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.

Review: Alex Fermanis Releases Fifth Full-Length Album ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’

By: Adam Cabrera

Colorado Springs indie artist and multi-instrumentalist Alex Fermanis just released his newest solo album Land of the Midnight Sun, on November 3rd. This is the fifth full-length release of his career, and Alex presents us with a highly-listenable album that performs as a nostalgic throwback to classic 70s rock filtered through layers of otherworldly effects and dreamlike synthesizers.

Alex Fermanis.

Alex Fermanis.

Influenced by prog rock, krautrock, synth music, folk and bluegrass, Alex has built up an impressive catalog of releases that cover a range of genres from psychedelic to country. However, throughout this diverse set of styles, what has remained constant for him is a knack for songwriting and his unique ability to find new creative avenues that diverge from mainstream musical norms.

Some of the standout tracks on the record such as “Letter,” “USW,” and “Freight Train,” demonstrate his expertise as an instrumentalist and songwriter. Each displays a new feature of Alex’s sound while creating captivating melodies and catchy hooks reminiscent of 60s and 70s pop music, before eventually breaking off into atmospheric psych-rock instrumentals.

In the context of his lyricism, Fermanis’ record explores themes of unrequited love, isolation, loneliness and a wistful longing for travel; all of which speak towards Alex’s quiet-lifestyle and introspective personality.  “Letter,” for example, describes the story of a man attempting to reunite a long forgotten romance, while Streets of Stockholm” describes a sentimental feeling towards traveling abroad and adventuring into foreign lands. In short, it’s these feelings of nostalgia and blissful adventure that define the album.

The artwork for  Land of the Midnight Sun.

The artwork for Land of the Midnight Sun.

Demonstrating his persistent DIY attitude, Alex wrote and recorded the entirety of the project by himself at his home studio in Colorado Springs and is heard performing on every instrument. This versatile range of talents adds a palpable sense of cohesiveness throughout the sonically dense album. Nevertheless, at the very bottom of the many layers of sound sits a highly-skilled piano player orchestrating each track. And though Alex doesn’t consider himself a pianist, he often composes his songs on piano, as he enjoys the technical complexity of the instrument. Moreover, this intricacy tends to show through in the overall sound of his latest release. It is lushly textured with synthesizers and abound with harmonically-rich piano riffs; this new record stands out as a highlight among his relatively large discography.

This winter, Fermanis will be trying to pull together a new band with the hope of performing his recent release for live audiences across the Front Range. When considering the record’s quality and Alex’s capacity for songwriting, it’s clear that his career has the potential to expand far beyond Colorado Springs’ modest music scene.

Keep up with Alex 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: Elder Grown Release First Record In Seven Years & With It, They've Found Home

By: Julia Talen

The Durango-based band Elder Grown released their sophomore album last month, and though the band's been playing music for a little over 10 years now, they haven't released a record since 2011 (Fire on the Way). Sam Kelly, the band's saxophonist gave insight into why the group decided to self-title this record: "[it] well represents the band because the group… blends so many different genres throughout a set and can kind of sound like a mixtape… this felt like the best representation [of us as a band]."

Elder Grown.

Elder Grown.

The record certainly showcases a range of talent and skill with a bit of a mixtape vibe. The tunes are explorative organically, highlighting the group’s knack to dig into different genres, yet because Elder Grown has a "jam band" improvisational quality to their compositions, the movement between each genre, whether it's funk, jazz, reggae, or hip hop, flows and works.

The motif nature, a connection to Colorado's landscape, runs throughout the record. The first track, "Feel you in the Sun," brings listeners into the album slowly, like a sun peaking onto the Front Range. The instrumentals including the soft percussion and whiny saxophone linger and wander before the band begins to sing lyrics, "Home lies in this dirt, in this earth/Hope lies in your hands, always now, in your hands." The group's vocal harmonies are rich and layered, similarly to their instrumentals, as the track traverses jazz and rock genres over the course of seven minutes, ending full circle on the same notes that it opened with.

The next track, "I Like You," is a more upbeat switch from the opener. The tune has a lo-fi feel with hazy vocals. The funky sax and bass carry through this short track, and the song has an energy to it similar to the adrenaline rush of having a crush that the lyrics allude to, with twists and turns that reflect the ups and downs of human emotion.

The third track "Dreamin'’" showcases another side of Elder Grown: hip-hop. It opens up with a bit of a disco feel but dives into hip-hop with facets of the track and a reminiscence to Jurassic 5. Once again the sax brings a bit of a funky edge to the tune as the lyrics tell a story we can all relate to of a relationship that has ended, but both parties "dream" of what it would be like to go back to the good times.

As the album continues on, the tracks continue to survey the skillful variability this group's tapped into. "Animal" reminded me of Portugal the Man (another very versatile band), "Rolling Thunder" has an Eastern European feel to it with rootsy instrumentals, and "Never Stop Dancing" has a catchy electro-pop ambiance.

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"Made or Ate the Bread," another longer track, was one of my favorites. Lyrically the tune is poetic: "Be mindful how you made or ate the bread/Remember you don't always catch the fish you’re fed/With this in mind I give my thanks and I get my rest." The tune picks up with a groovy beat and more reggae vibes before cascading into a dreamy and wandering interlude juxtaposing the upbeat pieces of the song and holding a mirror up to one of the albums themes: that though you may wander or stray, you always come home to yourself.

Elder Grown has come home to themselves with this album. The sax carries through their tracks, as do the themes of relationships, human complexities, and nature allowing them to seamlessly and organically survey all sorts of musical genres that represent the band's musicality. There's a fearlessness embedded in the tracks. Elder Grown goes for it because they've come home to themselves in this self-titled record.

