I Traded Bison Bone Some Mangoes For A Great Conversation & Some Heartfelt Tunes

By: Joliene Adams

I arrived with two mangoes and departed empty handed, heart full, reeking of campfire at the next morning’s unrelated 8AM professional meeting for my day job. I blame and thank two fifths of Denver’s cosmic country band Bison Bone: Brianna Straut (vocals, harmonica, tambourine) and Courtney Whitehead (vocals, guitar, songwriting). Both are singer-songwriters in their own right, currently on tour performing both as individuals but also as a stripped down Bison Bone duo. Brianna is also a member of Denver’s Americana folk group Tomahawk Fox, where she handles vocals and rhythm guitar.

Brianna & Courtney.

Brianna & Courtney.

They stopped off at Patterson Alley in Eugene to play the outdoor backyard alley house venue; the backyard that pulls a lot of shows and knows how to host food and drinks with fancy strung up lights and all. Denver’s own King Cardinal has also played here within the last year.

The Beer Pairing

Naturally, the first thing I wanted to know was: What kind of beer best pairs with your music? Brianna infectiously belly laughs, endearing her to anyone in earshot.

She explains: “That’s really funny. We talked about that on the way up here and about making a little flyer for all the shows, and saying with each song of mine, or his, or us together, which beer goes with it.”

Courtney chimes in that as for the band’s sound overall? “Probably some kind of sour.”

More laughter from Brianna, then from Courtney and myself reflexively as a doctor’s knee-hammer at just the right spot on the patella. That the two are sardonically earnest comes through in interview as much as it does in their lyrical content.

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Brianna swiftly recovers, reflecting on her own personal singers-songwriter musician sound: “Probably some kind of pale ale.” She specifies: “an Oskar Blues [pale ale but consumed] at a tasting room in Austin, Texas.” Brianna grew up in east Texas and last lived in Austin before her move to Denver. “So a little bit Texas, a little bit Colorado,” she explains. Courtney hails from Oklahoma.

Silence lingers in the air for a moment. “Yeah, sour.” he chimes. More laughter from all.

The Good, the Bad, & the Ass-Busting

It’s a fine line between surviving and surthriving in this world. Musicians often endure this reality acutely. Bless their darn hearts. Brianna and Courtney opened up about it.

Courtney first: “You know, whether you’re creating new music or rotating band members, people don’t realize [the hard work it takes]. They show up in their town and they’re ready to party.”

Yet Courtney and Brianna’s own appreciation for their encountered gains is as blatant as it is poignant.

“This tour has been really incredible and I think it’s always like such an amazing way to see how people respond to this travelling circus we have… The way that they like welcome you with open arms… the last place we were in we were staying at this girl’s house for two days. She hosted us for a night of music. We have some friends that live there that took us out, they bought us drinks, they spent a lot of money on merch… [and this girl] was just constantly leaving little notes out for us and it was just that kind of stuff is like what really helps move us on to the next place. Not only monetarily but just like…”

Courtney pipes in, “... soulfully.”

I sat there thinking, "They brought music and all I brought were two mangoes. At least I brought mangoes? At least I brought mangoes."

Brianna continues, “It keeps our spirits up because it’s really hard whenever you go back you’ve got, you know, we’ve got our bills to pay, we’ve got everything else… you know we have life and society telling us we are doing something that’s so bizarre. But it’s really nice to see what it ignites in people… it opens our eyes up to really great times of people just being really wonderful in a time that’s really hard to see the good in people.”

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Brianna and Courtney take their music and that appreciative attitude on the road. I can only hope they see that they themselves embody showing the good, being the uplifting and relatable in the tough times.

Songs like Courtney’s solo performance of Bison Bone’s "Walls,” which is about coming home for the first time after your dog’s died but is relatable in terms of other loss, may not be happy sunshine feel-good uplifting, but people need the real and relatable so hard sometimes and particularly in hard times all the more. We all need the keep-it-realers and these two are expert at it.

Nine times out of ten, someone will appreciate your saying, “sometimes life gives you lemons and makes you eat them rinds and all” far more than “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” on a bad day. I’m not suggesting negative is good, but that real and raw, empathy and emotional insight matter a hell of a lot; Brianna and Courtney are capable of bringing that and it rings loud and true in what they do together and apart. They touch you right where your wounds are in a way that might hurt, but simultaneously cleanses and heals like castille soap on a newly scraped knuckle.

The Band Description

Bison Bone’s band description is that of  “a working class cosmic country band from Denver, CO.” Previously, Daniel Mescher of Colorado Public Radio (CPR) and Tom Murphy of Westword both asked Courtney what puts the “cosmic” in the “cosmic country.” Much of it comes down to the psychedelic influences of the 60s and 70s that blend with the country at the roots. I probed the “working class” element.

Courtney explains, “I would say that mostly when we talk about that [the working class element], obviously any band now can say that with regards to the way they work: loading their own shit, buying their own van, running around doing everything, that kind of do-it-your-own. Even if you are playing a thousand-person venue in any city, you know, you’re still doing a lot of that on your own. Creating your own art, creating your own merch… But when I describe it that way [as a working-class band], I’m mostly talking about it lyrically, and somewhat sonically. We write about the stories we know- where we come from, the people we know, and we come from a working-class background.”

The Road Test

Even when it isn’t raining everything is wet, always, in Oregon Octobers; dampness, cold from the inside to the brim of your bones. It lent itself to habitual bouts of guitar tuning this eve. But tuning guitars in different environments is ultimately the first step to tweaking perspective and being self–reflective for these two.

Brianna reflects, “You can only play so much in your hometown. But when you’re playing a different place each night [on the road], to a different crowd, you really get to test out and see new stuff.”

Courtney adds, “Yeah, I like to use the word road tested or lived in… it is different to drive somewhere, show up, load your stuff up, set up, and then you may play a song that you’ve played thousands of times before but it’s going to feel different in that place if it’s your first time being in that venue or geographical location.”

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The road, currently, is a way to help the pair try out new tunes. I naively assumed it was about promoting Bison Bone’s History of Falling album, out this past April. The 10-song, approximately 47-minute album is no longer the primary focus. It was initially recorded around a year ago but now, the band is learning from what it was and moving on towards what they want to be(come).

The Artistic Process

Bison Bone’s History of Falling was by and large a live, in-studio recording. Research tells me this is partly a function of preference, partly a function of time and expense. Research, listening, and an interview also tell me the band is highly process and discovery-oriented. They are at once intuitive, attentive, attuned, and insightful.

