The Aces are your next best female rock band The small-town Provo, Utah natives have been playing together since middle school and are on the verge of becoming the next big band in pop.
LOS ANGELES, CA — On a rainy and moody Valentine’s Eve in Los Angeles, The Aces brought their catchy songs on young love and heartache to a sold-out Troubadour, and their energy was something else.
Don’t get these girls wrong. Though their songs are incredibly catchy and blend the best of pop and rock, they’ve proved to the world that they are more than just a “girl band.”
From a group of friends growing up in small-town Provo, Utah, The Aces — made up of sisters Alisa (drums) and Cristal Ramirez (vocals/guitar), Katie Henderson (lead guitar/vocals) and McKenna Petty (bass) — have already solidified themselves as a band to look out for. With an infectious live performance energy that comes from friends who have been playing together since they were 8 (Alisa) and 10 (Cristal), the natural camaraderie that comes from a band who, yes, writes their own material, plays their own music and performs their own songs (something that seems to need to be explained from a “girl band”) is refreshing.
As all-female bands tend to be overlooked for their gender than their music, The Aces — who just released their debut album When My Heart Felt Volcanic in April of last year (a solid collection of pop and alternative-rock bops with the girls’ signature group vocals and songs about the highs and lows of falling in and out of love) — hit the road for their first headlining tour, the “Waiting For You” tour, this February. A 28-city nationwide tour throughout February and March, The Aces continue to sell out several venues and shows all over.
“It’s just crazy. I think we feel it’s very pinch me a lot of the time,” Cristal Ramirez said in an interview with Capitol Sound DC. “It’s just the beginning of our touring career but it’s still very much ‘what the hell, we get to do this?’ I mean we have worked very hard for it but it’s crazy, we just feel really grateful.”
The band had previously opened for bands like Joywave, Coin, X Ambassadors and, most recently, 5 Seconds Of Summer, on their North American tours.
When The Aces arrived to the Troubadour for their sold-out show, the room was packed with eager young fans — mostly girls — who were jumping, squealing in delight and singing back every word. “They’re just so cool,” I overheard a girl next to me say.
“We are also really proud of the fact that we are all women, you know?” Cristal continued. “At the same time, it is unique and it is a strength of ours that we are all women.”
“The biggest thing is that we just wanna see more girls playing music,” McKenna also added. “Whether it’s wanting to do something in music or in anything else, it’s not very normal for women to do [what we do] and we’re glad we can inspire them and kind of be an example.”
Cristal’s onstage performance energy was just infectious that Wednesday night. As front-woman and lead vocalist for the band, she commanded the stage with a clear confidence, owning the stage, parading across the stage, mimicking hand-signs to their lyrics, reaching her hands out and jumping with the crowd. She looked over to Katie on the guitar and jumped in excitement during her guitar solos, while McKenna held a steady bass-line and engaged with the fans in front of her; Alisa also provided thunderous drumbeats and owned the back-section like a pro.
For a new band who had just released a debut album and are on their first headlining tour, The Aces’s years of growing up and playing music together since middle school definitely showed.
The birth of The Aces is as natural as it can get: when Alisa and Cristal, who will be 21 and 23 this year, asked their best friend McKenna to ask for a bass for Christmas, a band had formed with two fifth graders and a third grader. They started off as a garage band playing in their neighbor’s garage, and when McKenna’s friend Katie eventually joined The Aces as another guitarist in 2008, they spent their high school years performing locally and building a name for themselves (growing up in a small religious town in Provo, Utah allowed the girls to play all-ages venues in a tight-knit community that supports local acts).
“Provo is very religious, so there’s no alcohol,” McKenna explained. “It was awesome for us, because we were so young, but were still able to play at any venue. At 12, we were playing the same venues as 27-year-old guys. No one’s drinking, so everyone’s there to hear the music.”
In 2014, as the girls were on the verge of graduating, they had to decide whether The Aces would be something of the past or if they had a real shot at making it professionally. It wasn’t until they saw Lorde win two Grammy Awards on national television — someone who was their age and from the other-side-of-the-world in New Zealand — that inspired them that they could do it too.
The Aces then secured a record deal with Red Bull Records in 2016 and now work, travel, perform and live together. Their first single, “Stuck,” an infectious alt-rock song that has since defined their sound, was released in 2016 and reached the #38 spot on Billboard Alternative Songs in late 2017.
With songs like “Fake Nice,” a funky pop song with a catchy hook that says, “All you do is talk, talk talk,” detailing the confusion of being in a relationship that isn’t fully committed, or even “Last One,” a strong pop song with sing-along vocals that reveal the frustration of being caught up in a love (“I can’t stop, I can’t start without you / You been, killin’ me takin’ all my attention / I don’t, I don’t need another song about you”), The Aces’s songs are incredibly fun, energetic and cathartic. The powerful lyrics and vocal deliveries almost feel like a refreshing and powerful way to get heartache off your chest.
The cool guitar licks and bright electronics in songs like “Strong Enough,” which detail the messiness of overthinking (“Would you feel secure if I told you everything on my mind? / Imagination can take its toll”), is a song that tests relationships (“Don’t make a promise if you’re gonna run / Give me no option, you’re not strong enough”). “Lovin’ Is Bible,” another favorite of mine, is a tasty song with bright rock guitar riffs that describes the infatuation and excitement of love (“Well you know I’m not religious but your lovin’ is bible / You can teach me how to speak your language, make me your disciple”).
The Aces are probably my newest, favorite musical obsession. Not only do their songs feel like a breath of fresh air for any young girl who feels as if they heart “feels volcanic” (as per their album name), they are a fun, infectious and talented young bunch who are only on the verge of making a name for themselves nationwide, if not worldwide. Their songs are authentic to the human experience, to young love, and to what music is all about — their music heals themselves, heals others, brings fans together for a memorable live music experience, and inspires others, too.