Moving and shaking: The best of the 2014 Alaska music scene

The Anchorage music scene was not without its share of surprises this past year. Rather than remaining a key stop on the reunion tour circuit for grunge-era also-rans, Alaska welcomed en vogue rock acts (Beach House, Cults) and buzzworthy synth-pop (MGMT, Capital Cities, Foster the People). Warped Tour even put together a special Anchorage gig.

Some grunge-era also-rans played here, too.

Locally, 36 Crazyfists, the Super Saturated Sugar Strings, the Modern Savage and Emma Hill headlined some of the new records from Alaska artists. Given all that happened last year, we sent emails to a few movers and shakers in and around the Anchorage music scene, asking them to recap 2014 and offer some of their favorites from the year that was.

What was the best show you saw by a local artist?

"The sit-down portion of the Super Saturated Sugar Strings album release show." -- Emma Hill, solo artist

"I most often find myself at folksy or bluegrass shows, and in that scene I always love seeing the Anna Lynch Band, the Hannah Yoter Band and High Lonesome Sound." -- Joe Selmont, Anchorage Concert Association

"The Road To Warped Tour was the best for Alaska local bands. There were 10 bands on the two stages, plus more on the acoustic stage. I was very proud of all of them for doing such a great job on a big show like that. It was a great opportunity for all of them and they brought their best. Although I have to give an honorable mention on this one to Spitshine and Kallahan, both of whom reunited at Zombiefist 7 this year. That was pretty exciting to see them both back on stage again!" -- Sarah Pederson, Family Tree Presents


"Super Saturated Sugar Strings album release at Tap Root." -- James Glaves, Ghost Hands

"Yada Di at the Relentless BBQ in McCarthy." -- Carlyle Watt, Super Saturated Sugar Strings

"This is always a tough one, but I'll go with the MidWinter Blitz in February. The Blitz showcased six bands playing 30-minute sets. The lineup included Ghost Hands, the Sweeteners, Turquoise Boy, Dabarko, Smile Ease and Shy Bones ... Jeremy Wetherell and James Glaves emceed, which added an extra layer of humor and improv to the show." -- Katie Medred, Beat and Pulse Alaska

"The Whipsaws opening for the Alabama Shakes at the Alaska Airlines Center. They killed it!" -- Brooklyn Baggett, Anchorage Community Works

"Best show this year is Kevin Worrell's new Parlor in the Round series at Tap Root. Hands down. There's no other contender." -- Laura Oden, solo artist, Anchorage Music Co-op

"Super Saturated Sugar Strings album release show." -- Evan Phillips, the Whipsaws, Monolith Agency

What was the best show you saw by anybody?

"Beach House." -- Hill

"In Alaska, the best show I saw was at Anchorage Community Works, and it featured this super fun, jazz-fueled indie-pop band called Leftover Cuties. It was one of the Anchorage Concert Association's secret shows. Beach House and Alabama Shakes also stand out." -- Selmont

"You might be surprised to hear my answer on this one. The White Buffalo at Humpy's this past summer was amazing and one of my favorites for 2014." -- Pederson

"The Afghan Whigs -- World Cafe Live, Philadelphia." -- Glaves

"Elephant Revival, Salmonstock." -- Watt

"Probably Beach House this fall, but I love Beach House. Close runners-up would be Slow Magic in June and Seawolf in March. Ezza Rose (with Jessie Dettwiler), the Past Haunts and Cults are honorable mentions." -- Medred

"Portland Cello Project's secret show with the Anchorage Concert Association at Anchorage Community Works (before their PAC performance). Those guys are so talented." -- Baggett

"I'd have to choose the Alaskan Chick Singers show at the Relentless BBQ in McCarthy last summer. The all-female (mostly) lineup was a giant shout- out to the impressive talent right here in Alaska. The chicks delivered." -- Oden

?"Animal Eyes, Monolith Showcase." -- Phillips

Favorite album in 2014 from an Alaskanartist


"Easton Stagger Phillips, 'Resolution Road'" -- Hill

"The Anna Lynch Band's debut album really stuck to me. They're just such a talented group. I had to double-check its release date, and technically it came out on Dec. 27, 2013, but I stand by my choice." -- Selmont

"'Deadweight' by The Harlequin State" -- Pederson

"Emma Hill's 'Denali'" -- Glaves

"'Denali' by Emma Hill" -- Watt

"Teenage Daydream's 'False Hope Syndrome.'" -- Medred

"Man ... who released albums this year? Anna Lynch's new album is a good time. Yngvil Vatn Guttu's new album is pretty rad too (I think it is released to the public in January)." -- Baggett

?"PJ Franco and the Burnouts -- 'Misadventure.' It's short, sweet and no messing around. Gets right to it." -- Oden


