Premiere: Listen to Moon Hammer's New "Unravelled" + the Band Tells Us How This Track Was Sewn Together

Moon Hammer. (Left to right: Reed Fox, Megan Crooks, Ishka Bee Phoenix, Mark Emmons) Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Moon Hammer. (Left to right: Reed Fox, Megan Crooks, Ishka Bee Phoenix, Mark Emmons) Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

Denver’s Moon Hammer, an ever-changing collection of Moon Magnet-affiliated artists, is playing Denver’s Underground Music Showcase on Sunday, July 28th at 3 Kings Tavern at 6PM. In anticipation of their show, they decided to premiere their new song “Unravelled” with us today before it drops on all streaming services this Friday, July 19th. The song has been created and “destroyed” several times over to near its final completion, so take a listen:

“Unravelled” was mixed by Neil Lyons and frontman Reed Fox, and mastered at Moon Magnet Studios, but prior to that, a lot went into the actual writing and recording process of this track. Says Fox, “Moon Hammer is a writing collective and most of our shows feature a lineup of different members. Everyone can bring songs to the group to play and it's usually Megan Crooks (Ancient Elk) or Ishka Bee Phoenix (Ghost Tapes) because they're genius songwriters. Megan showed us her song ‘Unravelled’ two years ago and everyone was eager to bring it to life. Usually the songs are recorded and released quicker, but this one took longer because we kept reimagining it and adding stuff to it, which is ironic because it is the most minimalist recording I've ever been a part of. The process was a lot like the quote I'd never credit because it came from Bono: ‘Making records is like making sausages, the end result is palatable but you don't want to see how it's done.’ Basically we recorded a ton of things and all agreed it was best to scrap almost all of it.”

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

Oddly enough, “Unravelled” almost became a House track at one point in the process. “We recorded it live initially with Dylan Johnson (The Other Black/Dandu) on electronic drums. Derrick Bozich (House of Aura/Sound of Ceres) came over and was recording mellotron months later and since the drums were recorded through an SPDS and every drum pad sound was mono on one channel, Derrick re-recorded the drums on separate tracks. With this project, Neil and I email projects back and forth frequently so I sent it over to him and he remade the drums again and re-recorded some awesome 808 bass. I think it was our third reiteration of drums and bass. He made it sound incredible and chopped up Megan Crooks’ vocals and threw the samples on pads and played them like an instrument (just like you hear in the recording). Then he emailed it back and I made a House version of the song. We considered using it for the chorus when Neil and I met up again at his studio to mix it some more and ended up realizing the House version was a terrible idea.” says Fox.

So how did “Unravelled” finally become sewn together?

“We scheduled a session for Megan, Ishka, Jeremy Averitt (Esmé Patterson), and Kevin Netz (Jurassic Netz/Fever The Ghost) to come over to Moon Magnet Studios and record more stuff, because we still were unhappy with [the song], but little did we know that a version from a year prior was our favorite, and the one you hear now is pretty much that. Kevin recorded gazillions of synths and bass (again) on it. Jeremy recorded xylophone over the whole thing. Ishka recorded vocals. Months after that we listened back to the version from a year prior and realized that was the best version and that we just needed to release it. Then Neil and I met up at the Magnet and I tried to include all the people that had recorded on it which was virtually impossible because that version had scrapped everything.

What you hear now is Neil on the beat, vocal chops, and 808 bass. Neil, Jeremy Averitt, and I co-produced it. Neil did a ton of the snazzy creative things. Derrick's mellotron is on the end of it, and you can hear Kevin's synth on the chorus. Ishka's harmonies are on the chorus and Megan sang and wrote the song of course. Jeremy's Xylophone is on the intro. We kept exploring options and didn't realize the song had already been finished and ended up having to dig up an old project file to get back to how it was before we ruined it.” Fox told us. 

In the end, the complex, two-year recording process of “Unravelled” almost mirrors the lyrics Crooks wrote from the start. Adds Megan, “This song is about letting the force of change and chaos take control and gracefully bowing to its power with faith that things will fall back in place for the better. I wrote the [lyrics] on a whim two years ago, pulling the knowledge from the ether, not knowing I was preparing myself for exactly this time in my life.”

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

After letting the force of change take control over their final product and battling their creative demons to get to the gold, Moon Hammer’s “Unravelled” is finally ready for eardrums everywhere. As for what this collective is up to next, Fox tells us, “Moon Hammer is performing on the MCA rooftop with Wes Watkins August 2nd at 7pm! We're also unleashing two more singles before the year’s over, so check out our Spotify to hear our recent releases!”

Keep up with Moon Hammer here.

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

Premiere: Denver Meatpacking Company Release Chaotic New Video For "Warning Shot"

Last fall, Denver Meatpacking Company released their second record Escape, “a throwback to the early 90s rock scene, with a unique blend of indie and a little grunge, creating an old school sound with hints of The Pixies and The Presidents of the United States of America.

The Denver rock three-piece have been busy since then, releasing videos for several of the songs on the album and playing area shows. Today, we’re premiering the band’s newest music video for their song “Warning Shot,” the third track on Escape.

