14 Phoenix Musicians You Need to Hear in 2014

Justin Renteria
It's 2014 and high time you got some new music into your playlist -- seriously. It'll help that Phoenix's music scene has plenty of fresh jams and brand-new tunes to offer, as there's an overflow of gifted and prolific musicians cranking out sounds.

Since many local acts will make waves, turn heads, and get listens this year, we're highlighting 14 that you simply must hear. Think of it as a mixtape shared between friends. And it contains talent drawn from the various musical milieus in and around Phoenix -- from up-and-coming rappers to weirdo indie rockers to folk acts found at house shows.

These are the 14 bands you owe it to yourself to check out in 2014.

Celebration Guns

Celebration Guns' songs take listeners on an ambient indie-pop journey, with fuzzy guitars zigging and intricate bass lines zagging over busy drumming and unexpected turns from a toy piano or xylophone.

Evoking the found sonic objects sprinkled throughout its songs, the foursome (assembled in August 2013 from several dismantled projects) goes against the grain. To wit: The band's most recent album, Quitter, and its upcoming self-titled split EP with fellow locals Twin Ponies are available on cassette tape.

"I think there's a sense of nostalgia that comes with cassette tapes that makes me really appreciate them," says vocalist/guitarist Justin Weir. "It reminds me of a time when I wasn't overwhelmed with a flash drive of 18,000 songs from hundreds of bands I never quite feel connected to. Instead, I had to rely on whatever cassette tapes I could get my hands on, and when every new band sounded novel and fresh and worth holding onto."

Celebration Guns, drawing comparisons to Minus the Bear and Maps & Atlases, hope listeners are inspired to hold onto their music and tunes about awkward dating experiences and lost loves.

"These songs are written by a jaded person trying to find credibility in taking the optimistic approach to life and love and whatever happens between," Weir says, insisting that tones of dating disenchantment are balanced by hints of optimism. And when bells, accordions, and trumpets permeate your melodies, even the most heartbreaking lyrics hit a happy note.

The band, which includes guitarist Chris Blanco, bassist Ryan Miller, and drummer Timothy O'Brien, finds plenty of love, however, when it plays shows in town. Celebration Guns strive to perform in an array of venues, be it nightclub, house show, or Urban Outfitters, and usually on bills as diverse as the collection of musical instruments you'll find onstage during the band's set. -- Nicki Escudero

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