"Super Saturated Sugar Strings -- 'Heart Shaped Leaves'" -- Evan Phillips

Favorite album from Outside

"Jenny Lewis, 'The Voyager'" -- Hill

"Oh, that is tough. The Naked and Famous, a New Zealand-based dark pop band, and Rubblebucket, a Brooklyn-based horn-heavy dance band, both released fantastic albums. TV on the Radio's new album and Hozier's debut are also somewhere pretty high on my list." -- Selmont

"This is a tough one for me because there are three front-runners from 2014, and I'm not sure I could say one is better than the other two: Every Time I Die, 'From Parts Unknown;'' Unearth, 'Watchers of Rule;' Mastodon, 'Once More 'Round The Sun.' -- Pederson

"Sam Smith, 'In the Lonely Hour'" -- Glaves

"'Lazaretto' by Jack White" -- Watt

"Gahhhh! How does one ever pick just one album?! I really got into Emma Ruth Rundle's 'Some Heavy Ocean' this year, and, on the heavier end, the Helms Alee/Young Widows split." -- Medred

"This super great experimental band from Portland called Symmetry/Symmetry released a new album called 'Infinity(zero).' It's super near and dear to my heart... and really good. St. Vincent's new album was pretty rad, too." -- Baggett

"I'm just catching up to 2009 Outside." -- Oden

"?Damien Jurado, 'Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son.'" -- Phillips

What artist would you most want to see play Alaska in 2015?


"Jenny Lewis" -- Hill

"A few years back, UAA Concert Board brought up St. Vincent, who in the last year has gained a lot more popularity. I'd love the opportunity to see her again -- because oh my goodness does she wail on that guitar! -- but with a bigger audience. I've also been dying to see The Tallest Man on Earth for years." -- Selmont

"This could possibly be the exact same answer as last year, but I would love to reschedule Lamb of God and my answer to this question otherwise with always be Deftones." -- Pederson

"Sam Smith" -- Glaves

"The Flaming Lips!" -- Watts

"Obviously, I'm a Sargent House fan, So almost any Sargent House band would make me extremely happy." -- Medred


"Queens of the Stone Age" -- Baggett

"I would like to see Alexi Murdoch play here." -- Oden

?"Strand Of Oaks." -- Phillips

What was the coolest new trend in 2014?

"The house concert community is growing." -- Hill

"In my personal life, I've begun buying socks with funny designs on them. Like a T. rex. Or sharks. Does that count?" -- Selmont

"I honestly can't answer this question. If there are trends in metal, they should probably go away, so see my answer to the next question." -- Pederson

"Vinyl" -- Glaves

"Omnichord" -- Watt

"Appreciation for authenticity in music, e.g., the Future Islands and Ed Sheeran breakouts, even Beyonce and Taylor Swift's new albums to some extent." -- Medred

"The Alaska Airlines Center. It's not a trend yet, but it will be as we get more and bigger and better acts to Alaska to play our new arena. See my prior answer (Queens of the Stone Age! Do it!)." -- Baggett

"Creative Placemaking projects that think music outside of the box." -- Oden

"?Tiny homes" -- Phillips

Trend that needs to go away in 2015

"Internet trolling/bashing" -- Hill

"Who else hates beard bells?" -- Selmont

"Do Black Veil Brides count as a trend?" -- Pederson

"Police brutality" -- Glaves

"It seems like every mainstream indie-folk song I hear employs the use of the "HEY!" a la Edward Sharpe and The Lumineers. It's where the whole damn group shouts "HEY!" together really loudly with lots of reverb, as if they were spelunking together and simultaneously ran into an old friend down in the cave. My blood boils every time I hear it." -- Watt

"Extreme objectification. It's getting old. All objectification should be out really, but, realistically, it'll probably always be a part of the mainstream music industry." -- Medred

"Violence and other shenanigans at all-ages shows. C'mon, kids, lock it up. (I just said shenanigans... man, I'm getting old.)" -- Baggett

"That the only time to hear live music is at 10 p.m." -- Oden

?"Corny Alaska-based reality shows." -- Phillips

Summarize the local scene in 2014 in 10 words.

"A community willing to love and support hardworking artists." -- Hill

"Less metal and much more dancing than five years ago." -- Selmont

"Road To Warped Tour brought us all together this year." -- Pederson

"Get off Facebook and write some damn songs." -- Glaves

"Sparse. So many great bands took a hiatus or split up." -- Watt

"Lots of change, some die-off, but new growth, too." -- Medred

"Metal, punk and bluegrass. We're a bunch of weirdos." -- Baggett

"Northern souls make good audiences. Music is personal here." -- Oden

?"Redefining itself" -- Phillips