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.

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.

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.   

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.

Kalamath Album Cover.jpg

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: 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: 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.

Premiere: Dear Me,'s Debut Single "The News" Is Catchy Comedic Pop

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s indie rock trio Dear Me, are self-described “socially relevant, humorous songwriting.” Members Andrew Rogers (guitar/vocals), Sam Columna (guitar/vocals), and Jamie Beekman (keys/vocals) have been playing shows together since 2014, though they didn’t start gigging consistently until close to a year later when Sam told us, “It wasn’t until f*cking July 2015 when we agreed to play a gig at The Gothic with Chemistry Club that I honestly did not think we were ready for. But we somehow managed to survive and after that, shit was real.” It’s comments like these that kept me smirking during my recent chat with Sam about Dear Me,’s new single, which we’re stoked to premiere exclusively on BolderBeat from the band’s upcoming record Present Perfect.

Listen to Dear Me,’s new single “The News”:

“The News” is an undeniably timely tune in subject matter, and expresses a sentiment I think most of us can relate to: as informed as we want to be, the current media whirlwind of world news can be overwhelming at times and force us into one story before we’ve processed the others that came before it.

Dear Me,.

Dear Me,.

Said Columna about the track, “Part of me maybe wants to evolve past the magic of hearing something that you’re feeling expressed in a song- like it’s sort of cliche and basic and that makes it a character flaw. But every single time a song nails my inner monologue- dead to rights, word for word, kills me softly- it’s like a transformative experience. I’m reminded how lucky I am to be able to make art. If anything I make has that impact on anyone, then probably I am doing a good thing."

Sam continued, "[With “The News”] I was just hoping to capture some of the Groundhog Day-esque overwhelmed horror that I found myself feeling all the f*cking time. I actually wrote the hook, ‘I need something stuck inside my head besides the news,’ in like 2014 when I was a sunglasses salesman and I couldn’t afford to be in touch with my feelings at work or else my numbers would suffer. And that year planes disappeared out of the sky, Ebola happened, the Israel-Palestine conflict flared up, Michael Brown was murdered, there was that hostage crisis in Sydney… and yes I’m looking at a list of 2014 events right now... Robin Williams also died... and all of this happened to coincide with me falling in love with NPR, so I was hyper-aware of everything. And all of it was immediately politicized. There was no acknowledgement or time taken for human suffering- everything immediately felt like currency, or else like a weapon. I couldn’t f*cking deal with it. The hook [from “The News”] was super, ultra, mega-literal for me.”

Sam Columna.

Sam Columna.

Though the subject may seem a bit dark, Dear Me, manage to express Columna’s inner monologue of that time with a catchy hook and poppy vocal melodies, driving keys, and a strong percussive build interspersed with quick guitar breakdowns, while also weaving their stylistic humor within “The News.” This ability has had the trio previously described as “Louis C.K. meets The Beatles.” Though Columna admits there is definitely a comedic element to their work, it’s clear there is an important balance to Dear Me,’s songwriting.

Regarding this balance Sam, told me, “Oh man. Well when this comes up I always like to make it clear that we’re not Flight of the Concords or Axis of Awesome. We’re not a comedy band. We just sing songs with lyrics that are often blunt about social circumstances, and are sometimes funny, in a caustic, dark, Louis C.K. kind of a way. I actually didn’t really think of my songs as being particularly humorous until I started hearing people laughing during open mics. But I’ve always been a person who has found a lot of life to be depressing, or awkward, or uncomfortable, or shocking, or whatever, and I’ve always responded to those parts of life by laughing at them. I think Andrew is that way too. And since art is an outward expression of inward shit, it was inevitable that some of that would make it into the songs.”

“The News” is the first single from Present Perfect, Dear Me’s debut album. The record is a followup to the band’s three-song 2015 EP Name On a Page. The nine-song record was, in some ways, five years in the making.

Said Columna, “Present Perfect has lots of fingerprints on it. It was tracked either at Streetlight Audio or at Beyond the Infinite Multimedia, run by Dae Dupont, George Till, Quinn Blue and Leo Cashin. It was mixed and mastered entirely at Streetlight Audio, which is run by Tyler Paul Glasgow, Jack Roberts, and Jeff Hummel. Tyler Paul Glasgow produced and added some tasty slide guitar and synth layers on a few of the tracks. Elliott Cook played drums on any track with drums on it, and bass responsibilities were split between myself and Casey Cormier. That just leaves the core members of Dear Me,: Andrew and I both played guitar, Jamie played keys. Andrew and I split lead vocals on the album, and the songs were written by either me or Andrew, and arranged collectively by me, Andrew, Jamie, and whoever happened to be in the rhythm section at the time. Jamie mostly arranges all of our vocal harmonies, and we credit her with keeping us from sounding like a bag full of cats in a burning dumpster.”

Jamie, Andrew, & Sam.

Jamie, Andrew, & Sam.

