Archive for April, 2010
Last year, when SLS was still in its first stages, we got a big boost from local music journalist Dave Herrera at Westword when he asked me to nominate 20 bands for the 2009 showcase. A year has passed and once again I was asked to nominate 20 local bands that had made an impression on me. In the spirit of transparency, I’m going to list the bands I nominated. I decided to choose acts I had not previously nominated.
Be sure to check out these groups (even if a few didn’t make the final list) and vote for your favorites by clicking here.
In no particular order… Tim’s picks for the 2010 Westword Music Showcase:
Gregory Alan Isakov
John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light
Jim McTurnan & The Kids That Killed The Man
In-studio radio performances are often reserved for those few who possess the following: a radio/internet stream and enough sense of memory to actually tune in. I can name more than a few occasions where I have earnestly intended to hear my favorite bands play live sets over the radio waves, but simply lost track of time and space. Fortunately (and this is where the actual reviewing starts) there’s the new in-studio compilation from DU internet radio station KVDU.
The first thing that struck me about KVDU Live Vol. 1 was the ridiculously stacked track listing. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re listening to some of the best bands that Denver has seen in recent years. My personal favorite tracks are “Don’t Be Peaches” from Everything Absent or Distorted, “Asleep at the Wheel” by Old Radio, and the previously unreleased “Tunnel of Love” from Hearts of Palm. The live songs recorded by Widowers, The Knew, Paper Bird, and Pee-Pee also get my stamp of approval.
As far as sound quality is concerned, this collection is crisp, well-mixed, and much better sounding than you would expect for songs recorded in an internet radio station studio. This is due, in part, to the fact that the entire compilation was given the professional treatment and got professionally mastered in Chicago. However, as with any compilation or mixtape, track-flow is incredibly important. For KVDU Live Vol. 1 heavier rock songs are tempered with softer folk and pop songs in a way that keeps things moving while emphasizing each track’s place.
KVDU Live Vol. 1 will be released on May 7 at the Hi-Dive and free physical copies will be available that night. There will be live sets from Mike Marchant and his Outer-Space Party Unit along with Blue Million Miles and Old Radio. Marchant will also be releasing a new solo record, Indulgent Space-Folk Vol. 2 that night.
Listen to Hearts of Palm – “Tunnel of Love”
Tracklist after the jump
3 Kings Tavern was the place to be in Baker on Friday night as Fort Collins alt-country-punk (or whatever you’d like to call it) bands 10-4 Eleanor and Arliss Nancy braved the weather to play with Action Packed Thrill Ride. The night felt a bit like a family reunion for Hot Congress as a good portion of the crowd was made up of players from other bands in the collective.
Action Packed Thrill Ride
Albums from 10-4 Eleanor and Arliss Nancy can be downloaded for free at Death To False Hope Records (donation suggested) and Action Packed Thrill Ride’s Best I’ve Felt EP is available for free at Hot Congress.
See the full gallery by clicking here.
Of the many releases seen in the music world last year, this one album seemed to stand out on the top album lists of 2009. Although not a new band by any measure, Phoenix has been treated as such by many as their latest album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, really projected them into the American spotlight.
The French band starts their breakout album with the upbeat song, “Lisztomania.” The catchy riffs carelessly thrown into the mix can keep any listener noticing different part of the song each time listened through. The track comes off as a bit eclectic because of this, but is a solid start to the album that closely follows the same musical line.
Following the first track comes the unavoidable “1901.” It is hard to miss this song on the radio, Cadillac commercials, or numerous TV shows and movies, and for good reason. The song can easily be put as the epitome of alternative rock. From the drums to the Vampire Weekend-esque vocals to the fast, lighty-distorted guitar and good use of synth, it incorporates elements that can be heard in every other alternative rock band out there.
After “1901,” the album mellows out with “Fences,” but doesn’t remain that way for long. The catchy “Lasso” and “Girlfriend” continues out the album, but nothing quite as worthy as the starting two tracks.
The problem the last three-quarters of the album faces is that each song is indistinguishable from the previous. After listening through the album a few times, each part of the album is memorable, but still impossible to divide up into distinct songs. The guitars and synth and vocals remain constant from start to end.
While the repetition is obvious, it is not necessarily a problem for Phoenix. As stated earlier, their sound is basically the epitome of alternative rock. By that reasoning, this entire album can really be viewed as a continuous work at the peak of alternative rock. However, little stands out after the first 10 minutes and fades into the background quickly.
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is certainly deserving of its Grammy for Best Alternate Music Album since it is nothing but alternative from start to finish. However, some variety would have been nice. It’s not something to sing along to, but rather Grammy-winning background music. Good for fans of Vampire Weekend, Anberlin, and the Killers.
Photo by Steven Wooldridge
The E-Days concert once again pulled hundreds of students into Volk Gymnasium for a fun night of music. Starting off the night was a reggae band from Savannah, GA, that went by the name Passafire. While they insisted the crowd rock out, the music tended more towards a relaxed feel. Occasionally, the songs would break down from the easy-going sways into solid rock riffs that got the crowd moving significantly. The 45-minute set was pretty uniform from start to finish, but was certainly enjoyable.
