Review: Prep Rally's 'Head Rush' Is Full of Synthy Experiments & Light, Luscious Vocals

By: Julia Talen

Electronic indie pop duo Prep Rally will release their inspired sophomore EP Head Rush this April, full of vulnerable themes paired with instrumentalist Drew Norris’s catchy beats and vocalist Tatum Russo’s delicate voice.

The first track “Phoenix” kicks-off the EP slowly, with a soft, easy melody. It’s joined by Russo’s enthralling vocal harmonies, crooning lyrics indicative of the transformative and inquisitive questions sewn into this record like “will be born again” and “transcending from who I once was”. As the track progresses, Norris’ instrumentals build in complexity and the tempo ascends and shifts, lifting listeners into the tenacious and seemingly effortless layers of this record.

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“Roll With The Punches,” the second track, begins with an addicting piano beat evoking a throwback vibe. Similar to many of Prep Rally’s tunes, this song builds and expands. There is a nice bridge in this track with a round of voices singing lyrics like “roll with the punches” and “everyday is a rematch,” followed by what Norris calls a “sparkly arpeggio outro” which is mesmerizing. The band’s single, “Break In,” released at the beginning of the year, succeeds this tune and remains to be one of my favorite tracks on the record.

Another noteworthy tune off this EP has to be “Mean Girl,” a noble, feminist exploration into societal pressures on women and how impactful they can be. In considering this track, Russo states, “There is a mean girl in all of us,”  provoked by a society. Lyrics like “whoever gave a damn about what’s inside/and were put up to fight by the shape of our bodies,” parallel this sentiment as does Russo’s echoing vocals on this track which reflect the insidious and obsessive mean girl in our minds. The pop-like nature of the track allows listeners to digest some of the heavier concepts on this record, including dark, societal pressures. The next track, “Cloud Nine,” also explores anxiety and mental health, but through this pop duo’s delicious bops. Prep Rally’s EP overall destigmatizes such subjects.

Prep Rally.

Prep Rally.

The EP comes full circle with “Coffins in the Attic”, a song that explores facets of change and transformation, much like “Phoenix.” The tune is slower, like the first track. I like the risk the duo takes in the middle of the song in which everything breaks for a beat, followed by a breath and the ding of a triangle. Then listeners melt back into the folds of Prep Rally’s piano diddles, synthy experiments, and light, luscious vocals.

“Head Rush” explores heavy, important themes balanced by captivating patches of instrumentals quilted together to create a really nice, cohesive and interesting record. Prep Rally’s EP drops April 2nd. The dynamic duo will host a release party at downtown Denver’s Walnut Room on April 6th.

Keep up with Prep Rally here.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

F I N K E L's Spring Tour Features New Sounds & Will Be in Denver Next Week

By: Mirna Tufekcic

F I N K E L, a duo formerly known as Less Is More, is coming to Denver’s Three Kings Tavern on March 19th and FoCO’s Surfside7 on March 20th to spook you with eerie synth noises not unlike the Stranger Things intro. The husband and wife duo of Brian and Jane Spencer will mesmerize you with soothing harmonies and complete the experience by bathing you in ethereal synthetic textures. This bizarrely intriguing band has a few singles already released since the change in name and direction, which can be listened to and viewed along with stylistic and artsy videos, like their single “n e e d.,” “l e x i c o n,” and the most recent “w/o.”

F I N K E L. Photo credit: Erin Soorenko

F I N K E L. Photo credit: Erin Soorenko

This band will definitely not give you what you expect- it’s not defined by any genre per se nor is it your run-of-the-mill obscure indie band. So if you’re interested in seeing their live performance, come with an open mind and open ears! As F I N K E L’s “About” page on Facebook states, “Their lyrics explore themes of love and desire; understanding oneself and one another beyond surface qualities; and questioning the status quo. With every track, they’re suggesting we take another, closer look, because what we think we see and hear just might deserve inspection…  She triggering a MIDI mixing board, he on guitar, their vocals intertwine with a shadowy fluidity that invokes notions of another time; perhaps the middle of next week…” Errr, exactly that, but Mountain Standard Time.

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: Why J-Calvin's 'Heart Glow' Should Be Your Next Sunday Morning Album

By: Natalie Pulvino

Durango-based band J-Calvin recently released their debut album Heart Glow, and it’s the perfect record to pair with a warm cup of tea on a sunny Sunday morning.

The neo-soul funk five-piece group is making waves in the rising jazz-soul scene here in Colorado. Having been together for just over a year, the group has played over 70 shows in the Southwest region, hitting major stops such as the Telluride Jazzfest and Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest. Now, they’ve taken their work to the next level with the release of their debut album, Heart Glow.

The record kicks off with “Dare I Say,” a light groove that gets your head-bobbing right away. The rhythm to this song is both vibrant and buttery, featuring lead vocalist Sarah Pumpian. Her vocal effect is similar to neo-jazz musician Victory; her words and soft sound make you feel like you’re sitting in the sun with a soft breeze tickling your skin.

The band brings out a truly unique soul-funk sound on “Take Me Away,” the third track on the record. It begins with Pumpian on vocals, but halfway through blends into keyboardist Garrison Jones’ soft raps. Then, Will Metz jumps in and lightly shreds his electric guitar. This song is experimental, and takes you on an infused rollercoaster of soft jazz and soul-funk.

J-Calvin.

J-Calvin.

Then, J-Calvin melts us into “Sun,” which feels exactly how it sounds: warm, bright, and deliciously harmonious. Again, we hear the dichotomy of both Pumpian’s soft, enveloping voice with Jones’ rich low beats.