When asked about whether Present Perfect is comprised more of old tunes the band has played over time, or new songs written just this year, Sam told me, “In some ways it’s like a greatest hits collection of a band no one knew about that had been skulking around in living rooms and cigar bars for five years and finally managed to stumble into a studio.”

More seriously, he added, “The vast majority of the songs are relatively recent, like written inside the last couple years. But something we really wanted to capture with the album was sort of the breadth of all the junk that we’ve kicked around over the last however many years. We wanted the album to capture everything we’ve been over the last five years, [and] I think it does that. Some of the tracks were multi-tracked in studio, some were tracked as full band performances with overdubs, and some were live acoustic trio tracks. That’s all the stuff we’ve been. And I think we managed to massage it into a mostly cohesive product. So I feel pretty dope about that.”

It’s this play between laughs and seriousness (and those same interplays throughout the band’s new record) that had me wondering who some of Sam’s influences are in the comedy and music realms.

“Beyond Louis C.K., I’m a fan of Mike Birbiglia and Dave Chappelle. I like storytellers. Obviously there’s innumerable musicians that I love, but my three desert island albums would probably be Abbey Road by the Beatles, Curse Your Branches by David Bazan, and Stadium Arcadium by Red Hot Chili Peppers.” he told me.

And local artists?

Danielle Ate the Sandwich is one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard. Andy Sydow and I have peed in many backyards together. He’s my closest non-Jamie friend from CU Denver, and he got me a job teaching music. I really admire his musicianship, and his tenacity. He puts on a pretty sassy live show too. Corsicana went on tour with us last October, and together we discovered the healing properties of cayenne pepper. Ben has the voice of an angel and is irritatingly young. Andrew actually taught him to swim a billion years ago.”

After the release of Present Perfect, Dear Me, have a CD Release Show booked at Syntax on June 10th and are planning to tour around Colorado and the region. They also want to jump back in the studio.

Said Sam, “I feel a little bit like releasing this album was the top of a roller coaster, and the five years before that were the long slow ticking part while we climbed up. And hopefully from here it’s screaming and raising our hands in the air for awhile.”

We’re definitely raising our hands for Dear Me,’s newest release, so give their single “The News” a listen for yourself above, and make sure to grab tickets to their Syntax show by contacting the band here. Keep up with Dear Me, on their Facebook.

-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.

Na'an Stop And Their Gnar'V Are Headed To A City Near You On Upcoming Record Release Tour

By: Mirna Tufekcic

“Everyone thinks we’re a food truck. We’re driving through all these beach communities playing shows and people are like, what kind of food do you sell?” laughed Caton Smith, bassist of Boulder’s Na’an Stop, as he playfully acknowledged that their name does in fact have the name of the Indian bread we all love served as a side to our Chicken Masala. It sums them up in a way though- the Na’an Stop fellas are a bunch of goofy, fun-loving musicians out to have a good time as they make their dreams come true.

Na'an Stop. 

Na'an Stop. 

Na’an Stop stands for “never stopping the pursuit of your dreams.” This becomes obvious once you start to know their music. It’s the van that confuses people. Colorful and painted in graffiti, it’s easy to see how passersby would mistake it for a food truck. But Na’an stop will not sell you food from the vehicle they’ve dubbed “Gnar’V.” They may, however, sell you a lifestyle. If, that is, they’re selling anything other than tickets to their shows, which are always a riot of good, positive vibes as reggae and ska music should be.

The legend that is Gnar'V. 

The legend that is Gnar'V. 

The first thing you’ll learn about Na’an Stop is about their aforementioned lifestyle. Personally, I was intrigued and had to dig deeper into what that meant. Lucky for me I got to go to the Na’an Stop lair for aninterview and see NS in their true habitat to talk about their upcoming CD Release Show at The Fox Theater this Wednesday, April 26th.

Na’an Stop started six years ago as five college friends playing at The Lazy Dog and (now defunct) The Goose. One of the first times they played an impactful gig was opening up for Boulder’s West Water Outlaws, a beloved rock outfit from Boulder that fell apart some years back. That show took place at The Fox, and ever since then, the venue on The Hill has been their home. Naturally, it’s the perfect spot for Na’an Stop to make their next moves known.

NS at The Fox.

NS at The Fox.

Released in 2015, their album From the Deep won accolades, climbing to #2 on iTunes Reggae Charts and #5 on the Billboard Reggae Charts. Following that, the weight was on their shoulders to make something cohesive and whole.  

“For our From the Deep album, we had a great sound engineer, but no producer. Nonetheless, I think we did a great job on that one,” said Caton.

It’s the album that opened doors and platforms in the reggae music scene for the group, and though From the Deep is an impressive body of work coming from very young musicians, they knew that they needed to get a bit more professional after the record’s success. So the five-piece put together a Kickstarter Campaign for a new album. They met their goal and went to Virginia to record the self-titled record with producer Danny Kalb at White Star Sound Studios. Kalb has worked with other established reggae bands like The Green, The Movement, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, and Hirie who put out one of the best reggae albums of 2016. He’s also worked with artists like Beck and Ben Harper.