Courtney resonates, “[A] lot of it, you know, as any artist from any medium- a lot of what you’re doing is taking stuff and throwing it against the wall and seeing if it sticks and adjusting after that, you know.”

As for the storytelling that at least partly drew Courtney to country, it often first comes with a melody. If “it’s a happier melody,” you’re more liable to think of a happy story you know from real life, “but if it’s something sadder, like in a minor key, you’re probably going to write something mad or sad,” Courtney clarifies, the latter being much more of what Bison Bone naturally leans into. But again, Courtney pins down the whole statement by reflecting on the process, and how the melody “kind of does the job itself if you allow it to get out of the way.” It’s a touch and go of inception and discovery.

Note to self: throw the pizza against the wall and see what happens, but don’t stand in the path of the pizza’s trajectory. That’s where art comes from. End essay.

The Relationship Business And Next Big Thing

In an AXS interview “Get to Know a Denver Band” with Alli Andress, Courtney reflected on learning that “it’s not the music business, it’s the relationship business.” That’s a good chunk of what being on the road is about for these two. It’s about the relationship with the people and places they encounter, the relationship to their music, and the relationship between the two and the three back in Colorado.

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“Next we’ve got a lot of shows,” Brianna informs, adding, “We’re looking forward to getting a new album out and working on that with the band, coming back with what we’ve learned from tour.” As for the pair, “The biggest impact I’ve seen [on the road] is the way we communicate. Bring tired, being hungry, and working every day, and uncomfortable… that will strengthen us as two friends in our friendship and in our relationship professionally.”  

Courtney resonates, “You just learn so much [on the road] and you’re excited to put whatever you learned into practice.” He reflects that since History of Falling, Bison Bone had a great year that followed, playing a lot of great Colorado shows, festivals, and playing in New Mexico.

“Doors were opened and it’s allowed us to keep moving forward... I think that’s what we’re always excited about is when we do something new. When we come back to something a little more normal or routine, we’re going to come back and be way beyond the levels that we were at in most normal situations before. Just more professional, more sonically in tune, just better at all aspects of it; more efficient with all of it and getting a better ear and growing patience and figuring it out. It’s just all problem solving, you know.”

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As for what radio stations the band’s encountered on the road and recommends listening to? Podcasts. Particularly, Dan Savage Lovecast, Sword and Scale: A True Crime Podcast, The New Yorker podcast, and KCRW’s Left, Right, & Center podcast.

“Don’t listen to music!” Courtney fervently quipped when asked about radio stations. This time, the laughter was sufficient to garner glances from the gathering crowd at the stage. Really, it was Courtney’s way of saying we all need a break to produce our best when your passion is otherwise your every waking moment. Heed the intelligence.

Thank you Brianna and Courtney for your hard work and stout hearts. Everyone in Colorado check out Brianna at The Jamestown Mercantile this Friday, October 20th at 6PM. She masterfully blends crooning and lullaby, tinged with grace, humor, and aplomb. I can’t say enough about these guys and how much you’ll enjoy them live no matter what mood you are or aren’t in, or your feelings towards and preconceived notions about country generally.

Keep up with Bison Bone here.

-Joliene

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

(Un)Traditional Love Songs: A Playlist For Your Valentine's Day & So Much More

By: Joliene Adams

Forget complaints about Valentine’s Day commercialism. Let’s think instead on the limitations of the kind of love that gets advertised to us. Love comes in all shapes and sizes far beyond romantic, and this playlist reflects all those feelings and shades of love. Wherever you are at in your love life and whoever you love in whatever ways, whether the burning embers of passion or the charcoal heart of getting burned from love; from your lover to your mother, it’s all here:

Listen to BolderBeat’s “(Un)Traditional Love Songs” Playlist:

1. “Death Hex” – The VelveteersDeath Hex (2016)

No one said love came without barbs. Hook, line, and sinker, The Velveteers rock straight for the jugular. John Demitro’s drums thunder with the urgency of foreboding storms while Demi Demitro’s tight, heavy guitar licks smack you awake. Staggered vocal notes build tension up to lift off as Demi lets melodic hollers unapologetically rip. If their rock doesn’t shatter the teacups on your shelf, you haven’t turned that heavy grit up loud enough.

And this one’s lyrical content doesn’t dote expressly on love. Demi speaks to this in an interview covered by BolderBeat’s Hannah Oreskovich, “‘Death Hex’ is about awakening from the dead and saying goodbye to the past. It was really inspired by a sense of magic I felt happening. It’s a story of coming back from a bad situation and coming out on the other side better than you ever imagined.” It might not be about love, but it’s an ages old story, that of the lover who rises from the ashes. Take your heartbreak, wipe the floor clean with it, and rise from the ashes bigger, better, stronger, faster, badder-asser.

2. “Didn’t See You There” – Red Fox RunRed Fox Run (2015)

Ever turned around or glanced sidelong at your buddy and all of a sudden SPLAT, you think, “I did NOT realize my friend was this cute let alone that that I was in love with them this whole time?” This number cascades and careens as your own feelings might at such a realization. Red Fox Run fearlessly showcase vocalist and rhythm guitarist Daniel Rondeau shouting out a proclamation from the truths that sit in the center pit of a heart. He’s proclaiming hopeful, but it’s clearly uncertain since “I couldn’t love you more than I do right now” isn’t the end of the sentence. Red Fox Run keep it playful, but in the end, they’ve said all they need to say.

It’s the year anniversary of Red Fox Run being no longer, an anniversary that may bring with it many a fan’s broken heart. But the good news is that three out of four original RFR members continue on in their new Denver-based project Wildermiss.

3. “I Like You” – Ned Garthe Explosion Flashlight Tan (2016)

Crash forward, skid in sideways, stop abruptly- you’ll travel at all different speeds in Ned Garthe Explosion’s capable hands. Splaying themselves across diverse elements is something familiar to Ned Garthe Explosion and their fans. As Andy Thomas of Westword notes, 2016’s Flashlight Tan finds frontman Ned Garthe and his co-conspirators messing around with genre and intent “writing deliberately toward a certain genre, in an earnest near-parody that’s so good you can’t tell it’s a parody. It’s a depth of vision that can only be achieved late at night, when the cops are nowhere to be found.” But isn’t that love sometimes? Crashing forward, landing backwards… and even sometimes ending in a weird parody you sort of knew existed.