Check them out this weekend Saturday, May 26th at Denver Day of Rock at the Welton Street Stage.

-Julia

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

Jaden Carlson Band Releasing New Record With Release Party This Saturday (04/28)

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Jaden Carlson Band is set to release their latest album on May 4th, 2018 and it’s going to sound very different from their earlier work. Heavily leaning into the electro-funk jamscapes, JCB’s upcoming album Keep It Moving is chock full of electric guitar and synth shreds, with groovy bass and drums to smooth it out and literally keep you moving.  The album release party is set to take place at The Lazy Dog in Boulder this Saturday April 28th, so mark your calendar and come for a free show with high quality music and talent!

JCB.

JCB.

Jaden Carlson, born and raised in Boulder, Colorado is known around the Boulder-Denver music scene as a young guitar prodigy who can really shred. Jaden’s undeniable wizardly guitar skills have gained her respect and a shining spotlight in the scene- and all of this before she was even a teenager! Today, at the age of seventeen, she is leading JCB into new heights while experimenting with hip-hop, synth-pop, and electro-funk jams. She has played a huge role in bringing Keep It Moving to fruition, from leading the band with vocals, guitar, and keys to producing the new record. The band has been raising money for their new album on PledgeMusic and they are 95% of the way to getting all or nothing on their campaign. You can help them with the homestretch by going to donate here.

And finally, for your listening pleasure and preview of what’s coming, here is a track titled “Outer Lands” off the upcoming album, exclusively shared with us for you to hear. The track features Adam Deitch (Lettuce; Break Science) on drums. Enjoy!

-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: The Host Club Release Catchy Electropop Record 'Flash of Life'

By: Trevor Ryan

Colorado electronic trio The Host Club have just dropped their sophomore record Flash of Life, and it makes me feel absolutely everything all at once.

The Host Club started out in 2009 as just three brothers ready to take it all on. They played gigs throughout Colorado and eventually found a place within the airwaves in 2014, when they debuted Coincidence, a full length album featuring ten tracks.

The Host Club.

The Host Club.

Now, with Flash of Life, we have an emotional, phenomenally catchy record, described as an ode to their chocolate lab “Worf.” I found myself sonically immersed in tracks like “Constellations,” “If I Forget,” and “Come Apart.” There are these big, emotional moments introduced to us with strong hooks and “cut through you” melodies, but you also get a sense of happier times as well.

You’ll find a less emotionally broken taste in tracks like “Flash of Life,” “Stay The Same,” and “Undefeated.” These songs slam you with sticky hooks and more poppy, electro-vibes. From the instrumentals to their butter-smooth vocals, at times I’m reminded on this record of popular music’s Owl City era. Only this is better.

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To me, The Host Club’s record feels like it’s ready for your upcoming summer playlist because I definitely get road trip vibes the whole way through. Be sure to keep up with The Host Club on BandCampFacebook, and SoundCloud for more music and their next slew of shows.

I'll be catching one in a flash.

-Trevor

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

Review: Gasoline Lollipops' New Record 'Soul Mine' Leaves Nothing Left Unsaid

By: Julia Talen

Colorado's beloved alt-country band Gasoline Lollipops release their new album Soul Mine  this month, with a vinyl release party happening December 16th at The Fox Theatre in Boulder. The band will be making their homecoming after a long stint in Europe touring throughout Belgium and the Netherlands. Fans and listeners will not be disappointed, as this album gives us the rugged-punk, country rock’n’roll sound fans know and love while exploring themes of emotional heartbreak, pain, motivation, and growth. The opening track and title of the album hint at the content within, as the band welds together folk and untamed alternative-country-rock to produce a record full of depth, stories, and music that compels listeners to take a stand while also contemplating.

Gasoline Lollipops at Red Rocks. Photo:   Hannah Oreskovich

Gasoline Lollipops at Red Rocks. Photo: Hannah Oreskovich

Clay Rose's voice immediately reminded me of the likes of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen; deep, gritty and dark, yet sustained with unwavering intensity and truth. The title track begins with a soulful, bluesy opening accompanying Rose's rich vocals and the band's groovy guitar solos. Lyrics like "started out digging for diamonds and gold/now I'm digging through the long, dark night of the soul/to see dawn" and "love springs from deep wells/faith is born in the forge of hell/forge on" allude to the theme of the album: one of transformation. "Soul Mine," evolves as a track as well. At one point the refrain builds and then pulls back, stripped down to bare instruments and vocals, only to rebuild into an epic finish that swells. This engrossing track sets the tone for the album as listeners dive deep into stories of loss and evolution.

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The first half of the album is filled with songs that showcase Gasoline Lollipop's eclectic style and ability to explore country rock beyond the confines of a genre. Rose's profound voice sounds subterranean and electrified at times, while other times rustic and lightened, yet still powerful. Drum beats, guitar solos, and harmonic keys shine through in many of the tracks as listeners settle into the tales that the album chronicles. "Woman and a Gun," the third track, begins slowly and vocally; it sounds like a story told near a fire out west about an outlaw named Jessie. The tune's refrain breaks the early, rustic, folktale feel as the track builds. The second half of the song surges with lyrics, "all my faith is a bullet/all my God is a gun/all this world was just smoke and mirrors/I'm gonna break them one by one." After repeating the last verse, "gonna break them one by one," the song launches into a fast, dynamic progression full of intricate guitar solos and percussion that intensifies, elevating the ending of the track by taking it to an edge.

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As the album continues, listeners move through songs of heartbreak. "Casanova" wavers in and out of a harsh rock’n'roll sound and a slow, somber refrain: "If a man goes livin'/for the heart for too long/he's bound to be eaten alive." The track "Montreal" details an ending and nostalgia for the past, as GasPops evoke emotion and leave nothing left unsaid.