But don’t fret- the Na’an Stop guys are still keeping true to their fun roots, even as they grow their sound. When I walked into the NS crib, the boys were setting up to record a short dance video as a token of appreciation for their fans. That’s when Caton revealed what the Na’an Stop lifestyle means, “Time, practice, and dedication and having fun while doing it. The thing is, we’re all in this world trying to find our way and make a life for ourselves. Each of the members of Na’an Stop are giving their all, putting 100% of ourselves in everything we do, but also not succumbing to the pressures of American society to follow a cookie cutter career and climb ladders. It’s important for people to realize that you can do what you want to do if you actually take yourself seriously, but not too seriously, and have commitment. And we’re committed. We’ve made sacrifices in our lives to make Na’an Stop a priority, and that’s really what it takes to succeed in any career path you take.”

Life on the road. 

Life on the road. 

The “having fun while doing it” part is certainly true for these guys. Their video release for the single “Lazy Susan,” off the upcoming self-titled album, clearly shows the boys having fun. So does the video previously featured by BolderBeat for “Win a Bagel,” the single from From the Deep.  

Watch Na’an Stop’s video for “Lazy Susan”:

I asked Caton what else people can infer from their videos, because they’re pretty silly and have little to nothing to do with the actual song. His response was, “That we like to party. That we’re all friends. That it’s not a hard process for us to have fun on or off camera; on or off stage. We don’t want to follow any trend. We want to show our creativity and put out funny videos that haven’t been seen since The Foo Fighters crushed it.”  

The album art for the self-titled record.

The album art for the self-titled record.

Browsing around, I also noticed Na’an Stop’s upcoming self-titled album features a new logo for the group.

Said Caton, “We want to keep it fresh and show that we’re growing as musicians and artists. Each song that you record, looking back, shows you where you were and where you are now as a musician and as a group. ‘Win a Bagel,’ lacks harmonies in the recordings. It’s something we missed for being so green. But we definitely add them in our live sets now. Our new self-titled album shows how far we’ve come.”

You’ll definitely be able to notice the more refined, matured, and sophisticated rendition of the band with their new record available on all music platforms Wednesday, May 3rd. Hear them for yourself before the record drops as they kick off their spring tour at The Fox this Wednesday before heading west, where the people have “been really good to the band with legitimate fans and venues,” said Caton, “It’s a beautiful thing to watch the rise in our following and dedicated fans as they come out and support us. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Keep up with Na'an Stop here and make sure to wave hello if you see their Gnar'V in a city near you

-Mirna

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

Millennial Wise: Chloe Tang’s 'Passion//Aggression'

By: Will Baumgartner

Louis CK, the brilliant comedian and social critic, has a bit in which he explains why a 50-year-old garbage man is more interesting than any 21-year-old with four degrees (or something to that effect). The bit is spot on, though like most philosophies, it does have its exceptions. Sometimes this baby boomer meets a millennial who feels wise beyond their years, and beyond “interesting” to the point of being rather fascinating. Though I haven’t met Chloe Tang in person, listening to her new EP Passion//Aggression is like meeting a young person who exceeds expectations and defies stereotypes.

Chloe Tang.

Chloe Tang.

The five-song disc begins quietly, and overall, the feel of the EP is just a bit more introspective than rocking. Still, each of the songs has a drive and momentum that’s infectious. “No One Will” has a lilting beginning, a building verse, and a breakaway chorus marked by its relatively stark instrumentation. Like several of the songs here, it’s about love gone awry, regret, and acknowledgement of the good in a sad situation. It’s a hallmark of all these songs that shows how a young woman can be wise: looking at herself as well as her lover, asking important questions, and sparing herself nothing in her reflections on the scene described. This girl pulls no punches, even when they’re aimed at herself.

The second song, “Electrified,” is one of my favorites for several reasons: as befits the title, it rocks at least as hard as any of the other tracks, it has a killer chorus, and I love a song that declares independence from a relationship that was more unhealthy than the other way around, or at least that’s what this listener got from the lyrics. Maybe Tang herself would tell me I read it wrong, but that’s another great thing about these songs: for the most part, her lyrics are sparsely imagistic and leave at least something to interpretation and imagination.

Watch Chloe Tang’s music video for “Forgive You Again”:

“Forgive You Again” is the release’s centerpiece, the first single, and there’s a great video you should watch: I defy any sentient person to resist choking up a little seeing it; I certainly did. The song itself is a power ballad with a kind message: “When ghosts return/we always learn to find a way to balance and burn/They will make you confess your worst and your best/but maybe they’ll forgive you again.” It’s an undeniably sweet and powerful song; it also features what’s been dubbed the “Millennial Whoop”: a wordless refrain that uses the fifth and third of a major scale. When I chatted with Chloe on the phone, I mentioned this, and she was genuinely surprised that she’d used this device she’d never even heard about. To me, that’s further proof that she is overall a genuine and sincere soul; there’s no guile in her songwriting, just a lot of heart, and a songwriter doesn’t exist who hasn’t used common devices like this, whether consciously or not.

