Something Like Sound

Tag: Accordion Crimes

2011 Westword Music Showcase nominees

by on Apr.14, 2011, under "Best of" Lists

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:

Thrifty Astronaut
Hot White
Night of Joy
Dan Craig
Vitamins
Mike Marchant
Monroe Monroe
American Tomahawk
Oak Creek Band
Fingers of the Sun
Pictureplane
Lil Slugger
Galaxies
Hindershot
Panal SA De CV
Weather Maps
School Knights
Gauntlet Hair
Otem Rellik
Accordion Crimes

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).

FLASHLIGHTS
Force Publique
The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact
Safe Boating Is No Accident
SAUNA

You can vote for your favorites online over at Westword’s ballot page. See my picks from 2009 and 2010.

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The UMS 2010: Day 2

by on Jul.29, 2010, under Concert Reviews

Friday night’s festivities began a little earlier than Thursday’s, and before 7:00pm hit, we were at the Goodwill Parking Lot stage to see blog favorite Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Her set was different than any other set we’d seen her play; sometimes-present band member and double bass player Dennis joined Danielle on stage, as well as a new addition, violinist Chris. While this has been the standard line-up since her new CD came out in early July, it was the first we’d seen of it. The addition of violin and bass added new layers to the music, and, musically, it was possibly the best DAtS show we’d ever seen. However, the awkward charm so often present in previous shows was lessened with the addition of new musicians. Still, things like a cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance along with great new songs made this a fun and charming way to start day two of the UMS.

We briefly walked across the parking lot to see Paper Bird’s second set of the weekend. They were much more at home outdoors, and the few songs we heard were fun and got the modest crowd excited. Having seen most of the songs they played the night before, we went to the TS Board Shop stage to see Accordion Crimes. The group was, as always, incredibly tight. Last time we saw them, some technical issues plagued their set. Those issues being gone greatly added to the performance.

We went next to the Hi-Dive to see, we thought, Kaiser Cartel. However, despite the indication of the UMS pamphlet, Kaiser Cartel was not playing, Dust on the Breakers taking their place (it should be noted that the UMS website noted this change and signs were posted near the box office). Despite the change in bands, it was very enjoyable to hear this band we’d previously not seen.

When 9:00pm hit, we returned to the Goodwill parking lot to see John Common and the Blinding Flashes of Light. The last time we saw this group, it was a super-intense performance. This time, however, was much more relaxed. Still a good performance musically, it lacked the passion we’d come to expect from this band. As such, we wandered back up Broadway, and were immediately attracted to the unrealistically loud music blaring out of Rock the Cradle. Lil’ Slugger (the only band with its own comic book that we know of) was sending its pseudo-punk sounds for at least a block in every direction. While the extreme volume was a good addition to the style of music, the music could have stood on its own. We spent as long as we could in the area before our eardrums burst, and before we knew it, 10:00pm had come.

While The Knew was playing at the Hi-Dive, the huge line coming out of the venue inspired us to find some new groups we’d never heard. As such, we headed down to the Skylark to see Pink Hawks. The crowd was up an moving at this lounge-roots group; while not our favorite type of music, it was obvious that the group was good at what they did. After a few songs, we did some browsing, stopping by each of the venues we passed. Doing this let us catch a song or two by Chris Adolf (of Bad Weather California), Story of the Sea, and Lion Sized. While none of these acts were mind-blowing, the ability to see better-than-average music every few steps was among my favorite parts of the UMS. Any time there wasn’t a group I particularly wanted to see, I could simply walk in a venue in search for a new band to love.