"Burns" comes soon after and opens with strings that cry out from the start. There is an evocative darkness hovering over the track, that reminded me of The National. However, Rose's voice builds and breaks boundaries as he repeats "and it burns" towards the end of the track. This one gave me chills, because once again, it felt like GasPops were taking me into the fire with them. Their music goes beyond instruments and vocals; their passionate lyrics, layered with brilliant instrumentals, grab you and take you into an experience they construct with their music, one in which you feel the pain from a past memory that their music expresses in the present moment.

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After exploring more heavy transformation and darkness with tracks titled, "Ghost of a Man," and "Leaving Alone," the album ends with the tune, "Put me to the Task," a hopeful send off, complete with elements of upbeat country rock. The steel guitar and violin liven the tune along with Rose's vocals and the warm harmonies that round out the refrain. The bass carries through and lights a spark under the folds of sound that grow throughout the song. The song finishes off with lyrics, "Well I know/time has come to make good what we don't/but I'm eager to please." We are left with some light at the end of this dark, yet resounding album.

Soul Mine takes listeners to a vulnerable threshold, all the while showcasing the band's dynamic sounds, sounds that truly liberate them from one specific genre. This mighty and gripping album is one that listeners can relate to, contemplate, and even dance to, making it an album that anyone can connect with. Don't miss Gasoline Lollipops album release party on December 16th at The Fox Theatre, followed by their NYE show December 31 at Hodi's Half Note in Fort Collins!           

-Julia

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

Review: Son and Cynic's Alt Rock Record 'Wherever I Am' Is A Solid Debut

By: Nathan Sheppard

Denver band Son and Cynic released their debut EP this past May, and it is a must listen!

Wherever I Am is the self-recorded EP from this up and coming indie rock band founded by Cayla Shortley (vocals) and Brian Obernesser (guitar). This album combines different musical elements to create an EP that you will want to listen to on repeat.  

Oddly enough Brian and Cayla are both from North Carolina but didn’t meet until moving to Denver; the band formed shortly after in 2016. The two turned to crowdfunding and the help of family and friends to release the EP, which was mixed and mastered by Kevin Chipman of LCMasters back in North Carolina. After a successful fundraising campaign they were able to film a music video for their single “Get Away,” followed by the EP release May 19th.

Son and Cynic.

Son and Cynic.

The EP starts with “The Arrival,” which showcases Son and Cynic’s unique style. Starting out with a slower folk-like intro and Cayla’s haunting and hypnotizing melodic voice, you’re then hit with solid guitar riffs that you can jam out to. It’s the perfect intro to this great EP. “Dead of Night” is another solid track with a spacey, indie sound that is really novel and really showcases Son and Cynic’s versatility and musical talent. The record finishes with “Cold Fever,” which is one of my favorite tracks. It’s one of the more “poppy” songs, but is really catchy; something that I think makes a great tune. Overall this is a well done debut for Son and Cynic and I look forward to seeing where they go from here and what they have in store for the future.

You can listen to “Wherever I Am” everywhere music is available. Catch the band live this month, November 25th at The Marquis with Evinair, Wolf Poets, and Gestalt and keep up with Son and Cynic 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.

A-Mac & The Height Reach New Peaks With New Record 'Part of It All'

By: Will Baumgartner

The ridiculously talented Denver band known as A-Mac & The Height have made a lot of noise over the past year, with a sold-out album release show at the Bluebird Theater, performances at their own Spread the Word Music Festival as direct support for the Kyle Hollingsworth Band, and a two-month fall tour which took them from the Midwest all the way to Florida. Behind all this activity is the group’s frontman and songwriter Alex MacKenzie-Low, a musically driven young man whose contagious energy not only drives the band, but has been an important part of the Denver area music scene for several years. I first met Alex when he booked my band at Moe’s Original BBQ in Englewood and the relationship has continued through a few years of the Spread The Word Festival, an annual event which is MacKenzie-Low’s personal labor of love and has been a vital and energizing part of the local live music landscape for the past five years.

A-Mac & The Height. 

A-Mac & The Height. 

Having seen the band (formerly known as A-Mac DZ) a number of times, I was not at all surprised to find that their current album Part of It All is filled with the same great songs and stellar musicianship I’ve come to expect from this band. The genre description on their Facebook page- “upbeat folk rock, reggae/world, hip-hop, jam” prepares the listener for a rather common combination of sounds in today’s music landscape, but the album itself is much more than the sum of these parts.  

Listen to Part of It All:

“Sun Comes Up” kicks off the musical journey of the record appropriately enough with a driving mashup of reggae and hip-hop, and a story of finding oneself and one’s family of friends through persistence and music. It begins with hopping on a train, facing loneliness and pain with the line, “‘Til I find my friends, my motivation/Music, yes, my inspiration.” These are lyrics that anyone who has chosen the challenging life of a musician can understand: we feel so much, and life can be so frightening and difficult, but music and the people we play it with makes it all worthwhile. From the drum and bass intro through the masterful rapping in the middle, all the way to the end, this is a great song performed by a super-tight band.

The second song, “Ends I’ll Never Know,” takes us into distinctly brighter territory. If “Sun Comes Up” is about climbing out of the darkness, this one is about dancing in the sunlight. It’s a happily grooving song with a bouncy guitar line that sounds like it could have come from Paul Simon’s Graceland or The Rhythm of the Saints albums, at least to my ears, it definitely has that happy South African/Latin-inspired feel. It’s also a markedly pop-sounding song, with its catchy chorus and hook-driven arrangement. You can practically hear the smile on MacKenzie-Low’s face as he sings “Oh I, oh I, ready for whatever comes my way today/Yes I, yes I, ready to grow to ends I’ll never know.”