“This Will Grow” closes the album with some of the band’s best qualities: soft, jaw-dropping vocals, light jazz tones from the piano, drums, and electric guitar, and a palpable love for their work.

You can catch this group live in Fort Collins at the Magic Rat tomorrow, Friday March 15th!

Keep up with J-Calvin here.

-Natalie

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.


Rubblebucket Bringing 'Sun Machine' to Colorado for Two Shows Next Week

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Rubblebucket is hitting the road this month for their Spring Tour to spread the warmth and burns of their latest album Sun Machine. Lucky for us Coloradans, they’ll be stopping at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins on March 20th before heading straight to The Fox Theatre in Boulder on March 21st.

Rubblebucket.

Rubblebucket.

Sun Machine is a post-relationship child of the band’s core duo, Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth. As a sort of a homage to the duo’s romantic 11-year relationship end, Sun Machine addresses the trials and tribulations, and the persevering love that lasts despite the breakup. Sun Machine is a testament to the musically fertile nature of breakups, and the introspection and growth that follows. But if relationship tunes aren’t your thing, don’t be discouraged because Sun Machine is out on all mainstream music media platforms and it will take you on an intimate journey you can definitely sing and dance to.

Unlike their two previous albums, Survival Sounds and Omega La La, Sun Machine has a deeper, darker, and more serious mood. And not without reason. The band saw its end when the duo split, but despite and because of it, it also brought Rubblebucket a more grown-up sound with this newest record. The band’s lead singer Kalmia Traver went through ovarian cancer while Alex Toth took to sobriety from alcohol. Both artists came out stronger mentally and musically from these hardships, which are obvious in Sun Machine.

Rubblebucket’s upbeat, danceable core is decidedly still intact though, shining through on tracks like “Party Like Your Heart Hurts” and “Inner Cry,” both of which don’t pull any punches, emotionally or sonically. “Lemonade” on the other hand will make you feel things. A track with opening lyrics from which their latest album got the name, it reminisces on the beauty of days past when things were light and happy, then jerks you right into the day it all fell away. These musicians are a real deal; it’s why they couldn’t help themselves from continuing to create the sounds that move, despite all the hardships and a failed romance. That’s pretty powerful.

Ready to dance, cry, and dance some more with Rubblebucket? I am too. Get your tickets for The Aggie here and The Fox here for their shows next week!

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Excitement Builds as Lighting in a Bottle Releases Phase 2 Lineup

By: Benjamin Tillis

With less than two months to go until Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) music festival, DoLab released the second phase of their lineup. Phase 2 includes names for the transformative festival’s Grand Artique, Favella, Compass, and The Stacks stages, each of which contribute a different vibe and experience to LIB.

One of the most interesting stages is Grand Artique. In previous years, Grand Artique has curated an eclectic group of artists to perform throughout the weekend, many of which have a folk feel. Notable names playing this year are Ozomatli, Rising Appalachia, My Baby, Swingrowers, and WC Thornbush & The Great American Show. The latter is a comedy act that puts you into the world of America during The Prohibition in the 1920s. They sing fun jingles, including a satirical advertisement for cigarettes, and show off their musical talents all while making you laugh.

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It’s shows like these that separate Lighting in a Bottle from other festivals. It’s an event that you can walk into knowing few of the musicians and leave with five new favorite bands and DJs. This is in addition to the yoga, workshops, speakers, and other fun events that take place throughout the weekend.

Lighting in a Bottle will take place in Buena Vista Lake in central California, two hours north of Los Angeles and will host 20,000 attendees from May 8th-13th. Headliners include Disclosure, Big Gigantic, Santigold, Lane 8, G Jones, Polish Ambassador, Toro y Moi, Khruangbin, and a much anticipated “3D” set from Flying Lotus topping the lineup.

For more information on the festival and for tickets, click here.

-Ben

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Synesthesia Is Throwing a Fiercely Feline Inspired Art Party at Spectra Art Space This Saturday

This Saturday, March 16th is Spectra Art Space's closing party for their cat-themed show called "And Meow This: The Tail End.” Synesthesia, the team behind our favorite Pink Party, is curating the evening. The night will feature work from a multitude of mediums by 30+ artists and musical appearances by Funk Hunk, Retrofette (DJ Set), and DLZMKSBTS.

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The Simple Parade's "Broken Beauties" Music Video Is Elegant In Its Simplicity

By: Sam Piscitelli

Since their birth, music videos have primarily been used as visual tools to either tell a story or to garner some sort of response, whether it be for views or for artistic consumption. It’s a way to let the artist’s fans get a glimpse into their head and see a particular song from the perspective they drew their creativity from. Most importantly, a music video can either make or break the song you want it to represent. In their recent video release, Denver’s The Simple Parade don’t allow the nonsense of pressure to dictate their art; rather they let their art dictate the video.

The Simple Parade’s “Broken Beauties” music video aims for potent storytelling rather than reliance on visual escapades. The acoustic approach to the song met with the winding-down city as the day seeps into the night really gives the listener a chance to embrace the ambiance of it all. It makes “Broken Beauties” flourish actually. In the kind of atmosphere that is being portrayed, the lyrics are more accessible and seemingly slip easier into the ear of whoever is listening. This gives the songwriting a front and center spotlight usually unheard of in music videos, which is brilliant when you think about it.

The “Broken Beauties” video depicts frontman Justin Hooper with just a guitar in hand singing while walking through downtown Denver. While it’s not a high-budget video nor one that tries to be, it’s definitely charming in its simplicity, much like the track. Some say elegance can be born from simplicity, and simplicity can lead to excellence. In this case, that’s exactly what is seen (and heard) with The Simple Parade.

