Archive for April, 2009
Introduction: Motown has died. Perhaps it was the dipping economy, or the fact that the only people listening to The Supremes work as elevator operators or retail salesmen. However, music in Detroit is far from dead. While some Detroit bands, such as Electric Six or the White Stripes, have taken an obscure approach to music, indie rockers The Silent Years are breaking out with classic sound and lyrics.
Memorable Song: “Forest Fire” definitely sticks out as one of my personal favorites from the record. With it’s understandable and and relate-able lyrics, this track does a good job of describing life in a dry land. The organic warmth of the track, with its whistling, clapping, and broad range of dynamics and instrumentation makes for an intriguing listen that keeps the listener wholly occupied throughout the length of the song.
Forgettable Tune: “Claw Marks,” the closing track, is definitely the slow-burner of the EP. The track does have decent lyrics, but it lacks the fullness that the rest of this release has to offer. There are no crescendos leading into big choruses, and furthermore, this track is far more stripped down than the other tracks. This song features no upbeat bells, whistles or any other distinguishing marks.
Final Thoughts: With an often-orchestral delivery that is reminiscent of the greats (such as Arcade Fire, or even Annuals), The Silent Years have put together a solid 6 songs for this EP. My only complaint: the thing is too short. While I could bide my time listening to their older self-titled release (available for free on their MySpace page), I do prefer the quality level of production on Let Go.
Listen to “Madame Shocking” here!
Let Go is available on iTunes & Amazon MP3. Also, we’ve got an interview coming up with these guys in conjunction with their show at the Hi-Dive on Saturday night. So if you want to see them live head down to Broadway this weekend.
While the rest of the world was tucked away in blankets sipping hot chocolate, roughly 70 people trekked out to downtown Denver in the cold, dreary weather to see one of Denver’s most non-dreary bands. Headlining at the Hi Dive, the Photo Atlas, along with the openers 1090 Club and The Forecast, put on a show that made all the hassle of driving through the downpour worth it.
As I waited for the show to start, I struck up a conversation with one of the maybe 10 people there (the rest showed up after the concert started). He said he used to write for Chicago’s version of Westword, a newspaper that especially spotlights local music. He made it a point to get to this show specifically for the first opening band, The Forecast. Hailing from Peoria, Illinois, The Forecast could best be described as a Midwest punk band straight from the mid-90′s. With the volume cranked up (almost to the point of discomfort), The Forecast blazed through songs with considerable skill as they mixed the vocals of both male and female lead singers with the ever-driving guitar. Their sound rang quite familiar since they come out of a well-explored genre. However, the songs were still distinct and there were no dead points to the set.
Next up was a band quite familiar to this blog, 1090 Club. The first content we put up here was a review of The Appleseed Cast concert where 1090 Club opened, shortly followed by a review of the album Natural Selection, which has since been released. Starting strong, the band kept a steady pace with their heart-felt vocals. Their unconventional mix including a piano and a violin, but lacking a bass, worked nicely for them. Similar to The Forecast, 1090 Club had mixed vocals frequently through their music. The darker sound of 1090 Club transitioned perfectly from the upbeat riffs of The Forecast to the minor tone of The Photo Atlas.
No newcomer to the Denver music scene, The Photo Atlas has a unique sound that can best be described as “dance punk.” Even my friend from Chicago knew of The Photo Atlas’ reputation around Denver. With an invitation for the spread-out crowd to come in closer “so we can all dance together,” The Photo Atlas started with their typical rock sound that broke down into a dance beat for the chorus. The complex guitar riffs, often reminding me of Saosin, tied songs together from start till finish. Vocals, closer to melodic yelling than anything else, fit well with their style of music. It was rather strange the first time the dance beats came in since it’s not expected at a rock concert. However, as the set progressed, people started moving more and more. Old songs and new fell together, pulling music from throughout their career. Time flew as the band played, making the end of the 45-minute set seem like it was still the beginning.
I pity all who decided against this $8 show because of the weather. We’ll keep you informed of other chances to see these guys. Video interviews with all three of these bands to follow…
Hey everybody, sorry we haven’t been posting too much lately, it’s finals time and we’re all swamped. However, that doesn’t mean we’re not working on some great new exclusives! Coming up soon we’ve got video interviews with The Forecast, 1090 Club, The Photo Atlas, and The Silent Years! So stay tuned…
There is beauty in simplicity. It seems that despite the prevalence of over-production and auto-tune there are still musicians who write and produce organically. Danielle Ate The Sandwich (Aka Danielle Anderson) a singer/songwriter/ukulele’ist from Fort Collins embraced simplicity with her record Things People Do.