The video opens with what looks like the aftermath of a night partying on the beach. There’s a pause as the waves crash, and then the video moves on to city-scapes and shots of the nighttime sky. Interspersed with these is a DMC live performance and actors getting pummeled with water, pillows, and even a hand slap for the song’s chorus. The video closes with a rewind scene on a mushroom cloud. Much of the video was actually filmed and created by the band.

DMC.

DMC.

Said member David Simutis about the video, “The inspiration [for the video] was very much related to the meaning behind the song. While the song isn't really overtly political, it's hard to avoid the climate we find ourselves in. So you have this sense of nature and calm being interrupted by chaos and people everywhere, and sometimes something just wakes you up from the day-to-day drudgery- it's like a slap in the face. And the live footage is just so people know we're actual real people playing in basements and garages and not robots. Or something like that…”

Denver Meatpacking Company’s next show is this Friday, 01/26 at 3 Kings Tavern with Vic N' The Narwhals and Waiting ‘Til Three. After you check out their new video, make sure to catch the band live and keep up with them on Facebook.

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

This Denver Company Is Connecting The Traveling Music Community One Overnight Stay At A Time

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Colin Bultinck’s business idea started where many great ones do: at a music festival.

Bonnaroo was one of the first things that inspired me to be a musician.” Colin recently told us, with his first trek to the fest’s Manchester stomping grounds being back in 2015 (Kendrick Lamar headlined that year ICYMI).

“People are so positive there and there were so many people who had traveled from all over the place to be there. That’s when I realized friends were staying in hotels, camping, and looking for places to spend the night near the festival.” Bultinck said, “And that’s when I was surprised that there wasn’t something already like this.”

By this, Bultinck means his company Rock n Doze, an online site where users can book a room for a night similar to Airbnb, but with a heavy music focus.

RNDlogo.jpg

“I’ve been a lifelong musician and though I’ve never gone on tour, I have a lot of friends who have. Being involved in the music community, I know it’s a struggle for traveling musicians to find a place to stay, and better yet, to practice. I know touring bands who have stayed in their cars or at someone’s apartment who they met at their show. And I know bands who find themselves inspired on the road wishing they could play once they get to their destination, but don’t have the option.” Bultinck said, “Then there are also the fans. I’ve traveled to four Airbnbs specifically for concerts and music events this past year. Rock n Doze brings this entire music community together.”

Much like Airbnb, anyone can book a room for the night on Rock n Doze and anyone can host a room or home. But users are also encouraged to talk music! If hosts have a studio or practice space, they can include that with their room for rent. If they have gear available for use, they can market that as well. Fans can also book with Rock n Doze and expect to have a host who is more knowledgeable about the local music scene than your average Airbnb-er.

Colin Bultinck. 

Colin Bultinck. 

“Before I moved to Denver, I stayed at an Airbnb. I wanted to find a city where the music scene was supportive of local artists so I shared my story with the host and asked about looking at local music spots that I’d be able to play if I moved here. The host didn’t know any music venues. They were right down on South Broadway by Hi-Dive and 3 Kings! I was surprised that Denver could be such a big music city, but they had no idea where the local spots were. That’s when I realized that whether you’re a musician, a tech on tour, or a fan, there should be something to further connect the traveling music community.”

Hence the birth of Rock n Doze, which is currently available in several music markets with a focus on the Denver and Front Range music scenes. The site is currently in its first stages, with a full launch planned around the start of festival season. Still, it’s already seeing business.

“At my house, I offer a studio space with a drum kit and mics and amps. I had a band who stayed at my house recently, and I jammed out with them for a little bit,” Bultinck said, “This could open up opportunities for home concerts, ride-sharing for fans, and even connecting with potential fans on a more personal level if you’re a hosting band.”

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Local industry players can also advertise services on the site- concert photographers, street teams, and other promotional show services are already available for booking.

Which brings us to the dough. Rock n Doze takes only 5% of fees for services and spots booked, which is less than competitor Airbnb. Just one conversation with Colin will tell you that while he wants to grow the business, the goal of Rock n Doze goes far beyond profit margins.

“We offer bands a cheap place to stay and play, and fans a place to meet other music-lovers.” Bultinck said, “[Rock n Doze] is meant to support and connect an industry that really needs it. I honestly think it’s the future of the traveling music community.”

Check out more from Rock n Doze and book a room for yourself here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Brought Together Artists & Fans For Four Days Of Awesome

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s annual four day music festival The Underground Music Showcase rocked South Broadway last weekend. We crawled the strip, ate nothing but pizza, and almost refused to sleep in the name of good music. Here are some of our favorite things about this year’s festival:

The Bands

Of course we went to as many shows as possible and of course most of them really rocked our socks off. But here we’re going to be shameless and first tell you about the killer acts who played our packed official day party.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

BolderBeat & KGNU combined forces this year to bring you Brunch with a Beat at The UMS, which was five hours of sugar and synth by some of Colorado’s most promising electro acts.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Mirror Fears kicked things off with her industrial goth pop, Church Fire kept things movin’ with their Crystal Castles-esque electronic primal therapy, and DéCollage wrapped the front of The Irish Rover in Mylar and swept the stage with their avant-garde pop. Retrofette’s synth stylings followed, and created a massive dance party full of hip-shaking & flash tattoos. Whiskey Autumn’s indie synth pop closed the show; their unreleased track "Birds That Flew" had many whistling along to its chorus. And in between sets, DJ Erin Stereo crushed sweet beats. We gave away tickets to upcoming Future Islands and Thundercat shows, and we passed out donut lollipops, which many showgoers expressed they hoped were laced with weed (they were not kidz).