Keep up with The Simple Parade here.

-Sam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.


Denver's Lollygags to Release "Digital 7-Inch" This Weekend

By: Julia Talen

Colorado’s own Lollygags, founded in 2011 by Denver native Jonathan Snyder, and accompanied by bassist Ryk Bonus, kicks off their series of new releases in 2019 with what they refer to as a “Digital 7-inch.” Like the classic two-sided 7-inch vinyl, this “digital” version includes two new tracks: an A-side and a B-side if you will, titled “Don’t Ask Why” and “Maum Meditation,” both humorous reflections of strange, modern life occurrences.

Lollygags.

Lollygags.

The A-side track, “Don’t Ask Why” tells the story of a dismal dating app date, something most of us can relate to in 2019. I’d never heard the Lollygags before, and this track immediately reminded me of Modern Lovers, its humorous lyrics evocative of the witty track “Pablo Picasso.” Lyrics like “I show up/just a little late/ I blame traffic/ that’s a lot of crap” and “you finally notice my copper suit/ you say it’s weird” reflect the awkwardness, cynicism, and absurdities of online dating to a tee, with a punk rock tune that sucks listeners into its identifiable story.

The B-side track, “Maum Meditation” starts out a bit slower. Again, that 70s influence shines through at the start of the track which reminded me of the Velvet Underground. The lyrics are a bit more vague in this tracks as Lollygags reflect upon an instance in which Snyder went to a meditation center looking for enlightenment, only to realize he’s walked into some sort of cult meeting of the group “Maum Meditation.” There is a transition in the song where psychedelic elements, like synthy overlays infuse the track, reminiscent of The Beatles in the late 60s. This track’s experimental elements compliment the the real life farce Snydman experienced.

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The “Digital 7-inch,” highlights this band’s ability to fuse storytelling, humor, rock, and experimentation. These tracks will be up on Spotify and all over the web by the end of this month, and Lollygags will celebrate the release on the afternoon of March 3rd at the Oriental Theater. This project is just their first release of 2019, and I’m curious to see what other sardonic jams the Lollygags drop this year.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Lightning in a Bottle Releases Incredible Lineup, Offers Much More Than Just Music

By: Benjamin Tillis

Now taking place in Buena Vista Lake in central California, two hours north of Los Angeles, Lightning in a Bottle will host 20,000 attendees from May 8th-13th this year, instead of its typical Memorial Day Weekend dates.

After festival creator DoLab announced a new date, location, and capacity for their “transformative festival,” LIB fans were anxious to see the Phase 1 lineup released February 15th. It is safe to say people were pleased.

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The biggest names on Lightning in a Bottle’s Phase 1 lineup for its Lightning, Woogie, and Thunder stages include Disclosure, who went silent after releasing their last full album, 2015’s Caracal, along with Big Gigantic, Santigold, Lane 8, G Jones, and Polish Ambassador.

This year the festival also seems to appeal to a more indie jazz vibe with musicians like Toro y Moi, Khruangbin, and a much anticipated “3D” set from Flying Lotus topping the lineup.

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There are still two stage lineups that have yet to be announced, Pagoda and The Grand Artique, which bring one of a kind musicians and theatrical acts you won’t see at any other festival.

DoLab does a great job year after year of bringing in unique and up and coming artists, but they also curate a festival with so much more than music. With a focus on sustainability, social cohesion, personal health, and creative expression, there is so much to experience at Lightning in a Bottle, including yoga classes, sound baths, and creative workshops. It truly creates its own culture that encourages you to express yourself however you feel.

For more information on the festival and for tickets, check out LIB’s website.

-Ben

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Dacota Muckey Healed Souls in Hilo, Hawai’i Last Weekend

By: Moriel O’Connor

Some days are spent upon a black sand beach, between cliff sides and riptides, with climbing trees and drum circle beats. Other times, we stay inside. There are rainstorms, and they keep us humble. Some people get lost, but there is still plenty of concrete in the midst of this jungle.

Dacota Muckey.

Dacota Muckey.

Last Saturday night in Hilo there was no rain. Only roses. Roses that were probably grown, then flown from overseas. Maybe marked half off after V-day, then gifted around Hilo Town Tavern in perfect timing, at the heart of Dacota Muckey’s performance. Strong and empowering, his voice brought people in from blocks away.

Dacota sings passionately or not at all. He dwells in some type of “feel it in your bones” vocal range that few can touch. In 2018, Dacota released a record titled This is the Music that Heals Your Soul. With acoustic roots, loop pedal effects, and a tendency to swim through genres and improvise interludes, he creates a profound sound for a solo artist.

Based out of Indianapolis, Dacota has shared stages with acts such as Blues Traveler and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and played for music festivals Shangrila and Bonnaroo.  He also plays in midwest jam band, “The Trip.” He lifts spirits on and off the stage, and has a voice that deserves to be heard. Turn up his album to hear for yourself.

-Moriel

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Japanese Band Kikagaku Moyo Delivered a Tightly-Honed Psychedelic Performance at Boulder's Fox Theatre

By: Adam Cabrera

Tuesday night, Kikagaku Moyo performed at Boulder’s own Fox Theater, delivering a performance that ranged from the soft, serenity of acid-folk to the fuzzed drenched, freakouts of heavy psychedelic rock.

Kikagaku Moyo. Photo per the author.

Kikagaku Moyo. Photo per the author.

The Tokyo-based five-piece band, who have been continuing to grow international acclaim, rarely visit North America, and even less frequently make stops in Colorado. So, it wasn’t a surprise to see a theater packed with fans on what would typically be a slow night for most live music venues. All in all, the show was more than expected and turned out to be one of the best I’ve attended over the past year.