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 “Indica From Heaven” is, not surprisingly, a feel-good party track. If weed is your party, blaze up and groove on down. The deeply funky reggae feel, horn lines, keyboard solo, and the lyrics all encourage the listener to just have a good time and not think too much. It’s also one of the most danceable tracks on the album, so don’t get too stoned to get up! The syncopation and breaks in the arrangement make it perfect for busting some moves.

The fourth track, “It Would Be Easy,” starts off in a sadder place. It’s a breakup song with lyrics like, “All our friends know you crushed my soul,” so the musical feel is appropriately wistful, at least at first. But the song is also about letting go, so there’s a break in the middle that suddenly feels like a Calypso/Salsa dance party, with a rolling Latin-sounding piano line and horns bouncing merrily over the top. You never know what to expect with these guys!

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“Streets of Colorado” is a homecoming anthem from a traveler who has gone away, but come back to where he’s from and feels most at home there. It’s the most rock-sounding track on the album, and the band ably supports the singer’s story with another tight arrangement and more excellent playing.

The album’s penultimate track, “Back On My Own,” revisits the theme of lost love while still emphasizing the singer’s drive to pick himself up and keep moving, which seems to be almost the theme of the whole disc: persistence, as Calvin Coolidge said, is omnipotent. As with all the songs on this album, the arrangement is a big part of what makes this song work: the individual instruments and the way they play off of each other, the musical dynamics, and the juxtaposition of different musical styles stacked together to create a balanced structure. The casual listener doesn’t need to “get” what’s going on behind the music to enjoy it, but musicians, songwriters and arrangers will find much to appreciate and admire. 

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And so we come to the final song on the album, “Here’s to the Love.” It’s a testament to the strength of MacKenzie-Low’s spirit that while he’s writing a song as a requiem to a dear friend, he still insists on not wallowing in the pain of his friend’s passing: “I will remember the good times always/No one can take away your memory, so here’s to the love.” You can hear the pain in his voice and in the music, and still, there’s that insistence on finding the good in everything, even death. So, ultimately, it’s not a sad song, but a celebration of life and love.

Again, I can’t overemphasize the strength of the musicianship on this record, and its importance in making it a successful recording. Drummer Matt McElwain, bassist Stephen Edwards, keyboardist Karl Rivers, saxophonist Joey Bean, and lead guitarist Ted Kleist are all great musicians, period. Colorado is lucky to have such talent in our midst, and A-Mac & The Height are blessed by the way they work together.

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Part of It All is available on Bandcamp. A-Mac & The Height are just returning from their fall tour, and will perform next in Colorado on Saturday November 25th at Mother Muff’s in Colorado Springs. Keep up with the band on their Facebook page and website.

-Will

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

MLIMA Maintains Fresh “Mountain Groove” on New Self-Titled EP

By: Elizabeth Lee

Colorado’s Denver-based premier jazz fusion ensemble MLIMA are back with their long-awaited first album, a record which has been over a year in the making. The group have been going interstellar in the Rocky Mountain music scene since their start in 2012 with their funky, space-jazz sounds. Their self-titled debut album is their first collection of seven studio tracks which they wrote, recorded, and produced together. The six-piece band is comprised of Jessica Jones (lead vocals), Zach Simms (saxophone/vocals), Lance Croucher (drums), Jack Breitenbach (percussion), Jeph Kennedy (guitar/vocals), and Ryan Thrush (bass). The group also brought in Ben Rafferty on keyboard for this album.

Listen to MLIMA’s new record:

MLIMA does not disappoint on their debut, delivering a cohesive collection of tracks that show off their patented “mountain groove” sound. The record takes the listener on a sonic journey, which is fitting for their psych funk vibes. The album is a balanced mix of jazzy, smooth brass mixed with funky, swinging rhythms and soulful vocals. Tracks such as “Sunshine” (the debut single from the release) and “Booty” are playful and showcase MLIMA’s ability to get audiences dancing, while others like “Outro” and “Stank” deliver musical talent with soaring guitar riffs and vocal solos.

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We’re excited to see what’s next for one of Denver’s most unique and talented ensembles! Be sure to catch their magic live by getting yourself to one of their upcoming shows.

Keep up with MLIMA here.

-Elizabeth

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

Fergie Returns With Visual Record 'Double Dutchess'

By: Taylor Naiman

It's been over a decade since The Dutchess, and Fergie has finally made her comeback with a graceful and effortless re-entrance to the thrones of modern pop. She’s a woman with soul, an “I don’t care” attitude, and the confidence of a mother who has still got it. Returning with a new visual album, Double Dutchess is a mixture of unadulterated sass, confidence, raw emotion and attitude. From her pop roots, she has integrated a new sexy edge, full of bold tunes and hip instrumentals to supplement her voice. She continues to be a vocal powerhouse and shows us that she is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.

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With collaborators including Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj, Fergie proves to be a major influencer in the pop industry. She is unafraid to explore new avenues in her sound and continues to do so throughout the duration of the album. Some her best tracks include “Hungry,” “Like It Ain’t Nuttin,’” “You Already Know,” “M.I.L.F. $,” and “ L.A. LOVE.” Though her musical hiatus was long, it definitely wasn’t for nothing. Fergie is back and possibly better than ever.  

Check out Double Dutchess for yourself here.

-Taylor

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

Review: A.J. Fullerton's 'Kalamath' Is Slide, Blues, & Incredible Fingerpicking

By: Trevor Ryan

Colorado’s award-winning A.J. Fullerton is releasing his new album Kalamath today, and let me tell you, it’s a whirlwind of that fingerpicking blues that we all love him for.