As for the rest of our UMS:

Anthony Ruptak.

Anthony Ruptak.

Our first official set at UMS 2017 was at Hi-Dive on Thursday with Anthony Ruptak, who started us off with amazing tunes from his new record Don’t Let It Kill You, and even streamed a Facebook live anti-Trump vid from the stage. Punk rock.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ghost Tapes were a funky, neo-soul standout at Skylark; frontwoman Ishka Phoenix had the crowd melting as she delivered tasty R&B sounds from her ice cream microphone.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Corsicana gave us tasty indie tunes while we nommed hard on an Illegal Pete’s burrito, which was the only non-pizza item we allowed ourselves for sustenance. The four-piece are playing a couple of big Colorado shows with Hippo Campus this month, so make sure to roll to those.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

OptycNerd describe themselves as “eclectro indie pop hop sexy time,” and well, we wish we’d written that ourselves. Their sexy time at Hi-Dive was enjoyed.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus brought her dark, operatic vocals to the main stage; Red Fang spouted the classic rock stoner jams they’re known for to a headbanging crowd.

What is cooler than wearing glow-in-the-dark face paint? Glow-in-the-dark guitar strings- DUH. Motion Trap had ‘em at their Rover set on Saturday, and they played their electro sonic disco tunes to a packed house that boogied with them from start to finish.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

All Chiefs kept us out of the rain at Hi-Dive with their indie rock vibes, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones kicked up some folky soul at Gary Lee’s Motorcycle Club, and GALLERIES played a heartfelt tribute show celebrating the life of late Denver music prodigy Kyle McQueen.

The Outfit.

The Outfit.

Rock’n’roll’s The Outfit played their final set ever at 3 Kings Tavern on Friday to a mosh-ready, beer-heavy crowd who were clearly sad to see them go.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

The Savage Blush had a killer psych rock-dripping set at the main stage, Slowcaves brought us chill wave surf rock sounds, and Dragondeer managed to blues rock us almost straight through a downpour, though they had to cut their set a bit short when the rain just about flash-flooded the festival parking lot in true Colorado fashion.

Esmé Patterson.

Esmé Patterson.

Brent Cowles revived a soaking crowd with “Cold Times” when the sun came back out, Esmé Patterson slayed her evening dream rock set with unreleased music and a touching tribute with Kitty Crimes to the late Tyler Despres, and Benjamin Booker crowd surfed his way right into Colorado’s heart, closing out the main stage of the festival Sunday evening.

The Booze

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Breckenridge Brewing was a main sponsor for The UMS this year and we sipped many an Avalanche by the main stage throughout the fest. Dewar’s had what felt like a tiny house made for drinking with free smells and scotch eggs. It was delicious and why you would have wasted your tongue on any other mixed drink in the hot sun and the pouring rain is beyond us.

The Bunny

Yeah. This one.

Yeah. This one.

Mixed Up Gifts’ pop up shop on South Broadway had some sweet merch for sale from Sacred Bones Records and a creepy night light if you’re in the market to wake up afraid of the dark only to find Jason lurking in your bathroom. But best of all was their bunny, who tried to coerce festival-goers into the shop while eerily reading children’s books through the window.

The Budz

No, not that kind you typical Denverite. Overall, we had a rad time at The UMS this year, and we highly encourage you to check out all the bands we mentioned, all the acts we live-interviewed with Zach Dahmen, and any of the performers on the local lineup in general. Because if there’s one thing we came away with after four days of music-hopping insanity, it was with community- from the performers themselves, to the UMS staff and volunteers, to the eager ticket holders bouncing from show to show hoping to find their next favorite band- Denver came out to support its own. Whether we were playing beach volleyball in the artist tent during a downpour or running from the main stage with our best budz to get back to Broadway for a set (those smarter ones took the Meow Wolf bus), this weekend really showcased you- the local music supporter. And for that, we and apparently Governor Hickenlooper, thank you.

Check out our full photo gallery from The UMS here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Review: Surrender Signal's 'Landgrab' Is Raw Art Rock

By: Norman Hittle

Denver based Surrender Signal just released their debut album Landgrab this year. It’s a nine-song effort in a 90's quarterstick/dischord style not unsimilar to acts such as Fugazi and Slint.

Listen to Surrender Signal's Landgrab:

Formed in 2015, the band consists of Brian Lenherr (guitar/vocals), Andrew Chitwood (drums), and Chase Middaugh (guitar). Though at times their music seems overly simplistic, many songs have a wide array of raw sound- sometimes atonal and loud, sometimes, soft and quiet- and frequently with strange timing. Aside from the aforementioned acts, there are hints if not great swaths across tracks of a post-punk and art-rock sound in the vein of 90’s TOOL circa Opiate as well as Bauhaus circa Crackle.

In a way, Landgrab is a fun blast from the past in an era of modern recording. Not only is the sound raw and seemingly alive, but it’s not overly produced or polished to a point where you wouldn’t recognize the band if they were playing it live. With the tendency of today’s music to go way too far into post-production, Surrender Signal seems to know when to let technology rest and allow their sound to be heard in unadulterated forms.

