Archive for February, 2011
The first thing you’ve probably got to say about this post is “Take it easy on the acronyms, we can only take so many ‘nyms you know.” Yes, I do know, so I will explain:
SBiNA: Safe Boating is No Accident (possibly one of the best band names in Denver)
BWC: Bad Weather California (although I don’t think they actually have bad weather in California)
NoJ: Night of Joy (yeah, nothing to coy or sly to say here, maybe they’re just musicians who are happy and play at night)
In any case, last Friday found me in 5 Points for my biannual trip to Rhinoceropolis (it seems that I only make it down there about twice a year, it’s not intentional though). The lineup for the evening was an entirely local showcase of bands I hadn’t seen in a few months. Safe Boating kicked off the night with a few songs from their record Isn’t It Fun. At this point in the review I’m going to send you away to read a write-up from Leighton Peterson’s “mom” (click here, it’s quite the entertaining read, but come back when you’re done please).
Bad Weather California was next and had (what I would consider) the best set of the night. The group recently returned from recording a new full length in Detroit with members of Akron/Family and their enthusiasm for the new material showed. A sampling of new and old songs kept people dancing in the smoky room as Chris Adolf & Co. pulled out jammer after jammer. It was really excellent to see this group playing in their prime.
The last band I stuck around to see was punk trio Night of Joy. Their high-energy, raw power style kept everyone moving and moshing around even though the clock had already passed 1 am. Their set was a collection of original songs capped off with an cover of Nirvana’s “Radio Friendly Shifter Unit” that kicked and screamed off into that good night.
In late 2009 Something Like Sound released Colorado Sounds, a compilation of music from the Centennial State. Two years later Colorado Sounds Volume 2 is making its debut with an expanded roster and greater diversity of sound. The new release comes just weeks before Denver bands and fans swarm Austin, TX for the annual SXSW conference (where download cards for this free compilation will be liberally distributed). Curator Tim Weilert designed this project with one goal in mind: expose people everywhere to the quality and uniqueness of modern music in Colorado.
- Dan Craig – Enough – from Alchemy
- Gregory Alan Isakov – Evelyn – from This Empty Northern Hemisphere
- John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light– In My Neighborhood – from Beautiful Empty
- The Raven and the Writing Desk – Space Grenade – from RECIDIVIST
- Flashbulb Fires – Revenge Song – from Glory
- The Knew – Yellow Moon – previously unreleased
- Monroe Monroe – Ready The Fall – from Love Wins EP
- American Tomahawk – Sunshine People – from Contradictions, Generalities, and Future Criminals
- Fingers of the Sun – In My Basement – previously unreleased
- Amazing Twin – Naked Girl, Pt. 2 – from New Wives’ Tale
- Makeout Point – Don’t Drown Me, Please – from Don’t Look Up
- Safe Boating Is No Accident – Who Will Marry You? – from Isn’t It Fun?
- Thrifty Astronaut – Middleclass Suburban Teenager Blues – from Caffeine Heartache
- I Am The Dot – We Have Not Arrived – from Bridges EP & A Collection of Songs (2008-2010)
- FLASHLIGHTS – More Sunlight – from FLASHLIGHTS EP
- Fellow Citizens – Cincinnati – from Fellow Citizens
- The Biz – Infinite Light – from The Ancient Future
- PANAL S.A. DE C.V. – You Knew I Was A Snake – from You Knew I Was A Snake Single
- At The Forefront – Till I Find You – previously unreleased
- Tjutjuna – Mosquito Hawk – from Tjutjuna
Friday nights were invented for good live music. Two weeks ago Woodsman celebrated the release of their newest record Rare Forms with a great show at the Larimer Lounge. Experimental-visual musician/artist Milton Melvin Croissant III opened with an electronic set of synthesized music followed by LA-based Speculator. Vitamins brought their style of pop-infused psychedelia in what may have been one of the best sets I’ve ever seen them put on. Woodsman brought everything together by the end of the night by playing a number of new and old songs (with quite a few from Mystery Tape). I found it interesting that since I have started following them, Woodsman has transformed from free-form jams to recognizable song structures and melodies.
Hindershot, like many groups from our fine city, exists within a context of intersecting musicians and styles. While half of the group plays for alter-ego band Amazing Twin, Hindershot is lead-man Stuart Confer’s chance to take the limelight. Their songs are perhaps more focused, nostalgic, and slightly reminiscent of “yacht rock” groups from the 70’s and 80’s. Overall their sound can be described as modern indie-pop; everything has a touch of reverb and the drums don’t stray far from a dance-able four-on-the-floor beat.
On their newest release, a 7” EP called It’s Only Blood, Hindershot keeps things interesting by not sticking to the same format for every song. On the opener/title track “It’s Only Blood” a constant march builds into a strong chorus. “The Mark” gets funky with falsetto’ed vocals and syncopated guitar while “Not Ready To Go” is a laid-back dance number. “Twisted Tongue” closes out the EP by asking, “Would you give me your iron lung? Would you please tame your twisted tongue?”
It’s Only Blood is perhaps a representation of larger trends percolating through Denver right now. It’s catchy but doesn’t sacrifice production value or sincerity. Musically speaking the instruments sound natural and the vocals have a mix of 90’s DIY aesthetic combined with a healthy dose of reverb.
Hindershot will officially release It’s Only Blood on 7” vinyl at the Hi-Dive on February 26th. Achille Lauro and Ken Arkind will also make appearances at that night’s “beach party” themed show.