4. “Call Through the Wire” – Inner Oceans Call Through the Wire (2016)

“If I leave you in the night...” The suggestion alone leaves you indignant, does it not? The sentiment wells up from something clearly much deeper as Inner Oceans’ frontman Griffith Snyder sings lushly of the story unfolding. “I see you all the time and it hurts to think you were right,” he sings. The sound is atmospherically absorbing while the message delivers clear adoration with a twinge of regret and a still-in-love/lust-with-you. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two, in life or in music, and I can’t come down on which it might be here but I’m ok with it.

5. “Shooting Star” – RossonianYou Are Your Own Dentist (2013)

Rossonian use space and astral phenomena as metaphor, delivering dreamy and delicate wonder. This one is absolutely a love song, but also earns love for the success of their symbolic narrative. It propels, then floats, taking pause to deliver changes in emphatic subtleties. Rossonian is master of small sound shifts across a slow build, lending the song a complexity that doesn’t announce itself like a smack to the face, but rather comes at and through you like the feeling of slowly waking up. This one’s a gentle journey from one end of conscious awareness to another, starting gently and sleepily as it comes to burn bright-eyed awake.  

6.  “Day I Was Born” – 5ive, Jessica Jones – Radioland (2016)

There’s romantic love, and then there’s the love for your mother. Both can overpower. If I had any doubts as to which it was here at first (the word “mama” is sufficiently vague enough terminology to always throw me off without further clear direction), Jessica Jones’ vocal turn sways results to the latter. “Mama you believed in me, even when my skies were gray, you gave me the entire world… people asked me how’d I got so strong. I tell ‘em that my mama showed me the way. You always raised me up right, with all the love you gave.” Where 5ive (Quinn Lynch) and Jessica Jones put the soul in your playlist, your mother put you and your soul into this world. So if you tell anyone you love them on Valentine’s Day, make it your mother and be sure to thank her.

7. “If I Grew a Violet (You’d Ask for a Rose)” – Andy Sydow A Little Messed Up (2016)

Ever read the children’s book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie? This is an adult version of that tale in more ways than one. If you give a mouse a cookie, they’ll want a glass of milk. They will want something else and more after the glass of milk, so on and so forth until eternity. Sydow dishes up love pangs boiled over lost hopes in the spirit of said book. Emotionally honest, raw words of disappointed love come in, combined with loving, earnest, even sweet melody. The message delivered could interpret as one lover's greed or the other’s embittered pessimistic complacency. You can’t tell who is at fault but you can tell who fell short of the two: the “I” of the singer. It sounds at once an apology, and at once a screw you.

But this tune is also for the times everything you give or have isn’t enough. It’s a song of love exhausted and felled short. Although heartbreak does lead to some great songwriting, as Andy Sydow reminds. Thank you for breaking your open heart for us, Andy.

8. “Tilt-A-Whirl” – The RailsplittersThe Faster It Goes (2015)

If Colorado’s associated with bluegrass, The Railsplitters play a huge support role in buttressing the strong reputation and taking it on tour across the nation. Clear-ringing harmonies usher in a fast-paced minimalism foregrounding wise essentials and together, they come carrying melodies at different speeds, much as a Tilt-a-Whirl carousel making circles. Research lends insight here, for when Dusty Rider songwrites he, “writes with the full band in mind, imagining an entire song in his head before it’s even heard it out loud.” This one is a reflective reminiscence on the memories of someone who came before, but is gone now. And with mind racing, you start to question yourself and all that was.

Lauren Stoval’s lead vocals are clear as sunlight on snow, while Dusty Rider and Peter Sharpe’s alternations between plucking each note and full-bodied strumming chords lend interest and supplement with distinctive, rhythmic filler. Leslie Ziegler’s bass comes in barely, but richly, serving the more invisible role, like that of editor to writer. And of course, there’s Joe D’Esposito’s fiddle coming in on the top to send the song off into its final soars of that gloriously spinning Tilt-a-Whirl.

9.  “Someone Like Me” – SF1 Inamorata (2012)

From hand drums to lyrical repetitions, SF1 keeps their sound light, and their message relatively straightforward. There’s a serious sense in which this song seems at once upbeat, and then anything but. It’s a song that wouldn’t have to come without heartbreak, but it takes its pride on walking away in fulfilled request from another. “You’ll never find someone like me” could come out all wrong in a breakup, but the cheerful sonic delivery here gives this song a quality of what you sing in your head knowingly to comfort and uplift your own self on the walk home, giving props to your emotional regulation in honoring a request, and moving on.

10. “Bloodstream” – IoliteBloodstream (2016)

Bloodstream’s sophisticated stormy pop comes through even better on headphones, as Iolite’s (Elina Odnorlav) full-bodied indie-electronica pounces at you with confident authority. She fuses an ear, talent, and a decade of piano work with electronic assets wisely, and all at the ripe old age of seventeen. Laying down this kind of sophisticated, well-calibrated arrangement with undergirding convinces you she’s worth your ear time. The sheer carnal sensuality of this tune pulses at you with a cosmopolitan sensibility, one that makes the heart beat fast. Iolite is fierce, and if you need more proof, read BolderBeat’s interview with Odnorlav by Sierra Voss.

11. "Wait to Rust” – Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut, Sur EllzLive and Die Like This (2016)

Triple Denver whammy! This Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut (Jon Shockness), and Sur Ellz (Khalil Arcady) collaboration 110% comes out the most natural thing in the world. Lyrically and vocally caressing you with emotion, this trio allures in their fervent R&B/soul blend as soft finger snaps and harmonies soften your ear and melt into your heart chambers.

Marque caresses your emotions with intimacy in both lyric and lead vocals. Muted cymbal, reliant drums, and the hushed guitar unobtrusively lend rhythm, combining together and across this song to create instrumental romance and a certain sense of enchantment. The heart, bloodstream, nervous system, and muscle memory in you recognize the message: wanting something at a cellular level you know at a cognitive one is only going to destroy or undo you. Having a heart is a wonderful gift and real son of a gun, ain’t it?

12.  “They Love to Hate” – Molina Speaks, DJ Icewater Sex Money Ego (2016)

Robust, fresh beats thump and bump as they palpitate at heart rate speed. Chill, smooth, and with a pinch of lyrical sass, this one’s also purely carnal. It’s got sexy love and wantingness combined with a creed of holding-your-cool and enjoying all the spontaneous pleasures of life. It’s definitely a turn-up tune for cruising in your car, or even cooler, on your low-rider bike with the sweet speaker you should probably have. Molina Speaks and DJ Icewater have collaborated to make something seductive, both in romantic passions and in making you just want to live out loud to the full. So get to it.

