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Soft Maybe

Soft Maybe is a solo project by Sanders Smith of local band Wrinkles.

A cluster of local bands forming marks a new decade for Missoula music. The fresh sound of upbeat punk and soft indie rock reflects a turnover in representation. Many of these bands are comprised of people who are new to playing music in the local scene.

Their perspective is refreshing, with the ability to be critical of their surroundings while not taking themselves too seriously. They are unapologetically making themselves heard and if what they have to say is any indication of the future of Missoula music, we better keep our ears peeled.

These three bands have each only played one show and we can’t wait to hear more.

Cry Baby

Cry Baby is Missoula’s new band of indie rock outsiders. Roommates Stella Nall and Katie Galang and cousins Tommy Falcon and Dylan Running Crane are neighbors who found musical chemistry and shared experience writing songs in a basement.

Their music is personable and personal, reflecting on everything from love, to seasonal allergies, to cultural identity. Some songs Running Crane wrote in high school in Browning. Others process the foreign experience she and Falcon had moving from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to Missoula.

Nall said while she is from Missoula, her mother is from Browning, so growing up surrounded by white friends, she felt detached from her Native heritage. Connecting with her neighbors through Cry Baby has allowed her to process her own relationship to her identity. She does so with a sense of humor. In their song “Dirty Skinny White Boys,” she sings about the irony of all her music heroes being dirty, skinny and white.

On the surface their songs sound lighthearted, with cute and quirky details about things like Missoula’s stolen bicycle problem. But underneath the charm are deeper criticisms of the idiosyncrasies of small town socializing. These tender songs tug at the fabric of Missoula and challenge it to grow to be more accessible.

Soft Maybe

Soft Maybe is the chicken noodle soup of Missoula indie pop. It is the perfect music to play while baking or curling up on the couch.

This domestic wonderland is the solo project of Sander’s Smith. Smith plays guitar in local rock band Wrinkles and more recently Bombshell Nightlight, the solo project of Wrinkles' guitarist and vocalist John Cardiello.

In the past year, Smith decided he needed to make a project of his own, recording with his friend Lukas Phelan of Hoya Recordings. He released his debut album “Domestic Nature,” Dec. 7 in physical through Anything Bagel, a limited-run cassette label he co-founded with Cardiello.

A cozy release show was held at Zoë and Lukas Phelan’s art opening “All that Glitters” at Western Cider, with Soft Maybe accompanied by a band of friends all dressed in denim and singing along.

It is the kind of music that makes you sway introspectively with breezy chord progressions. The lyrics catch light in life’s simplicities, like hanging out with your cat or listening to Carly Rae Jepsen. If you are looking for wholesome music that will make you feel at home, check out Soft Maybe.

Aggressive Pedestrian

What is more Missoula than a band started by a bunch of Rockin Rudy’s employees? Aggressive Pedestrian started out as Stephanie Hohn’s fake band, joking with her coworkers Brianna Ewart and Stuart Landers as well as his sister, Claire, who is a cake decorator at Bernice’s Bakery.

The Landers siblings had wanted to start a band since high school, but as a brother-sister drummer-singer duo, it didn’t go far. Hohn wanted to pick up bass and Ewart, who had played bass in Missoula bands before, wanted to learn guitar.

What started as a joke turned into a challenge to try something new together. They started with a trip to Las Vegas to see Bikini Kill to get inspired. They spent the rest of the year learning their instruments and writing songs. The result is playfully pissed and perfect for aggressive dancing.

“We are a bunch of queers with our token straight white male ... we write songs that are angry and angsty,” Hohn said. Those songs deal with themes of creepy men, the apocalypse and more recently, their collective hearing loss in their newest song “Tinnitus Together.”

They came out of the basement on Halloween to play their first show, dressed in homemade Mad Max costumes and with fresh baked goods for those who came on time. This punk band rewards punctuality and they are everything Missoula has been missing.

You can catch them next opening for Haunter, Death Wish and Dragged Out at Monk's Bar on Jan. 18 at 9 p.m.

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Noelle Huser is a freelance reporter and artist. As a dancer and musician, she is passionate about covering local arts and culture, with a primary focus on the music scene. Currently, Huser is a senior at the University of Montana, studying dance and journalism. She also works as the music director at KBGA College Radio.

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