Tag: Gregory Alan Isakov
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
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.
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:
Gregory Alan Isakov
John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light
Jim McTurnan & The Kids That Killed The Man
It’s time, once again, for a concert calendar update. This time will be a special all New Year’s Eve update with a few of our top picks for your December 31st. A quick note: events sell out, so please check with the venues prior to going out.
Paper Bird & These United States: Hi-Dive, $20. Probably the top pick for our tastes (as well as users over at Gigbot, where you can see just about every show that’s going on in Denver). Paper Bird is some of the best bluegrass out there and These United States are redefining what it is to be an American rock band.
DeVotchKa & Gregory Alan Isakov: Mercury Cafe, $47. The intimate upstairs dancehall at the Mercury Cafe is the kind of place that looks like a movie. Lights, music, and dancing. There are fewer better ways to ring in the New Year.
The Knew & Brothers O’Hair (and others): Larimer Lounge, $10. For the patron who does not want to spend all of their money on entry to a show (and maybe have a little to get some champagne), there’s up-and-comers The Knew with Faceman and Brothers O’Hair.
STS9: Wells Fargo Theater, $65. I put this one on here because we’re going to the December 30th night of their stay-over in Denver. For fans of electronic and dance-beat music, this should be a hot ticket.
Drag The River & Motorhome: Road 34, Fort Collins, $8. For those seeking some fine alt-country with their festivities, consider Fort Collins’ own Drag The River, a band now legendary on the scene.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with Greg before his sold out show at the Bluebird a couple weeks ago. This video comes a bit late because I’m now running Windows 7 (and have been for a month now). A note to all Sony Handycam users with Windows 7: there is no USB support, so you’d best be getting some firewire action. I figured some geekery would be good to keep the blog from getting too musicy (after all we are engineers). Expect to see our interview with Hello Kavita coming later this week.
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.
It’s been a few days since anything has caught my ear quite like Katie Herzig’s new album Live in Studio: Acoustic Trio. Herzig (who has strong Colorado roots) is offering the record as a free download for the next month (until November 1). I’ve embedded the widget on this page so that you can have a chance to listen to it for yourself. While you’re at it, be sure to check out her show with another blog-favorite, Gregory Alan Isakov, October 12 at Fort Collins coffee shop Everyday Joe’s (click on the gigposter for tickets)
Since this is the first bit of free time I’ve had since getting back from the weekend’s festivities, the review will be for both days. Similar to what I did for the Westword Music Showcase review, each band gets 50 words max.
Gregory Alan Isakov: The first set we saw all weekend was from one of Colorado’s best singer-songwriters. Gregory played a solid set, which included my favorites “Virginia May” and “Big Black Car.”
Speakeasy Tiger: We didn’t catch much of this set, but it reminded me of any number of 80′s girl-pop bands.
Lydia: It was my second time seeing this group, and I actually appreciated their set more having listened to their record. The vocals came off a little sharp, but in the end it turned out to be a well-rounded set.
Danielle Ate The Sandwich: Danielle was in her prime as she played to a packed crowd at the smallest stage. Along with her bassist Dennis, this was probably one of the best sets I’ve seen her put on.
Frightened Rabbit: Only caught a few songs there, really nothing to write home about.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: It was during this set that everything got soaked (and didn’t dry for the rest of the day). ‘Pains’ reminded me of The Clash mixed with a touch of the Smiths (at least Johnny Marr’s guitar tone).
OK GO: Their good song was good, although they didn’t have any treadmills in tow. It was danceable at best.
The Walkmen: Another set in the rain. I might have zoned out for a good portion of The Walkmen. They were good, but didn’t really have any songs that stood out.
M. Ward: While he did play a couple songs from Hold Time, I really wished he would’ve played more from that record. However, ending the set with “Roll Over Beethoven” had to be one of the highlights for the entire day.
Boulder Acoustic Society: We determined that these guys took all of the gypsy and punk aspects of DeVotchKa and boiled them down into pure energy.
Girl Talk: Perhaps the best set of the entire first day, Girl Talk didn’t let the rain keep things from getting good. It was like a high school dance on speed. Not only was it fun to dance to, I also found spotting where samples had come from as another layer of enjoyment.
Of Montreal: I was not prepared for what happened during this set. There were people in costumes and strange projections. It was probably equivalent to taking a bunch of acid then having a psychedelic trip. However, it was still an amazing set and a good way to end the day.
Note: We skipped Yeah Yeah Yeah’s headlining set to beat the traffic. Also, we were cold, wet, and feeling rather miserable.
A Shoreline Dream: We were at it early again the next day and caught this band’s day-opening set. It was rather odd to see such a dark, prog-rock set indoors while the noon-time sun was brightly shining outside.