“Bribes,” is the opening track and a great mix of storytelling and melody. The song follows the homecoming of someone who is dearly loved by the protagonist. Everything from sky-writers, parades, and newspaper ads to turkey dinners are promised “When you’ll come home.” Another great track is “When Will The Writer,” wherein Danielle sings about an engineer and the his various inventions (although, being an engineer I might be a little biased on this one).
This is always the tough part of any review, especially so with this album. The only track that I didn’t like as much was “Goodbye Frankie,” although it is also catchy in its own way. If you don’t like inventive/odd similes (such as “hot as a hash brown” or “daft as a debutant”) you won’t like this song. The only thing that makes this a forgettable song is that it seems like a personal letter between two people who have a history that is unknown to the listener.
I remember first meeting Danielle last year at an open mic at the Alleycat Cafe in Fort Collins. Even then she was a stand out for her polished sound and unique songs. Since then she released her The Things People Do and got named “2009 Singer/Songwriter of the Year” by Westword. This record is a great listen, especially for fans of Feist, Iron & Wine, and similar acts. Things People Do is available via iTunes and on her MySpace (www.myspace.com/danielleatethesandwich).
Watch the official advertisement here
Watch “Another Day” here!
If you thought our list (the one we submitted to Dave), was epic, then check out the final list of bands that made the cut for this year’s Westword Music showcase
Also, if you look at the very bottom of that post you’ll see yours truly was one of the members of the nominating committee. In other news, we’ve got exclusives from Danielle Ate The Sandwich and Rob Drabkin coming up in the next few days. We’ll post a link to the official voting ballot once it’s available.
Lead singer Trevor McNevan and drummer Steve Augustine from the band Thousand Foot Krutch (TFK) decided to experiment with a different style and formed the band FM Static. Straying from the hard rock exhibited by TFK, the purpose of FM Static was to relate to the teenage audience through punk style and lyrics that appealed to that stage in life. Widely praised and arguably their best album, What Are You Waiting For (2003) was an incredible entrance into the market. After the release of their first album, FM Static toured extensively for two years before making their second album, Critically Ashamed (2006). Another three years passed before the much anticipated album Dear Diary.
Easily the most memorable and best all around song on this album is “Boy Meets Girl (and Vice Versa).” Immediately the song introduces a new style that has not been found on any of FM Static’s previous albums, it is a nice change. The song describes, as the title suggests, a boy and his interaction, or lack thereof, with a girl who “musta been sent from another planet/ break my concentration/ change my understanding/ cause until now I thought that all girls were the same.” It is one of those songs that all guys, and even girls in the opposite situation, can relate to, the highly awkward, yet enjoyable, meeting with that special girl.
Least Favorite Song
“The Shindig (Off to College)” is a fitting end to the record with the style and theme, an upbeat song reflecting on anticipation for the future; however, the lyrics are often weird and often do not make sense. That is really the only downside to the song and the record as a whole.
As a concept album, Dear Diary obtains the desired effect: it is easy to imagine that all of the songs and their lyrics are about a boy figuring out who he is and where he is headed in life. Dear Diary is a fantastic escape from the reality of life. It is an album that will take you back to the glory years of high school letting the older generation reminisce of the decisions they made that shaped their morals and purpose in life and will provide support and insight for the younger generation currently trying to answer those questions that will determine their future.
The only drawback to the album is that the second half of the record is slower than most fans are accustomed to. This is a necessary change because the slow feel represents the times when a teen must contemplate the future and be serious about it, but a lot of fans might not catch on to the importance.
This is another great album from a great band that was started as a side project. There is not anything unique musically, nothing that is not found in other punk bands, and there is not anything tremendously advanced or difficult about the music, but Dear Diary is an album that is definitely going to be enjoyed.
Watch the album trailer here!