The best track in my opinion is “Premiere,” with it’s slightly off-kilter form and poetic style of lyrical content reminiscent of Maynard James Keenan’s first band: Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty.

Surrender Signal.

Surrender Signal.

Check out Surrender Signal live this Friday, July 14th at 3 Kings Tavern! Event info here.

-Norman

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

Your Guide To Colorado Shows For New Year's Eve

By: Hannah Oreskovich

It’s time to pop bottles Colorado! Here are our picks for New Year’s Eve shows this weekend:

Berthoud

Jeremy Mohney at City Star Brewing in Berthoud 9PM-Close

Jeremy Mohney.

Jeremy Mohney.

Boulder’s Jeremy Mohney released multiple EPs this year, both of which definitely caught our ear. The jazz/swing artist is throwing down at City Star Brewery to welcome in 2017, and we definitely recommend getting your swing moves on at this one. Mohney will have your feet tappin’ in no time, and after a few celebration libations, you won’t want to sit still. Details here.

Boulder

Andrew Sturtz & Friends at The No Name in Boulder 10PM-Close

Andrew Sturtz.

Andrew Sturtz.

Soulful singer/songwriter Andrew Sturtz will be holding things down behind the big brown door tomorrow night for NYE. Known locally for his solo work and his performances with The Constellation Collective and other groups, Strutz will croon you into the new year in style. Plus, there’s no cover. What’s not to dig? Deets here.

Lady and The Gentleman at The Lazy Dog in Boulder 10PM-Close

Boulder’s Lady and The Gentleman have made some changes to their lineup this year, but they’re still bringing mad grooves to the Colorado scene. Tomorrow they’ll grace the stage at The Lazy Dog, and no cover means no excuses. Get to it! More info right here.

The Alcapones at Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Boulder 10PM-Close

The Alcapones.

The Alcapones.

If you want to be shaken up Boulder, here’s your chance! The minstrel show of The Alcapones will be taking over Conor’s to dance you into the wee hours of 2017. Come hang and get rowdy! There will be lots of funky horn playing for your listening pleasure. More info here.

Yonder Mountain String Band with The Railsplitters at The Boulder Theater in Boulder 8PM-Close

Yonder Mountain String Band.

Yonder Mountain String Band.

Nederland’s Yonder Mountain String Band are holding down the BT for NYE. The five-piece bluegrass band well-known around these parts will share the stage with Boulder’s The Railsplitters. Get over to get down! Tickets here.

Denver

Flobots with Nahko and Medicine For The People at The Ogden Theatre in Denver 8PM-Close

Flobots

Flobots

Denver’s Flobots members have been locally active in several awesome events this year, including Denver’s “Our Neighbors, Ourslves” refugee benefit and the Rock Against The TPP event. Tonight, the crew will swing you into the new year with Portland’s Nahko and Medicine For The People at The Ogden. Tickets here.

Fox Street & Friends with Tiger Party at The Bluebird Theatre in Denver 9PM-Close

Dever’s Fox Street & Friends will be rolling in the new year tomorrow at The Bluebird with a 12-piece band and double sets, which will include music from the movies Boogie Nights and Blow, and tracks by Rick James, David Bowie, and Prince. The band’s frontman Jonathan Huvard is relocating to NYC in 2017, so this show is your chance to catch this crew together in what may be their last local performance for awhile. Tiger Party will open the night with songs by LCD Soundsystem. Tickets for this dance party here!

Itchy-O with Total Unicorn at Summit Music Hall in Denver 8PM-Close

We actually spent our NYE with Denver’s Itchy-O last year, so we’re here to tell you this show is going to be a magical time! The mysteriously masked band will have you boogieing all over Summit Music Hall; Total Unicorn is opening. Enter the dark. Tickets here.

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club with Kid Congo Powers at 3 Kings Tavern in Denver 10PM-Close

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club will be laying out their ‘Commandments’ for you tomorrow evening at 3 Kings Tavern, and we’ve actually got a whole interview with Slim himself for you here. This show will be one crazy ride into 2017, so take it! Tickets here.

The Yawpers with The Other Black at The Oriental Theater in Denver 7PM-Close

The Yawpers. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

The Yawpers. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

We love The Yawpers. And we love The Other Black. And both of them are sharing the stage tomorrow night at The Oriental for NYE! The Moved and Evan Holm & The Restless Ones are opening the show, making for a full lineup of Denver badassery. Get to this gig- seriously. Tickets here.

Winehouse Masquerade Ball with Judge Roughneck at Mercury Cafe in Denver 930PM-Close

Winehouse.

Winehouse.

Denver’s Amy Winehouse tribute band Winehouse are ringing in the new year at Mercury Cafe with plenty of sultry, soulful vibes. Presales are only $20 and Judge Roughneck is opening the night, so grab tickets while you can! This will be an awesome show. Deets here.

Durango

Nappy Roots with Jerney at Animas City Theatre in Durango 9PM-Close

Jerney.

Jerney.

Nappy Roots are closing out the year in Durango tomorrow, and Denver’s Jerney is opening the gig. Jerney has been dropping new music like crazy this year, and this is one of his last Colorado shows, so make sure to get to it! Tickets here.

Greeley

The Burroughs with Bryce Merritt at The Moxi Theatre in Greeley 8PM-Close

The Burroughs.