“Tell Me I’m Wrong” returns to the theme of self-examination and self-confrontation. Like I said, Chloe pulls no punches with lines like, “My excuse is I wasn’t awake” and “I woke up every day with a lie and a bluff.” Again, it’s a song that begins quietly, builds through the verse, and hones in with a powerful chorus, like having a frank conversation with oneself.

The EP’s closer, “Till I Get Up,” is in a lot of ways the strongest song here. It begins with a groovy soul bassline and proceeds to rock righteously through the verse and chorus. The lyrics stress persistence through difficulties leading to a strong resolve, and the overall result is a song that feels like an anthem you want to shout along with. “It’s me against myself and all my ghosts;” “And it keeps pushing waiting for me to make a fuss/but I breathe, I breathe, I breathe till I get up.” Tell it, sister!  

Chloe Tang is indeed 21 years old, and I didn’t ask her much about her education, but I don’t think she has any degrees yet, let alone four: she currently studies songwriting at CU Denver, and went to a charter arts school in her native state of Arizona prior. She began playing piano and singing at the age of five, and started writing songs at about age 15. She grew up on folk (her Dad’s influence), is a fan of James Bay, Kaleo, Of Monsters and Men, and Amber Run, and has been lately getting into classic rock. She also confesses a love of “corny pop from the eighties.” I may not share all her tastes, but I’m sure we could have at least one long and fascinating conversation about music, and yes, about life: she might even teach me a thing or two! I’m definitely going to be at her EP release show at the Hi-Dive this Thursday March 9th because after listening to this young woman’s music, I just have to see what she does with it live. Join me; tickets here.

-Will

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

Whiskey, Love, & Death: The Making of Foxfeather's New Self-Titled Album

By: Zach Dahmen

At a time when most local acts are releasing four song EPs, Foxfeather’s new project is bucking the trend. The Boulder-based band dropped their first full length album this month, a self-titled 11-song release. Formed in 2013, the five-piece outfit consists of Carly Ricks Smith (lead vocals), Laura Stratton (guitars/keys/vocals), Patrick Coleman (upright/electric bass/violin), Ben Batchelor (drums/percussion), and Ian Hendrick (electric guitar). This Friday, October 21st is Foxfeather’s Denver CD Release Show at The Walnut Room with Doves and Wolves. Before they hit the stage, we wanted to chat with them about their songwriting style, their new album, and whiskey. Here’s our sit down with Foxfeather:

How did Foxfeather come together?

Laura: Carly and I first started working together to hone our songwriting skills. We were writing and just having fun with it. There came a point when we needed to have more to these songs than just vocals and guitar, which led us to the next stage: forming the band.

Patrick: It was last summer on tour when the five of us officially cemented the lineup.

Carly: And this really feels like the beginning, right now, with this album.

How do you feel like you’ve changed from your first EP to your new album?

Patrick: Our instrumentation has changed in a direct way. We no longer employ mandolin and fiddle. Also Ben is a jazz drummer, and that for me has changed the feel of the band immensely.

Carly: With our first EP, Laura and I really struggled with our identity, and it was difficult to let go of the idea that we were a folk duo. It took making that EP, playing, and touring with this band to make us realize that this is what we wanted. That’s why we self-titled the album; it’s all five of us playing this record.

Foxfeather. Photo Credit:   Kirsten Cohen

Foxfeather. Photo Credit: Kirsten Cohen

Talk to us about your recording process.

Laura: Jay Elliot was our sound engineer [on this album]. We recorded in his home studio last April for nine days. And our producer was Jagoda, who was such an integral part of the entire process. Everyone was there for the whole process.

Ben: It would have felt like we were missing a family member on Thanksgiving had we not all been there for the whole process. Jay mixed and was the conduit, and he was really able to see the tone of it and get a sense of who we are. The songs transformed in those moments.

Carly: The studio changed the way we played these songs live too. We were really trying to be as open as possible during this process.

Ian: As the lead guitarist, I found there to be a lot of pressure; there’s this responsibility, but Jay, Jagoda, and the studio made me feel confident to produce something we are all proud of. It was an authentic experience that was really special.    

Listen to Foxfeather's new self-titled album:

What do you think makes a good song and how do you incorporate that into your writing?

Patrick: Whiskey, love, and death. Those were our themes for this album.

Carly: Laura and I write these songs; it’s a process to find a story that fits. Trying to find that word that gives that exact feeling; starting with just an idea and creating a story around it. Laura and I feed off of each other in that. That base and foundation is what allows us to make these songs.

Ian: For me, a good song is not about geeking out about guitars, it’s the lyrical content and feel. Does the song make you feel something?