A.J . Fullerton.

A.J . Fullerton.

Hailing from Western Colorado, Fullerton has recently exploded onto the state scene. In just two years, he’s been the Colorado Blues Society solo/duo winner, and won the organization’s “Member’s Choice” awards for best slide guitar, best acoustic act, best young performer, and best solo/duo act. Utilizing these skills and more in his own playing, Kalamath also features several talented local artists, including Megan Burtt, Taylor Scott of The Taylor Scott Band, and Stud Ford and Sharde Thomas of North Mississippi Allstars.

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The album, a solid addition to Fullerton’s catalogue, definitely showcases his outstanding slide ability, steaming vocals, and his incredible fingerpicking style, which almost sounds as though he brought the blues back from the dead to teach him how to play it. Gems like “She's So Cold,” “Lover Come Back,” and “Smoke and Mirrors” will all leave you reflecting on Fullerton’s intricate playing. Overall, Kalamath will introduce you to a new world of blues while certainly appreciating the greats in the process.

Keep up with A.J. Fullerton on Facebook.

-Trevor

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

Motion Trap Release Alluring Single + Video In Anticipation Of Their Forthcoming Record 'Heavenly Bodies'

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s Motion Trap have been referred to as “Tycho with dance moves” and “Mogwai on crack.” The nu-dicso duo, comprised of Kyle Williams and Nathan Rogers, formed back in 2012 and have been making ears everywhere drip in thick synth dance hooks ever since. This September, Motion Trap are releasing their newest record, ‘Heavenly Bodies.’ The indie electro dance album mashes guitar tones with synth, distorted vocals, and all things digital into something impossible not to groove to. It's mysterious, alluring, and dancey as hell. Recently, Motion Trap released their single from the record, “Youth Blood,” and the track’s accompanying music video. It caught our eardrums, so we chatted with the band to learn more about this glow-in-the-dark two-piece and their newest vid. Read on:

What is the story behind the video for “Youth Blood?”

Recently we have been writing more upbeat songs, like our first single 'Molecule,' but with 'Youth Blood' we decided to showcase a darker side to our songwriting. I have heard people describe this sound as being ‘a more sexy Motion Trap.’ It has a deeper feel, and a possibly deeper meaning, one that is open to interpretation, but also means something to us. We love double meanings in our songs and this one has the internal dialogue of a person struggling with a feeling and trying to cope or figure it out in that moment.

Watch Motion Trap's music video for "Youth Blood": 

Who filmed the video?

Jeremy Pape shot it and Shaun Burder edited and directed it. They are both from Collective Culture out of Denver and do an amazing job. We also had the opportunity to work with some great actors, JoJo Lupe and Rob Ferrell.

Motion Trap. Photo Credit:   Blake Jackson

Motion Trap. Photo Credit: Blake Jackson

Where did you record the single?

We always record all of our songs in our home studio and when they get to a spot we call 'almost finished,' we sit in without our engineer Rocky Tran at Conway Sound to put some final love on the tracks before sending them to be mastered.

Of all the tunes on upcoming Heavenly Bodies, why’d you choose to release “Youth Blood” to us as one of the first?

I would say because it is so different than most of our music. We love the deeper feel this song has. That is why we chose this- to showcase a different side of our songwriting capabilities. Also the dark tone of this song felt like it lent really well with our black light theme. We had a great time experimenting with different lighting and painting techniques with this video.

Kyle Williams. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Kyle Williams. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Cool! What’s up next for Motion Trap?

We have our CD Release Show at Larimer Lounge September 8th! The record will contain both singles, 'Molecule' and 'Youth Blood,' as well as six other tracks. We are bringing a massive light show along that we are collaborating on with our good friend Nate Davis from Color Shadow Productions. We have some special things up our sleeves for this show and can't wait to release the new album!

Make sure to catch Motion Trap at Larimer Lounge on Friday, September 8th with Get Along and Time Scale for their release show! Tickets here; keep up with Motion Trap and their new record ‘Heavenly Bodies’ by peeping their website.

-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.

Review: Escapism's 'Side A' Is Electro Ambient & Meditatively Engaging Music

By: Allan Tellis

Colorado’s Escapism play with textures of sound in diverse and surreal ways. On the project’s latest record, Side A, Escapism work with distorted sounds and lighter melodic harmonies with an added element of vocalization to make their tunes interesting and exciting. Escapism is a project fronted by Colorado’s Evan Montoya and signed to Abandon Love in Seattle, Washington.

Although the album is cohesive and most registers under a singular sound, there is enough diversity between the tracks to engage listeners for the long, twenty-song record. The majority of the album is down-tempo, meditatively engaging music that is soothing and dreamlike. Moments like the ending of the record “Sleven,” however, disrupt the dream sequence, with upbeat bass lines inspiring dancing, and creating balance within the album. There are also tunes that feature heavy use of acoustic work, like “I Remember Every Swim” and “Danielle Tells,” which give the listener a break from the more electronic sounds pervasive throughout the rest of the record.

Evan Montoya.

Evan Montoya.

If you are into ambient music and have an ear for experimental arrangement and non-traditional song formatting, Escapism may be exactly what you’re looking for. Escapism are currently on tour, and are even heading overseas to South Korea for some performances. Said Montoya about Escapism’s travel plans, “[We’re] working on playing a few more shows in Denver this year and opening up for a few more acts before we head to Germany, and then South Korea for a few dive bar type shows! Should be fun.”

Escapism also have a music video set to release at the end of August, so make sure to check back for that by keeping up with them here.

