The Aces: Utah’s Indie Rock Explosion

the-aces-2020-Photo Credit: Red Bull Records

If you’re playing poker, four Aces is a pretty winning hand. That remains the case when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, as evidenced by the Provo, Utah all-girl alternative band the Aces, which is comprised of Katie Henderson (guitar), McKenna Petty (bass) and sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez (lead vocals/guitar and drums, respectively). Their full-length debut album When My Heart Felt Volcanic erupted onto the airwaves and streaming services in 2018, and the band is creating a notable impact on many fronts. Cristal describes the music as “very pop-sensible as far a melody [goes],” she told the YouTube channel Maroon TV during an interview while the band was in Chicago for a House of Blues date. “Then there’s kind of that taste of alternative and rock ‘n’ roll in a lot of the instrumentation,” Ramirez explained.

The Ramirez sisters have stated that they grew up in a household where music was strongly present. Their parents exposed them to everything from salsa to Eighties pop like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. All of this compelled them to start creating their own music, and like most people of their generation they were able to expand their musical horizons beyond the family record collection thanks to the Internet.

Cristal and Alisa started the band that would become the Aces during their adolescence, even while still working on the final decision of who would play what instrument. Both seemingly decided against bass, which is why they persuaded their friend McKenna to ask for one as a Christmas gift (Santa Claus apparently came through). One afternoon while hanging out with Katie (who had also been playing guitar since a young age) they discovered that she had a full rehearsal space already set up in her basement, because her older brothers had played in bands as well.


Despite the obvious symmetry that all members shared from before they were old enough to vote, Cristal maintains that, “we’re all quite different in our tastes and kind of how we digest music and listen to it.” Indeed, the four Aces between them cite influences ranging from the Beatles and Led Zeppelin to The Killers and Young the Giant. Originally known as the Blue Aces (and even releasing two EPs under the name) they cut the name in half and signed to LA-based Red Bull Records (yes, they’re part of the same company that makes the energy drink), a label whose roster also includes Ohio punk band Beartooth and British rapper Itch. The Aces have landed a number of impressive opening slots, including those for Joywave, COIN and 5 Seconds of Summer.

Similarities in the band’s sound to that of HAIM – another indie pop-rock band which includes sisters – is difficult not to notice, and the Aces have even acknowledged that they’re fans of the LA-based trio. But the Aces are definitely working towards creating their own unique niche. When asked during that same YouTube interview about what their future might hold, Alisa simply promised, “You’re going to get a lot more Aces.” That’s something we can all look forward to.

Written by: Richard John Cummins

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