Ben: Yeah I think a good song evokes a response from people; that’s the end goal. To connect.

Tickets   here  ! Photo Credit:   Kirsten Cohen

Tickets here! Photo Credit: Kirsten Cohen

What song surprised you most while recording?

Everyone: “Day for Lovers.” (simultaneously)

Laura: We had 16 songs that we brought to the studio. We had a lot of them we weren’t sure would make it. But “Day for Lovers” was a surprise.

Carly: “Day for Lovers” is one of our oldest songs. It changed a lot. We took it and cut some verses and rearranged it to make it its own thing. Afterward, we were like ‘Holy shit. What did we just do?’ I called my mom and told her I just made some baby-making music. It’s become one our favorites.

What are your favorite places to play?

Everyone: Gold Hill Inn; it’s a special place.

Carly: Also Taco Del Gnar is a place we’ve been more than six times. They gave us the opportunity to start touring southern Colorado.

Laura: It’s a home away from home for us.

ON THE ROAD.

ON THE ROAD.

If you could play a show with any band, who would it be?

Everyone: Lake Street Dive. For sure.

What song do you wish you wrote?

Laura: “Pony” by Kasey Chambers, which we cover.

Patrick: Or Dawes’ new song.

So what’s up next for Foxfeather?

Carly: Promoting the CD, planning some small tours, and playing more festivals.

Laura: And continuing the creative process. It’s cool to think about where we can go and to not be stuck in a box.

Catch Foxfeather this Friday at The Walnut Room in Denver. Tickets here! And make sure to give their self-titled album a listen for yourself above.

-Zach

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

DICKIE Release Self-Titled Debut Album + Details On Their Show at Denver's Walnut Room

By: Hannah Oreskovich

This Friday, October 7th, touring duo DICKIE will play at Denver’s Walnut Room. Made up of pop songwriter Dick Prall and violinist Kristina Priceman, DICKIE describe themselves as “the exploration of subtle symphonies over creative prose [and] indie popped-out melodies under innovative storytelling and original grooves”.

The group’s self-titled album, which is also their debut release together, dropped just last month. It’s a mix of rootsy pop and strong instrumentation that truly showcases the talents of Prall and Priceman both. DICKIE also recently released a music video for the album’s single “Pop Pop Pop”, which visually plays on the strong musical connection the two have together through a series of black and white live-performance shots and bursts of melodic color.

Watch DICKIE’s new music video for their song “Pop Pop Pop”:

DICKIE are excited to share their ten song release with Colorado fans; the duo have played the state many times before (we first caught them at Johnny’s Cigar Bar in Boulder) and have developed a loyal and excited following. When asked about their upcoming visit and show, DICKIE told us, “We've always loved coming out to Colorado. We have a lot of great friends here and The Walnut Room feels more and more like home each time [we visit]. For the first time, we're coming as a full band, which packs a bigger punch that we can't wait to share with our fans both old and new.”

Tickets for DICKIE’s show are likely to sell out, so get them here. Denver’s Before the Bulb will open the show; doors are at 7PM.

Download DICKIE’s new album for yourself, and keep up with this talented two-piece 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.

Colorado's Edison Announce New Album, 'Familiar Spirit', & String of Hometown Shows

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Most bands dream of touring the nation and hitting the pavement on the reg, and Denver’s Edison have spent the last year doing just that, playing shows from coast to coast, and everywhere in between. The Colorado folk rock trio, consisting of Sarah Slaton (vocals/guitar), Dustin Morris (drums/vocals), and Grammy-nominated guitarist Maxwell Hughes (formerly of The Lumineers), made the joint decision in 2015 to quit their day jobs and pursue music full time. And that choice has sure paid off: Edison was recently signed to Rhyme & Reason Records, are coming out of a busy festival season with another full tour planned for the fall, and their album, ‘Familiar Spirit’, drops next Friday, 09/16/16. In anticipation for its release, Edison are actually headed back to the CO for a bit, with hometown shows planned at Boulder’s Fox Theatre this Friday, 09/09/16 and Denver’s Larimer Lounge next Tuesday, 09/13/16. Make sure to snag your tickets now, and in the meantime, check out our interview with Edison below:

How did the three of you come to be a part of the Colorado music scene?

Dustin and Sarah were initially involved in the Denver music scene, and Max had strong roots in his hometown music scene up in Fort Collins. In 2014, Sarah opened for Dustin and his former project on a tour to SXSW. By the end of the tour, they were collaborating on stage, and continued working together after returning home. Fast forward a year later, and Maxwell joined the Edison duo project on a co-headlining tour to SXSW 2015. [Edison’s] missing piece came together on that trip, and we've been a band ever since. 

Edison. Photo Credit:    Kristen Wrzesniewski

Edison. Photo Credit: Kristen Wrzesniewski

We know that you made the decision to hit the road and foster relationships with people on tour before releasing much music as a band. How did you have the courage to take this approach? And how has this route defined this project for you?

