Archive for September, 2010
Saturday night was a night for dancing. The Hi-Dive was abuzz with concert-goers all eager to enjoy the highly anticipated lineup which had resulted in a sold-out show. Tommy Metz (aka iungliss) opened up with a set of dub-inspired electronic beats and sung melody. I personally found his music to be decent, but wasn’t really feeling it because the stage-space was entirely unlit (it was like a cave in there! Thus, there are no photos of Tommy Metz).
Fortunately for me (and several other photographers there) the lights were a little brighter for local buzz-band Tennis. Despite playing with a slight cold, singer Alaina Moore kept things soulful with a voice reminiscent of some female-greats from eras gone-by. While the trio’s surf/sail-inspired sound stood out from the predominantly electronic-dance-band atmosphere, it was clear that Tennis is excellent dance music. Their sound is classic; something which transcends generations. Moving along to “Marathon” and “South Carolina” had me convinced that this group is definitely deserving of the attention they have garnered in the past few months.
While Tennis may have been a major draw, Portland’s STRFKR was the group everyone was there to see. The packed-out space was uncomfortably hot and full, but that didn’t matter- everyone was there to dance. Given that this was my first real exposure to STRFKR, I can tell why the show sold-out: they make some damn catchy music.
The highlight of their set came in the form of “Reynold Gregory Erikson the Second,” a tune driven by a catchy guitar part and great beat. Time flew by as each subsequent dance-number came and went. Before we knew it, the set was over and there was (unfortunately) no encore. However, everyone in attendance still left in good spirits.
As my first venture into the Denver music scene, I was excited for what the city could offer in terms of unique local artists, and I came away from the Ogden eager for more. Travis Egedy, also known as Pictureplane, began the night with little more than a synthesizer and microphone. Walking onto the stage, he produced from his backpack a multicolored strobe light and a blue flood lamp, which would serve as the sole light display of his humble performance. Despite his low key visual effects, which were accompanied by a masked interpretive dancer, Pictureplane’s driving beats and electronic samples were enough create an atmosphere where it was impossible for the audience not to dance. Pictureplane’s electronic-style music was in sharp contrast to the later performing artists, but it was an enjoyable set list none-the-less.
Next, the So So Glos took the stage and played their repetitive sounding set list full of overwhelmingly ordinary power cords containing little to no musical surprises. With a sound that reminded me of 90’s rock bands, the So So Glos were a get ‘er done group that stayed inside the confines of acceptable rock music and hardly ventured far beyond. At times, the audience was energetically dancing to the loud drums and guitar combination, but at other times they were more interested in conversing with the friend next to them.
Finally, the married, musical duo Matt & Kim made their entrance in a way such that the word enthusiastic does no justice at all. From their fervent entrance to their triumphal exit into the crowd, Matt & Kim held the attention of every single audience member throughout the entire show. Matt & Kim kept it simple by using only two instruments: a keyboard and a simplified drum set. Regardless of their modest use of musical tools, the twosome was able to create incredibly unique beats and songs with the help of Matt’s voice. On top of the music itself, Matt & Kim brought their infectious personalities to the show that came in the form of crowd surfing, bass drum standing, and balloon throwing. Desiring a connection with the crowd, the couple told personal stories, made jokes, exited into the crowd following the conclusion of “Daylight,” and had enormous smiles on their faces while doing all of it. They weren’t just at the concert to play their set list and leave, they genuinely gave themselves to the crowd. Matt & Kim came to the stage with two goals in mind: to have fun and give fun. I think it’s safe to say that they accomplished both of them.
The Bird & The Bee are undeniably hip. Singer/bassist Inara George (the bird) has a smooth-yet-powerful delivery, the likes of which reminds me of Feist or Astrud Gilberto. Matching her vocals with the modern synth-pop styling of Greg Kurstin (the bee) has already resulted in a pair of excellent records on jazz-label Blue Note Records. At a first glance, their newest record Interpreting the Masters Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates sticks out from the crowd.
I was first exposed to this record listening to Radio 1190 while driving to dinner a few weeks ago. A bubbly, dance-beat-infused rendition of “Rich Girl” had me dancing along in the seat of my car. At that point I had to ask, “Did I really just get groovy to a Hall & Oates song?” which lead to the subsequent question, “What would my parents think?”
While I have always found the mustachioed album sleeves of the 1980′s pop-soul duo to be a delightful reminder of regrettable fashion trends gone by, it’s hard to dismiss the songwriting genius that was Hall & Oates in their prime. Reinvented for a new generation, The Bird & The Bee’s cover album updates several classic songs which might otherwise get overlooked by the modern listener.
The record starts out with an original Bird & Bee song: “Heard It On The Radio,” a tune that is incredibly reminiscent of good 1980′s pop music. “Kiss On My List,” “Private Eyes,” and “Rich Girl” take on more upbeat dance grooves while maintaining the soulful feel of the original versions. Slow jam “One On One” outdoes the original by smoothing out the overall feel of the song and getting rid of the odd-sounding drum machine heard on the Hall & Oates version.
