Archive for August, 2010
The background on this post is a little strange, so let me begin by explaining. A few months back I found myself in Fort Collins at The Lowkey for a Julian Lynch show. Lush Cola (aka Weed Diamond’s Tim Perry) opened and I picked up a copy of his tape after the show. Tim also happened to give me a rather peculiarly wrapped CD with the word “Goodiez” scrawled across the disc.
Upon listening to the four track demo I determined this release to be some of my favorite material from Weed Diamond yet. For those familiar with WD, Goodiez is more along the lines of the Snowmelt/Oklahoma 7″, and less like Sweater Kids; the tracks are awash in surf-reverb (akin to Real Estate or Desolation Wilderness). For those unfamiliar… it sounds like music from a band with the name Weed Diamond.
In addition to Goodiez, two new demos have surfaced online via the Weed Diamond Facebook page.”Chalice” is a laid-back number, while “Field on Fire” is far more upbeat (definitely my favorite of the two). It’s unclear when WD will be back to playing shows and releasing records (as indicated by some rather cryptic Facebook posts). In any case, these new songs are certainly worth a listen.
Of all the shows I could have attended to mark my return from Chicago there are few that could hold a candle to Denver Does Denver. Not only did I get to see (nearly) everyone from the Denver music scene, but I also witnessed some truly excellent art. For those unfamiliar with the premise of Denver Does Denver, here’s the low-down: Local bands covered 3 to 5 songs from other Colorado musicians (there was also a graphic-art portion of the evening too). I could not do every set its due justice, so I’ll just be covering the highlights.
Safe Boating Is No Accident (covering Pee Pee): Dedicated to the “departed” Doo Crowder, SBiNA played a tribute to folk-collective Pee Pee. Starting with a high-energy rendition of “Jaroline,” SBiNA displayed the same amount of energy and musicianship you’d expect from the ~10-person Pee Pee, but with a concentrated 4-piece. The jammer “Pee-Pee Song” may have been a loose interpretation of the original, but I’m not really sure that a meticulous copy would be an effective way to channel the song’s namesake. (SBiNA also gave out copies of their forthcoming EP, expect a review soon! Release show 9/3 at Hi-Dive).
Night of Joy (covering Lust Cats of the Gutters, T. Rex): The normally reserved crowd at DdD got loose when Night of Joy ripped through covers of fellow Denver femme-punks Lust Cats of the Gutters. Even without their signature eye make-up, Night of Joy kept things at a “face-melting” level (see above photo) as they transitioned into playing a couple T. Rex covers (not technically a Denver-band, but at that point nobody cared).
Pink Hawks (covering Bad Weather California): The 11-piece Pink Hawks took on one of Denver’s beloved underground band Bad Weather California in a stunning display that earned my nod as “best set of DdD 2010.” Festival organizer Yuzo Nieto and his big band breathed a distinct latin-flavor and energy into BWC classics such as “New Religion,” “Two Ways,” and “This Is My Country Too,” ending with the most frenzied version of “Let’s Go To Bed” ever performed.
Flobots (covering Tickle Me Pink, Hot IQs, The Pirate Signal): For a band that has found success on the national level, the Flobots certainly haven’t lost connection with their roots. Playing a set at the packed-out Flobots.org Community Space the group started off with a spoken-word rendition of Tickle Me Pink’s “Typical” (the performance felt slightly jestful, in the same vein as Pictureplane’s take on 3Oh!3 at last year’s DdD). The highlight of the Flobots set was certainly their take on the late Hot IQs- complete with a rap-rhyme segment worked in during the bridge on “Retromuff.” Closing out with a couple Pirate Signal tunes, the entire crowd got down to the hip-hop beats that filled the small space.
For many more photos (including Key of D, Tom Murphy, Hunter Dragon, Houses, and more) click here.
There have been many winning combinations since the beginning of time: peanut butter & jelly, beer & pizza, John Elway & the 1997 Broncos… this list goes on. However, another duo can be added to the ranks of “so dang good together.” Denver singer-songwriter Rob Drabkin recently teamed up with Davy Knowles (of Back Door Slam, The Rhythm Devils) to record an Allman Brothers cover. “Melissa” combines an already great song with Drabkin’s unique style and Knowles’s intricate blues guitar solos. The result is available as a free download until September 3rd via Bandcamp. Listen to the track and watch a video of the recording process below.
Just because summertime is coming to a close doesn’t mean the good music has to stop. Here’s a few quick suggestions on shows to see in the coming weeks.
Denver Does Denver – 8/28, Meadowlark: Have you ever wondered what the Denver music scene would be like if Houses were responsible for “Handlebars”? Maybe you’d like to hear Night of Joy take on a few Paper Bird songs. Well, here’s your chance! Illiterate Magazine is hosting “Denver Does Denver” once again this year at the Meadowlark. To get a taste of last year’s offerings head over to The Flat Response.
The Knew – 9/10, Hi-Dive: Hot on the heels of their full length Pulperia and a set at MHMF 2010, The Knew are poised to release a 7″ titled Before It Ends. This 3-track record is quite the image of what it is to be a rock band in Denver (don’t take my word for it, download the entire thing here).
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – 9/11, Hi-Dive: The melancholy sounds of Chicago’s CftPA will be well matched with the apocalyptic pop-styling of Denver’s I Am The Dot. The Flat Response also has a couple sets up to wet your whistle.