The courage to commit to such aggressive touring came after years of each of us touring solo with our own music. Within the last decade, each of us had traveled alone across the country with just our instruments and clothes in our car. When we finally made it into a car together, the chemistry clicked and we immediately agreed to give this project 110%. The road feels like home to all of us already, and [this project] has been defined by our joint love of traveling, and trying to carve out our future. [We will continue to tour this fall] with Jared & The Mill after Familiar Spirit is released next week, and we're so excited to take this record to the West Coast.

Denver is quickly becoming a massive launch pad for national acts, two of which you’ve had the chance to share a stage with (ie: Hughes as formerly of The Lumineers and Edison’s performance with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats). In your experience, why do you think Denver is a growing music hub? And what do you dig most about the Denver scene?

The scene in Denver stands out from other markets because there is a culture of collaboration. Musicians build community with one another instead of opting to view it as a competition. There are more systems in place to support the scene [in Denver] than most cities too. Things like CPR’s OpenAir, Illegal Pete’s, Levitt Foundation, SpokesBUZZ (R.I.P.), The UMS, and Youth on Record all make supporting local musicians part of their core mission. Artists in Denver have access to music business education, philanthropic opportunities, and media exposure all at their fingertips. It's something special.

Photo Credit:    Kristen Wrzesniewski

Photo Credit: Kristen Wrzesniewski

Sarah- As an out female fronting a successful indie folk project, you’re in a position of power to bring your background to your audience. How do you harness that power in your artistry to empower women, and LGBTQ individuals?

I'm proud to be an out woman and to stand on stage beside two men who support me and the LGBTQ community. It's been really rewarding to get feedback after a set from girls who are wanting to pursue music, or who have questions about my experience being an out musician. I hope that they take away something from the set that adds to their confidence in wanting to go for it themselves. 

When it comes to releasing ‘Familiar Spirit’ this month, what are you most excited about? Sharing the new tunes? Getting back on the road? All of the above?

All of the above. This record is something we've been sitting on since recording [it] last spring, and we have been anxiously awaiting the release date. We're so proud of the album, and to finally see people take the music home at shows will feel like Christmas.  

Photo Credit:    Kristen Wrzesniewski

Photo Credit: Kristen Wrzesniewski

What can your audiences expect from your sets while you’re in Colorado for these hometown shows?

Our hometown shows will be the perfect cap to the first leg of our 2016 tour. We have been working hard on the set for each show, and can't wait to get in a room with our hometown audience. They're family. We may have a few tricks up our sleeves for them, but folks will have to come see for themselves!

Well played, Edison. Stoked for the shows.

Make sure to catch Edison at Boulder’s Fox Theatre this Friday, 09/09/16 and Denver’s Larimer Lounge next Tuesday, 09/13/16. And keep up with this Colorado folk rock trio on their Facebook.

-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 Weekend Six: Six Shows to See 08/26, 08/27, & 08/28

By: Hannah Oreskovich

TGIF yo. Here’s The Six:

Today (Friday 08/26):

RiNo Music Festival at RiNo Neighborhood in Denver 430PM-Close

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Channel 93.3, Westword, and Twist and Shout are throwing a festival bash for you today in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, and it’s just in time for happy hour. The music lineup includes Silversun Pickups, St. Lucia, 888, Bishop Briggs, and A Silent Film. Tickets are $40 for the whole shebang, and you can nab ‘em here. Festi while you can, folks.

Watch 888’s official music video for their song “Critical Mistakes”:

Local Songwriter Showcase at Club 156 in Boulder 7PM-9PM

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CU’s Program Council is putting on a cool event tonight at Club 156 that features several local talented singer/songwriters, including Cameron Bailey, Jobi, Jarocki, Ethan Cohen, Nate Harvey, and Sophie Kloor. The event is free and open to the public, so whether you’re new to CU and wanting to learn more about the music scene, or a longtime Boulder resident wanting to check out some new tunes, get to this show! 

Listen to Sophie Kloor’s demo for her song “Losing Myself”:

Kutandara Kombi at The Laughing Goat in Boulder 8PM-Close

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Boulder’s Kutandara is a world music group, fusing “African music traditions with indie-pop, rock, jazz, gospel, [and] classical” sounds. And tonight, they’ve got a gig at Boulder’s LG that is sure to make your spirits dance. Kutandara are well known for their eclectic sets, playing every show with the intent of “exchanging energy of music and movement with our audiences”. Sounds like a rad time- and it’s free! Head on down.

Sample some Kutandara tracks here.

Tomorrow (Saturday 08/27):

Eros and the Eschaton Album Release Show at Larimer Lounge in Denver 8PM-Close

Colorado Springs’ Eros and the Eschaton dropped their sophomore album Weight of Matter recently, and we have been diggin’ on it. Major. Read more about it in our review of the album, and celebrate with the band tomorrow at their Larimer show. Denver’s I Sank Molly Brown and Maybe Baby & The Bitch Boys are joining the party, and OpenAir CPR is putting on the show. Tickets are only $10 in advance. Get ‘em now, and while you’re at it, get Weight of Matter. Your ears will thank you.