Overall, I would not be surprised to hear any cuts from this record at a wedding or dance party. The songs could manage to draw young and old to the dance-floor; something that can’t be said for many new releases. Final verdict: The Bird & The Bee have managed to do Hall & Oates their proper justice while still maintaining a distinct and creative atmosphere.
Listen to Interpreting The Masters Vol. 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall and John Oates below. Click for more The Bird & The Bee.
I have a confession: I still haven’t seen Tennis, the group that everyone and their mom is talking about. They’ve garnered a lot of attention on national blogs, in local newspapers, and even went on the road for a brief stint this summer. The sail-rock group (consisting of husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley) released a pair of 7″s full of shimmery, sea-voyage-inspired tunes which quickly sold out. While everyone will have to wait until tomorrow to see them open for STRFKR at Hi-Dive, their Daytrotter session went up today.
Joyful noisemakers Paper Bird also stopped by the Rock Island, IL Daytrotter studios earlier this summer. Their session went up a couple weeks back and features a delightful sampling of songs from their recently released full-length When The River Took Flight. They’ll be playing a handful of local dates over the next few weeks in addition to a Texas tour in late October.
Note: I wrote this article just before lunch…
I realize that this post may be old news (since everyone else in town has already covered it), but still good news nonetheless. Andy Thomas and Virgil Dickerson of Suburban Home Records have teamed up with local burrito chain Illegal Pete’s to help feed musical groups touring through our fine state.
For those unfamiliar with Suburban Home, they are a local punk-centric label with a slight alt-country feel (their roster includes Drag The River and Two Cow Garage, among others). For those unfamiliar with Illegal Pete’s, they are purveyors of some of the best burritos in the state. With multiple restaurant locations throughout Denver-metro and Boulder, Illegal Pete’s features an extensive menu (including potatoes!), in addition to a full bar at many locations.
Inspired by on-the-road experiences with touring bands, Thomas and Dickerson started the Starving Artists’ program with the hopes of giving touring bands a good meal and a place to unwind. Anyone interested in participating in the program is encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that this is a totally promotional post for my tape label. If you want to read about actual music news and such just skip it. -Tim
Back in April I decided to start a cassette tape imprint label (Buckingham Pie Group). I got the equipment and supplies and set to work doing a run of 100 tapes for I Am The Dot. When I moved to Chicago for the summer the tape stuff stayed behind and I put the label on hold. Now that I’m back, it’s time to make some tapes! As such, BPG is currently looking for 3 Colorado-based bands who fall roughly within the following categories:
- Shoegaze, lo-fi, garage, punk, or experimental genres (very loosely considered)
- Able to supply recordings for tape production (BPG is only a tape-imprint label, we don’t do recording/mastering)
- Preferably BPG would like to do new releases (tapes can be available in time for a release show/party if given sufficient time for production).
- Currently playing shows in the Denver-metro area
If you think your band would be a good candidate for tapes (or you want to offer fans more than a download card), send an email to email@example.com or contact me directly (if you already have my info).
Edit: No more submissions will be accepted for now; y’all will just have to wait until I get done working with the new batch of bands on BPG. Exciting announcements soon.
It has been waaaaaaay too long since I did a “The Best Things Are Free” post. There’s been a multitude of incredible home-grown music released for free in the past few months; here are a handful to keep you occupied.
A bunch of releases from Patient Sounds: Matt Sage & Co. have been keeping busy in Fort Collins releasing tapes, going on tour, and being featured on NPR. Patient Sounds tends to put out at least one new lo-fi release per month these days. Highlighted above: Littoral Drift (Brett Taylor), Lush Cola (Tim Perry), and the Patient Sounds summer sampler (featuring M. Pyres, Ambassador Engine, The Good Old Fashioned Sinners, and more). Also check out Black Tape & Cast Off/Cold Months, collections of M. Pyres b-sides and music for the coming winter.
Pretty Lights – Spilling Over Every Side EP: The second chapter in a trilogy of EPs, Spilling Over Every Side reminds us all why Pretty Lights has become so popular in the last few months. Not only has Derek Vincent Smith sold out Red Rocks, but he did it without charging for his music.
The Pseudo Dates – 400 Some Odd Songs in 400 Some Odd Nights: Possibly one of the best records to come out of the Hot Congress camp, the debut full-length from the now-defunct Pseudo Dates combined psychedelic pop and rock. The result was a handful of catchy tunes: “Indeed We Love You,” “Amber, Show Me Your Scars,” and “Amateur Night At The Shooting Range” all well worth the listen.
Arliss Nancy – Truckstop Roses: The second release from Fort Collins alt-country band Arliss Nancy shows the group’s progression since their debut Dance To Forget. The guitar parts are tighter and the lyrics more heart-wrenching. Also, I’m fairly certain that Jon Snograss (Drag The River) makes a cameo.
There’s something unique about how they do music distribution in Washington state. In the 90′s Seattle-based Sub Pop debuted their “Singles Club,” a mail-order subscription where members received a fresh 7″ every month. Olympia-based Wild Animal Kingdom Records has taken the idea of a monthly mail-order music subscription to new and interesting places with their “Monthly Mix-Tape Club.” As a subscriber to the first year’s tapes, I was greeted with an envelope containing a letter and a tape at the beginning of every month; it felt a little bit like Christmas every time the 1st rolled around.
