from their 2015 album, Pure American Gum, “Actual Alien,” says it best — “I wanna be a part of your world” sings Adolf. We want American Culture’s music to be a part of yours, too.

Trayce Chapman — “Nasa” (Single)

Photo courtesy of Trayce Chapman’s Facebook

Denver’s rap scene is sorely underrated — plain and simple. Slowly but surely, however, the MCs that make up its library are gaining recognition — Trayce Chapman is the city’s shining example. BET’s AMPLIFIND competition is in full swing, and the Denver lyricist is making a run, as he currently sits in the competitions semifinals. Chapman has released three full-length projects since 2016, all of which are chalk full of sharp rhyme patterns and hypnotizing production (see 2018’s Exotic Birds). Chapman’s newest single, “Nasa,” is no different — equally wonderful, equally complex.

Monalicious — A Moment in Time (EP)

Photo by Julianna Photography

You know the saying, “April showers bring May flowers?” Monalicious’s new EP, released March 29, is the April droplets pattering against your window pane. A Moment in Time is free-spirited, each song drags itself through chambers of reflection and emotional longing. Softly, quietly, Monalicious floats inside underwater instrumentation (see “Sunrise”). There are no skips on this project — as you listen, songs flow together and time slows. A Moment in Time is the sonic equivalent of a rainy day fund.

Valdez — Wishbones (Album)

Photo courtesy of Valdez’s Facebook

Folk and alternative need storytelling like peanut butter needs jelly. On Wishbones, Valdez’s lyrics are his chapters, and his strings are his pages. He shouts into valleys and canyons under star-filled skies and strums his way through winding creeks. It’s full-bodied. Between ballads are “Found Songs,” distorted tracks that echo from across the room (with the same “blown out” tendencies of Neutral Milk Hotel’s On Avery Island). Wishbones succeeds not only because it’s beautiful music, but because it could simultaneously be an audiobook.

Cole Scheifele — “Back Then” (Single)

Cole Scheifele’s brand new single is built on reflection. “Back Then” is minimalistic — utilize no more than an acoustic guitar and Scheifele’s echoing voice — yet packs a sentimental punch. It’s reminiscent of the slower ballads by Bon Iver, like “Hey Ma” or “8 (circle).” The record is the drive on Highway 6, right as the sun is rising. Then just like that, it’s over.  I’m not crying, you are — just play it again.

rezlo — “Young And In Love” (Single)

Photo Courtesy of rezlo’s Facebook

Take a gander through rezlo’s discography, and you’ll (very) quickly realize that he may very well be this lists most talented set of pipes. His most streamed record, “Enjoy the Ride,” is in-your-face synth-pop. On “Young And In Love,” rezlo takes a step back and slows things down. He delivers a melodic letter to a lover of days past. It’s real, it’s well-formed and self aware. He let’s his voice do the heavy lifting, and the rest falls into place.

Mlady — Maladaptive Daydream (Album)

Photo Courtesy of The Salt Lick Denver

This album is glistening. Mlady thrives on its parts working simultaneously, and Maladaptive Daydreaming is yet another sonic testament by Hannah Beeghly and her wonderfully crafted ensemble. “Pressure” has two sets of strings — one electric, one acoustic — encasing Beeghly’s soft, velvet pleas to a significant other. The album’s title track, on the other hand, is a showcase for Beeghly’s range, as well as the band’s ability to rock on command. This is, quite literally, an album that knows no particular audience — and uses this facet to its advantage.

YaSi — coexist with chaos (EP)

Photo by Meg O’Neill.

Versatility is key in the modern realm of pop music. YaSi must’ve realized this a while ago. Her new record, coexist with chaos, is a four-course meal: divine vocalization, bass-driven beats, sweeping synthesizers and a penchant for good vibrations. “Guilty” switches between butter-smooth R&B verses and a gleaming chorus. “Drama” is built for a stadium performance — maximalist delivery is woven with quick, Kesha-like mutters such as “hand me a bottle and bow.” Above all else, YaSi is destined for the charts.

Specific Ocean — “Unity” (Single)

Photo Courtesy of Specific Ocean’s Facebook

It seems like, every time Specific Ocean releases a new record, they present themselves — and the listener — with a challenge. “Unity,” the collection’s recent single, is perhaps the strongest example. It’s harmonic and soothing, yet it possesses elements of rock in the old world — art rock (that angelic guitar solo) and math rock (the head-spinning hi-hit and wildly meticulous percussion throughout). It’s clear and obvious how musically advanced every member of Specific Ocean is —  the progressive “Unity” is a must listen.

Jay Triiiple — I Love You (EP)

Photo by Kori Hazel

Jay Triiiple is yet another integral piece of the puzzle that is Denver’s lyrically talented rap community. She raps on dreamy instrumentals with a rapid, unique cadence that feels like it belongs to her. “Blessing & A Curse” is a victory lap on the back end of I Love YouThe EP’s intro, “On Right Now,” sees Triiiple hyping up a significant other with her silky smooth flow patterns.

Gestalt — “Out Singing” (Single)

Jordan Altergott Photography

The first 12 seconds of “Out Singing” is a distorted symphony. Gestalt fill the audio space to its literal limit with what sounds like hundreds of voices stacked on top of each other. Low and behold, the remainder of their latest single follows singing. On their first release of 2021, these new-age punk rockers bring a familiar energy. It gets the blood pumping, and just when your BPM begins to stabilize, they hit listeners with a flatline-worthy bridge. Gestalt claims to be “coming out singing,” but we can’t imagine they aren’t swinging too with this explosive new record.

Kid Astronaut — Cosmos (Album)

Courtesy of Kid Astronaut’s Facebook

Last but not least, we land on Mars. Kid Astronaut has found a delicate balance in his discography, and Cosmos is yet another example of his polished chops and spacey production. Records like “Fall Asleep” and “Ruby” fit his style wonderfully, and “City Lights Interlude” is a full-fledged exploration of his resonating, shaky voice. “Always” is another highlight — it’s as pop R&B as it is electronic dancehall. Look to see lift off from Kid Astronaut in the future.