Listen to Eros and the Eschaton’s single “Rxx”:

Mayhem Gulch at Conor O’Neill’s in Boulder 10PM-Close

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If you’re looking for a solid bluegrass show for the weekend, look no further Colorado! Boulder’s own bluegrass/newgrass five-piece Mayhem Gulch will be strummin’ at Conor’s tomorrow night. The group describe themselves as “a whiskey-fueled campfire jam”, which sounds pretty perfect for a summer Saturday. So get to it!

Listen to Mayhem Gulch’s “Run for the Hills”:

The Next Day (Sunday 08/28):

Magpie, Ethan Griggs + Sonder Ensemble, & Chloe Tang at Lost Lake Lounge in Denver 8PM-Close

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Back in March, we featured Denver’s soulful folk outfit Magpie. The “orchestral folk rock” project, led by Zach Dunn, is playing The Lost Lake this Sunday, headlining a bill that features Ethan Griggs + Sonder Ensemble and Chloe Tang. The show starts at 8PM and is only $8, so ease into the week with a good drink and the sweet sounds of these Denver acts. More info here.

Watch Magpie’s live performance video of their tune “Trembling”:

See you at a show CO! Xoxox

-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.

Eros and the Eschaton Release Sophomore Album, 'Weight of Matter'

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Back in 2012, Eros and the Eschaton were a North Carolina-based experimental duo comprised of couple Kate Perdoni and Adam Hawkins. In 2013, the two put out their debut record, Home Address for Civil War, on the coveted indie label Bar/None Records (Alex Chilton, Yo La Tengo), which gained critical acclaim as a shoegaze pop hit. Fast forward to 2016, and you’ll find Eros and Eschaton at their new home base in Colorado Springs, CO with members Alex Koshak (drums), Ryan Spradlin (bass), and Mitch Macura (keyboards) filling out their lineup. Just last Friday, the group released their sophomore album, Weight of Matter, also on Bar/None Records. And we have really been diggin’ on it.

Eros and the Eschaton.

Eros and the Eschaton.

In the span of just a few days, Weight of Matter has garnered some major buzz with reviews in Consequence of Sound, Scene Magazine, and more. The band’s single, “Rxx”, has been all over CPR's OpenAir, and this Friday, the group is throwing their album release show at Larimer Lounge with Colorado favorites I Sank Molly Brown and Maybe Baby & The Bitch Boys.

The album artwork for  Weight of Matter .

The album artwork for Weight of Matter.

Weight of Matter remains loyal to the band’s pop styling roots from their previous release, while also showcasing the talents of each musician in the group. There are beats to keep you moving mixed with Hawkins’ atmospherically dreamy vocals on the band’s tune “Cry”, there are tasty bass lines behind Perdoni’s flawless garage-y vibes on the album’s single, “Rxx”, and Macura’s keys can be heard stringing together fantastic melodies throughout the album while Hawkins riffs you away into shoegaze oblivion. Weight of Matter manages to play with elements of alt rock, classic pop, atmospheric indie, and garage punk (sometimes even within the same song), all the while remaining a smooth, well-composed, and lyrically inventive work of art.

The album’s single, “Rxx”, which is worth mentioning all on its own, is everything a great neo-psychedlia/shoegaze track should be: poppy keys that invite you to the stage over rocking guitar riffs, a low-end of bass bumps and drum thumps that keep you moving, and Perdoni’s echoey vocals carrying you through the 60s and 70s in what could be a massive indie radio hit. As Perdoni told Consequence of Sound in a recent interview, “Rxx” is made up of “novel flashes in rock and roll history”, and it’s done with an infectious energy that feels exciting and upbeat rather than longingly nostalgic. It’s addictive to listen to.

Eros and Eschaton are an exciting act to have floating around the Colorado music scene, and Weight of Matter is a stellar album. Check it out for yourself here, preview a few songs from the record on Bar/None’s website, and make sure to get yourself to the band’s Larimer release show this Friday! Tickets are $10 in advance; $12 at the door.

Keep up with Eros and Eschaton on their Facebook.

-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.

Mawule's "Black Is Beautiful" Is A Poetic Platform For Empowerment Through Dialogue

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Throughout these difficult times in our country, we all search for empowerment, for hope, and for something that will help us see the light in humanity, however dim that light may seem. We turn to political leaders, celebrities, and religious figures, in hopes that they will help us with the change that must occur. But in actuality, we must turn to each other, and ourselves, for this change.

Music is often a powerful platform for individuals to share their message, and Mawule is one of those individuals whose music creates a path for integration and dialogue to occur. His fascination with human relationships combined with his passion for building connections shines through not just his music, but also his work life as a Resident Director for college students. Mawule recently released his debut album, Chosen, and his subsequent release party was a wild success.

