The Santa Fe music scene, like those in many small cities, generally exists within a bubble that’s overlooked by the majority of publications. Outsiders would have a tough time naming any artists from the city. That isn’t to say there aren’t any worthy of attention. This was my first full year living in Santa Fe, and the first year I really attempted to put my finger on the pulse of the local scene. It seems as though this was a particularly good year to do so, as many of the most prevalent local acts released new music this year, such as Cloacas, Greg Butera, Evarusnik and Flamingo Pink!. This year also witnessed the birth of local label Matron Records, which was responsible for releasing debut records by favorites GRY GRDNS and Future Scars. The scene also gained a pair of excellent venues in Zephyr and Meow Wolf.
I decided to compile a helpful guide to some of the more notable releases by Santa Fe-based artists in 2016.
Here’s hoping that 2017 will come bearing debut releases by Loretta’s Got A Stargun!, Atalaya, Ppoacher Ppoacher, and Bodies.
Consider This: Volume I
The first of two releases by Ben Montgomery this year, Consider This: Volume I contains 10 experimental compositions mixing electronics and some trumpet. At their best, the short vignettes are playful and contemplative.
Favorite Tracks: Push One; Push Three; Push Six
Consider This: Volume II
The second volume of Montgomery’s Consider This series picks up where he left off with the first volume with even better results. The synths on Volume II are considerably more spacey.
Favorite Tracks: Push Eleven; Push Thirteen; Push Nineteen
…And The Clouds Are Not Cloudy All Day
Exploited “freaks” present bewildering feats, flim flam men swindle exuberant children, and to the dismay of religious zealots fortune tellers embrace mysticism.
Favorite Tracks: Playing in Traffic; The Great Rhinehart Tire Fire of 1983; Croissant Moon
Cole Bee Wilson
A concept album about the great military genius Hannibal that is as epic as his life, H Thunderbolt succeeds not because of it’s grandeur but rather its subtlety.
Hotend: The Do Tell Plays the Music of Julius Hemphill
The trio of Dan Clucas (coronet), Mark Weaver (tuba) and Dave Wayne (percussion) masterfully pays homage to the great saxophonist and composer Julius Hemphill over the six thoughtfully chosen cuts on Hotend.
Favorite Tracks: Dogon A.D.; Hotend; G Song
Recorded in Iceland, Evarusnik’s newest album is a gorgeous, cinematic record drawing influence from all over the map while secure with it’s own sonic identity. It’d be tough to find another band locally with such a fully realized musical vision.
Favorite Tracks: What Would You Be If; Skies Not The Same; Öldurnar
Ghosts in The Ground
Local singer-songwriter Meg Burns aka Flamingo Pink! made her shift towards a more electronic-based sound this year. Ghosts in the Ground would be the first of two records released in 2016.
Favorite Tracks: Blurring Out; Enemies; Over Shoulders
Gum & Leather
The second Flamingo Pink! release of 2016 was a more confident a realized record, improving upon Burns’ lo-fi electronic pop sound of her previous release.
Favorite Tracks: All The Right Ways; This Time; Waiting
Falling under the radar even in this little city, Flossy Clouds’ newest EP is a wonderfully catchy collection of carefree indie rock tunes that should make them a band to keep an eye on.
Favorite Tracks: Big Y; Soften; Slug
Before, There Was Fear
When 3/4 of the beloved post-rockers As In We announced the formation of Future Scars, there was obvious around the Santa Fe scene. Their powerful debut EP lived up to local hype as a fierce mix of post-rock ambience, metal heaviness, and riot grrrl angst.
Favorite Tracks: Good Death; A Reason To Stay; Before, There Was Fear
[Disques de Lapin]
It’s quite possible that Stavo Mustang Craft is a sort of new wave incarnation of Jad Fair. A totally DIY effort, Galactic Witchcraft’s second album, Strange Birds, possesses a uniquely personal characteristic highlighted by Craft’s own vibrant and playful personality.
Favorite Tracks: Strange Birds; Evermore; Mirrors
Tell Me Now
Old school country vibes are plentiful on Greg Butera’s charming solo debut. The ten songs manage a wonderful balance between drifting ballads, rollicking foot stompers, and cheerful ditties (“Luck in My Cup”).
Favorite Tracks: Bluebonnets; Yellow Lines; Glad
Mysticism in the open expanse of the southwest.
Favorite Tracks: Seersucker; Houndstooth; Brodcade
Known locally for her funky bass playing in The Sticky, at three tracks Joie Flare’s debut EP is a short but sweet introduction to a rising talent.
Favorite Tracks: Rabbit Hole; Watermelon Seeds
The Laser Cats
The Laser Cats
The product of a group of music students at Santa Fe University of Art & Design, The Laser Cats play gypsy swing with an energy and technical ability that shows great appreciation for the genre.
Favorite Tracks: The Palace; Goat’s Foot Waltz; Colfax
A genuine celebration of New Mexico’s musical roots, Trio Nuevomexicano is energetic, passionate and beautifully played.
Favorite Tracks: El Tecolotito;La Vaquilla; Polka De Pecos
Ramshackle garage psych
Favorite Tracks: Lover On The Run; Crystal Columns; Shadow Winslow
The Maya Spectra
A bit electro-pop, a bit Trip Hop, The Maya Spectra’s debut EP Music Box is an impressive work with full a sound.
Favorite Tracks: Intro/Music Box; Encompass Me; The Plight
A new addition to the Santa Fe metal scene, Ol’ Dagger immediately made their name known with this ferocious debut release
Favorite Tracks: Grave Tremor; Vulture Culture; Daggertooth
Psirens & Slow Proteo
A Twin Peaks’ inspired collaboration between Psirens and Slow Proteo, Mountain Music is a moody electronic EP with a fitting feeling of mystery.
Favorite Tracks: Falling; MTN MSC
Rubi Ate The Fig
Live records can be tough to pull off, especially for a new band, but Rubi Ate the Fig clearly isn’t an ordinary band. Comprised of highly regarded music veterans, they manage to showcase their Middle Eastern influenced psych rock with great effect.
Favorite Tracks: Breathe with Me Slowly; Your Story; Gilgamesh
Melodies of the Cosmonauts: Space Chronicle
Melodies of the Cosmonauts: Space Chronicle is a refreshing introduction to an advernturous new Santa Fe hip hop group.
Favorite Tracks: Forbidden Jutsu of the R3DLIT3; Primordial Concoctions of the Microphone Fiends; Diamond Plated Exoskeletons of the Forgotten Lords
We Drew Lightning
The expansive post-rock of We Drew Lightning on Six echoes the impending doom but also magnificent beauty of looming storm clouds.
Favorite Tracks: Machinations; The Long Swim Back Up; Amoeba
Where Andrew Tumason goes for sweeping cinematic soundscapes with Evarusnik, his solo work as Woven Talon is more raw and intimate while retaining a similar meditative spirit.
Favorite Tracks: Westlands; Truly Change, Water’s Ruin
Zickey & The Kondor
Zickey and The Kondor
SFUAD alumni Sam Armstrong-Zickefoose and Konor Hunter-Crump teamed up to form Zickey & The Kondor. Their debut album is a collection of impeccably played tunes with bluegrass roots but much more eclectic.
Favorite Tracks: Mona; Herringbone; Split Hill