-Allan

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

Review: The Yawpers' 'Boy In A Well' Is An Intensely Dynamic Psychobilly Concept Record

By: Norman Hittle

The Yawpers’ third album, Boy In A Well, is a conceptual album set in World War I France where a mother abandons her unwanted newborn child. Yet, despite the tragic plot line, the music carries an intrigue that’s difficult to ignore.

The Yawpers. Photo Credit:    Demi Demitro   

The Yawpers. Photo Credit: Demi Demitro 

Recorded with Alex Hall in Chicago at Reliable Recordings with production assistance and instrumental contributions from Tommy Stinson (The Replacements, Bash & Pop), Boy in a Well extends The Yawpers’ sound with intense, dynamic, animated, and at times, deeply personal tunes.

Boy In A Well, which is a followup to the band’s Bloodshot Records debut American Man (2015), was imagined by lead singer Nate Cook after a "reckless combination of alcohol, half a bottle of Dramamine, and an early morning flight." The result is a 12-song onslaught mingling psychological fascinations (German realpolitik, Freud, Oedipus,) and the lasting social and cultural fallout of WWI interspersed with Cook's own emotions surrounding his recent split from his estranged wife. 

Listen to The Yawpers’ first single “Mon Nom” from their new record:

The album’s psychobilly/rock-swing sonic approach seems to have influences ranging from Reverend Horton Heat, to Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and the Cramps. And I couldn’t help but hear some very Lemmy Kilmister-inspired vocals nodding to the late and great Motorhead.

“Armistice Day” lethargically takes form with haunting piano, harmonics and chanting, leading way to “A Decision is Made,” the rockabilly-blues fusion laced with sliding guitars and guttural howls. The sobering “A Visitor is Welcomed” then takes place with an almost gentle caress of acoustic guitars in the wake of the former tracks, and leads us to an equally somber “Room With a View.” All of that ceases thirteen seconds into “Mon Dieu” with a gradual galloping climax into seeming chaos that crescendos into track six: “The Awe and the Anguish.” Here we find a lo-fi recording of twangy guitars and an almost backwater country vibe until the final half minute of anthemic post-rock.

The album artwork for  Boy In A Well .

The album artwork for Boy In A Well.

“Mon Nom” builds from sporadic muted notes into a decisive cadence that marches into “Face to Face to Face,” where a blues/swing builds into straight southern rock. “No Going Back” comes to light featuring a pensive bass line that swells into a solid, yet muted distorted finality. “God’s Mercy” brings us back to a peaceful and calming moment from the maelstrom just before plunging into the surf-rock meets grunge in “Linen for the Orphan.” “Reunion” wraps up the odyssey that is Boy In A Well with a seemingly straightforward (at least for The Yawpers) rock/folk-blues vibe that would fit well in a 1970s Americana collection, drawing out on a final piano note of the angst-ridden, yet sorrowful tale of searching and longing.

The Yawpers will be in Denver at The Oriental Theater Saturday, September 16th for their record release show, with Jesse Dayton, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones, and The Beeves. Get tickets here and keep up with The Yawpers on Facebook.

-Norman

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

Review: Foxxes Self-Titled Debut Record Is Classic Lo-Fi & Psychedelic Harmonies

By: Norman Hittle

After two years of hard work, Foxxes have released their debut self-titled full length album. If you’re intrigued or interested in indie psych-rock mixed with nuances of post-punk, then it's possible this album will trip your fancy.  

Listen to Foxxes self-titled record:

Foxxes is a Denver based quartet comprised of the musical talents of Chris Feldbush (vocals and guitar), his brother Mike (drums), Tyler Shockey (guitar), and Nick Monx (bass). With classic pop hints interspersed throughout their collection of nine songs, their music pays homage to artists such as Modest Mouse and early Rolling Stones. Vocally, Chris touches on the singing styles of Talking Heads and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo.

Foxxes.

Foxxes.

The entire album has hard hitting guitars, trippy bass, and psychedelic harmonies, with a classic experimental style of lo-fi recordings and reverb washed out vocals, though at times the vocals are a bit too washed out for my taste (but this may be stylistically intentional). Though you may not find these recordings bumping at the dance clubs, it’s totally possible you may hear it accompanying some great backyard hangouts and summer BBQs with good friends.

Foxxes album is unique in that it seems to transform and mature both in composition and in content as it goes from beginning to end. The first three songs of the album (“Patterns & Sequences,” “Play it Safe,” and “Potential”) are easily their most commercially viable pop-centric songs and give the album a playful origin that soon hits the eight-minute long anthemic “Obsession” with its multiple genre transitions; and a turning point in the album’s progression into its more psychedelic second half starting with “Incandescent Glow” and completing with the heavily guitar effected “Tycoon.”

Now that Foxxes has completed the work on their debut album, it’s looking like they’ll be getting back to the grind of showcasing their sound around Denver including a spot on the 2017 UMS lineup. Check them out and make sure to catch their set at the upcoming Denver fest!

-Norman

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

Review: Anthony Ruptak's 'Don't Let It Kill You' Is A Dark & Timely Introspection

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s Anthony Ruptak has a new record out this Saturday, July 1st, Don’t Let It Kill You. The 25-minute, five song work is darkly introspective in tone, mood, and lyrics. Songs like “Bomb” and “Eulogy ii” paint Ruptak’s strong lyrical imagery starkly in your mind, while “Follow The Leader” will have you questioning if you’re in need of slowing down time by “sitting back in silence” and “wonder[ing] about nothing, about never.” In a world often clouded by technology and a constant cycle of news, Ruptak’s push on self-reflection is one we really ought to listen to.

