As It Starts
Bothell, WA (indie rock)
Bothell, WA band As It Starts composes stunningly cinematic numbers featuring soaring choruses, and shuffling drum beats complemented by the charming vocal style of Alex Menne. Influenced by modern Northwest icons Death Cab For Cutie, these six talented high school students released their debut EP What a Concept on their Bandcamp page, which features five catchy indie-pop songs that will likely make their way into the soundtrack of your life.
Renton, WA (hip-hop)
Utilizing saucy beats and stinging lyrical delivery, Dave B is one of the select few hip-hop groups that can successfully dance the fine line between sweet poetry and swaggering beats. Peppering rhymes with candid stories that strike a chord—whether they be about the struggles of youth and artistry, or the timeless hurdle of talking to that special someone always in the corner of your eye—their style is ridiculously relatable and infinitely enjoyable.
The Fame Riot
Tacoma, WA (electro pop)
Lead singers/brothers in glam, Liz Scarlett and Shazam “Tea Time” Watkins, generate effervescent electro pop. Although this Tacoma-based group has only been playing together for one year, they’ve already become known for their unhinged live shows and animated stage presence at Northwest stages at The High Dive, The Comet, LoveFest and more. Influenced by the likes of Bowie, The Darkness, and Hot Chip, The Fame Riot is modernizing glam rock while doing their hometown proud.
The Female Fiends
Kent, WA (indie rock)
Sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing. For example, you need fuzzed guitars that can sing with melody. You need songs that recall your most vital memories of youthful love and heartbreak. You need music that you can sway to one moment and snuggle to the next. You need a quartet from Kent, WA called The Female Fiends in your life. Let the toe-tapping and cuddling commence as you discover just what you’ve been missing.
I For Eye
Gig Harbor, WA (alternative)
A lead woman who can scream with the best of them, and actually exude composure while doing it, is a rare gift in a pop punk outfit. Guitar wielding quartet I for Eye possess just such a gift in Kierah Taylor, whose expressive vocals run the gamut from glacial to growling. I for Eye recalls the glory days of ska-poppers No Doubt majestically juxtaposed with the more restrained beauty of The Sundays.
Seattle, WA (experimental)
Seattle sextet Maiah Manser creates an exclusive brand of intellectual and oppositional pop music. The voice of lead singer Maiah is mesmerizing. Cut from the same cloth as Fiona Apple, it’s malleable enough to meld with the unpredictable and complex landscapes of their sophisticated compositions. Occasionally catchy and poppy, at other times haunting and uncomfortable, Maiah Manser excels at inherent drama. Firmly rooted in the implications of jazz, their music is emotive and entangled, while addressing social expectations.
Seattle, WA (alternative)
Forged in the rainy metropolis of Seattle, Mister Mista embodies that heady combination of raw rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and alt rock. A seasoned musician and songwriter, lead singer Jonah Cohen possesses the voice of someone twice his age—at times haunting, at other times howling and primal, and always a force to be reckoned with. Influenced by the likes of Hendrix, Robert Johnson, and Queens of the Stone Age, the band’s gritty lo-fi style and textural guitar evoke a je ne sais quoi swagger and hypnotism as exemplified in the track “Mine Was Yours.”
Portland, OR (hip-hop)
Calling her a raw talent is an understatement. Portland-based lyricist Rose charmed her way into the Sound Off! semifinals with swag raps, comedic punch lines, and plenty of braggadocio. The 16-year-old is a new breed of street-eclectic rapper/musician who pens smart lyrics that make audiences think and laugh out loud at the same time. While still developing her style, Rose’s music is consistently fun, ultimately danceable, and laced in a DIY hip-hop aesthetic.
Puyallup, WA (indie pop)
The Puyallup-based four-piece SHEBEAR craft sonic dream pop textures through echo-laden synth, ethereal guitar, and dynamic percussion. With vocal prowess that recalls Brandon Flowers of The Killers, SHEBEAR’s songs vary from energetic and driving to languid electronic soundscapes that sit comfortably alongside the likes of Passion Pit, M83, and Temper Trap.
Tacoma, WA (garage rock)
Poised to become major players in the Northwest’s garage rock renaissance, Shogun Barbie’s catchy garage pop numbers are led by dueling male and female vocals belted out like banshees from the netherworld, and gritty guitar riffs reminiscent of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Undertones. This Tacoma, WA five-piece band recently released a four-track EP that grabs you by your tail feathers and demands total unwavering attention.
Bellingham, WA (indie pop)
This indie-pop quartet has currently set up house in the rainy hills of Bellingham where they’ve honed a brand of intellectual and experimental pop music inspired by the likes of Dirty Projectors, tUnE-yArDs, and Grizzly Bear. Live shows feature equal parts meticulous looping, crazy fun jamming, and spin yourself silly on the dance floor tunes accompanied by glittering vocals.
*Selected as an alternate semifinalist, SoccerMom will replace The Rockets who withdrew from the competition due to a last minute conflict.
Bellingham, WA (indie pop)
Bellingham’s Vervex dexterously summons submerged reverie-styled experimental-rock. Jake Barrow’s dreamy disposition immediately calls to mind bands like Panda Bear and Local Natives. While various subgenres of electronic and post rock combined to create his first album, Zapatos, Vervex’s The Wave, demonstrates how Barrow has honed his art and focused his energy into lushly layered sounds and vocals that command your attention. These songs are buoyant, enchanting, urgent, and their anatomy is elaborate. This is music that has flamboyant confidence and demands your affinity.