Starting out the night was Boulder artist Ashley Koett. What felt like a mix between soul, jazz, and indie bedroom pop, the band brought together a relaxed, laid-back set composed of tasteful bass grooves and catchy guitar melodies, all supported by the pleasant timbre of Ashley’s voice. Following Koett’s crew was WEEED, a psych-rock quintet featuring the uncommon double-drummer setup, along with electric bass, guitar, flute, conga, harmonica, and ambient live-looping. In long, hypnotic jams, the band captivated the audience and got them moving along with the heavily textured percussion and the reverberating daze of guitar solos.

But, as the headliner collected themselves on stage, a noticeable change in energy happened throughout the room. Hair grown well past their shoulders and dressed in clothes which resembled the fashion of the sixties and seventies, Kikagaku Moyo gave off the semblance and character of wandering bohemian mystics with a slew of curious instruments placed upon the stage. The usual cast was present (drums, bass,keyboard, and guitar), but the unusual characters such as the electric sitar (a defining aspect of their sound), and cello also found their place among the band.

Tightly-honed, as well as spaciously free-formed, together they played through the best of their catalog adding unique improvised moments which made watching the performance feel all the more special. It was a pleasure to get to see the band react on the fly, switching from spaced-out meditations tenuously held together by echoing guitar riffs, to introspective and effortlessly catchy pop melodies which quickly received cheers from the crowd once recognized.

In this rare chance to see Kikagaku Moyo, I couldn’t have been more satisfied with their incredible performance, and I was even happier at the end of the night when I stopped at the merch table to picked one of their records on vinyl, as they rarely make their way to U.S. record stores. Surely to be recognized as one of the most notable psychedelic acts of the past decade, it was a pleasure to see Kikagaku Moyo perform.

Keep up with Kikagaku Moyo here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: Professor Plumb Releases Their New Single "Red Sky"

By: Adam Cabrera

In their new single “Red Sky” released on February 15th, the Denver-based rock band Professor Plumb drifts atop a turbulent sea of metal doom in a slow, heavy hitting jam which warns of impending catastrophe.

Professor Plumb.

Professor Plumb.

First appearing in the Mile High in 2018 with the release of two singles and eventually a five song EP entitled The Magic Twelve (EP 1), Professor Plumb has proven themselves to be one of Denver’s more noteworthy new artists over the past year. Led by vocalist/songwriter Benom Plumb, who began his career working in music publishing and is currently an Assistant Professor at The University of Colorado Denver’s Music Industry Studies Program (hence the bands name), Professor Plumb is his first effort as a performing artist. Comprised of Plumb performing second bass, John Demitro (Pink Fuzz, The Velveteers) on guitar, Alex Bailey on first bass, and Ben Hatch performing drums, the band managed to find some recognition with their 2018 single “Midnight Creep.”

But last year’s aggressive, punk-inspired single plays in stark contrast to Friday’s release, as “Red Sky” introduces a new sound previously unheard from the band. Where “Midnight Creep” was a fast paced, rock’n’roll shuffle, “Red Sky” is funereal. Reminiscent of Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” or Pink Floyd’s “The Nile Song,” the single moves along sluggishly while relishing in dark, menacing guitar riffs which subside just before breaking off into a high-energy guitar solo. One sound that distinguishes the recording is Benom’s voice. Sitting well below the vocal range of many punk/metal singers, Benom projects a unique baritone which cuts clean through the densely packed distortion and booming drums.

Furthermore, the heavier sound lends itself to the similarly dark themes presented in the song lyrics. Steeped in metaphor and ancient mysticism, the song’s imagery paints a picture of world destruction and coming apocalypse. Borrowing a line from an old rhyme often repeated by mariners, Benom’s words warn of red clouds on the horizon and “wicked” sailors who appear ignorant of the coming storm.

When asked what the song’s lyrics refer to, Benom explains that he has always been fascinated with “end-of-the-world” scenarios and the self-destructive, often hippocratic, nature of the people involved. In regards to Red Sky, Benom says that he was influenced by a red winged-planet referenced by the ancient Sumerians. The planet, aptly named “destroyer”, was said to wreak havoc on the Earth as it entered our atmosphere. With this in mind, it’s easy to imagine a certain pessimistic outlook on humanity that the song details but Plumb suggests that a far more positive message can be realized. To Benom, the song is a word for the wise and encourages, “kindness, empathy, love and compassion for one another” by pointing out the hubris of humankind and the dreadful consequences if it be left unchecked.  

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The single comes as a precursor to The Magic Twelve (EP 2), the group’s next release in a series of three similarly titled EPs. So, in the swirl of an eerie crystal gaze and heavy metal rumbling, “Red Sky” gives us a taste of what’s soon to come from the band as well as something to blast over the stereo while we wait.

Professor Plumb will be performing at the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) Songwriter Showcase on Saturday, March 2nd located at The Post Brewery in Boulder, CO. The same day, Benom will be hosting a panel on film music and audio production on the Pearl St. Mall. On the morning of March 3rd, you can also catch them performing a short set just before the screening of The Mustang at BIFF.

Keep up with Professor Plumb here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Desert Hearts Creates Love with Late-Night Los Angeles Party

By: Benjamin Tillis

This past Friday night, following Valentine’s Day, Desert Hearts hosted a cupid-friendly event at The Belasco Theater in Downtown Los Angeles, titled Let’s Make Love. Desert Hearts is a music festival and record label located in Southern California. More recently, they host parties like Let’s Make Love and many others around the country. However, to call this event just a party would be a huge understatement.