13. “Lucid Recall” – Sunboy Yesterday Is in Love With You (2016)

Yes to a song that I’d enjoy instrumentally, yet do with its lyrics just the same. Sunboy give it a good 55 seconds before vocals seep in though, setting the feel first. If only we all had lucid recall, but memory doesn’t always work that way. Yet, at the same time, it’s by dint of the lyric “haven’t felt this way in a long time” that we remember: sometimes it isn’t the memory, but the feelings evoked that bring back lucid recall in all its vivid glory. And what a robust memory sensation it is when it hits.

Synthy sounds and a certain protraction allow emotions here to take flight. Vocals and piano instrumentation undergird a sound that might be tinny and emotionless otherwise, which would be the last desirable thing in a song so emotionally charged in content. Like Iolite’s “Bloodstream,” headphones are most recommended on Sunboy’s “Lucid Recall” for best up-close-and-personal vibes.  

14. “Medicine” – Rose QuartzAxis of Love (2015)

In the abstract, medicine is there to make us better. Humans are no strangers to using or abusing another person in this way at some time. Sometimes leaning on others is necessary and appropriate. But there is a difference between asking for help and being soul-suckingly co-dependent or reliant. Like a prescription drug, it can be toxic, and this song rails against the notion that one partner serves that role. You can use medicine or abuse it, and this one splits the difference.

A combination of electronic space-esque warble, full-bodied guitar notes, and clips on the drum machine set the scene. Lyrically unapologetic, this is a power number for those times you need to speak to your decision to leave someone who treats you like something to be used up rather than given to. Rose Quartz build and release tension with efficacy, establishing a subtle back and forth strain that fits the bill in the stark truths this electronic groove-pop song seeks to sing out and deliver sans apology. The only thing bigger than its sound may be the heart behind it. This is definitely one to get sassy to under lights on the dance floor, and that sounds like a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All songs per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

'Resolution As Revolution' - Give Our January Spotify Playlist A Listen!

By: Joliene Adams

Did I make a New Year’s resolution? Did you? Whether any of us did or didn’t, the fundamental spirit behind it is a worthy reminder. Every day is an opportunity to begin a personal revolution in all the ways you might dream. Here is a playlist that, for each of its own various sonic and lyrical reasons, can help you toward your own resolution for revolution in 2017.

Click here for our 'Resolution As Revolution' Playlist or play it below:

1. “Highways” - REIGHNBEAUSister Grotto – Blood (Deluxe) (2016)

“Highways” has audible ebb and flow. Electronic pulses fuzz and fade in close while ten words make up the lyrical content and are given constant return. The repetition begins to act on the ear and body/brain like a mantra. A collaboration between New Mexico’s REIGHNBEAU and Denver’s Sister Grotto (Madeline Johnston), this one is dream fuzz that occupies a space somewhere between the here and there of the slightly awake and half asleep. What begins with gentles sounds of a rainstick fades to what sounds like a resampling of the rainstick with more static and fuzz interlaced. Sophisticated subtleties keep this song interesting alongside its relaxed and meditative feel. Let this one help you develop your own mantra for the year to come. Open your heart throttle and imbibe sound poetry: 2017 is a wholly open road.

2. “When” - RUMTUM – Mystic Wonders (2013)

Sampling Vincent Gallo’s hauntingly wistful and imminently gorgeous 2001 “When,” RUMTUM puts a pip in Gallo’s depressive downtempo and melancholic step. RUMTUM takes it away and makes it fresh, fun, and comparatively light. Basically, they take Gallo’s frown, turn it upside down, and give it proverbial jazz hands. They take Gallo’s gentle cooings and splice them to a tune to tap your toe to. RUMTUM isn’t afraid to experiment with anything, and you shouldn’t be either. It’s the new year after all.

3. “Elevate” - Kid Astronaut – Moon Theory (2015)

“Elevate” is chalk full of takeaways. “We were not born to be complacent,” Shockness maintains. Agreed. His loungy R&B sound with a soft hip-hop thump to undergird here goads and uplifts you gently into that place of higher being. And, “We were born to be special.” The task is yours to become the most special version of yourself you can. The possibility to be that is the gift you are given at birth. You owe it to yourself, and the most fundamental things between you and better you at any given time is complacency if you’ve fallen into it. Shake yourself awake. “Elevate” is loaded positivity; it is, in other words, more than positivity for positivity sake. Kid Astronaut summons the best of you.

4. “Base” - CRL CRRLL – Wave (2015)

CRL CRRLL (Carl Carrell) successfully builds a musical jenga tower with “Base” one piece at a time. The song retains solid structure despite the increased pressure of newly added elements, balancing R&B notes in lead vocals, hip-hop in backup vocals, a jazzy quality to the drums and keys, and  then you already have several musical layers by the time her chill lead vocals come in clear. As the song chugs forward into jazzier fusion with all these elements, it ends with a sudden peaceful fade out of ocean shorescapes and the faintest mutterings of what could be voices at the wharf: “Lovin’ just what I am, lovin’ just what I ain’t.” The creed of self-acceptance will serve you well in the next year if you can abide.

5. “Into the Wind” – King Cardinal – Once a Giant (2015)

Remember that scene from Ace Ventura where Ace himself rips out a waiter’s heart and gives it to him in a doggy bag? Welcome to how it feels to listen to King Cardinal’s soulful alt-folk. This is a safe one to cry, mourn, long, hope, and remember to. Brennan Mackey gives the term singer/songwriter new meaning, and he wants your second chance. You enter without words, while Ben Waligoske’s steel pedal daggers you in the side. It continues to supplement, yet give that country-underbelly feel that allows heart pangs to echo through the room. Lean into life as you would gale force winds. Looking back too hard can get you depressed, looking forward too much can bring you anxiety. Just lean where you are, lean into the wind; trust your struggle and be not afraid.

6. “Just Don’t Stop” – The Kinky Fingers – Vagabond (2015)

Tone and message make this a happy, head-bop worthy (or inducing) tune. There is a delightful float in Taylor Doyle’s guitar, and soar in his vocals. Eventually, he stops crooning as he sends you off on a couple high notes, punctuated neatly with three steps back down and low, “Just. Don’t. Stop.” We take instrumental flight with Daniel Hogan and Travis Page’s soft rhythmic drums keeping it steady while the guitar takes surf rock-esque flight with reverb indulgences. This one’s a fun journey for the ear that never loses its path despite its wanderings. It’s a good one to get, or keep, you going in the new year.