Surprisingly, the reggae band was a pretty good match as an opener for the ska band headliner of the show, Less Than Jake.
After a between set break that carried on for well over 20 minutes, Less Than Jake came on excitedly and quickly got to playing. Their fast-paced songs were led by an equally fast guitar and punctuated by the signature ska sound of the trombone and saxophone. Most of their songs were fast, quick, and fun, but occasionally the set wound down to a more ska and less punk sound. Throughout their set, mosh pits were continuous and crowd surfers glided along by the dozen.
Of course, what E-Days concert doesn’t involve some ridiculous antics by the headlining band? Less Than Jake was quick to announce that they were actually the band Reel Big Fish and that they were from Tulsa, OK, neither of which is true. A few times, people were invited up on stage and asked to do one thing or another. The band ego was enormous, explaining how they were better than several other bands, such as My Chemical Romance and blink-182, based on ticket prices and such. All in all, their ridiculous attitude added to the atmosphere of the obviously ska punk concert.
Explaining that they don’t leave the stage and come back for encores anymore, they finished off their 90-minute set with three-song “encore,” and let the crowd go, finishing off a fun night.
One of the joys of being an engineer is being able to go from this:
I’ve been busy the last week soldering and testing this experimental instrument for LIMU 350 (Music Tech) here at CSM. The Beeremin IR is a different take on the classic theremin, except this one can convert those signals from your TV remotes into sound (as opposed to using disturbances in a magnetic field). To see more of the Beeremin in action watch the video below.
It was pretty quiet at the Meadowlark last night as Young Coyotes played a show with I Am The Dot and The Photo Atlas. Those who did manage to get away from the Avs game were treated to an intimate performance.
I Am The Dot
The Photo Atlas
Perhaps it was inevitable. I am, after all, not like most other music-writers in this town. It appears as though I have been given the opportunity to work in Chicago this summer and have decided to go with it. I’m not entirely sure what will happen with Something Like Sound while I’m gone. Maybe I’ll find writers to help cover Denver while I go to Pitchfork and Lollapalooza. I will be here for another month and shall return in the fall. Denver has been good to me, I just need to explore.
Backstage with Less Than Jake at E-Days 2010
Life has been a bit nuts recently, but it’s understandable. With the wildness of mid-terms and E-Days behind me, I can get back to writing about music. What better way to start back up with a good ‘ol fashioned concert calendar.
4/17 Who’s Having Fun? @ 1346 Lipan: Kicking things off is a day of lo-fi and experimental pop music free of drugs and alcohol. Some of the best up-and-coming acts from Denver and Fort Collins will be there (including Candy Claws, Paean, Night of Joy and Hideous Men, to name a few). Click to poster for more details. A $5 donation is strongly suggested.
4/18 I Am The Dot @ Meadowlark: Zach Tipton may have pulled his roots and gone back to Atlanta, but he hasn’t totally left Denver behind. He’ll be playing with Young Coyotes and as I Am The Dot on Sunday at the Meadowlark.
4/24 Neighborhood Hero CD Release @ Marquis: Making their debut on the Denver music scene Neighborhood Hero will be releasing their EP Three Songs. Julie Tiehen is headlining that night and is also releasing an album. For good measure, Dan Craig will also throw down a set. Listen to “Remembering” from Three Songs by downloading SLS Presents: Colorado Sounds.
4/24 Salesman @ Meadowlark: A bit of Austin is coming up to Colorado for a mini tour. Salesman will be in state starting 4/15 and will play a show on April 24 with Magic Cyclops at the Meadowlark.
4/30 Paean CD Release @ Hi-Dive: Fort Collins-based indie rockers Paean will release Songs For Us To Sing at Hi-Dive at the end of the month. Also playing: Bad Weather California. Listen to a stream of their new record below:
“If there is ever a lounge on the moon Achille Lauro will play their particular brand of music in that venue.” That statement was made by yours truly after first listening to Indiscretions, the newest release from Achille Lauro and the first record to be released on Hot Congress Records. Upon further listening I am convinced that the shimmery sounds captured on this record would provide an excellent soundtrack to any lunar adventure.
On the surface Indiscretions has a similar feel to Achille Lauro’s 2008 self-titled album, except this time there are a few twists thrown in. The laid-back jazz-infused bits are still there, surrounded by a flurry of horns, samples and synth. What really causes Indiscretions to stand out from their previous material is the fact that everything just sounds better. The instrumental parts are tighter and well mixed while singer Matt Close’s vocals provide a dramatically expressive element.
Each song is unique, although there are a few stand-outs. “Unicorns and Consent” is probably my personal favorite with it’s suggestive samples and hard-hitting beats political commentary. “No Brakes” is another favorite with its deep backing vocals that remind me of old blues or gospel.
To get your hands on Indiscretions (which is only being released on vinyl and as a download), head down to the Hi-Dive this Saturday. In the mean-time, watch this promotional video for the record and learn how to “Burn While You Burn.”