Bianca Mikahn.

Bianca Mikahn.

All nine songs on this album are noteworthy, but one that beckons particular attention is Black Is Beautiful”, which features hip hop maestros Bianca Mikahn and MC ILL Se7en. As usual, Mawule’s lyrics urge us to reflect on the human experience, and his beats are invitingly rhythmic. “Black Is Beautiful” was one of the final tracks added to the album, and is a personal tribute to the challenges that people of color face due to the systemic racism and oppression in our country.

Listen to Mawule's "Black Is Beautiful":

The lyrical and melodic combination of Mawule, Bianca Mikahn, and ILL Se7en is brilliant, as each artist brings their unique sound to the song. Mawule and ILL Se7en sing their truths and piece their rhymes like poetic puzzles, while Bianca powerfully takes hold of the chorus, repeating:

“Let’s make this useful/Our lives are fruitful/Change what we’re used to/Black Is Beautiful”

Above all else, “Black Is Beautiful” is a call to action. It emphasizes pride and empowers people of color who experience adversity every day. It encourages individuals who do not directly face the institutional discrimination to use their privilege to take in knowledge and create positive change, even if it induces discomfort.

Mawule.

Mawule.

We must think critically about the country we live in and the hateful actions we choose to accept, through ignorance or inaction. “Black Is Beautiful” urges us to stop authorizing overt racism, covert micro-aggressions, and comfort in privilege. For those who face this systemic injustice every day, the track encourages you to stay proud of who you are. Mawule reminds us of the significance behind Black Lives Matter and challenges us to recognize the injustices currently plaguing our country.

For an inside peek into the making of “Black Is Beautiful,” check out the 'Behind The Story' video, filmed at The Spot Studios. And get the inside scoop on the creative genius behind Mawule’s music through his personal blog. Chosen is available on iTunes, Spotify, and Soundcloud.

-Jura

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

Mawule's "Chosen" Album Release Party Was The Perfect Sunday Funday Start to the Summer

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Mawule's release party for Chosen was thumpin'.

This past Sunday, the walls of Denver’s Lost Lake were bumping in celebration of Mawule’s release party for his album Chosen, which dropped on June 10th. The good vibes were palpable, and the music was paired perfectly with the “Sunday funday” feel of the crowd.  

Mawule.

Mawule.

Mawule was accompanied by some pretty stellar and diverse musical acts. Denver hip hop artist Jerney warmed up the crowd as it trickled in, prepared to round out the weekend with a bang. Singer/songwriter Amy Kress graced the stage afterward, and had what I believe to be one of her best performances yet. She moved gracefully around the stage, switching between strictly vocals and piano with vocals, sharing her story with the crowd. Amy truly shined under the red and blue lights of Lost Lake’s stage, and belted her heart out. Rapper/MC ILL Se7en followed, hyping the crowd with some killer lyrical flow and classic hip hop beats, thanks to the lovely Bianca Mikahn. Together, the two created a combination that was impossible not to move your muscles to. DJ Zenas was the last performer to kick up some dust before Mawule took the stage. It was a delight to watch him, as this was his very first performance as a rapper/singer. To say his set was just downright fun would be an understatement. Zenas’ confidence on stage and rapport with the crowd got everyone fired up right before Mawule, and he proved that he is just as talented of a performer as he is a DJ.

Bianca Mikahn and Mawule.

Bianca Mikahn and Mawule.

Mawule brought an entirely different vibe than his predecessors, rounding out the evening with some R&B/soul sounds and dance beats produced and co-written by Glenn Sawyer at The Spot Studios. When it comes to Mawule, the meaning behind the music is just as important as the music itself. His unveiling of Chosen felt incredibly personal, as he shared bits and pieces of his journey behind each song. It’s no mystery that he is passionate about the community, human relationships, and working to bridge the gap between the performer and the audience. Personal favorites from the night were “Chosen”, which featured local MC A Meazy, “Anything” featuring DJ Zenas, “It’s Not You”, “Get Your Name”, and of course, the soulful tribute “Black Is Beautiful”, featuring the vocal magic of Bianca Mikahn and ILL Se7en.

Listen to Mawule's Chosen for yourself:

It was incredible to see Mawule celebrate the hard work he’s put into Chosen, and also to see the talented musicians and friends he surrounds himself with. Everyone was supportive and enthused about what was being shared with them, and that, I believe, is what truly makes a show great. The walls of the Lost Lake were filled with eclectic poetry, funky beats, and friendly faces who did not seem to care that it was late on a Sunday night. It was personally awesome to revisit one of my favorite musical enclaves in Denver, and with summer just around the corner, I’d advise everyone to get to Lost Lake for a show in the near future.

Mawule and A Meazy.

Mawule and A Meazy.

Chosen can be found on Spotify and SoundCloud, and will be released later on iTunes, for your listening pleasure. Stay in touch with Mawule on Facebook to keep tabs on his upcoming performances and announcements.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.