7. “Get Loose Have Fun” – Dirty Few – Get Loose, Have Fun (2012)

Dirty Few touts warm beer and out-of-tune guitars; they never get too serious about themselves save two exceptions: partying and playing drinking man’s music. They want you to have a jolly good sullied blast of a night, and they shake it off with the tambourine whose sound drops into the background but propels the track forward from the get-go no less. Dirty Few here has that slight 60s pop beat in its pulse and the “ooh, ooh, OHH, OOH” backup vocals. It’s the kind of 60s vibe you can readily imagine leading to proto-punk on down the line, and then to skate rock. But we’ll call it dive-bar rock because no matter the acoustics of the place, any dive-bar is the best venue to catch Dirty Few in. It’s homecourt. Let’s get this 2017 party started!

8. “The Mtn Song” – Rayland Baxter – Ashkelon (2013)

Uh oh. We’re getting sentimental again. But Rayland Baxter could be singing about shoelaces and nonsense and get you to emote. Fortunately, he knows not just how to sing with all his heart, but to storytell both as musical abstraction and in literal lyrical composition. This is one to give you chills. It’s so soft and sweet. He whistles, serenades, and implores, turning over tender phrase after tender phrase as drums and guitar support this gentle, unhurried, and earnest offering of love. Love is all he has to give. Is that enough? Normally I’d say no. But syrup-ing from his earnest, low-lyrical valleys and high peaks, I’d say, “I’ll think on it. Ask again tomorrow,” and know I’ve already decided while falling asleep to the sound of those endearing whistlings in my own head. Even if love is all you have to give in 2017, it’s better than nothing at all, and is, quite truly, one of the best things in the world you can give. So take a note from Baxter and do it with all your heart, soul, and perhaps even your singing voice, should you be so inclined.

9. “Whistle While You Work” – Wheelchair Sports Camp – No Big Deal (2016)

You come in building off mixed whispers of Emcee Kalyn Heffernan. It’s a sheer drop at 00:20 into straight hip-pop thereafter, coming at you with melodic and rhythmic whistles and Joshua Trinidad’s synchronized trumpet horn on blast. Intermixed are, by comparison, callous, hard-cutting electronic beats. They all join together and maintain the BPM to make this track the banger that it is. From the first, Emcee Kalyn Heffernan’s vocals and lyrical delivery are all her own. She captivates. And when she turns the phrase, “they call me Little Miss Guided,” it’s just one of her many lyrical delights. In reference to Wheelchair Sports Camp, the Village Voice reported, “If there were ever a moment for a queer, disabled rapper with a love for pot, jokes, and revolution to be a star, the moment is now.” It’s about time. Thank you 2017.

10. “Left Fist Evolution” – Bianca Mikahn – Left Fist Evolution (2010)

A low, thumping beat and hushed, bluesy choral vocals reel you into this tune. Bianca Mikahn weaves her story in poetic clips and fragments that suggest a certain story without really telling a story in the classic sense. But there’s a story there, for sure. She leads the listener to hear, see, and feel what she’s driving at unequivocally without saying who, when, where, or why. Lyrically, vocally, and stylistically, “Left Fist Evolution” is powerfully evocative. I’ve heard the word “fortified” used to describe Bianca Mikahn, and that is how the listening process and outcome of “Left Fist Evolution” feels. We all need fortification, and music is the next best supplement to vitamins. So take yours by taking this one in.

11. “No Worries” – Trigga ManThe Reminders – Hit Man (2012)

Sampling another old favorite, The Specials’ “Ghost Town” is featured in the background here, and their reggae and ska influence comes through beyond the sample in this song. Where it’s got a pinch of dance hall in the female vocal chorus, there’s a dash of hip-hop with male vocal delivery in verse. Where musical components blend samplings and reminisce on interrelated genres, the content delivery blends too, packed full of literary, cultural, and political references. “Get it twisted like Oliver, yo.” you hear. This is a composite piece of precocious stature that makes it easy to miss if you’re too busy getting down to it the first go around. But also, in 2017, tell yourself as often as possible: “Me no worry with what them say and me not goin’ to be afraid.” Hold strong with Trigga Man and The Reminders’ beats.

12. “Music Is a Gift” - Grim & Darling - Beauty Through Pain (2015)

Music is good for you: mind, body, and spirit. And Grim & Darling part with their musical gifts for your benefit as gentle organs and strings grace your entrance: “Create a song as a gift just to give it a way, royalty free, no fee, just in hopes to teach about loyalty, honesty, forgiveness, giving second chances lovingly. Nobody’s above the beat, in fact we need it to breathe. That’s the mentality. Give away your masterpiece as if we never had to eat, leave your ego as a casualty. I’m glad to be passing this to all of you, it’s all truth, try to use it, I will too. I hope we can all focus on the consequences of what we do.” Grim & Darling’s mindful tune serves as an homage to what you musicians do for us. This isn’t empty flattery. Being a musician isn’t easy work, but humans thrive in music, so thank you. Scaling up and down graduated xylophone bars with patience, the delicate clear sounds ring a victorious and encourage your feeling the same about your own power. Get after the new year.

13. “Ready to Live - Pt. 1” - Thug Entrancer - Death After Life (2014)

We start and end on a meditative note, only here we go pure electronic instrumentation. This one’s a sonic journey from sound artist Ryan McRyhew. Thump off to the pace of an electronic pulsating heartbeat as horn-reminiscent tones enter. Sounds begin to grind in and on top, creating an ever complex liftaway into layered reflections on itself. McRyhew does his personal sound poetry one to two new sounds at a time, letting you slowly take in the cerebral, but ready flow of this musical peregrination. Get work done or space out in daydreams to this one. It’ll get you where you’re going if you let it take you there. I hope 2017 finds you more ready to live than ever, and this playlist serves as a continued asset in your endeavor.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All songs per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

'Colorado Sings Colorado'- Our December Spotify Playlist

By: Joliene Adams

Paper Bird knows what I mean. We both get it. Coloradoans LOVE Colorado. With plenty of good reason. This month's playlist is a love note to you Colorado, and all the music scene does to stoke fires in the hearts and minds of its people. To honor that love Colorado artists also have for their art and the people who listen, here’s our playlist of no-shame-sing-your-heart-out-loud for Colorado. We’re listening and thank you!  

BolderBeat's 'Colorado Sings Colorado' Playlist:

1. DéCollage, Magnetize (2016), “Denver Hustle”

DéCollage is one of those rare, exceptional beasts whose capacity for innovation is matched by their ability to effectively, cohesively render it on repeat. Their knack is a multidimensional, sensorial experience. I wouldn’t call DéCollage stylistic minimalists, but just as the art form of décollage, (where you remove parts to create your art rather than to add like a collage) this group has a sharp sensibility for which parts to leave in, and all the more importantly, which to leave out. They achieve stylistic versatility across and within songs without giving way to clutter.

