Something Like Sound


The UMS 2010: Day 3

by on Aug.02, 2010, under Concert Reviews

Saturday began at the Goodwill stage with Houses. Having missed their set the previous night, I was excited to see them again. While it was certainly a worthwhile set, the previous night (and the illness which had broken out among certain Houses members) had an obvious affect on the band’s performance. Normally engaging and fun, this set seemed tired. With this slight disappointment and because we’d seen Houses so often, we headed across the street to Michelangelo’s Coffee & Wine Bar for Eleanor. An acoustic solo set, the music was fresh and relaxing. It coupled perfectly with the relaxed atmosphere of the venue, and was very enjoyable.

We continued on, next to Maudlin at Illiterate Magazine. This trio paired catchy hooks with wall-of-sound techniques for a very interesting combination. Though not a style we’d often heard, it was very enjoyable to listen to. After a brief dinner at the Walnut Room, where the sundry tones of Rob Drabkin filled the air, we continued on to Jim McTurnan and the Kids that Killed the Man. Among our favorite Denver bands, McTurnan and crew were as delightful as always on Saturday. The group’s interesting and powerful songs filled the Hi-Dive much to the delight of entertained fans.

Following McTurnan’s set, we couldn’t refuse seeing fellow-Golden residents, The Gromet. Bluesy, fun, and excited, it’s always fun to see this group. Their music matched well with the venue – The Irish Rover – and we enjoyed the 3 or 4 songs of theirs we stayed for. After the Gromet, we crossed the street to the Goodwill parking lot to see The Heyday. Always an enjoyable act to see, The Heday are certainly good at what they do. Next, we walked down to TS Board Shop for Seattle’s Tea Cozies. At first, the group intoxicated us with their charm. By the end of the 4 or 5 songs we heard them play, they had won us over with their talent and musicality.

Next, we went back to the Hi-Dive for Porlolo. Always a fun show, Porlolo certainly delivered on Saturday. Though it was their second set of the weekend, the energy Erin Roberts carries with her carried through at the Hi-Dive. After a few songs from the band, we were off to the Goodwill parking lot stage for Snake Rattle Rattle Snake. Driven by pounding beats from dual shockingly-in-sync percussionists, Snake combines dance rhythms with a walloping bass-line and passionate guitar playing and singing to great effect. The outdoor stage, however, wasn’t a great setting for this group which is more suited to a room overflowing with excited and sweaty people than a roomy, slightly cool parking lot. That aside, the set was excellent as always.

After a quick bite to eat, we entered a packed Hi-Dive to see Gregory Alan Isakov. We overheard a fan describing Isakov as “a combination of Leonard Cohen and Iron and Wine” before the show, and the performance lived up to that expectation. The music was powerful, while retaining its relaxed quality, and it was among our favorite sets of the night. Playing at the same time, at the Goodwill parking lot stage, were the Flobots. While the music the group plays is among my least favorite in the Denver (or national) scene, they certainly know how to put on a show. The parking lot was packed for the act and the audience hung on every movement of the 7-piece group. Their musicianship was more than quality and the set was a fun experience, despite my opinions on their music.

Next, we heard the end of the Radical Knitting Circle’s act at the Skylark – while not enough was heard to make a proper judgment, the group seemed interesting enough to take another look in the future. Next at the Skylark was Lubbock’s Thrift Store Cowboy. The group masterfully combined their Texas western roots with indie rock. Steel guitar was matched with traditional rock riffs and at-time haunting singing. A sound unlike anything I’d ever heard, we were surprised – very pleasantly – by the group.

Next, we continued on to the Hi-Dive for their last set of the night, The Widow’s Bane. We’d not heard of this Boulder-based group before Saturday night, but were excited to find out what they were all about. When a group, dressed as 1700s zombies came on stage, we knew seeing this set was a good idea. The group’s music was simultaneously Irish folk music and Tom Waits. The huge crowd enjoyed themselves greatly, and everyone in the Hi-Dive seemed to be dancing.

Finally, we returned to the Mayan Theater for the last set of the night – Ukulele Loki’s Gadabout Orchestra. The music was self-described “indie acoustic chamber pop,” but the act was more of a vaudeville show than anything. It included circus performers doing their acts to music, as well as singular music performances. While it was obvious that the act was very good and interesting, it was too laid back for 1:30am after a day of a music festival, and we left halfway through the act. The crowd was obviously not very into it either. It was a good idea, and a cool act, but should’ve been put at a different time.

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UMS Preview: “Who?” (7/24)

by on Jul.19, 2010, under Blogs

Just like the last post, this is who I would suggest seeing at the UMS. Note that some of these bands play more than once, so there is ample opportunity to see them. Others, however, only play once, so give them priority. The full lineup is available here.


Eleanor (Michelangelo’s, 3pm): As one of those groups with a large, orchestral feel, it’ll be interesting seeing them play in a small space like Micelangelo’s. If it’s all packed out, Houses is playing the Goodwill lot at the same time.

Jim McTurnan & The Kids That Killed The Man (Hi-Dive, 5pm): Jim and the Kids have gained some national attention (including a spot at CMJ) while figuring out how to be a 3 piece. However, cameo appearances from other local musicians are not entirely out of the question.

Tea Cozies (TS Boardshop, 6pm): I recall seeing Seattle’s Tea Cozies at Everyday Joe’s several years ago, maybe it’s time to give them another listen. Also, if you’re going to be stuck in Ft. Collins on July 23 they are playing at Road 34 with Kaiser Cartel (see previous UMS preview post) and Fierce Bad Rabbit.

Hideous Men (Indy Ink, 6:30pm): If you haven’t seen anything experimental by Saturday afternoon then you’re doing the UMS wrong. Rectify that situation with Hideous Men (and while your at it, help them out since their gear was just stolen. Night of Joy is playing a benefit show for Hideous Men July 31 at the Megahouse).

