Archive for April, 2011
I normally don’t do shows on Monday nights, this show at the Hi-Dive a couple weeks ago was a special circumstance. Reading Rainbow was in town from Philadelphia, M. Pyres came down from Fort Collins, and I finally had a chance to catch the newest BPG band SAUNA. Highlights from the evening included an energetic rendition of SAUNA’s “Croctopus,” Matt Sage’s baritone guitar, and the few songs I stuck around for from Reading Rainbow.
I usually get about 1 or 2 music submissions every week. Given my lack of free time I haven’t had a chance to do detailed reviews on every record that passes my ears. In an attempt to “catch up” on reviews, here’s another multi-album music feature.
Woodsman – Rare Forms: A layered, expansive, experimental record with enough structure to avoid self-aggrandizing guitar noodling. As the 5th release from Woodsman in 2 years, it reflects the group’s progress thus far and builds anticipation for the next record. Top track: Serfer
A. Tom Collins – OH NO!: Dirty jazz meets piano meets a whiskey-soaked delivery from a former member of the now-defunct band Machine Gun Blues. The record swings from track to track, slowing down on the intro to “Be My Baby,” picking up again on the laughter-driven “Ants.” Top track: Oh No!
FLASHLIGHTS – Hidden Behind Trees EP: A reverb-drenched electro-pop record that blurs the lines between pop and electronic music, Trees marks FLASHLIGHTS first release on LA-based Binary Records (out June 6th). The 6 tracks mastered by Tjutjuna’s Brian Marcus, mix Sam Martin’s retro synth sounds with Ethan Converse’s aural vocals. Top track: Holidays
Thrifty Astronaut – Caffeine Heartache: If Bob Dylan and Neutral Milk Hotel had a baby it would be Thrifty Astronaut. Distorted acoustic guitar, bright toy-keyboard tones, and lyrics about girls (who have lip rings and like boys who huff glue), and middleclass suburban drudgery mix into a sometimes delightful, sometimes heart wrenching experience. Top track: Middleclass Suburban Teenager Blues
Fingers of the Sun – Fingers of the Sun: If the 1960′s had never ended, there might be more bands that sound like Fingers of the Sun. Expanding from their debut EP, the self-titled Fingers of the Sun LP features sunny instruments and lyrics that would fit well in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of years gone by. Top track: Cup of Tea
Red Fox Run and the Oak Creek Band teamed up with anti-human trafficking organization Love 146 for a night of art and music at Casselman’s. I was on hand to support their cause and to get some great photos. You can catch Red Fox Run on May 13th at the Meadowlark as a part of the Something Like Sound Farewell Showcase.
Red Fox Run
Oak Creek Band
In 2008 artists from the Athens, GA-based Elephant 6 Recording Company set out on a tour during the holiday season. The aptly titled “Holiday Surprise Tour” featured members from the collective’s groups went across the country, but did not visit Denver. Back in March, right before I went to SXSW, the Elephant 6 Orchestra made its Denver debut with an astonishing 3-set performance at the Larimer Lounge. Although I’m not really sure which holiday this Holiday Surprise Tour was celebrating, the evening was certainly an unforgettable night of great music. For more on understanding E6, check out the AV Club’s beginner’s guide to E6. To hear a recording of the show hop over to The Flat Response. In the meantime enjoy these photos.
One of the best parts of my spring break trip to SXSW in Austin was the chance to see a bunch of new acts that I had never heard before. Apart from apparent similarities in style, I recognized another interesting trend: many of the bands I found most intriguing were from Canada. Memoryhouse, GOBBLE GOBBLE, Two Bicycles, and BRAIDS were just a few that had come down from the wintery north to play the festival. This week’s review will take a look at several releases from the aforementioned groups.
BRAIDS – Native Speaker: Clean, shimmery instruments match singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s soft-yet-potent voice throughout this 7-track record. Album opener “Lemonade” uses tap-delayed guitar to build into beautiful and catchy chorus. Title track “Native Speaker” is the other stand-out song with more soft piano and subtle electronic features.
GOBBLE GOBBLE – Lawn Knives 7”: Probably the wildest set I saw at SXSW, GOBBLE GOBBLE is known for their energetic live show. “Lawn Knives” and B-side “End of Days” are recorded proof of this group’s energy. A cacophony of electronic blips, beats, and vocals keeps this single bouncing along with a vigor that demands a replay.