Red Fox Run packed out the Larimer Lounge a few weeks ago and I set the high score on the venue’s classic Pac-Man machine. I’ll be back at the Larimer tonight for Woodsman (and hopefully I’ll set the high score on Ms. Pac-Man). Red Fox Run has a couple shows coming up: March 4 and March 23 both at Hi-Dive.
Rob Drabkin’s annual birthday bash at Casselman’s was a night of jazz, funk, and flip-flop rock. Rob’s dad Harry kicked things off with his jazz quartet followed by the high-energy Bop Skizzum. On February 11th Bop Skizzum is releasing a 7″ and music video at the Rockstar Lounge. Child prodigy Jaden Carlson made an appearance (similar to last year’s birthday bash) and Rob’s mom served cake. It had been a year since I last saw Drabkin and I certainly enjoyed getting to hear his songs again.
Bonus: “I’m So Much Cooler” video from Bop Skizzum (after the jump)
February 2, 2009 was the day when Spencer Nelson, Jake Rezac and I started Something Like Sound. Prior to 2009 we had all been regular contributors and managers at the Colorado School of Mines student newspaper The Oredigger. Spencer initially suggested the idea of a music blog and I replied “How will we ever come up with enough content for it?” If only I had known the response that we’d get, then I would have started earlier. In the time since those first posts (and our archive filled in with old newspaper reviews), we’ve seen and done things which I could have only imagined. I have personally worked with some of the best and brightest bands and music professionals across the country and if it weren’t for them SLS would be nowhere.
Spencer has since graduated, Jake has decided to focus on other projects, and I am preparing for graduation and relocation to Austin, Texas. At this time I’m working on releasing a new compilation (hopefully before SXSW), managing Buckingham Pie Group, sorting through photos, and writing reviews. What will happen to SLS when I graduate? The honest truth is I don’t know. As a student publication, this blog must represent the voice of musically-minded Mines students. I will try to find fresh blood, but if I don’t the Something Like Sound story may come to an end.
In any case, we’ll throw a big party in May to celebrate music in Denver and my graduation. It’s been quite the ride, thanks for reading/listening/watching/supporting.
ps. if any bands are interested in playing the SLS bash in May send me an e-mail.
The music of Sam Beam, better known as the motivating force behind Iron & Wine, is known for its soft beauty and constant reinvention. Over the last decade Iron & Wine has moved from acoustic lo-fi recordings to full band pop songs. As with any musical progression, the hope is that while fidelity may increase, the heart behind the songs might remain the same.
Kiss Each Other Clean is the group’s first LP of new material since 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog and it continues on the trend of mixing traditional folk songs with a few eccentric sounds. Overall the record has a cohesive tone that is somewhere between the experimentalism of the 1960’s and the funky feel-good vibes of the 1970’s. Case in point: “Rabbit Will Run” feels like a Cat Stevens tune layered on the keyboards of The Doors.
However, Sam Beam’s breathy vocals are the real star of this album. Just as his voice enchanted listeners on his early recordings, new songs like “Godless Brother in Love” will cause people to fall in love yet again with Iron & Wine’s harmonies. While the lyrics are also well-thought, it is their presentation that sets the tone of each tune.
Perhaps what is most refreshing about Kiss Each Other Clean is that it seldom feels self-indulgent or stuffy. This may be a modern pop record; however it has a certain timeless quality and replay value similar to classic albums such as James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James or Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years. That said, Iron & Wine successfully mixed innovation with nostalgia to create something that is uniquely relevant to current tastes while remaining appealing to older generations.
Stream the entire record below
I have observed an interesting phenomenon. It seems that people occasionally define their musical tastes in terms of what genres they avoid. On more than one occasion I’ve heard the words “anything except rap, pop, country… etc.” spoken as though the speaker were proselytizing.
In the modern age we can thank Michael Jackson for the idea that the greatest records transcend simplistic genre-tags. When he released Thriller in 1982 it paved the way for innovative pop music that could draw from a wide swath of the musical world. Fast-forward nearly 30 years: Kanye West finds himself standing on the shoulders (and in the shadow) of the late Jackson.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy topped many 2010 end-of-the-year lists from music critics at all levels. Ego, Twitter, and PR stunts aside, West managed to put together a record that has more thematic intrigue than anything else on the Top 40 stations.
This is not your run-of-the-mill hip-hop record; it has orchestral, rock, indie, spoken word, and electronic elements with a slew of guest appearances to match. While several songs are poised to be radio singles (“POWER,” “All of the Lights,” and “Monster” to name a few), it is the overarching drama of Fantasy that makes it a full-album experience. Prior it its release, Fantasy made the jump to a visual medium; the nearly 10-minute “Runaway” served as the apex for West’s 40-minute art-film of the same name.
Lyrics about fame, loss, regret, pride, and uncertainty thread their way through the record as styles shift from track-to-track. The album closes on what I would personally consider to be the best song of 2010: “Lost in the World.” Beginning from Bon Iver’s “Woods,” West builds tribal beats into a four-on-the-floor dance. Winding in lyrics from Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” the circle comes back in on itself as West orchestrates a denouement that pays homage to his predecessor while maintaining a striking air of modernity.
Overall it’s the kind of record that should seriously make genre-limited listeners reconsider their stuffiness. Even if hip-hop isn’t your style, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy may change your mind.
Watch the short film Runaway below