The concept has been simple: get people from all-over to curate mixes and dub them on to cassettes. Each volume is unique, a reflection of the curator, or at least their perception of what a cassette mix-tape should be. A type-written/photocopied letter from the curator accompanies each tape as a means of beginning to explain the thought process (or nostalgia) that went into the mix’s creation. With year 1 of the club now over, I’d like to highlight just two of the tapes that really stand out (also, they happen to be in my car rather than in the kitchen with the rest of my tapes, so I’ve listened to them more than the others).
Issue II, Alex Davis (Leftist Nautical Antiques): Titled “Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Ganja Problems,” this predominantly reggae mix has a few soul songs thrown in for good measure. Smokey Robinson’s “I Gotta’ Dance To Keep From Crying” kicks off the mix and segues nicely into a handful of delightfully fuzzy-sounding reggae tunes (only one of which comes from Bob Marley).
Issue XI, Martin Courtney IV (Real Estate): The letter that came with this tape ends by saying “I hope you enjoy my mix, but if you don’t, your mom probably will.” This issue, in particular, sounds like a mix-tape that could have been made when mix-tapes were actually popular. It’s not surprising to hear hazy tunes from the likes of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Fleetwood Mac get just a little hazier due to the nature cassette tape.
There are a few other gems, such as Issue VI by Jheri Evans (Get Off The Coast) and Issue IX by Julian Lynch. The only tape I really didn’t like was December’s mix of Christmas music (it just doesn’t hold up as a good soundtrack for summertime road trips).
Subscriptions for year 2 of MMTC are available now via Wild Animal Kingdom Records for $24 (that’s $2/month). Back-issues from year 1 are also available in their webstore.
Five Iron Frenzy was one of those groups that defied a lot of stereotypes and made Denver a destination on the national ska scene in the 1990′s. The group recently released a comprehensive documentary titled “The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy.” For those unfamiliar with this Denver group, consider this your primer.
1. Where Zero Meets 15: Colfax & Broadway may be one of the most storied intersections in the state. Growing up in Fort Collins I never quite understood this song until I moved to college and experienced catching a bus at this intersection at 2 am.
2. The Day We Killed: While Five Iron Frenzy did have a clear Christian message, they certainly didn’t follow the traditional path taken by many musicians in the same category. Rather than tiptoeing around the plight of the Native American people they sang out against such injustices.
3. Oh, Canada: Probably the catchiest and most informational ska song you’ll ever hear about our neighbors to the north. William Shatner, milk-in-a-bag, marmosets, and Royal Mounties all make appearances.
4. Get Your Riot Gear:When the Broncos won the Superbowl for the second time in a row in 1999 people took to the streets for a little joyous rioting. Cops used tear gas to disperse crowds and Five Iron Frenzy wrote a swing-dance tune to memorialize the event.
5. Kamikaze: Originally recorded during the Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo sessions, this track didn’t make the final cut for that particular album. Fortunately it later became the opening track for Cheeses (of Nazareth), a collection of b-sides and rarities.
6. Every New Day: Five Iron Frenzy closed every set with this song; their final show was no exception. The 2004 live recording The End Is Here captured the raw emotion and energy of this song as FIF played off into the night for the last time.
“Man versus himself, man versus machine, man versus the world, mankind versus me…”
I remember first hearing about Casiotone For The Painfully Alone shortly after the 2009 UMS. Recording enthusiast and friend of the blog Lance Stack invited me along to a CFTPA set that took place a couple days after my marathon weekend in the Baker neighborhood. While I never did make it down for that show, I did manage to catch CFTPA this past weekend as Owen Ashworth played his last Denver set.
I Am The Dot opened the night with a fully-live lineup featuring Eric Peterson (of Old Radio, Roger; Roll and Houses) on drums. Despite having only practiced two times prior to the performance, Zach Tipton’s previously-laptop-based songs translated well with the help of live keyboard and drums.
Houston-based Young Mammals injected their unique style of energetic pop-rock into a show that was primarily dominated by rather-melancholy acts. There were certain points throughout their set where I picked up on some of the subtle surf and shoegaze influences (heavy reverb on the mics and sunny guitar tone reminded me of Real Estate).
Otuoto (pronounced “oh-two-oh-toe”), an Australian act with a hard-to-pronounce name provided the penultimate set of the evening. I can best describe their sound as “Casiotone, with girls.” The soft voices of the two female singers blended and played off of their synthesizers and guitar.
It was clear that Owen Ashworth was trying to give the crowd what they wanted; after all, he is retiring CFTPA after the current tour. Even from the first few songs he was taking requests and telling jokes. As someone not particularly familiar with CFTPA, I decided to stand on the edge of the crowd to just take everything in (also, it was ridiculously hot in the middle of the audience). The atmosphere was doubly somber as the hushed audience bid their heavyhearted performer adieu.