Memoryhouse – Caregiver 7”: While the A-side to this single is good, it was B-side “Heirloom” that got me in to Memoryhouse in the first place. A mix of 80’s pop sensibility, modern shoegaze, and strong female vocals show up on nearly every Memoryhouse song in a way that is both haunting and beautiful. Also check out Memoryhouse’s EP titled The Years.
Two Bicycles – The Ocean: An instrumental record from the Teen Daze side-project Two Bicycles, The Ocean is an hour of music that sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a great indie-film. “I’m Not Afraid To Wait For You” breaks from the ambient nature of the record to focus on warm guitar and layering that build into a semi-crescendo.
Every year for the last 3 years I have been invited to act as a nominating committee member for the Westword Music Showcase. Every year I publish my picks for the sake of total transparency and because I think these bands deserve some recognition (even if they didn’t make the final ballot cut). The rules for nomination were simple: name 20 local bands which have had an impact on me in the past year (with the stipulation that none can have business ties to me, because that would be a conflict of interest). I have taken things a step further and decided to not re-nominate any act which I nominated in a past year. So here they are, in no particular order:
Night of Joy
Oak Creek Band
Fingers of the Sun
Panal SA De CV
I would have also nominated the following, but can’t since they’re all affiliated with my record label (don’t let that stop you from checking them out).
While remixes are usually reserved for dance/electronic music, local mix-tapist/remixer/producer/experimentalist Patrick Lee took on the unique challenge of spicing up a track from The Knew. “The Key” appeared on last summer’s EP Before It Ends and already had a healthy dose of The Knew’s brand of dance-rock before Lee got to it. The result is a beats-meets-rock tune that showcases the talents of both the originators and the remixer.
You can catch The Knew live this Friday at Hi-Dive as they play with an extended line-up. Patrick Lee will be there playing organ and a 3-piece horn section will round out the 8-man Knew. Also playing: The Swayback and The Photo Atlas.
This week we’re going to take a trip back in time. The year is 1986: the Russians have launched Mir, Ronald Reagan is president, the Miami Vice-look still has a stronghold on fashion, and a post-Garfunkel Paul Simon just released a new record titled Graceland. It’s quite unlike anything we’ve heard at the time: a mix of pop, African-influence, zydeco, and a healthy dose of Simon’s knack for stellar songwriting.
From the opening track “The Boy in the Bubble,” it becomes apparent that this is not your average 1980′s pop record. Using the correct proportions of accordion, clean electric guitar, and African roots the songs manage to ebb and flow while remaining cohesive as a whole record. My personal favorite tracks come in the middle of the album- “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” and “You Can Call Me Al.” “Diamonds” begins with a soulful delivery from Ladysmith Black Mambazo and continues into a bright story of optimistic love.
“You Can Call Me Al,” on the other hand, is one of those songs that you can’t help but dance along with. It has a great 4-on-the-floor dance beat with plenty of 80′s synth and horns. Oftentimes I find myself humming “If you’ll be my bodyguard I can be your long-lost pal…”
In 1986 Graceland won the Grammy for record of the year (back when that award might have actually meant something). Recently, in 2007, it was added to the US National Recording Registry and has come back into vogue as African-infused beats and clean electric guitars have again become popular in mainstream music. While they may not readily admit to it, bands such as Vampire Weekend owe a lot to Graceland for helping to define a sound that has a certain timeless quality. Take a trip back in time and hear the record that has been inspiring musicians for the last 25 years- borrow your parent’s copy, dust off the turntable, and enjoy.
Listen to Graceland below.
Well everyone, this is it: The Something Like Sound Graduation Party & Farewell Showcase. An event to celebrate ends and beginnings. Come down to the Meadowlark on Friday May 13th for a night of music and revelry as Fellow Citizens, Red Fox Run, PANAL S.A. DE C.V., and Thrifty Astronaut provide the tunes. Mines students get in for free and it’s just $7 for everyone else. Don’t miss this event! Click the poster above for the Facebook invitation.
Things at Something Like Sound have hit a feverish pace as we approach the final month of active existence. In the wild business that was the pre-SXSW weekend, I caught the send-off show for two Act So Big Forest acts going on a week-long spring break tour. Thrifty Astronaut and Galaxies (both of whom have a surprising lack of songs about outer space) played the modest Yellow Feather Coffee on Santa Fe. These are a few shots from that evening.
Catch both bands this weekend at the FoCoMX festival in Fort Collins.