Anthony played all of the instruments on Don’t Let It Kill You and is the sole vocalist on the record, except for the drums on “Bomb,” which were played by his brother Matt Ruptak. The entire record was recorded in just two days.

Said Ruptak, “All five songs [on Don’t Let It Kill You] were written within a five month period and deal with a cornucopia of adverse insecurities, dreams, love, death, and my observations of mankind’s inhumanity to man.”

The album artwork for  Don't Let It Kill You .

The album artwork for Don't Let It Kill You.

Though not overtly political in nature, I couldn’t help but notice some political subtleties throughout the record. From lines like, “Learning how to rebrand hate/That is the tried and tested black and blue star-spangled Christian way” (“Vulture And Dove”) to, “The liquor stores have been crowded these days/Things are either getting worse or everybody’s changed” (“Follow The Leader”), Ruptak has accurately identified the sometimes lost, painful, confused, and questioning reality that many of us have experienced over the past year. And then there is the beautiful “I’ll Go Where You Go,” which almost feels like a sentiment of acceptance and belonging that no matter where one is from, we’re all connected in this human experience.

Said Ruptak, “[This record] was recorded during the peak of election season, and though it's not a blatantly political record, it draws from the emotions that surrounded that time- the fear, the uncertainty, the slumbering hatred that was woken by king dipsh*t and the pain that came from watching family members and friends excitedly out themselves as judgement-filled, anti-immigrant, anti-equality, anti-love, entitled Americans.”

His experience is one many of us can relate to. Outside of subject matter, the record overall showcases Ruptak’s incredible vocals and instrumental prowess.

Anthony Ruptak (right) and Matt Ruptak (left). 

Anthony Ruptak (right) and Matt Ruptak (left). 

Said Ruptak, “For the first time since I started recording my songs, I am proud to let this one out into the world. I feel like I'm finally being true to myself.”

And we’re proud to share it. Make sure to catch Anthony Ruptak & The Midnight Friends at his EP Release Show at The Walnut Room Saturday night; tickets and details 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.

Review: The Fremonts' 'We Don't Live There' Is A Fresh Take On Classic Americana Sounds

By: Trevor Ryan

Americana blues rock band The Fremonts dropped their first full-length album We Don't Live There last Friday, June 9th. I recently had the pleasure of giving it a listen and I’m here to tell yah: it’s a fresh take on the classic Colorado Americana folk/blues sound. Because let’s be honest- the Colorado music scene has welcomed a number of Americana folk performers to its various stages over the years, and continues to do so, even in the popular music realm. So what sets The Fremonts apart? This definitely isn't a short answer, so buckle up:

The band, founded in New York City, relocated to Boulder just a couple of years ago to find their niche, which some would argue they did find instrumentally in folk-heavy Colorado. But they (Stephanie Dodd and Justin Badger) did so pretty organically, and with more than just their instrumentation. What really sets this husband and wife duo apart is their storytelling and the inspiration behind their stories. On We Don’t Live There, The Fremonts combine what sometimes feel like ghost stories of old with what they say is “the heartache of leaving our past in a distant skyline and walking into fresh, open spaces with hope for the future.” You'll hear what I mean in the ballad track “Olivia.” It’s a tune with a progressive interlude (which you don’t always find in classic Americana) that also beckons the roots of the genre in an original way with a story that leaves you a bit haunted.

Listen to The Fremonts' We Don't Live There:

There are a lot of emotions that surround this album, and they show in the songwriting and composition of the record. Starting with the whimsical, somewhat mellow opening and title track “We Don't Live There,” the record then levels out with classic, upbeat Americana tracks such as “Back To The Mountain,” “Holding Place,” and “Tell My Mother.” It also offers a darker, more emotionally haunting feel with “Tillman's Wall,” and with the violin in “Joanne.” “Tillman’s Wall” is such a treat that I can say I’d love to see more of the darker, grittier production on this tune in more of The Fremonts’ future recordings.

The Fremonts.

The Fremonts.

My only real criticism of this record is that though both Dodd and Badger front the project strong vocally, and each have notable leading tunes throughout the record, their harmonies can sometimes feel as though they’re battling for that lead sound. Other than that, I really find this record a refreshing take on classic sounds that you should definitely listen to. 

When it comes to We Don’t Live There, The Fremonts have a new take on the Americana sound that I’ve been told is even more of a fun ride live. So be sure to catch them while they're still in Colorado at Denver's Squire Lounge on June 16th. And if you're traveling this summer, crash a couple of shows on their summer tour, or support them on the road with their tour Kickstarter campaign. Get their full list of dates on the road here

-Trevor

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

The Sadies' New Record Is Arguably Their Best Yet & Drummer Mike Belitzsky Tells Us Why

By: Claire Woodcock

Mike Belitzsky has been drumming with The Sadies for over 20 years and has never been so excited about the direction the band is moving in. The traditionally roots rock kings of Canada’s sound on Northern Passengers, released back in February, preserves the band’s history while soaking the tracks in reverb and a light wash of fuzz.

The Sadies. Photo Credit:  Heather Pollock Photography

The Sadies. Photo Credit: Heather Pollock Photography

The eclectic country western rock quartet recorded album number ten in the basement of members Dallas and Travis Good’s parent’s house. The brothers come from a family of musicians- their father and uncles formed The Good Brotherswhich Travis and Dallas actually played in for a stitch before forming The Sadies back in 1994 with their lineup of bassist Sean Dean and drummer Belitsky.

The instrumentals on Northern Passengers are in tight sync. And Belitsky’s musical style is to keep it that way, balancing creativity with keeping the other parts audible. Part of that stems from the band not feeling pressed for time when recording the album.  