Let’s Make Love. Photo Credit: Miranda McDonald

Let’s Make Love. Photo Credit: Miranda McDonald

With two stages on two different floors at the historic Belasco Theater, all you had to do was climb up a couple flights of stairs to switch from a music festival DJ set vibe to an underground warehouse party scene. The music was primarily house and techno. On the main stage upstairs, fans gathered with lights and Valentine’s Day-themed decorations to dance to Marbs, Lee Reynolds, and Desert Hearts’ staple Mikey Lion.

Meanwhile, the smaller stage downstairs was hosted by Sublevel, a DJ who also goes by the name Doc Martin. Sublevel played a set following satisfying shows by Aunton Tumas, Mr. Koolaid, and Jeno.

Desert Hearts knows good music, but their biggest draw is the crowd their events appeal to. There is a culture of acceptance, giving, and being yourself, and as a result, you meet people who are happy to be there, decked out in crazy outfits and grooving with new and old friends. It’s an incredible atmosphere that even extends in the common area outside. When you’re tired of dancing, it’s easy to start conversations there with other party goers.

Like most Desert Heart events, the party went until 4 AM, satisfying the dancing needs of all the nocturnal animals of Los Angeles.

Check out DesertHearts.us for more information on parties in your area and the Desert Hearts Festival which takes place April 26th-29th just outside of Los Angeles. You’ll be glad you did!

-Ben

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The Strange American's "Till You're Told" Music Video Is Symbolic Of The Musician's Journey

By: Sam Piscitelli

As a musician, whether you’re a solo artist or in a band, there is this acknowledgement that comes with garnering a certain amount of fans or receiving positive praise. It’s as though you are no longer a lone act playing your songs in your bedroom; instead you seem to be a well-known somebody. From there, all seems like it will move upwards rather than careening into a haze of obscurity. But, what people don’t know is the long-haul you’ve placed yourself in; the countless times you  practice your craft, the stomach-turning preparation of every interview or review of you and your art, and the unnerving fear that as quickly as your dreams were made, they can just as easily disappear. In their music video for “Till You’re Told” the Strange Americans symbolically covers the landscape of the music business while also relying on the talent that brought them their success.

The video begins with each band member on their own, forging their individual paths. They all carry one item with them, the items being symbolic of who the band is when they come together. The symbolism in the music video is very subjective, but to me each item plays off one another. For example; the lantern is for the fire the band has inside of themselves, the sticks are the framework of the band, the amp is the way in which they express themselves through music, the shovel is about burying the past, and the suitcase is for the accomplished dreams they wish to carry with them one day. With their now unified front, the Strange Americans then begin to traverse the land together. To me, this shows that while they are further than they’ve ever been before, they’re still on the journey. It’s a music video that reflects upon anyone’s time in the music industry. You can walk for miles with the passions you have, the items you bring along for the ride and create as much as you want, but nothing is certain.

While the symbolism can- and mostly likely will be debated- we can’t ignore how this video catches the heart of the struggling musician. It’s a message that no matter how much you go through from the very beginning till the end of your make or break career, that nothing will be set in stone, especially your reputation “Till You’re Told” otherwise. In a business that is continuously changing, the only thing you can be sure of is the work you put out into the world. Once it’s out there, it represents you and that’s what matters. For a video that has a lot of hidden meanings, it’s untold truth is undeniable.

Keep up with the Strange Americans here.

-Sam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Grammy-Nominated Bands Bring Me The Horizon & The Fever 333 Rocked The Fillmore

Bring Me The Horizon.

Bring Me The Horizon.

Grammy-nominated rock band Bring Me The Horizon released their sixth studio album Amo in January. Amo is the band's most experimental album to date and possibly the most divisive album for longtime fans. But it may also be one of their best musically and commercially with hit songs “Mantra” and “Medicine” but also some of the deep tracks like “Sugar Honey Ice & Tea” and “Heavy Metal,” which round the album out nicely. It’s the only time in the band’s history that they have had a #1 album in the U.K. The band first gained notoriety as one of the premier deathcore bands in the mid 2000s and slowly gained a “poppier” sound with each successive album, leading them to be one of the most popular rock acts to date.

BMTH are currently on the First Love Tour supporting the latest album with special guests The Fever 333 and Thrice. The sold0out show at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver this past Monday was packed to the brim early. Fans were setup to see fellow Grammy-nominated artist The Fever 333, who are known for their crazy onstage antics, particularly front man Jason Butler (formerly of Letlive). Old-school hard rockers Thrice were sandwiched in the middle, playing a solid show to setup for BMTH.

BMTH are known for putting on entertain and theatrical performances with a great light show to match. The set started out with a bang, with streamers flying throughout the venue as the notes for “Mantra” shook the building. Even with a couple of technical difficulties in the first few songs, BMTH powered through like nothing was wrong. The band rarely plays any songs from albums older than Sempiternal, much to the ire of the OG fans, but they still rocked the heavier songs from that album. The set was topped off with the #1 single from the band’s last album Throne, and they then sent everyone home with a confetti shower to celebrate a night of amazing music.

The guys are on the tail-end of their U.S. tour before they take a quick break and start again on a Mexico and South American tour. You can check out Amo for yourself and follow the band here.     

-Nathan

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Greeley's Futurebabes Have Transformed Into DEBR4H

By: Norman Hittle

Out of the reformation of former Greeley synthpop band futurebabes, DEBR4H was conceived. The new band recently released their debut EP Taipei Rock City. Check it out below:

In regard to their recent transformation, the band had this to say: “Well gang, we’re doing it. It’s come time to retire the futurebabes name. We’ve taken it down a long road with many ups and downs and fought the good fight. But now it’s time for a restart. A time to let go of the past and look towards the future and that future is not forever anymore.”

