NPR Music is almost ready to announce the winner of the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest. Now in its fourth year, the contest lets unsigned, independent musicians vie for the chance to perform as part of NPR's Tiny Desk concert series. Artists submit a video of themselves performing an original song. The contest judges watch them all and determine a winner.
We'd be thrilled to see an act from the Centennial State win the contest. And there are plenty to choose from: 151 Colorado artists submitted videos. We've perused them all and highlighted some of our favorites.
You might recognize artists like The Milk Blossoms and Ivory Circle from their recent OpenAir Sessions. You might also discover your new favorite local act.
NPR Music will announce the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest winner this week. In the meantime, watch and read about some of the best Colorado submissions below.
(Update: Naia Izumi of Georgia has won the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest. Watch the winning video.)
Andrew Sturtz: "I Remember The Day"
This video's charm lies in its sparseness. Sturtz and cellist Courtlyn Carpenter deliver a heart-tugging pop-folk melody, interspersed with powerful moments of silence.
Nina And The Hold Tight: "Salt and Blood"
Last month NPR Music highlighted this Colorado Springs act for its "heavy riffs" and "righteous anger." We have to agree: This performance is one of the liveliest we watched. The band finds a blues-rock groove to accompany frontwoman Nina de Freitas' impassioned vocals, then breaks away from that groove for a memorable coda.
My Name Is Harriet: "Gravity"
Colorado Springs artist Harriet Landrum begins with a barrage of plucked violin and vocal loops before taking out a bow and letting it rip. It's a memorable and unique solo performance that could be exhausting, but Landrum's energy seems limitless here.
Noble Youth: "We Don't Dance"
Aaron Noble Brown's music as Noble Youth often features electronic beats and ambient synths. That's not the case here. This video shows a more intimate side of Brown, who gives an impactful performance with just voice and guitar.
Jackson Emmer: "When The Lawn Gets Dark"
Emmer's video is proof there's lots of musical talent in Colorado outside of the major cities. The Carbondale-based singer-songwriter performs alone in a large empty room, a setting that strengthens the emotional resonance of his melancholy country song.
The Milk Blossoms: "Supermoon"
We recognized this song from the band's recent performance in our studio. The Denver experimental pop trio, which just released its sophomore album, has become a live favorite in Colorado for its distinctive blend of ukulele, beatboxing and keys.
(Note: The video is no longer available, but you can watch The Milk Blossoms perform this song in our studio.)
Maria Levitov: "Proud Daughter"
The Colorado vibe is strong in this entry from singer-songwriter Maria Levitov. She and guest vocalist Jessica Hays walk through Denver's International Church of Cannabis before laying down some gorgeous vocal harmonies with an image of Garden of the Gods behind them.
Los Mocochetes: "Que Viva Revolution"
The energy in this performance seems to jump out of the screen. This Denver collective manages to fit seven musicians into one shot while they play an infectious Latin-funk jam that concludes with an elated embrace and chant.
Danny Leroy: "Before Forever Starts"
Leroy opens his video by speaking about John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery," a song written from the perspective of a middle-aged woman lamenting her role as a housewife. The song Leroy goes on to perform reimagines that tale, wherein the narrator decides to leave her husband.
Lief Sjostrom: "Watching Waves"
Cellist Lief Sjostrom's video opens with some shots of effect pedals and guitars, so one might expect some rock music. Instead, he creates an intense, cinematic soundscape with his cello. It's gripping to watch the collage of loops and melodies come together over the course of five minutes.
Gun Street Ghost: "Battles"
The four musicians here have to make room for pots, pans and a coffee maker, as the performance takes place in a cramped kitchen. It doesn't phase the Denver band, which mixes acoustic and electric sounds for a sturdy Americana-rock rhythm.
Ivory Circle: "Never Let Me Go"
We highlighted this Denver band's 2017 contest submission, in which the musicians packed into a small attic space. This year, they have a lot more room to move around and certainly take advantage of it: There are multiple videos spliced into one another here, and at one point there are three images of singer Connie Hong in the same shot.
Audible: "Up, Up and Away"
Aubible frontman HoTT sits and raps front and center behind a desk of his own as the rest of the Colorado Springs band lays down a neo-soul backing track. It's a single stationary, dimly-lit shot, but it's hard to look away once you hit play.