The Burroughs.

Greeley’s The Burroughs dropped some sweet new music this past year, and they’ll be playing that for you tonight + more tunes at The Moxi. The nine-piece soul pop outfit will be joined by Bryce Merritt for good measure. Wicked. Tickets here!

Fort Collins

Rose Hill Drive with The Velveteers at Hodi’s Half Note in Denver 9PM-Close

The Velveteers. Photo Credit:   Sierra Voss

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss

Denver’s The Velveteers are arguably one of the most successful acts coming out of Colorado right now. Fronted by Demi Demitro, the heavy rock two-piece will make you headbang all the way up until Boulder’s Rose Hill Drive takes the stage at Hodi’s. Go get yourself hypnotized. Tickets here.

Rollinsville

Jaden Carlson Band at The Stage Stop in Rollinsville 10PM-Close

Jaden Carlson.

Jaden Carlson.

Teenage musical prodigy Jaden Carlson has had quite the year in the Colorado music scene. From impressive opening slots for bands like The Revivalists to her own headlining performances at The Fox, Carlson has proved she knows how to break. things. down. Head out to her last performance of the year tomorrow at The Stage Stop! We guarantee it will be an impressively good time. More info here.

That’s it for us for NYE Colorado! See you in 2017!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

10 Commandments and 8 Questions: A Conversation with Slim Cessna

By: Will Baumgartner

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is a Denver institution. The band has survived 24 years (you read that right; they formed in 1992) without even a “hiatus,” let alone a “breakup” despite members living in different states for large chunks of those years. For this alone they deserve not only credit, but a certain awe, for as anyone who has tried to run a group knows, it’s hard enough to keep things going when you all live in the same town, let alone all over the country. Add on the fact that the band creates amazing music together, performs like they’ve just brought an insanely fun party from their house into the club, and has brought their party to Europe with great success, and you have the makings of a great story about perseverance and love in the modern music business. Actually, let’s call that a novel: Where most bands’ careers can be read more like short stories, SCAC’s is more of an epic tale.

The band’s music has been called everything from “experimental rock” to “alt-country,” but after experiencing them live, on record, and in their sublimely strange videos, facile categorizations need to go out the window: This is just an amazing band. No discussion of the group would be complete without some mention of Slim’s “sidekick” Munly, a wickedly talented songwriter and bandleader (Munly and the Lupercalians) in his own right. Munly, who joined SCAC in 1999, has been the group’s main songwriter for years and wrote all the songs on 'The Commandments According to SCAC,' the band’s sixth studio album, and their first on their own label, SCACUnincorporated. The rest of the band, with Lord Dwight Pentacost on custom-designed double-neck guitar, multi-instrumentalist Rebecca Vera on keys, pedal steel, cello and more,  bassist Ian O’Dougherty, and drummer Andrew Warner are all consummate musicians and performers.

'The Commandments' came out in September of this year, and is an outrageously good album, with videos for each of its 10 songs on YouTube, which provide their own otherworldly visual experience as a foil to SCAC’s music. There are plenty of live videos online as well, and checking out a few of those is a great way to get prepped for what will no doubt be two of the best concerts of the year, when Slim Cessna’s Auto Club take over 3 Kings Tavern in Denver for two New Year’s shows on December 30th and 31st.

Slim Cessna's Auto Club.

Slim Cessna's Auto Club.

In an attempt to prepare myself for the excitement and madness that is a SCAC show, and to better understand the workings of the group and the mind of its frontman, I sat down with Slim and asked him a handful of questions. I was impressed by his humor and graciousness; he couldn’t say enough about Munly and all the members, including Vera and Lord Dwight (with whom he also has an “experimental folk” quartet he clearly loves called Denver Broncos UK or DBUK). In fact, he seemed much more eager to talk about his beloved bandmates than himself.

In a section of our conversation that occurred before the “official interview” that follows, I asked Slim about the somewhat unusual situation of the frontman not being the main songwriter. With characteristic humility, Slim said, “We play to our strengths, and Munly’s has always been songwriting. I’m mostly good at putting on a show and acting like an idiot.” The band’s New Year’s shows at 3 Kings will no doubt prove once again how outrageously good he is at putting on a show, and his answers to my questions prove clearly that there’s a very intelligent man behind that act. Read on:

The main thing that has always struck me about Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is how the dark subject matter of most of your songs is juxtaposed against the delirious fun of how they’re performed. Is this deliberate?

No. I don't think the songs need to be considered dark. I think of them as life-affirming good stories. The narrator in each story is always seeking redemption through whatever source they are able to understand. Yes, we do have delirious fun. 

The hellfire-and-brimstone aspects of your Baptist upbringing get a humorous treatment in your music. Were your parents very seriously religious, or was the church just one part of their whole cultural picture?

I wasn't raised in a fire and brimstone Baptist church. It was much more conservative than that. We sang hymns and it wasn't anything like our shows. Much has been made of our performance that compares us to a tent revival. I think that's based on reputation and what has been thought and then repeated over the years. I suppose that's understandable given our sometimes over the top live performances. We also don't shy away from using biblical content. 

Check out Slim Cessna’s Auto Club’s video for “Commandment 3”:

How did the Auto Club originally get together? Were you already friends with some of the members?