With some similarities to their former sound in futurebabes (which you can find our review for here), DEBR4H continues the highly eclectic electronic trend with a heavy synthwave vibe. Their new record makes for very chill driving music, accompanied by a singing style similar to She Wants Revenge and Interpol.

DEBR4H.

DEBR4H.

Along for the ride in this reformation are Oliver and Jakob from Slow Caves, with Oliver taking the helm of the producer for the project as well. As of now, there are no performances booked for the band but here’s to hoping DEBR4H will continue to play out around the Denver area as futurebabes once did.

-Norman

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

I Hate It Here Tell Us About Their Unconventional Sound

By: Adam Cabrera

Exceptionally loud, passionate, and in-your-face, I Hate It Here is a Denver based synthpunk two-piece whose unapologetic, experimental sound pushes the boundaries of contemporary electronic music. The group is comprised of frontwomen Cooper Carrington who acts as the sole producer, lyricist, and vocalist, while Alec Doniger provides accompaniment on drums.

Though Cooper has been releasing music for I Hate It Here over the past three years, Alec was added to the project in the fall of 2018 giving a unique electro-acoustic sound to their live performance. Alec is not featured on their most recent release, Songs for Pouring Bloody Glories: Why There Is None (Amongst Other Things). In spite of that, the album is perhaps the best in I Hate It Here’s catalog and is only improved upon with the addition of Alec’s drumming when performed live.

IHIH-1.JPG

For the moment the band will be on hiatus until Cooper returns from attending school in New York City. In the meantime, she will continue to make music under a new project named None Known with plans for an album release sometime this year.

After hearing this news, I decided to attend their final farewell show where I sat down with the duo to ask a few questions.

How did this project come together? Where did it start?

CC: I guess I started recording and writing stuff in 2012 and then I made a lot of bad experimental music under the name Toast Confessions. And then, in 2015 I released I Hate It Here’s first EP.

What was the process of creating that EP and putting that whole thing together?

CC: Yeah um… I guess that was when [writing music] started a continuing trend for I Hate It Here which was really writing about some of my worst emotions and some parts of society that I think are grotesque. So, in a way it’s therapeutic I suppose it’s like a diary almost, but it’s weird because I show everyone in.

What does this project mean to you? Why do you do it?

CC: The “why” is you know just something within me that I guess just commands me to make music and make that a part of my life. For I Hate It Hear though, the “why” was in a lot of ways it was for myself and like I said earlier it's therapeutic and it helps me express things that I am dealing with and articulate them. And, you know, feelings aren’t so easy to describe through words, so I think the sounds that I make help articulate the intensity of them.

What sonically about your music correlates with those emotions?

CC: You know, In a lot of ways they are emotions that are really hard to tell people about in general, it’s not easy just saying them. The sounds are a good way to convey the intensity of these emotions that are often quite negative. So the screaming and the noise I guess it just represents a lot of chaos that is going through my head. I mean there’s also a political element to it a lot of the time. Once again I feel like the political things that I like to talk about are political topics that are not touched often.

What are those topics?

CC: So, for example, Rage Crown’ is a song about street battles between far right and anti-fascist groups. And, you know I’ve attended some of those before. And I guess kind of my emotions around this. What is the effectiveness of this? Does it seem feudal? Does it seem… uh… Why is it that I think it’s so important? What drives me to do that? Or, drug addiction and the whole world around the politics of drugs. Whether there be like legal aspects of it, like the criminalization of substances, or the social elements of it. How when one recognizes one who does a lot of drugs that’s probably a time when they need people to talk to the most and yet that's when people distance themselves from you.

In some of my future releases, I talk more about being trans and just emotions about that. Dealing with transphobia and general discomfort about the subject. And I think it’s also important to talk about whiteness and class. Because I feel like America really just doesn't want you to talk about those things. And, like I said I feel like it's important to talk about these taboo issues.

Do you think your music serves as a medium for those things to be talked about?

CC: I do. I do. Um… I actually think about this a fair amount… You know, I don’t see… Um...

Is that something that motivates you’re writing: opening up the conversation?

CC: I hope! I hope it does. It’s also something I get kind of self-conscious about though.

Why is that?

CC: Well, for one thing you know I talk about things that from a liberal standpoint might be very controversial. And, sometimes I think I may be spitting out perspectives that might actually be nasty that I’m not even trying to convey. So, you know, I’m worried I would never want to make someone so uncomfortable with my music that they would want to turn it off. But, there is a certain level of discomfort that I do want to make people feel. Alec actually once talked to me about how sounds in themselves and music without lyrics can convey some sort of politics in a way, and I thought that was very interesting.

AD: I think that maybe the only reason I say that is because I think it’s almost by escaping, not escaping politics I mean it’s definitely a very central thing, but at least having these spaces to do this, express your political views, you know, I think that is what’s political about it. The fact that we get a chanced to play at DIY spaces like Thought Forums where they open it up for like you know, even if it’s a math rock band that doesn’t have lyrics like Cat Bamboo that last time, I think what makes that political is the fact that it's even able to happen, you know what I mean. Yeah, it’s an expression that isn’t being suppressed and often times that is what politics does in this country. It suppresses people.

CC: Yeah I think you’re really right about just having them perform in these spaces is a political act. Cause in a lot of places all these bands which are often young kids and people in their early twenties and teenagers, you know they can’t always afford to buy out a venue for the night to perform. And that's what's great about DIY spaces is that the whole attitude is that it’s accessible.