There’s also something definitively fashionable about DéCollage’s music. This is in no way to trivialize it or call it fleeting. Quite the opposite. It’s so damn fashionable because it picks up on the numerous textures, trends, and facets available in contemporary and past pop to render a whole new thing from all these roots. “Denver Hustle” sounds runway ready. “Hold that pose,” they lyrically interject, “Hustle, hustle, hustle. Shine, shine. Summer, summer. Glow, glow, glow, glow.” Get it girl, get it.

2. Bop Skizzum, Coloradical (2012), “Coloradical”

What we have here is unadulterated funk’n’roll. This band is eight members thick and it sounds like it. “Coloradical” is fit to start a spontaneous street parade from the second the percussion hits. Crunchy guitar and saxophone raise the bar of this tune, and keep the voracious good times spiraling upwards.

I’ve always prided myself on an immense capacity for fun, and Bop Skizzum renders that passion musically. Though disbanded as of Valentine’s Day, 2014, Bop Skizzum made the final cut of sixteen potential songs found of Colorado musicians playing Colorado-themed music because: A) Colorado lives for the funk; dies for the funk and B) This tune is fun as hell. May the horn section and keys bring the funk to the fore always.

3. Mesita, With Love, from Laniakea (2016), “Chronolorado”

The piano hit me like a rearview mirror. Reflective. You can see forward past it, backwards through it, but both through the ultimate view of now. Emotively drift off to the gentle unfolding of instrumental minimalism on this track. And no worries: the thematically, existentially-heavy material will lighten your load like a backpack lifted from the shoulders at a journey’s end. All in due time, Chronolorado.

4. Head for the Hills, Robbers Roost (2007), “Telluride Song”

Appropriately, we have one of Colorado’s most popular bluegrass bands of the day singing about Telluride. Joe Lessard’s lovely fiddle, (which I’ve heard described as a violin you can spill beer on) gently brings you in. Solo vocals give way to echoing ones as the fiddle breaks things down hard and shows exactly how beer might get spilled on it, being played with such exuberant force and all. Sam Parks’ mandolin definitely shows how to roshambo right proper all the same too. This is a song the whole family will tap their feet to at the farmer’s market or a bluegrass fest. Classic Colorado for everyone.

5. Fed Rez, Folk Rock (2016), “Danver”

Let’s play a word association game. I’ll say a word, and you say out loud the first word that comes to your mind. Your word is: Denver.

What’d you come up with? I’ll hedge my bets it wasn’t diversity.

Fed Rez brings a Chicano/Mexican contingent into their work heavily on this number, both linguistically and culturally. And the song’s as full of food as a belly on Thanksgiving. “Danver” doesn’t eliminate your appreciation of the song as a listener if you don’t happen to know what a pot of hot posole is or chicken mole either. But if you do, I bet your stomach’s growling.

Fed Rez refer to themselves as allegorical hip-hop. Whatever the precise allegory is on “Danver,” food and location are definitive themes, as you ride around Westwood and Athmar Park to Green Valley Ranch and Park Hill, effectively cruising Denver with the Fed Rez Mile High City natives.

6. Grant Farm, Grant Farm (2012), “Funky Boulder”

This one sure sounds like the Boulder I know and love. As with a number of songs that made this playlist cut, this one’s good for dancing away or driving down a road, hand out the window doing that thing where you swerve and wave it against the force of the wind. But keep an ear- the pace of this song keeps at a clip that the brief escalating drum builds with a charging guitar that could easily get you caught speeding. Ride on you mountain roads.

7. The Good Time Travelers, The Good Time Travelers (2016), “Colorado”

My favorite moment on this tune is a very specific, but subtly calling one. “Getting high in the country, above the tree line, my head’s in the clouds. Getting low, in the ______.” Play another word game with me. What goes there? I’d go with valley. The Good Time Travelers go with canyon. And that’s so Colorado of them! This one’s a lighter, more reflective piece. The acoustic singer/songwriter duo keeps it simple and true. It’s an honest homage to home sweet home.

8. Hang Rounders, Bring Your Sister (2015), “I-70 Westbound”

Hang Rounders hang their hats on a simple foundation of guitar, pedal steel, bass, banjo, tenor guitar, drums, backup vocals, fiddle, and the proclamation that they are best heard live and danced to. Sonically? Good old fashioned country western. Thematically? Good old fashioned country western. Pick a highway, any highway. Pick a past or current flame… aim for one you’d most want to hear say or say to, “Daddy, would you please come home?” Add 3AM and snowing literally, or as metaphor, and you arrive at the same place as the listener: memories and/or daydreams of flying down that chosen road toward a chance of love. Nostalgia.

9. Paper Bird, When the River Took Flight (2010), “Colorado”

“Colorado! It’s your mother’s favorite state!”

Paper Bird represent something a lot of folks think of when they think Colorado music: bluegrass, Americana, and rootsy. They inject a sense of humor into this one, hitting the nail on the head that you’ll all whoop and yell “Colorado!” with joy when you make it here, but in all honesty? “No offense, but we won’t miss you when you’re gone.”

Caleb Summeril’s banjo strums undergird harmonica solos with Paul DeHaven’s guitar make you want to take a turn on the dance floor as each instrument takes it’s turn at the forefront. This is good mountain town porch music to the hilt. They ask you to sing along, and that’s a gas. I sang proudly in the shower to this tune more than any other jam, so that’s absolutely something. Coloradans are nuts for Colorado and Paper Bird sings it proudly.

10. Dechen Hawk, Soul Sessions (2012), “My Hometown”

Dechen Hawk’s hometown is Boulder. So this one’s a love song that is, well, just that: a love song. It just happens to take place in his hometown. References to the city don’t come up, but this well known Front Range artist is a staple of a vital, vibrant component of the local music scene. Our solo artist goes soft and soulful with variations in vocal delivery that keep this track interesting while showcasing a certain diligence of Hawk’s songwriting and musical composition abilities. The ultimately cheery melody alongside the sometimes lamenting lyrical content lend an authenticity and a fresh uplift, despite sometimes hard feelings. And that’s love.

11. Bud Bronson & The Good Timers, Even Better Times (2014), “Denver Rock City”

“Denver Rock City” comes at you straight with punk’n’party roll. They sing of changes Denver’s undergone or undergoing in the same lyrical breath as they sing of a stubborn personal refusal to change one’s ways or intentions. They tell you flat out, “And I know it’s a shame South Broadway is gone, but we’re all still kickin’ man- the party’s never gonna stop.” Bud Bronson & The Good Timers full-bodied guitar with rock rolling drums brings the perfect backdrop to keep said party going musically without you ever having to reduce yourself to vodka redbull to do it. They even got me to give it up for John Elway without thinking twice, and I’ve never seen The Denver Broncos play. Live or on television.