Always only friends.

It’s always a plus for me when the members of a band seem to be real friends who enjoy and love each other onstage and off, rather than just being sort of “business partners” and SCAC definitely comes across as group who are actual friends. How do you feel this helps your music and performances?

This is my family. This is important. We all have each other's backs. 

SCAC.

SCAC.

During the years when you were all living in different parts of the country, did it ever feel like too much work to keep the band going? How did you manage working up new material and rehearsing it?

It was more work than was good for us. We did our best to maintain and continue. Somehow we managed.

SCAC’s music has been categorized a few different ways, including “alt country,” “gothabilly,” and even “Southern gothic,” but in conversation you call it simply “American folk music.” Do you find these attempts to pigeonhole what you do limiting or superfluous?

Gothabilly keeps showing up on Wikipedia. I've personally logged on to erase it, but it always comes back. Who does that? It's my least favorite word. It reminds me of muscle-bro-cartoon-looking-characters with perfectly dyed pompadours and face-makeup. I thank God every day we are nothing like that. 

How did starting your own record label and recording your album DIY affect the whole process of making 'The Commandments According to SCAC'?

Recording and releasing on our own has been wonderful. We had to learn to rely on each other in new ways. We discovered new gifts even after decades of friendship. 

Listen to The Commandments According to SCAC on Spotify:

After getting some well-deserved rest in January, y’all hit the road again in February for a tour of the Western US, and then head right back to Europe. Seems like there’s no rest for the wickedly talented. Would you be happy going on this way indefinitely?

Yes. What else do we have anyway? We have nothing to fall back on. I suppose I'll do this 'til I die.

Make sure to hit up one of SCAC’s New Year shows this weekend. Details here and I’ll see you there!

-Will

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

The Final Day of The UMS 2016 Showcased Powerful Females & More

By: Hannah Oreskovich

The final day of UMS 2016 started off slow, which was unsurprising given the late night slew of shows on Saturday. Small crowds of zombies, still with a rock’n’roll twinkle in their eyes and glow stick goo on their shoes, wandered into the main stage area around 2PM in a noticeably lower attendance than the day before, but no matter. There was shade. And shade at The UMS is a hard commodity to come by.

DeCollage.

DeCollage.

As I wandered around South Broadway in those early Sunday hours, I found myself reflecting on what was overall an amazing weekend in local music. Having the chance to bounce around from venue to venue for four straight days checking out bands was this girl’s dream come true. It was a heck of a weekend Denver! So let’s chat about yesterday’s shows:

My favorite thing about Sunday at The UMS was the number of female-fronted performances I saw. Say what you will; the music industry is still very male dominated, whether you’re looking at artists or those behind the scenes. But ladies repped The UMS stages yesterday, from the smaller venues to the main shabang.

Millicent.

Millicent.

Let’s start with Millicent. Fronted by Emily Knurr, Millicent is a vibe pop project making Colorado waves. Knurr delighted a growing crowd at 3 Kings Tavern, many of whom admitted to being pulled in by the sound of her voice echoing outside of the venue. Her deep and magnetically smooth vocals pulled people close to the stage as she sang songs from her last EP Deux, a Drake cover, and some of her newer music (which has been all over OpenAir, so tune in!) She was stellar.

Shady Elders.

Shady Elders.

Shady Elders took the stage next, an indie rock/dream pop four-piece out of Denver fronted by Fox Rodemich. Rodemich also plays lead guitar and soon after starting the set, she turned the dance floor into a vibey haven of indie. 3 Kings was really the spot to be for indie over the weekend, and Shady Elders fit right in. They had an impressive crowd for an early Sunday show, and kept people groovin’.

Adia Victoria.

Adia Victoria.

Adia Victoria played the main stage mid-afternoon Sunday. The Nashville-based songwriter and vocalist's most recent album, Beyond the Bloodhounds, was produced by Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinney). Her lyrical poeticism wrapped us up in Victoria’s world, which she describes as, “falling in love, dealing with loss, confusion, anger, love, and loving myself”. Victoria had an Erykah Badu sound wrapped in a tasty indie sandwich. It was delicious.

The Velveteers.

The Velveteers.

Ready to rock, I rolled to the Hi-Dive, where The Velveteers were already performing. Frontwoman Demi Demitro was ablaze onstage in a glittering golden jacket belting out powerful heavy rock tunes. Her golden curls covered her face, giving her a mysterious glow that you couldn’t look away from. She jumped around stage while slamming on lead guitar and headbanging with the crowd, and her drippy choruses were catchy and captivating. Demitro is one lady you have to see live, Denver.

Cold River City. 

Cold River City. 

Cold River City, who dropped their latest full length album Thank You. Sorry. Love You. earlier this year, took the Hi-Dive stage in the early evening. The Boulder/Denver five-piece, who describe themselves as, “the love child of funky soul and dirty blues” brought a party. With grooving bass lines, strummy licks, and frontwoman Emma Fields’ killer voice, the crowd boogied throughout their set. Fields jumped between guitar, shakers, lead vocals, and even some toy instruments. CRC rocked, and they kept the evening moving along with a fun energy.

San Fermin.

San Fermin.