What inspires your music making?

CC: Yeah, I find that a lot of people just in general find it hard to talk about very intense emotions that have happened to them even privately with a single person. And I think that creates something kind of toxic in our society, just like a certain emotional closed offness. So I feel like I channel a lot of painful experiences that I’ve had into my music because I think it's important that people be able to be open about those kinds of things.

How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it before?

CC: You know most of the time when someone asks me when I’m like, ‘Oh I make music,’ and someone's just like, ‘Oh what kind of music do you make? I’m just like, ‘Uuh it’s pretty weird,’ and then I don’t know exactly where to go from there. I guess I would say its menacing, I would say its discomforting, but in challenging and important ways. I like to think so at least.

AD: I also find it, I mean I’m not the creator of it, but I also find it really pretty. Not in a sense that is sounds beautiful or conventionally beautiful but in the sense that, like we were talking about earlier, that you’ve created a very very effective outlet. I mean I think what’s beautiful about it for me is specifically watching you perform. Yeah, there’s never a moment in my mind where I’m doubting that you aren’t pouring your soul into this, which is beautiful.

CC: Thank you, I appreciate that. Yeah, even though it is experimental music with lots of elements of noise and avant-garde stuff, it can often be pretty melodic in a lot of ways.

Could you talk about the performance of it a little bit more?

CC: I’ve had someone come up to me and say that they wonder if I did theater in high school and if I acted, and I did, and it was nothing like… Oh my goodness I was um… You know… I’m not playing Huckleberry Finn. I guess I’m kind of the antithesis of that. But yeah, you know, when I go up I feel like it's not acting as so much as is being able to express these… if I expressed these songs in any other way than what I do, which is often pouring a lot of soul into it, pouring a lot of emotions into it, interacting with the audience a little bit during the songs and doing weird stage antics, I don’t see how it could be performed any other way. Like, I don’t see myself standing perfectly still and singing it unless I wanted that effect because that would be weird.

Are you musically trained? Do you have a musical background?

CC: Yeah um, I’m a classically trained vocalist, and I did choir all through high school. And uh, I’ve done voice lessons and guitar and mixing and mastering classes.

Does that background influence your music?

CC: Yeah definitely I think folk, like classical folk, has had a big influence on me and Italian standards and choral music I think have quite a bit of influence on me. And you know I only knew about these things through choir and my voice lessons.

What drew you to music to express your art?

CC: Well I’ve had a drive to sing and to express myself with music since I was young. My mom tells me this story how about how in kindergarten we had our classroom, and there was a bathroom for the kindergarten kids in the class. And, at the same time every day I would go into that bathroom and take a shit and sing my fucking heart out, and the whole class could hear, and I was just clueless. But looking back at that I guess that's the beginning of me not giving a shit about what...

AD: You did give one shit!

CC: I did give one shit, oh my God!

AD: Just putting that out there.

CC: Um… yeah, and I just feel like sounds can carry a lot of emotion. I think singing a poem can take that poem a lot further than maybe just reciting it or reading it?

What are your more modern musical influences?

CC: Uh more modern stuff… I guess I really get inspired by a number of things like I listen to a lot of different music from around the world, so I guess lately I’ve been listening to a lot of like Ghanaian music and also kind of standards and experimental rock, and art rock, and whatnot. But I also listen to a lot of hip hop, and I listen to a lot of electronic music like minimal electronic music like techno and house. And then yeah I guess I listen to a fair amount of noise music and experimental stuff.

Is there anything new coming up in the future for I Hate It Here?

CC: Yeah pretty much what we are performing tonight is almost all new material which has not been released yet so yeah there’s an EP that's gonna be coming out this year, a single that's gonna be coming out this year, and an album under a different project name called None Known. And that is more experimental, and its structure has a bigger element on noise and ambiance. So that whole album is about exploring themes of sexual trauma and transphobia, and kind of the failures of queer theory and domestic violence and stuff. So, it's some really f*cked up stuff, so I’m excited about that.

Keep up with I Hate It Here here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: The Symbols' 'Catching Fire' Is a Solid Funk Blues Mash-up

By: Julia Talen

Fort Collins-based bluesy-soul band The Symbols are out with their sophomore record, Catching Fire, an album infused with front woman Mer Sal’s sultry, Amy Winehouse-esque voice, and her husband Jasco’s funky, rhythmic guitar solos.

In an interview with Westword on Catching Fire, Jasco shared that the album differs from Smile, their first record saying, “I wanted to get a fairly live feel. I didn’t want to do tons of overdubs and soundscaping, things that would make it hard to duplicate live. In some ways, it’s a little bit sparse in terms of vocal harmonies, extra guitar parts and keyboard parts that a band can [get away with] in the studio. But we decided not to do too much of that.”

The Symbols.

The Symbols.

While listening to Catching Fire, I felt like I was close to a stage in the Rocky Mountains swaying in the summer to some of their latest tunes. With the first track “Good For Me,” listeners get a sweet taste of Mer Sal’s incredible vocals paired with bluesy, textured harmonies before hearing more of the breadth and range of her voice in “Let’s Be Love,” the album’s second track.

The title track certainly was one of my favorites, beginning with a sparse drum beat before Sal’s fierce vocals cry lyrics, “Boy you better run/because I’m catching fire.” Jasco shows off his guitar skills (he used to played for Grammy-nominated band Blinddog Smokin’) in this one too, with mesmerizing solos and far-reaching scale.