American Tomahawk (Illiterate Magazine, 7pm): If Young Coyotes and The Photo Atlas had a baby it would literally be American Tomahawk. However, don’t expect anyone in this group to be playing their normal instruments.

Consider The Raven (Moe’s BBQ, 11:55pm): Just for total transparency, I am personal friends with the Consider The Raven folks. However, that doesn’t diminish the fact that you should see them close out the night at Moe’s. Just like Friday’s final time slot, there are a few other great ways to finish Saturday: Ukulele Loki (Mayan), Dualistics (Club 404), or The Pirate Signal (The Import Warehouse).

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The Westword Music Showcase 2010 ballot

by on Apr.27, 2010, under "Best of" Lists, Blogs

Last year, when SLS was still in its first stages, we got a big boost from local music journalist Dave Herrera at Westword when he asked me to nominate 20 bands for the 2009 showcase. A year has passed and once again I was asked to nominate 20 local bands that had made an impression on me. In the spirit of transparency, I’m going to list the bands I nominated. I decided to choose acts I had not previously  nominated.

Be sure to check out these groups (even if a few didn’t make the final list) and vote for your favorites by clicking here.

In no particular order… Tim’s picks for the 2010 Westword Music Showcase:

Achille Lauro
Candy Claws
Old Radio
Hello Kavita
Gregory Alan Isakov
The Knew
Fissure Mystic
M. Pyres
Arliss Nancy
Fellow Citizens
John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light
Jim McTurnan & The Kids That Killed The Man
Pretty Lights
Weed Diamond
Flashbulb Fires

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Gregory Alan Isakov: Sold Out at the Bluebird

by on Oct.18, 2009, under Concert Reviews

Gregory Alan Isakov has played an interesting role for the past several months. Rather than being the one with his name up on the marquee, or the man with the hot spot on the festival schedule, he’s been the humble opener. Perhaps it was this humility (and the down-to-earth atmosphere) that made his grand headlining show / vinyl release party at the Bluebird all the more enjoyable.What was even more amazing: the entirely Colorado-local lineup sold out the venue.

The first act was singer-songwriter Andy Thomas (who may possibly be the busiest guy in Denver, holding down jobs at Suburban Home Records & Westword while also drumming for Only Thunder). Thomas, armed only with his acoustic guitar, belted through a quick, folksy set that had a slight punk-feel (similar, I suppose, to Chuck Ragan, but more stripped down).

Friend to the blog Danielle Ate The Sandwich was next. What I found more amazing than just the set was the fact that the house was fairly packed by the time Danielle (& her bassist Dennis) took the stage. Not much more can be said about Danielle’s set than has been said in past reviews: it was charming and her music quickly drew in everyone present. As I recall, the sound-quality that night was superb, and Danielle’s set played incredibly well with the crowd.

Changing things up a bit, Eleanor took the stage with a full-band presence that their mellow pop-styling. The experience was moving, especially for singer Ryan Brasher, who apologized for getting choked up during the second song. Among the highlights were the songs “Would I Have Chosen You?” and the set-closer “It Takes One To Know One.”

By the time Gregory Alan Isakov and his band took the stage, the crowd had reached maximum capacity. Kicking off the set with “Big Black Car,” Isakov & Co. played through nearly every song from 2007′s That Sea, The Gambler and 2009′s This Empty Northern Hemisphere. What captured my attention was the sheer beauty, quality, and simplicity of Greg’s work. Isakov was not the only one who played a solid set, his band was spot-on.  After over an hour, everyone left the stage only to return twice for encores. I sincerely doubt that anyone in the crowd left that night feeling as though their money wasn’t well spent.

There are a few loose ends to tie up here. First, we got a video interview with Greg, it will be posted when I find the time to edit the footage. Second, our friend Lance from The Flat Response was there, perhaps he’ll post the sets from that night (I know I’d appreciate them). Finally, This Empty Northern Hemisphere is now available on vinyl, go pick up a copy from Suburban Home Records.

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Album Review: Eleanor – Find Someone Who Believes You

by on Sep.08, 2009, under Album Reviews

I am a fan of the anthemic.

Last night, as I was tooling around on my computer, trying to buckle down and finish some standing assignments, I hopped on iTunes. A few months ago I got a gift certificate for their online store, and had $3.94 sitting there, waiting to be used on something worthwhile.

Meanwhile, back in Facebook-land, Danielle Anderson (of sandwich-eating fame) informed me that she is going to open for Gregory Alan Isakov at his October 17th vinyl release party/show at the Bluebird. More kicking around the internets and I found the other local band that will be playing that night: Eleanor. A few weeks ago I saw this band was following my Twitter feed, and I listened to their EP stream on MySpace.

Well, it must have been fate, because Eleanor’s debut EP Find Someone Who Believes You is only $2.97 on iTunes. I bought that business and now I’ll share my thoughts on the 17.8 minutes of music now sitting in my hard-drive.

“I Have Made A Plan To Fly Away” is a flowing track drenched in reverb. A musical theme threads its way through the melody and layered instruments as they ebb and flow. A buildup occurs and the song flourishes before reverting to a capella voices.

The transitional song “Would I Have Chosen You?” dances along the lines of sleepy afternoons and haunting questions of ‘what if?’

Closing out the rather short record is the nearly 9-minute “It Takes One To Know One / Reprise,” a somber reflection on relationships gone awry. About halfway through the song, another musical theme begins to build. The plucked violins reminded me of Andrew Bird as the song began to build toward a crescendo. Intricate drum-work builds in and drops out as the song ends out (again with a capella vocals).

Watch a video from the recording of “I Have Made A Plan To Fly Away”

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