Andrew Bird is a man of many talents. As a multi-instrumentalist, Bird was trained in the Suzuki method and later graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in violin performance. Don’t get frightened by his resume, Bird’s newest release Noble Beast is an accessible pop record with beautiful composition and a unique sound. A master of all things musical, Bird himself provides violin, guitar, and whistling parts throughout the album. Furthermore, for those who might want to hear the more experimental size of Bird, the deluxe version of the album comes with an hour-long instrumental bonus disc titled Useless Creatures.
It is hard to identify one song that should earn this title (since about five tracks are really memorable), but “Fitz and the Dizzyspells” stands out. A mixture of warbling whistle, vibrant violin, and driven drums, this song typifies Bird’s upbeat style and straightforward songwriting. Perhaps just as memorable is the opening track “Oh No,” a song that personally makes me question my whistling ability in light of Bird’s performance.
“Unfolding Fans,” a one-minute long track is forgettable in that it simply exists as a fill between two longer tracks. Perhaps this is the place to talk about the fact that this is really a record that should be listened to as a whole. Interludes, such as this track, serve to tie the entire listening experience together and create a unique record.
Andrew Bird may not be the best known singer/songwriter out there, but he is certainly one of the more talented people doing music today. Having missed his recent concert at the Ogden Theater, I am excited to see him this summer as he will open for Death Cab For Cutie on their upcoming tour.
Watch “Anonanimal” here!
Edit: It looks like the Hot IQs are breaking up after their June 19 show at the Bluebird (we learned the news from Backbeat Online here) I know we already mentioned this as a must see show, but we’re moving it up to “do not miss this show or you will never forgive yourself” status.
Further Edit: We took Fear Before, 3Oh!3, and Flobots off the list because you probably already know them.
So last month we had extensive coverage of one of my favorite DIY bands from Denver, Young Coyotes. This got me thinking, “Who are the other groups people should know about?” Well, then today Dave Herrera over at Westword asked us to send in our nominations for the 2009 Westword Music Showcase, here’s who we chose. You might have heard of some of these groups, some you don’t know. Hopefully we’ll be able to work with these bands to bring you the best new music from the Denver scene all summer long.
1. Young Coyotes
2. Hot IQs
3. Ian Cooke
4. Pee Pee
5. Bad Weather California
6. Born In The Flood / The Wheel
7. The Photo Atlas
8. Hearts of Palm (have apparently broken up too)
10. Andrea Ball
11. Richard Ingersoll
12. Danielle Ate The Sandwich
13. The Heyday
14. Paper Bird
15. Trace Bundy
16. Bela Karoli
17. Laura Goldhamer
19. Brave Saint Saturn
20. Rob Drabkin
Sara Lov emerged from a troubled past to produce her first solo album Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming. After her parents divorced when she was a child, Sara was abducted by her father and taken to Israel before being later returned to the United States. The album reflects the emotional journey of her past and presents an optimistic view for a future that is there to be captured and enjoyed. Lov, along with Dustin O’Halloran, formed the pop duo Devics in 1998. After the group disbanded, Lov decided to produce this album, a compilation of airy, reminiscent tracks that was released March 17, 2009.
The title track of this album is one that speaks of the remarkable perspective Lov exhibits in life. It is a track that demands the listener obtain a positive life outlook. “Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming” starts with the lyrics “I was born a warrior/ I came out in shining armor/ I fought the great war/ One that mattered.” The soft acoustic rhythms fuse with Lov’s delicate but confidant voice to produce a song that inspires, relaxes, and comforts at the same time.
Least Favorite Song
“Touched” is a strange song but one that still fits well on the album. The problem is that the song seems more like an intermediate phase on the album rather than an actual song. Most of the track is composed of slow, darker instrumentation with the incorporation of a cello in the background. Lov’s voice is a distinct part of the album and one that the listener expects and desires to hear but is absent throughout most of the track which is its biggest setback.
Sara Lov, a singer and songwriter, has put together an album that is a joy to listen to. It is a mix of peaceful, relaxing, haunting, mystical sounds that combine into an album that displaces the stress and worry of life. With a voice similar to Norah Jones, Lov speaks hope for the future into listeners and compels them to reflect on the life lived, enjoying the blessings received and overlooking the wrongs that befell them. To label this record as only emotional and contemplative does not include the mastery of music required to portray these feelings. The combination of thoughtful lyrics, Lov’s soothing voice, and the heartwarming acoustic musical style form this album into one that will be listened to many times over.
Watch the video for “New York” here