Archive for February, 2010
One of the great things about Denver in the Summer is the sheer amount of music festivals. Kicking things off on June 19th will be the Westword Music Showcase, in the Golden Triangle on Broadway (right near the Westword offices). Tickets go on sale today for the dirt cheap price of $9.33 (with the new option of going VIP this year with a $50 ticket).
This was one of the best events SLS attended last year. Not only did we get to see dozens of the best local bands (Houses, Hello Kavita, Bela Karoli, Astrophagus, and Pictureplane to name a few), but also the likes of Built To Spill and Cursive! This year’s lineup is already looking good (we’re especially looking forward to Dirty Projectors and Ghostland Observatory).
To see our coverage of the 2009 Westword Music Showcase click here.
Here’s an update on the new Five Iron Frenzy DVD (a story we first started covering a while back). Today they posted the official trailer for their forthcoming documentary The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy. Watch it below and get pumped!
When I first heard Alkaline Trio it was 2004 and my high school romance with punk rock was in full bloom. My friends and I would drive around town listening to the Good Mourning, singing along to the morose, yet upbeat, songs. In those days other groups were producing rock-operas transforming the ambiguous emo genre, while Alkaline Trio was always there, writing songs about cannibals, cemeteries and a whole slew of darker subjects. Six years since those glory days and Alkaline Trio is still there, writing more upbeat punk tunes about love as an addiction.
This Addiction opens with the title track and immediately submerges the listener in classic Alkaline Trio sound. Fast guitars and drums back Matt Skiba’s distinct voice throughout the first few tracks.While this formula has worked for Alkaline Trio for the last decade or so, it carries the danger of getting old. However, there are a few fresh spots that make the record as a whole quite enjoyable.
Personally, I appreciated the horn part on “Lead Poisoning;” it reminded me of good ska music from the late 90′s. Also, the synth lead on “Eating Me Alive” has a great 80′s new wave feel (without the bad hair and day-glo outfits). Overall there are a number of other tracks that stand out (“Piss and Vinegar” reminds me why I got in to Alkaline Trio in the first place).
This Addiction hits shelves today and is available in a special edition that has a DVD. Also, Alkaline Trio will be playing a sold-out show at the Gothic on Thursday, Something Like Sound will be there to cover the concert. Watch the video for the title track “This Addiction” below.
Despite the fact that Young Coyotes have now played a handful of “final shows” over the last few months; Adam Halferty and Zach Tipton decided to come together at the Hi-Dive to showcase their respective side-projects and play once again as Young Coyotes.
Adam Halferty’s band American Tomahawk opened up the night and I was immediately intrigued. Wielding a guitar, rather than his normal drum kit, Halferty played through a solid set of reverb drenched pop songs with the help of his band (which consisted of members of another local group, The Photo Atlas).
Zach Tipton’s project I Am The Dot took the stage armed only with a laptop, two drums, a microphone, and a spiral of red light. Tipton, who has been steadily releasing EPs in a genre he has titled “Apocalypse Pop,” played a few new songs in addition to some of his more established tunes (“Love Song for Camus” was my personal favorite).
Adding to the eclectic nature of the show, hip-hop duo The Pirate Signal got the typically reserved Hi-Dive crowd dancing, moving, and “jigglin’.” MC Yonnas rapped about everything from going on Warped Tour to finding “Love in the time of Swine Flu” while DJ A-What kept the beats pumping.
For the final set of the night Young Coyotes shed their normal acoustic set-up to play an electric set. While this slight change didn’t really alter their sound, it certainly added a dynamic not previously seen. One of the highlights of the set was the song “Hammering,” a newer tune that has no official recording (and will likely remain un-released). Toward the end of the set it became obvious that both Halferty and Tipton were feeling the effects of playing two full sets that night. However, they still managed to end strong, leaving the crowd pleased as the night came to an end.
See a full gallery here.
Andrea Ball has a new record coming out (March 23) and today she posted the first single and title track “Dial Tone.” If the rest of Dial Tone sounds as good as this track does, then we’re all in for a treat. Listen to the track below or on her MySpace or Facebook. A proper CD release show will be held at Hi-Dive on March 26. In the meantime, be sure to catch her at Westword’s Artopia.
If there is one thing that I have witnessed in the last year covering the Denver music scene it is community. It seems that no matter where I go there is the same core group of people supporting their own musical endeavors and those of their friends. Friday night’s show at the Skylark was no exception; friendly faces filled the bar as three exceptional local acts took the stage.
First up was a 7-person group from Boulder called Fellow Citizens. Their sound was a silvery mix of ambient guitar tone and intricate drums work (a fellow listener suggested that their tone was similar to Fleet Foxes). Each song swelled and sank as the set drove on. I recall being rather blown away by their last song; it was a climactic closer if I ever saw one.
Of all the tracks on the recent Hot Congress compilation, The Vitamins song “Sequined Dress” is a stand out. As would be expected, the song was a highlight of their set. Each note was spot-on as singer Lizzy Allen sang with a certain air of authority (there were several instances where she managed to hit notes that resonated in the room, it was impressive).