San Fermin took the main stage next, a Brooklyn-based eight-piece who are as fun to watch as they are to listen to. The group has had a lot of steam behind them recently, thanks to their release Jackrabbit, and after hearing them live, it’s easy to see why. With a robust horn section (John Brandon, Stephen Chen), Rebekah Durham’s violin playing, and lead vocals running between Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate, this group brought incredible instrumentation to the outdoor stage that echoed throughout the bellows of Broadway.

Polica.

Polica.

Polica then closed out the main stage as Sunday’s headliner. The brainchild of Channy Leaneagh, Polica played across their catalogue for their set, but are currently touring on their release, United Crushers. And that’s fitting since the Minneapolis-based project crushed their set! With dual drummers and Leaneagh’s commanding vocals, Polica was the perfect outdoor close to a great weekend of music.

BANDITS.

BANDITS.

Once the main stage shuttered shut and the crowds funneled to smaller venues, I took to the Hi-Dive again, where Denver’s BANDITS were straight shredding. Sibling duo John and Lulu Demitro are the creators of this three-piece, with the multi-talented Andrew Oakley on drums. John (guitar/vocals) was an alluring showman, with a rock’n’roll edge that kept us locked on the band’s set wondering what he would do next. Whether he's scratching his guitar on the monitor or running into the crowd, energy at any BANDITS set is guaranteed to be high. And Lulu, on bass and vocals, was equally powerful in her stage presence, holding down tight bass lines, and getting the crowd to sing along with her on tunes like, “Kill Tonight”, which she’s described as a track inspired by “a modern day Jekyll and Hyde, a psychotic way of looking at yourself and letting the crazy side take over”. The crazy did take over, as BANDITS slayed into the final night of the festival.

Beyond all of these female-fronted acts, I caught some rockin’ dudes on Sunday as well that are obviously worth mentioning. Denver’s DeCollage helped people get weird with their opening set of the day, with crazy visual props, a live painter onstage, and even a dancing oyster. Ian Cook brought a beautiful grace to the stage with his amazing cello playing and a set of songs inspired by fossils and dinosaurs. Modern Leisure, who we recently wrote about here, had a super chill and groovy set at 3 Kings that kept the afternoon moving along nicely. And last but not least: Denver’s The Yawpers managed to not only rile up a half-dead crowd into a riotous dance party of foot-stompin’, head shakin’ fun, but they somehow even got the sun to come out for their set. They brought life to the stage in more ways than one; you just gotta love these guys. Seriously- take a listen.

We had a blast at The UMS this weekend, and hope you did too Colorado! Make sure to head over to our Facebook for all of our exclusive photos from The UMS!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on twitter and instagram.

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Denver's New Indie-Pop Folk-Rock Outfit Modern Leisure Play The UMS This Sunday

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Born out of Denver, Modern Leisure is a new indie-pop folk-rock band headed by Casey Banker (Shady Elders, The Don’t and Be Carefuls). Other familiar faces from the Denver music scene are also on board this project, including Ian Gassman, Kevin Kohl, Nicholas Layne, and Cody Coffey. Just this summer, the five-piece released their debut single, “Ella For Real”, a soothing indie pop dream with upbeat percussion and catchy vocal effects.

Modern Leisure

Modern Leisure

The group describe their sound as, “illicit tales of hedonism and heartbreak under the guise of lush guitars and a hodgepodge of warm melodies”, and it’s catching on. Modern Leisure have played a slew of Denver gigs this summer, and even made an appearance on Radio1190. You can catch them next at The UMS this weekend, where they’re slotted to play 3 Kings Tavern on Sunday, July 31st at 7PM. Don’t miss out! We’ll catch yah there Colorado.

Listen to Modern Leisure’s “Ella For Real”:

Keep up with Modern Leisure on their Facebook.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on twitter and instagram.

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

It Goes Beyond: An Imaginary “Interview” and "Concert" Review with The Itchy-O Marching Band

By: Will Baumgartner

Denver's Itchy-O are one crazy awesome crew. 

PART ONE: THE “INTERVIEW”

I’m in my apartment waiting for The Itchy-O Marching Band to arrive for our interview. I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve heard a lot about them, seen a few photos, and heard their music. I know they can be kinda weird interview subjects because I heard them live on KGNU recently, and when the DJ asked them questions, she was answered by electronically distorted voices delivering cryptic messages which seemed to come from another dimension. What I don’t expect is… what happens.

First, drums. A whole LOT of drums. I hear them before I see them. In fact, I can’t see much at all at first, because my apartment goes dark. Then, BOOM! From somewhere outside the walls, somewhere in the hall, the pounding of drums- a whole lot of them: pounding polyrhythms coming for me. It’s a little spooky, maybe, this invasion of the unknown, but really, it’s a lot more exciting than any kind of scary. There’s something absolutely irresistible in this mystery.

The Itchy-O Marching Band. Photo Credit: Patrick Anderson

The Itchy-O Marching Band. Photo Credit: Patrick Anderson

Then, simultaneously, two things happen: electronics and lights. It’s still pretty dark in my apartment, but as my eyes begin to adjust, I see dark figures (they’re all dressed in black from head to toe, with face-covering masks, black suits, and, on some of them, giant black mariachi hats). I hear, from some other place or universe, sounds coming from what I can only describe as… I don’t know, “intergalactic radios”? All of these sounds, as disparate as they may seem if they were listened to separately or picked apart mentally, are actually working together to create something which is, undeniably, music.