12. Lotus, Nomad (2005), “Colorado”

Get in the recliner, chez lounge, or down on the ground and lay on your back because it’s time to float off into full relaxation mode. Mike Greenfield’s light whisking of brushes on the drums and tender splashes on the cymbals combined with Luke Miller and Mike Rempel’s warm and restful guitar chords take you there inherently. It’s an instrumental love homage to Colorado. Considering both the song title, and this track’s downtempo lounge music vibe, you can easily imagine yourself wandering on a warm Colorado summer on a sunset mountain trail with zero of effort (either in imagining, or in physical labor). Chill.

13. Small Hands, This is Our Colorado (Single, 2011), “This is Our Colorado”

Small Hands’ (aka Richie Wallace’s) first two influences listed on Facebook are Hunter S. Thompson and Wu-Tang Clang. Chances are good that could be someone from many places, but any Coloradoan familiar with its literary and musical ties know the two are staples on the scene. If you’re even remotely familiar with the Boulder area, Small Hands will give you known coordinates that stimulate crisp mental visuals in no time. If you’re not familiar with it whatsoever, carefully crafted and accessible lyricism create a mental picture that won’t have you missing out on the joyride: “Lookin’ at the mountain silhouette… sky ahead, electric blue… Towering rocks tempting you to climb… Yellow aspen like fire in a sea of pine…” The song cruises and lets the visuals seep through its hip-hop poetics and uncomplicated, rich electronic and drum backbeats. Smooth.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All songs per the artists featured.

BolderBeat's 'November's My Favorite Indoor Sport' Playlist

By: Joliene Adams

Every month, we publish a new Spotify playlist of Colorado artists for your ears. Here’s our 'November's My Favorite Indoor Sport' playlist, because it’s bound to snow here soon and make you want to curl up inside with some good tunes, right?

BolderBeat's 'November's My Favorite Indoor Sport' Playlist: 

 

1. Candy Claws, Ceres and Calypso in the Deep Time (2013), “Into the Deep Time (One Sun)”

Best song for dreaming cozily in bed about ancient sea creatures emerging from the depths of the deep blue.

How old is the ocean? That’s where things get a little bit fuzzy. And Candy Claws’ own fuzzy dream pop fuels this question with echoes like reverb in deep time, a multimillion year operation of geologic formation. For such distortion and heavy chugging guitar riffs, the atmospheric effects across this track are as divergent from your typical “ocean sounds” as they are hypnotizing. Still, this song feels like you’re looking right into the ocean, taking in the crash of waves in slow motion.

PS: Candy Claws recently expanded into a new project, Sound of Ceres, who you can check out here.

2. shark dreams, Deeep (2016), “Frozen Love”

Best song for lying down on the bed you just made, hands behind head.

Crisp hits on closed hi-hat and drum rim snare your ears into the rhythmic tap of this tune. Warm electric guitar moves by, while layered male and female vocals float and intermingle. This one picks up speed across its first minute, only to hold back and slow down. These subtle shifts pull at your emotional tide, encouraging you to just feel the sensations as its sounds ebb and flow. Relax.

3. The Lonelyhearts, Years in the Great Interior (2013), “Princess of Rubble”

Best song for doing a sock dance to in the comfort of your own home.

At least that’s the first thing their breezy, playful, jaunt-worthy, ear-pleasing, non-lyrical vocals and sounds make me want to immediately do. The sound of longboards chuck-chucking over wooden slatted boardwalks would sound great with this jam on in your headphones. But this month is an indoor sport so I’ll settle for a sock dance on the hardwoods instead.

4. Josh Dillard, The Bright Light of Shipwreck (2013), “Ever Since You’ve Been Gone”

Best song to try and swoon your holiday crush with.

Dillard’s vocals come from deeper than his diaphragm. He’s not a heavy baritone or anything. Just plenty vocally soulful. I admire how he paces out syllables. Sometimes he lets vowels linger and sometimes he wraps them up in a neat quick-time that adds a certain freshness to his tunes. Anyone who sang this to me would definitely get a first date, provided they sang it with the exact same expressiveness that convinced me here we have a man with heart, personality, and poetry.

5. Anthony Ruptak, Between the Hangman and the Halo (2015), “The Bus Song”

Best song to let your mind wander away with.

Since you can’t go skipping flat rocks on the silver pool so easily this time of year, Anthony Ruptak brings the next best-feeling thing to your living room. This sweetly woven story of gratitude will waft right in over you and walk into your daydreaming heart. The harmonica on this track lends customary nostalgia. It’s a nourishing tune that brings it home, and makes it warm inside to boot.

6. Land Lines, The Natural World (2015), “Etiquette”

Best song to listen to when you wish you could be out hiking the trails.

The hand shaker really is a staple of percussive force. My hand wants to spasm just imagining keeping pace on this one. Ross Harada persists, but never intrudes or exceeds a wise clip of pace on this percussion, and that includes his drum playing. The complex instrumental variation of this one mixed with a certain sparseness in each instrument individually empowers the sonic valleys and peaks of “Etiquette.” I’m not sure whether it’s Anna Mascorella or Martina Grbac plucking cello here, but it’s the nicest touch this song could possibly have. Oh the views.

7. The Ghost of Joseph Buck, Scenic (2015), “Not About You”

Best song to splatter paint on your bedroom walls to in large, sweeping, unapologetic motions.

The Ghost of Joseph Buck would rather break your heart slowly. Polly Beck’s lead vocals come out sultry, lyrics a smidge salty, piano wisely. You have to listen for Stephanie Schooley on bass, but she’s there as much as the spinal cord that supports your body’s basic structure without you hardly thinking about it once. Marc Walker’s drums hold off on any and all cymbals and hi-hat until 2:04, a crux moment to the song’s bursting, multi-instrumental power crescendo and caterwauling vocals. The fact that together, the group winds this one back down to its original slower pacing at 3:15 is no less an impressive transition. Killing me not so softly, but in a welcome way no less.

8. Sur Ellz (feat. Kid Astronaut), Sur Ellz (feat. Kid Astronaut) (single; 2016), “Seasons”

Best song to bump the snow off your window pane with.  