Jim Mcturnan and the Kids That Killed the Man: I actually ran in to drummer John Fate the previous day and he encouraged me to catch this set. I have also determined that Mike Marchant is in every band in Denver. As far as the set went, I like how Westword described it: “Dinosaur Jr. minus ten 100 watt Marshalls, a few temper tantrums and the pretension.”
We Were Promised Jetpacks: One suggestion I have for Monolith next year is do something different with the indoor stages. We were promised a We Were Promised Jetpacks set, but were forced to wait in the lobby for most of the set since the room was at capacity. However, we did catch the amazing ending to the Broncos game while waiting there, so not all was lost.
There you have it, a review about a band that really didn’t involve the band at all. Actually what we did see was quite good.
Rahzel: I am still in awe of this man’s beat-boxing ability. He had a DJ up there with him, but often just ‘boxed the beats himself. Also, he could actually sing, not something that can be said of all rappers.
Monotonix: I really didn’t know what to expect here. It was like if Borat had a cracked out old-school punk rock band. It was definitely a highlight for the entire weekend.
The Dandy Warhols: Stoner music, ‘nough said.
The Thermals: This Portland group played through a number of mildly enthusiastic songs, including a Sonic Youth cover. Overall, the simplicity of this band had me a little bored.
HEALTH: Since I had a hard time getting any good pictures, I tried to take one that reflected how it felt to be there. A violent jumble of noise and drum beats, HEALTH’s set was unlike anything I’d ever heard. It shook me to the core, but had danceable beats at certain points.
French Horn Rebellion: I got really bored very quickly with this group. It was standard electro-pop with absolutely no attitude whatsoever.
Methodman & Redman: I’m fairly certain there was a cloud of weed-smoke floating over the amphitheater during their entire set.
Passion Pit: More dance music, although this stuff had a full band, so it was more enjoyable. However, I really could not find a way around the singer’s ridiculous falsetto, it was incredibly distracting.
Phoenix: Once again, a decent band, but no real stand-out songs. It was danceable and played well with the main stage atmosphere, but kinda fell short.
Chromeo: This Canadian duo outdid most of the other electro-pop acts in that they also played live instruments.
The Mars Volta: The headliner for the second night was not a let down in the least. The energy that singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez brought to the stage had people in a frenzy. They played through a number of newer songs before playing my favorites “Drunkship of Lanterns” and “The Widow.” At one point they even played “Eunuch Provacateur,” a song from their first EP saying it was a response to the breakup of At The Drive-In.
Suggestion for how to actually sell out Monolith next year: Get At The Drive-In to reunite and play a one-time-only show.
Overall, Monolith was a good weekend, although there were several times during Saturday that I felt like going home (the weather was bringing me down). Overall there were a few gems in there, but for the most part it was a lot of hipster-dance and fairly generic rock.
We’ve got an exciting bit of news for you this afternoon. This post combines my 2 favorite things: local music and vinyl records. Gregory Alan Isakov’s This Empty Northern Hemisphere (which we reviewed right here), is being printed up on limited edition brown vinyl. Our friends over at Suburban Home Records / Vinyl Collective are offering a pre-order, and copies will also be available at the release show on October 17 at the Bluebird. As an added bonus (once again), listen to the entire record right here (via Suburban Home’s embeddable player).
I have tried for weeks now to connect the right words into a decent review of this record. The honest truth is that every time I listen to This Empty Northern Hemisphere I get so nostalgic I can’t concentrate. Perhaps it would be best to start with a few facts about the protagonist of this adventure: Gregory Alan Isakov.
Isakov, a Denver local, has been making waves for quite some time now. Originally born in South Africa, he grew up in Philadelphia before finding a home (at least for the present time, thankfully) in Denver. Upfront he has a definite folksy feel with hints of Bob Dylan and a touch of old-fashioned radio programmes (sounds like I’m reviewing a fine wine, also you know something is olde-fashioned if is has unnecessary e’s on the end of it).
As I said earlier, this record gets me nostalgic. Even from the first track, “Dandelion Wine,” a story unfolds. The plot twists and turns through the tracks, with each song standing as it’s own tale. One of my favorites is “Evelyn,” the story of a girl, working the graveyard shift at a gas station, with dreams of the open road and achieving more in her life.
Musically, this album is astonishing. A mixture of classic instruments with a modern flare for style, This Empty Northern Hemisphere captures a certain aspect of Americana that can only be found in song. Through his use of 2 different microphones (a clean and a “tinny” sound), Isakov employs techniques that keep the songs from growing stale too quickly.
As a special treat that comes courtesy of our friends at Suburban Home Records, you can stream the entire record via their embeddable player! Also check out the official MySpace and iTunes for Gregory Alan Isakov.