And then there are the lights. Rings of tiny red lights glowing on the brims of the mariachi hats, and other, bigger lights shining from various corners of my apartment. The drumming becomes more insistent and even more polyrhythmic and… WHOA! Suddenly there are lights all over the dang place: pulsing strobes here, sweeping searchlights there, lights worn by the members of the band on their costumes, and, on one end of my apartment, a tower which emits a Tesla-like, crackling, twisting band of electricity. It is now when it becomes more and more clear to me that Itchy-O, while knowing that I had wanted to talk with them, have come to do anything but talk. No, what they want to do is… DANCE!

Sombreros.

Sombreros.

And their want travels to me just like that: This sudden, unavoidable demand and need to dance. I can’t resist it; who could? I’m dancing! How very delightful!! And better yet, I’m dancing with the band!!! They wear giant megaphone-like speakers on their backs, they play drums banded on their torsos which they carry around the room with them while they play various electronic setups also attached to their bodies like food vendors wandering the crowd at a baseball game (or something like that), One member even has a portable Theremin that he carries in front of him; another rides a freakin’ BIKE around my apartment with a computerized music-making setup on the front and a giant megaphone speaker on the back. Some of these lovable freaks are just dancers with no drums or electronic gear or speakers and, wait, look over there! Here comes a big shaggy, sparkly dog-dragon-like-creature, which puts my befuddled and bedazzled mind into some Chinese/Mexican carnival setting. And all the while, the music just keeps playing and swirling while the drums keep pounding and layering, and…

Well, you get the idea. (Or do you?)

Despite the volume of the music, and the fact that all of the Itchy-O members mouths are covered by their masks (all I can see are their eyes), I attempt to begin some semblance of an interview.

WB: This is quite an experience, and it makes me wonder where it all started. What can you tell me about the origins of Itchy-O?

I-O: ____________________

WB: Umm… Okay. Well can you give me some idea of your influences and inspirations?

I-O: _______________________________________ (accompanied by what looks like a smirk of the eyes).

WB: Well, sheesh. We’re not getting very far with this, are we?

I-O: (Gives me the grinning eyes) (Shoves me gently, playfully)

WB: Ah, why do I bother trying to talk to you?

I-O: (shrugs!)

WB: (slightly frustrated, while undeniably still amused; charmed even) Are you intentionally messing with me? Just to get on my nerves, or… or make me feel foolish??

I-O: (shakes head “No!” emphatically) (Grabs me and hugs me- hard!!!)

And so what do I do? Well, what can I do? I surrender, give up on my insistent and rather silly idea of an “interview”, and helpless to resist the pull of the music and Itchy-O’s exhortations to resume the dance, I resume the dance. And it’s wonderful, isn’t it? Oh yes. Yes it is.

*********

PART TWO: THE "CONCERT" REVIEW

The experience described above, while it obviously didn’t “really happen” to me (OR DID IT?), does (I hope) give you, Dear Reader, some idea of what an Itchy-O “concert” is like. At least, the one I went to recently at Denver’s own Home of the Weird (Oddball Haven? Misfits Paradise?), the 3 Kings Tavern. I’d been wanting to catch an Itchy-O’s “show” for awhile, and when it was all over, I was… how shall I put this? I was DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY that I’d gone.

Yes. That’s what I meant to say. Capitals intentional.

Drums. Photo Credit: Patrick Anderson

Drums. Photo Credit: Patrick Anderson

You probably noticed that I put the words “concert” and “show” in quotes. Why? Well, because it’s hard to know what earthly terminology can accurately encapsulate what I was so deliriously, happily engulfed in that night. Itchy-O’s aggregation of 20 to 30 musicians and dancers doesn’t so much “perform” for an “audience” as they do invite everyone who’s there with them to become part of something bigger- much bigger- than the sum of its parts. Itchy-O goes beyond “audience participation” to the point that it’s really difficult to tell who’s putting on the “show”. And that, I think, is the whole point. Itchy-O simply goes beyond. And they insist that we come with them.

Of all these drummers, electronics players and dancers, only four or five of them were onstage: the rest of the group wandered incessantly through the crowd, engaging us all in dancing, playful interaction, etc. A few times, Itchy People (my own term) would come up behind me and play with my pork pie hat, bobbing it around on my head or taking it off of my head and putting it on someone else- and I didn’t mind, not a bit! You can feel the love and the sense of delightful mischief in everything they do; it just makes the experience that much more fun.

3 Kings Crowd.

3 Kings Crowd.

The Itchy People had no qualms whatsoever about coming up and dancing with us. At one point, I was dancing really hard (with my wool pea coat still on), and felt cool air up inside of my coat. I opened my eyes (they’d been closed; I was so into it) and saw that one of the Itchy People was doing this, using some hairdryer-type thing to cool me off. Yikes. How cool is that?

So for heaven's sake, let’s get Itchy-O up here to B-Town SOON because really, until you’ve gone where they go (into another universe?), you truly don’t know what you’re missing. You’d swear you were in some kind of heaven- one way beyond your wildest imaginings. And if you have any dancing bones in your body, well.. Oh boy. You’ll definitely be dancing.

Watch a live Itchy-O performance:

-Will

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