With the line to the Hi-Dive still too long to see These United States (and, eventually, Houses), we wondered around Broadway for a few hours, catching bits and pieces of some spectacular sets. These included Git Some, Hoots and Hellmouth, the Outfit, TaunTaun, and Coles Whalen. Finally, after a number of great sets and a musical break, we wondered into the Mayan Theater for the Nathan & Stephen reunion show. The show was supposed to start around 12:30, which is when the lobby of the Mayan started filling up. However, Houses was playing with two members of Nathan and Stephen. Finally, after a set by local comedian/musician Magic Cyclops, and well after 1:00am, the band took the stage. The high-energy set was well worth the wait. The group played a full set, and ended after around 2:15, but the audience and band seemed to want to keep going forever. This set was the perfect end to the first two nights of the UMS and got us extremely excited for the weekend stretch of the festival.


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Balancing act: the 2010 Westword Music Showcase

by on Jun.27, 2010, under Concert Reviews

This year’s Westword Music Showcase was a balancing act between seeing groups we’d never seen before and old favorites. The day’s schedule put some of our favorite groups on during the same time-periods, as well as pitting groups we’d heard great things about against groups we knew to be spectacular. The solution we decided on was this: with a few exceptions, we’d spend no more than 25 minutes at a particular set, giving us time to rush to other shows going on at the same time and catch the end of their act. While we hated to leave some of our favorite acts early, we also got to see a good portion of Denver’s amazing music scene.

Mike Marchant

We started the day off at Bar Standard for Mike Marchant’s set. As always, the passionate playing of Marchant and the rest of his band was emotive and powerful. The group ended their set with a medley of songs. As always, Marchant’s much-vaunted songwriting ability and huge stage presence provided a great way to kick off the day.

Houses

Every Houses show seems to be exponentially better than their last, and we couldn’t resist sticking around the Bar Standard to catch the beginning of their act. Although the massive band was playing on a stage the size of a small apartment’s living room, their presence filled the whole of the venue. The venue filled up as Houses took the stage, and the group’s unique combination of indie and classic rock didn’t disappoint. Sadly, after we heard some of our favorite songs, we faced our first scheduling conflict of the day and left to see Achille Lauro.

Achille Lauro

This band has become much better live since last time we saw them. They easily filled up the huge space of the Curious Theatre and the on-stage banter between band members filled a void that was present in the past. Although we only caught the end of the set, we were happy to hear some of our favorite songs – “No Breaks” and “Friend’s War,” included in the mix.

Danielle Ate the Sandwich

Though we’ve seen Danielle countless times, with her being up next in the Curious, we couldn’t help but stay for a few of her songs. Charming as ever, Danielle was joined by her occasional bassist Dennis for what is always a treat. We heard a few delightful and quirky songs from her upcoming album Two Bedroom Apartment before leaving for the next act.

Kinetix

After the soothing and relaxed playing of Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Kinetix’s set at City Hall was auditory whiplash. Kinetix may be, musically, the polar opposite of every band we’d seen so far, but the passion and energy they played with easily allowed us to switch gears. While their style makes it temping to call them a jam band, Kinetix is much more than this – interesting and catchy hooks combined well with a powerful beat that got a packed crowd moving. This was the most exciting act we’d seen all day, and kept us going as the day wore on.

Accordion Crimes

Next was Accordion Crimes at Sutra. An incredibly high-intensity band, Accordion Crime’s music matched the packed, hot, and sweaty atmosphere of Sutra. The group was extremely tight and blew us away with their musicality. Despite a few technical hic-ups, the show was very powerful and passionate.

Ian Cooke

The Curious Theatre was running a few minutes later than most of the other venues and we were lucky enough to catch the end of Ian Cooke’s set. Having seen Cooke’s solo set a few weeks ago at the D-Note, it was amazing to see how different he was with a full band. The full band provided a much fuller sound to the songs and gave a wholly different character. Songs that are beautiful from their simplicity in his solo act become beautiful from their exceptional orchestration in his full set. The two or three songs we saw from Cooke were enough to remind us of his incredible musical talent.

