5 Lovelorn Denver Bands to Listen to on Valentine's Day | Westword

Five Lovelorn Denver Bands to Listen to on Valentine's Day

It might be safe to say that heartbreak makes for better music.
Midwife, aka Madeline Johnston, isn't big on traditional love songs.
Midwife, aka Madeline Johnston, isn't big on traditional love songs. Courtesy Midwife
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Love lingers in the air with the yearly arrival of Valentine’s Day, that heart-shaped holiday typically celebrated with gifts of red roses and boxed chocolates.

But music, especially with lyrics that express how you feel on the inside, is another great way to let that special person in your life know you’re thinking of them. And you don’t necessarily need to be in a committed relationship to enjoy some love-laced — or lovelorn — tunes this month.

From the more woeful offerings of such Colorado acts as Cherished and Midwife to nostalgic emo rock like that of Bury Mia, here are five groups to listen to this Valentine’s Day, whether you’re celebrating alone or with a partner. May Cupid's aim be true...or not.

There is something innately comforting about listening to sad music. Of course, it hits harder when you’re single and everyone around you is publicly professing their love and acting all sappy during February. But even if you are already feeling all warm and fuzzy, the Denver act Cherished will make those butterflies in your belly flutter a little harder with its unique brand of dreamy indie-pop rock.

Originally called Lowfaith, the recently minted Cherished (a far more fitting moniker) has been at it since 2015. The band’s latest four-song EP, other bodies, released on December 1, is a swoon-and-gloom mix of love songs and heartbreak ballads. “Weekend Girlfriend” is the standout track, as lead singer Cloe Madonna (you might know her best as the in-your-face vocalist of Denver hardcore band Destiny Bond) croons about a messy situationship, which everyone can relate to. Then there’s “Slaughterhouse, Where I Laid” and its ability to sonically capture the emotional roller coaster of a bad breakup.

Bury Mia
Pop punk is packed full of emotion. The seemingly always upbeat cousin of its downright moodier family member emo, the subgenre can also be manic and shift between the highest of highs and lowest of lows from track to track.

Denver pop-punk quartet Bury Mia is a perfect example of that. The group is responsible for a recent local resurgence in this music, which many Millennials turned to for away-message inspiration throughout their teen years. After coming together as a band in 2015, Justin O’Neal (guitar and vocals), Devin Martinez (bass and vocals), Stevan Alt (guitar) and Marcus Allen-Hille (drums) have stayed the course and released two records: …and Sleep It Off (2019) and Somewhere Between Where We Are and Where We’ve Been (2022). Recently, Bury Mia has been busy sharing singles with cheeky titles, including four last year. The latest, “From the Comfort of My Kia Sorento,” is a nostalgic banger that’ll leave you fighting the urge to look up your high school crush’s relationship status on Facebook.

Grace DeVine
Rising Denver pop star Grace DeVine has the power to make mountains crumble with her angelic voice. While she hasn’t flattened the Rockies just yet, she’s more than proved that she’s a pro at pulling on all the heartstrings in just the right way, too. Don’t believe it? Just listen to her latest EP, Taste of Heaven (2023), if you’re feeling that dead inside, you cynical curmudgeon.

It’s never too late to find your better half. Sometimes all we need is a little taste of heaven, as DeVine so soulfully sings on the EP's title track, from time to time. And other times, it’s okay to wallow in the loneliness left in the wake of a failed relationship, as DeVine poetically puts it in “Just Around the Corner.”

DeVine started sharing singles in 2020 and has since been tapped as “pop royalty” by Westword. She’s maintained that status by consistently dropping catchy singles, such as last month’s “Faded Film” — a more inquisitive, introspective track about a waning relationship.

All right, now it’s time for some unfiltered emo music — or “emogaze,” in this case. It’s just what the doctor ordered when you’re feeling extra lonely around Valentine’s Day and questioning everything in your life that’s led you to walk this empty street along the Boulevard of Broken Dreams (okay, that’s a pop-punk reference, but Green Day went full emo on that song).

Creek, the Denver four-piece whose members will probably never use eyeliner like Billie Joe Armstrong, isn’t afraid to flirt with nihilism and hopelessness. Past Lives, the band’s latest EP, released just before Halloween last year, is a tears-in-your-eyes shout into the void. “Moving On” is unapologetic about its raw anger — there’s no saving face here. Creek is not happy with how things have turned out. That segues right into “Forgetting,” then the title track, “Past Lives.”

Creek cuts to the chase and shows you there can be three stages of grief, if you’re pissed off enough.

While Creek is more about bludgeoning the sorrow out of you, Midwife’s music cuts to the heart like a warm knife through butter. The work of Denver-born solo multi-instrumentalist Madeline Johnston, Midwife is a bit of slowcore, emo, showgaze, ambient, drone and dream pop. That’s a lot to unpack, but in essence, she makes music that’s perfect for lying in your bed and aimlessly staring at your ceiling fan all day, contemplating the static state of your universe.

Johnston professes to be inspired most by devastation and calls Midwife's music “heaven metal” — her own form of cathartic auditory release. With five albums under her belt since 2017, including last year’s Orbweaving, she’s perfected that practice. But she still believes that anyone can fall in love, as she whispers on "Anyone Can Play Guitar."

Either way, add in the hypnotic covers of “Send the Pain Below” (a Chevelle original) and Bush’s “Glycerine,” and Midwife makes you feel better about celebrating Valentine’s Day by yourself, in sweats and a hoodie, with a pint of ice cream on the couch.
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