Other tracks of note are “Shake It,” a total jam dance number sure to energize summer music festival this year with lyrics, “Shake that butt/funk it up/get your groove on.” “Soon” is another favorite of mine. Sal scats through this tune and the mid-century vibe reminds me of jazzy buskers in the French Quarter. The album ends with “Our Song,” an emotional, heart-wrenching ballad that truly reveals the rich power this duo evokes in their music.

Catching Fire is out now and The Symbols are set to tour throughout Colorado and the Midwest this spring with forthcoming shows in Denver, Boulder, Loveland, Fort Collins, and more. They also give back many of their proceeds to charities like Realities for Children and Adoption Dreams Come True. Scope out this magical, funk-meets-rock-meet-blues mash-up’s latest raw and rich project.

Keep up with The Symboles here.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Why Corsicana Are One of Denver's Finest Up & Coming Indie Acts

By: Sam Piscitelli

As I walked into Globe Hall around 10:30PM, I was immediately caught in a sea of people anxiously waiting for Corsicana to take the stage. As I found a spot where I could just barely see the band, I heard different comments about the group from the people around me: “Man this band is really good- thanks for coming with me to check it out!”, “I can’t wait to hear them!” and “This is going to be a great night.” It seemed Corsicana had already garnered a warm and welcomed reputation. As the band finished their soundcheck, the crowd erupted into cheers, whistles and screams. Lead singer, Ben Pisano let the audience know that since it was Perennial’s release party, they were going to play the whole album from start to finish.

As they dove into their latest artistic effort, everyone in the room either fell quiet or let loose. One way or another, they let the music soak over them. You could feel the electricity in the venue. Corsicana took that energy and engaged the audience in an intimate way, making it seem like they (and you) were the only ones standing in the room that night.

Corsicana at Globe Hall. Photo Credit: CODO Productions.

Corsicana at Globe Hall. Photo Credit: CODO Productions.

Corsicana’s songs spoke for themselves, showcasing the undeniable talent of the musicians, their songwriting, their knowledge of their instruments, and their vocals. Each song was carefully played as Corsicana kept their instruments taut, leading the crowd through 55 minutes of raw, unfiltered emotional honesty. Whether it was the switch from the “A side” of the album to the “B side,” there wasn’t a moment where the band didn’t pour their hearts onto the stage and leave them there for all to see. Up there exposed, Corsicana thrived in the openness of it all. They somehow even sounded better live than on the record. I would be surprised and disappointed if they didn’t take advantage of their performance excellence and put out an alternative release of Perennial as a live session EP.

As a rock band, Corsicana quiets themselves to be loud. They’ve figured out who they are even before their first record, and this time around they’re allowing themselves to glow without the worry of it all. It’s a special thing to see- the moment a band considers themselves worthy of their fans, when all along the fans felt that they were the ones who were thankful for them. Even when Corsicana ended their set, their fans erupted chanting, “Encore!” Corsicana walked back onto the stage and played a finale song, letting fans know that even when all is said and done, they are thankful for them and all their support.

People talk about seeing bands before they become big because they knew the moment they saw them they would be someone. Corsicana is one of those valuable Denver indie bands. I wouldn’t be shocked if they signed to a label in a year or two. Dare I say, they are one of Denver’s finest bands and their release show proved it.

Keep up with Coriscana here.

-Sam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Denver's Foxxes Are Starting the Right Kind of Fires

By: Sam Piscitelli

On January 17th, 2019, I was introduced to the Denver music scene. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Although, I had listened to Foxxe’s sophomore release, “Firestarter” a couple of hours prior to their release party at Globe Hall, I had never ventured out and seen the live music Denver had to offer. I have to say though, this first experience was one I’ll never forget.

From the moment Foxxes stepped onto the stage, they captivated the entire room, as if they somehow had the ability to make people gravitate towards them. There was something in the air, and whether it was the band’s agreed upon excitement about playing live for the first time in little over a year, or their driven intent on delivering an album that made them feel complete as musicians, you could tell this performance was going to be their most heartfelt yet.

Foxxes.

Foxxes.

As the band started to play, you could feel Globe Hall come alive. Their energy engulfed the room, leaving nothing but their music to be heard. With their delicate delivery, but powerful presence, the audience joined Foxxes as they traveled across their new discography and dipped into their old catalog as well. Their subtle control over their own compositions and melodies relayed a sense of envy. For a band who is only now releasing their second album, the members of Foxxes are experts in their craft.

Each member stood up on the stage bathing in their own individual glory. This wasn’t a feeling of just watching another well-oiled rock machine, but rather watching equally talented musicians in their own right come together to perform a piece of art that has brought them together. While Foxxe’s approach to rock music isn’t as deafening as other acts, their ability to pull you in, come together and set the room on fire with controlled flames shows that while, yes, they’re young as a band, they nonetheless have a deep musical prowess. What made their release party even better though was the authenticity of it all. They weren’t trying to be someone else or pretending to be better than they are because they know who they are is good enough for them.

By the end of the night, they thanked the audience for their patience, for their time, and for their support. They then reminded their fans that while they would like to be paid for their art, they understand if you can't afford it or aren’t willing to pay and told fans they could take a free copy of their record Firestarter if they’d like. I was blown away. They explained by saying that they “just want their music to be heard.” To Foxxes, what matters to them is the music and to them, their music being heard was the real reward. The following day I bought both their albums and considered myself a fan.

Live music has a tendency to have a fight or flight atmosphere to it, one where you're never sure what you as the listener will hear or not hear. I came in that night to Globe Hall with no expectations, but I left with the confidence that the Denver music scene is in good hands.

Keep up with Foxxes here.

-Sam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.