Old Radio is one of those groups that typifies the community I talked about earlier. With an “all star” line up, these guys have utilized some of the most talented players in Denver. Their set was a mix of old and new; songs that may show up on their debut record and an older favorite of mine, “In The Between” (from 2007′s The Blackwell Gate, when Old Radio existed, in part, as Roger, Roll). I found it difficult to quantify exactly what Old Radio sounds like live, but suffice it to say, Patrick Kelly is a passionate singer and they all know how to make a song ending “epic.”
See a full gallery from the show by clicking here and listen to a few featured tracks from these bands in our music player (on the right-hand side of this page)
The Meadowlark, a quiet street-corner venue in lower downtown, appeared calm and cool from all outward appearances last Friday night. Inside the bar was a different story. Waves of sound pounded from amps and speakers as the space was filled to capacity. Those who had gathered in that cozy place found themselves carried away by the psychedelic sounds created by the Denver-local bands therein.
The night began to get interesting when Woodsman took the “stage” (which was mostly just a large swath of the floor). With two drummers providing the backbone for their style of ambient lo-fi, Woodsman added to the sound with two guitarists and a slew of effects. Building to crescendos and tearing everything down to its bones, Woodsman certainly showed that experimental music is much more than mere noise.
Fissure Mystic, a group that has aligned itself with the local Hot Congress music collective, was up next. Their set was a nice change up from the spacey sounds of Woodsman and was slightly reminiscent of underground punk music from the early 90’s.
Tjutjuna (I know, just try to pronounce that name) closed out the night with one of the loudest sets of music I have ever been exposed to. Even with earplugs in, my ears were still ringing on the drive home. Their set was spacey and hard hitting. The bass from the speaker cabinets struck my chest as the other-worldly sounds of their Theremin player swirled around the room.
See a full gallery by clicking here.
The video quality on my point-and-shoot isn’t very good, but the audio is decent (I did stand near the auditory “sweet spot” in the venue when I took this clip). As you can see, the crowd was quite energized from “Sic Transit Gloria,” one of Brand New’s more popular songs.
There has been a trend in local music that has been rising from the underground in the past few months. From Savoy playing at the Monolith Festival to Pretty Lights selling out venues, electronic dance music has found a home in Denver. While not every project is a MSTRKRFT clone or a Justice emulator, there are some quality beats coming out of the city. Here are a few that have flown into our radar.
Pretty Lights - NYE 2009 (Live At The Vic Theatre): This live recording from Pretty Lights’ recent New Year’s Eve set in Chicago might not fully capture the excitement of counting down the end of 2009, but it certainly offers some memorable takes on some classic dance tunes.
Savoy – Automatic: As the follow-up to the Savoy EP, the full-length Automatic explores more of Savoy’s brand of electronic dance music. While their song structures are more straightforward than their mashup-artist counterparts, Savoy still manages to set bodies in motion.
Boom Ninja – Boom Nina EP: While most of the music on the Denver-electro-scene is fairly underground, I would wager that many out there have not heard Boom Ninja. Keep your eyes peeled for this newcomer and stay occupied by listening to “Blow Shit Up”… it’s like listening to an NES on acid.
Empty beds. This was the first thing I noticed about Beautiful Empty when it came in the mail. The album art depicts beds: empty, slept in, sheets all askew. As the opening track “Can You Hear Me” began to roll out of my desktop speakers, dreamy sounds and words filled my ears. John Common begins by taking stock of the situation. “Woke up alone, where’d you go?” he asks. His bed is empty, it is a strange beauty. Beautiful… empty.
Before diving headlong into a full review of the debut album from John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light, a little background might be useful. John Common is one of those characters on the Denver music scene who appears restless. His previous projects are numerous and varied; from art and film exhibits to a kazoo orchestra, Common has always been dabbling in one thing or another. When he set to work creating Beautiful Empty he decided to not just go alone, but instead gathered a top-notch band to see the vision through.
The result is a stunning collection of songs. Beautiful Empty is split into two parts, “Side A” and “Side B” (maybe someday it will be released on vinyl?), each with a unique flavor. “Good Heart” is a simple piano ballad from the first half of the record that displays a beautiful simplicity while “In My Neighborhood” is a sunny number that takes full advantage of the unique sound of a Rhodes keyboard.
On the B-side there’s “Love Is A Shark.” I still don’t quite know what to think about this song. On one hand it’s the kind of metaphor that makes me smile, but on the other hand it is one of the oddest comparisons I’ve ever heard.
“Thinking ‘bout God” closes the record out with a reflective song that ebbs and flows with piano, strings, and keyboards. It’s the kind of song that I can imagine as a slow-dance that plays off into the night.
Beautiful Empty is available digitally on iTunes, physically at Twist & Shout, and on CDbaby.com (where $2 from each record sale will go to relief efforts in Haiti until Feb. 9).
Listen to “In My Neighborhood” here