Hello Kavita

The 4:15-5:00 slot provided another tough choice – favorites Hello Kavita, Candy Claws and Astrophagus were playing, exceptional national act Neon Indian started at 4:30, and a number of great bands we’d not seen live were playing at the same time slot. While we wanted to get to as many of these bands as possible, we just couldn’t skip the exceptional band Hello Kavita at the Curious. Their set started off a bit disappointingly, their first song or two not being as clean as we’re used to. However, the band seemed to make a few adjustments as their act went on, and the relaxed pop sounds of the band filled the air of the Curious Theatre and made us remember why we like this band so much. Forced to move on to the next act after a few songs, we were very sad to have to miss the end of Hello Kavita’s set.

Candy Claws

Candy Claws’ almost indescribable music is a great treat, and we were happy to head to Vinyl to see their ethereal poppy set. The band seems extremely focused and professional when they perform, but the music they play has a tone of unbridled, child-like joy. The huge band barely fit on the stage they were put on, but they were still able to delight the audience. Their less-than-standard approach to pop music was a perfect preface to Neon Indian, playing on the main stage.

Neon Indian

Neon Indian’s minimalistic psychedelic pop filled the air as we entered the main stage for the first time. While the large crowd enjoyed the music, Neon Indian isn’t fit for an outdoor stage. Too much of the group’s brilliant music was lost due to crowd noise and a lack of boundaries to contain it. Certain sounds, subtle and masterful in their recorded music, were overpowering in the outdoor stage. As such, we left after a few songs, heading indoors again.

Chain Gang of 1974

City Hall was packed for the super-intense music of Chain Gang of 1974. Both die-hard fans and newcomers filled the venue, dancing and screaming to the up-beat music of Kamtin Mohager and back-up musicians. Mohager is more of a rock star than anyone else in the Denver music scene, strutting around the stage like Keith Richards and filling the stage with an intense presence. More importantly, his intensity backs up his music, which is at times psychedelic, at times punk, and at times pop, but always dancy and powerful. This was quite the switch from the previous few groups we’d seen, but it was a welcome change and a great way to set the mood for the passionate performers we’d end our night with.

John Common and the Blinding Flashes of Light

With the Curious Theatre still running a bit late, we were able to catch the end of John Common and the Blinding Flashes of Light’s set. It was standing room only in the venue and the huge crowd wasn’t disappointed. The group lived up to its name, as their intensity of playing was almost disorienting. Although we only caught the last few songs the group played, we’re already looking forward to seeing them again when the UMS comes in July.

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake

While the Curious was full for John Common, it seemed to overflow when Snake Rattle Rattle Snake took the stage. The group brought the crowd to its feet by halfway through its first song, and the band’s pounding dance rhythms kept the audience dancing the whole way through. While we had originally wanted to see some other groups playing at the 6:15 time slot, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake’s music kept us glue to their set (and had we wanted to leave, the massive crowd seemed un-navigable). Easily the highest-energy group of the day, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake was a great way to end the local portion of the showcase.

Superchunk

After seeing an incredible group of Denver musicians, Superchunk’s indie rock/punk playing seemed a bit lacking in intensity. Perhaps this was due to them being outdoors, but the group’s fabled energy didn’t seem to come across. Still, the music was excellent, and more than made up for their lack of intensity.

Ghostland Observatory

Finally, after a surprisingly short wait, the headliners come on the main stage. Ghostland Observatory is famed for their amazing light shows and huge stage presence, and their performance on Saturday showed how deserving of that fame they truly are. While their music was not our favorite style, the performance nevertheless made it a show worth going to. After a long day, only an exceptional show could have kept us interested – and Ghostland Observatory provided exactly what we needed.

“It’s a city holiday today, right?” said a young woman parking her car on S. Broadway Saturday morning. “It’s the Westword Music Showcase – we must be able to park for free!” That sort of passion for music and love for the Denver music scene was the highlight of the day. Each concert we’ve been to since last year’s Westword has seemed to be better than the last, and this year’s showcase was a culmination of the great music scene Denver continues to develop.

Check out The Flat Response for some great recordings from Saturday’s concert, including Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Dirty Projectors, Flashbulb Fires, and Superchunk. http://www.theflatresponse.com/

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