“If we wanted to speed [a song] up 10 beats per minute we could just redo [the track] and it wasn’t a big deal,” he said.

Some songs only took a half a day to track. “But for others, [we] would do it and then three days later somebody would be putting the guitar track on and say, ‘You know what, this is too slow, we’ve got to redo the whole thing.’” he added.  

Photo Credit:  Derek von Essen

Photo Credit: Derek von Essen

The album came out in February as The Sadies’ first record with Dine Alone Records. Highly respected in North America for a dynamic blend of rock’n’roll licks and country western harmonies, the veteran indie band collaborated with Neko Case and Andre Williams and opened and accompanied greats like Neil Young. And Kurt Vile, who played a killer set at Project Pabst in Denver last weekend guests on Northern Passengers with “It’s Easy (Like Walking),” which sounds like a traditional Kurt Vile song. (He sure likes to walk, doesn’t he?)  

Photo Credit: Rick White.

Photo Credit: Rick White.

Belitsky’s drums compliment every vocal, guitar, and bass track on the album. “Everybody sort of just assumes that you get the drum sounds and then bang! The drummer just bangs out a track and goes home,” he said, “...[But] I don’t like to be just the guy that plays super straight and just keeps the time. I want to be creative and I want to be someone who plays the song not just to the beat and within that realm in those parameters. I don’t want to be so busy that I’m stepping on someone’s part or taking away from the melody. I don’t want to lose the backbeat but I still want to be creative and play to the song as much as I can, where there’s still a strong feeling of a backbeat and a rhythm, but [the drums] still manage to embellish the song to highlight the other parts.”

Artwork by Jeremy Bruneel

Artwork by Jeremy Bruneel

Catch The Sadies when they’re passing through Denver this Friday, May 26th at The Bluebird Theater. Justin Towne Earles headlines and has a new single out this month. Tickets here.

-Claire

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

Review: Girl Group Riverside Drive Release New Album 'Serious Business'

By: Jura Daubenspeck

On May 21st, Denver’s newest “retro pop” divas Riverside Drive released their sweet, sassy, and soulful album Serious Business - I’m already hooked.

The musical brainchild of singer/songwriter Rachael Pollard, Riverside Drive has a retro-soul feel that soothes and uplifts simultaneously. Pollard’s heartfelt leading vocals team up with Tia Cope and Mary McGroary’s accompanying vocals to create a beautifully layered sound. On top of that, drummer Nathan Marcy provides just the right amount of steadying beats to match the singers’ unwavering energy.

The album artwork for  Serious Business .

The album artwork for Serious Business.

Serious Business is an eight-track album that delivers just the right amount of folk-ish, pop-ish vibes. It has a nostalgic quality, reminiscent of a warm and sunny day. Stories of love, jealousy, and even a missing childhood pet (“Oh, Tiffy”) are told in a grainy, sepia tone. Just like the closing credits of a film (think driving off into the sunset and never looking back) the album feels hopeful and empowering.

Listen to Riverside Drive's Serious Business:

It’s hard to pick a favorite on this record, as each song induces different feelings. Songs such as “Look But Don’t Touch,” “I Don’t Mess Around,” and “Tiger Stripes” have a stirring, assertive energy. Other tracks such as “Guessing Game” and “Push Me Away” are commanding, haunting, and powerful. There’s even a bonus track (for those who purchase the album)- Pollard’s killer song “Make U Proud” (off of her upcoming album Take Heart) serves as the gentler conclusion to the well-rounded collection.

Rachael Pollard. 

Rachael Pollard. 

Listeners who enjoy artists such as Benjamin Booker or Leon Bridges will love Riverside Drive, as they bring a refreshing twist to soulful, old-timey songs. Their unapologetically strong female presence is invigorating and inspiring for any other women who have stories to tell.

Be on the lookout for Riverside Drive, as they’re sure to raise some hell in the Colorado music scene. Connect with them on Facebook, and check out their Bandcamp page to listen to their sweet tunes.

-Jura

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

Review: Whole Milk's Debut EP Is Packed With More Than Just Calcium

By: Norman Hittle

Classifying themselves as beach goth/shoegaze, it's difficult not to be curious about Whole Milk’s self-titled debut EP. Thankfully, they do not disappoint, with a roster of dark surf-rock songs that also throw in elements of jazz and psychedelia.

With admissions of following in the footsteps of The Astronauts, Whole Milk’s songs also have nods to early Radiohead (circa The Bends and OK Computer) and even some remnants of the more dirge-ish compositions of The StrokesRoom on Fire.

This four piece- featuring Alec Reid on guitar and vocals, Kevin Netz on keys, Nate Ball on drums, and Devin Burgenbauch on bass- may be new to the scene as Whole Milk, but members roots roll back to former projects such as The Cut and Wolfhawk. Several of them have individually played the circuits of national festivals including Lollapalooza, Gathering of the Vibes, and the Vans Warped Tour with former projects as well.

Check out Whole Milk’s self-titled EP here:

The debut starts out by serenading us with “Aqua Milk,” an instrumental that sounds like a cross between classic Super Mario 3 Waterworld and Broken Bells’ “Trap Doors.” It then switches gears into the alt surf rock “I Don’t Miss You,” and back to the instrumental soundscape with “Mariana’s Lullaby.” “Psychedelic Spirit” follows with sonic remnants of its namesake, and into the droning, heavily distorted guitar filled “Hypnogaja.” The EP concludes with their final instrumental “Spooky Milk,” which reminded me of an eerie bossa nova-infused waterscape.

All around, this record is a fantastic first effort for Whole Milk’s debut. You can catch them appearing May 29th on Sounds, a music showcase hosted by PBS Channel 12 in Denver.

-Norman

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