Note: If you haven’t already done so, visit The Flat Response. Lance Stack’s work is an invaluable archive and resource for any person who loves Denver’s music scene.
It’s no secret that one of my all-time-favorite musicians is Sufjan Stevens. With the exception of a few tracks and an orchestral album about the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway there hasn’t been much new Sufjan in the vein of his previous traditional indie-folk-pop records recently. That changed this last week with the release of All Delighted People, an EP that feels more like a full-length album.
Kicking off the EP is the orchestral original version of the title track, an 11+ minute track that showcases the musical developments Stevens has made since 2005′s Come On Feel The Illinoise! Each track unfolds to reveal a few familiar features (plenty of banjo, warm piano, plenty of horns and strings, etc.) in addition to markedly more experimental undertones.
News of this release came on the heels of details/ticketing for a Fall 2010 tour (tickets for the Nov. 2 Denver date may still be available). Currently this release is available through Bandcamp and will likely see physical (CD & LP) releases in late 2010. Stream the whole thing below.
After a summer of cornfields and air pollution I have returned from Chicago. Today marks the first day of classes for the fall semester here at CSM. There are a few things in the wings including fresh reviews, more Classic Jazz, shows, and a few noteworthy happenings from the national music scene.
It’s good to be back Colorado, it’s good to be alive.
This will likely be the last post until I regain consciousness some time next week. That’s because I’m coming back to Denver this weekend and need to pack and tie up my loose ends around Chicago-towne.
Either way, here’s a video I shot at the recent Achille Lauro show I covered. “No Brakes” is probably one of my favorite Achille Lauro songs and this rendition was certainly something to write home about.
In an attempt to class things up around here I’m starting a new feature series. It’s called “Classic Jazz” and will chronicle our personal favorite jazz records from the mid 20th-century. These articles will cover important history surrounding these recordings and their impact on modern music. First up is a record that is often found on my turntable: bossa-nova classic Getz/Gilberto.
I have almost no doubt in saying that everyone, at one point or another, has heard “The Girl From Ipanema.” While the song has become somewhat of a comic-filler piece (for use as elevator music, etc.), it’s difficult to deny the sultry charm of the 1964 recording. Images of a mysterious and beautiful woman walking down the Brazilian coast are conjured while Gilberto’s smooth classical guitar and Getz’s saxophone carry the tune.
However, while “The Girl From Ipanema” may be the most famous song on the record, it is certainly only the beginning of an LP that has been honored numerous times and maintains its place as a staple of jazz collections everywhere. Many of the tracks were penned by famed Brazilian songwriter/composer Antonio Carlos Jobim who also played piano on the recordings.
The marked Latin-flavor of Getz/Gilberto causes it to stand out from other jazz recordings of the same era. While Coltrane and Davis may have helped to further improvisational and bebop jazz, Getz managed to bring bossa-nova into vogue with the American public. One of the main features of Getz/Gilberto that causes it to stand out from other jazz albums of the same era is the fact that many of the songs are not merely instrumental; soft, smooth vocals from Astrud Gilberto wind their way through a few songs.
If you can get your hands on a vinyl copy I would suggest it over any digital format (a preference that holds true for any jazz record). Since this record was wildly popular in its day (and since Getz doesn’t often receive the same treatment as other jazz contemporaries) finding a copy at your local independent record shop or thrift store should be no problem.
Listen via the Grooveshark widget embedded below.
Alchemy, in the classic sense of the word, is attempting to change common metals into gold. Alchemy, in the modern context, could be considered less chemical in nature and far more artistic. To take constituent ideas and combine them into something of beauty and value is the goal of most artists, musical or otherwise.
It is in this sense of the word that we arrive at the newest release from Dan Craig. Craig, who I first encountered when he was playing with Hearts of Palm, is a veteran on the Denver-scene with several previous solo releases. For Alchemy he mixed folk, pop, rock, and gospel into a record that speaks to the human experience on several levels.
The joyful tune “Sunday Morning” kicks off the record with big choruses and a choir; it is reminiscent of an old-fashioned revival church service blended with an upbeat Avett Brothers tune. A few tracks later is “Enough,” my personal pick for best track on this album; it tells of a brooding songwriter and the sting of loneliness.
“Holy Moses” stands out for its attention to the details of the Bible story and for its questioning hook.
“Is this the price of freedom? Because it doesn’t seem fair!”
Overall what is striking about Alchemy are the lyrics. Some are joyful, while others reflect on the nature of a broken humanity. “Company of Friends” combines both into a sing-along that admits personal mistakes while emphasizing the importance of friendship.
Alchemy will be released Friday, August 20 with a show at the Bluebird featuring A Mouthful of Thunder and Churchill. If you buy a ticket in advance you’ll save a few bucks and be eligible to pick up a free copy of the new record. Click here for tickets. Listen to “What Is This Alchemy?” below (via Reverb)
Due to a combination of technical limitations and laziness/busy-ness, here’s the interview I did with Candy Claws last month (better late than never). While some of the references may be out of date (Hidden Lands came out August 3, go get a copy if you still haven’t got it) it’s still a great chat. During this interview we talked about what went in to Hidden Lands, highlights from their tour, and expanding the group from 2 to 8 players.