Just because November’s an indoor sport doesn’t mean the soundtrack can’t be bumpable. Neo-soul and R&B have as much a job to do to here as mellow acoustic instrumentation or synthy shoegaze. Denver’s Khalil Arcady (Sur Ellz) and Jon Shockness (Kid Astronaut) conspire to bring you raw stories across fresh, smooth beats. Here are two men that don’t fear too much for their manhood to be lyrically vulnerable, to get sonically romantic, to sing about some real feelings. Electronically reproduced hand claps with what sounds like a snare-reminiscent drum machine hit mix with a simmering electronic warbling on slow-cook. Snow gone.

9. Mesita, With Love From Laniakea (2016), “Blank Slate”

Best song to curl up in your favorite blanket with.

A little Thom Yorke to the vocals, a little Nirvana’s “All Apologies” stylistically in the chorus, and the electro fuzz juxtaposed with what sounds like a xylophone played in a piano style, if you will, demonstrate my meaning. Solo act Mesita (James Cooley) doesn’t just do layers. He uses them to create his very worthy-of-a-listen ends: richly interlaced, juxtaposed interplays that create entirely new, richly textured soundscapes. He has a humble willingness in being limitless with what he’s willing to include. For Mesita, 1+1 never equals two. It always equals three, because he takes one thing plus another, and makes a whole new third one straight from it.

10. Moda Spira, Moda Spira (2016), “She Whispers”

Best song to shave your legs, lie in silk sheets, and lament with.

Gentle keys couple with tender and light acoustic guitar. As with the sound of whispering, there is a particular intimacy in Latifah Phillips (Moda Spira’s) singing. In "She Whispers", it’s not always the vocals, but sometimes the pauses taken between sung parts that lend the breathing room in which the sounds seep across your heart and emotions. Come to find out via Reel Gospel’s 2016 She Whispers album review, Moda Spira means “just breathe” in Latin. Her talent in piano is a mainstay in the stewing build of her protracted, draw-you-in musical magnetism.

11. Maxwell Mud, Maxwell Mud (2015), “I Just Wanna Be Good”

Best song to make a New Year’s resolution never to be good again.

Maxwell Mud, as would be appropriate for chillin’ inside, cooking soup, and contemplating, goes for the slow cook much like others on this playlist. However hard Brian Kitrell’s lyrics profess he just wanted to be good, it’s quite clear in his words, guitar riffs, Kenny Jones’ accomplice bass, and Kevin Johnson’s rock’n’roll blues drums that this is a foregone conclusion. At least in the present circumstances and context. His vocals are too steamy for anything but a pot on the brink of hot boil rupture-rapture.

12. Eye and the Arrow, Eye and the Arrow (single; 2015), “Tiger”

Best song to “look out at the cold night from your warm room at the bright moon on the white snow through the window frost and the forest shadows.”

Paul Dehaven has a marvelous storytelling song-voice, and he harkens on stories Portland’s The Decemberists might tell. His own finger flicks at the guitar, Jason Haas-Hecker’s slightly foreboding bass line, and Mark Anderson’s non-deviant foreword drumming collaborate with Dehaven’s story, vocals, and backup echoes to leave you listening to the very scene of walking through the forest when it’s too uncomfortably cold to actually do so.

13. Nearby Liars, Unlearning (2016), “Wither and Rust”

Best song to reflect upon your real feelings to in the bathtub.

Lyrically, this one doesn’t happen as an outright love song. It’s just that the rest sure sounds like a heart that’s known love, is reflecting upon it, and is expressing a definite fallout story of hard facts and cold truth love experiences. It’s lamentation, regrettable, and real. Riley Sbrana’s songwriting waxes and pounds with hard earned self-knowledge for better and for worse. The backup vocals on this one prove to be an emotive staple, and the light acoustic guitar sounds that nudge their way in at 3:20 are the most perfectly subtle, elegant touch.

Thanks for playing with us this November, Colorado. Make sure to follow us on Spotify and take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

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

BolderBeat's 'Get Your Creep On' Colorado Halloween Spotify Playlist

By: Joliene Adams

As an Introduction to Film Studies T.A. at CU Boulder for three years, I became no expert, but learned right quick and true: a film soundtrack, and to a much larger extent, a score, can make or break the terrifying in a horror film. So I moved to emulate that, best I could. Here you have what could or should be on a horror film soundtrack if it were Colorado-music exclusive. Make sure to follow us on Spotify and take a listen to these tunes at BolderBeat:

BolderBeat's 'Get Your Creep On' Playlist

1. Echo Beds, New Icons of a Vile Faith (2016), “Obvious Signs Of Forced Entry”

Genre: Suggestively invasive, disquieting fertile terror.

Staccato snare drums set this one off, and from there, I can’t place all the sounds of this track, but according to Echo Beds, I’m maybe not supposed to. As they themselves describe, “Echo Beds crafts a caterwaul of contact-mic'd oil drums, broken cymbals, battered basses, unrecognizable tape loops, and dilapidated voices.” It’s sound like art, completely, so listen and let this one creep into your distorted veins and “excorcise” its sound notes. It’s precisely that all the sounds can’t readily be placed, nor their arrangement readily recognized or described, which acts to unhinge the bolts on your comfort zone.

2. church fire, Pussy Blood (2016), “Midnight Sidewalks”

Genre: Alien abduction gone right (for the aliens).

“Midnight Sidewalks” starts you off nice and easy. As easy as slightly screeching metal on the ears. What happens next sounds like a battle between an alien ship's tractor beam shining down on you, and your attempt to fight it beaming you upward. But the tractor beam locks on at 00:26, a struggle ensues, and around 00:40 the UFO starts to win; 00:50 comes, and you’ve lost the battle. Once you’re on the ship, the vocals hit, and you chill into the groove safely, but as the melodies tick higher at the chorus, so do your nerves instinctually.

3. itchy-O, Burn the Navigator (2014), “Burn”

Genre: Fight or flight.

00:00-00:05 should be put in a stock horror film sound library, if it didn’t come from one. And since there’s nothing more calming than police sirens and medical equipment beeps, the 32-piece Denver-based percussion-centered electronic performance band itchy-O naturally included both. The percussive pacing races the song ahead, with a mix of blended elements. And the continual return to a combination of hand drums and hard driving guitar downstrokes, punctuated with unapologetic crashes on splash cymbals, will have you running or biking at more than your normal pace. But that’s a good thing, because you don’t want to burn in the fire that, it’s only fair to assume, the muffled static background voices are talking about. Of course this band has a Halloween Show booked at The Gothic Theatre! Get tickets here.

4. The Blue Rider, Year of the Horse (2016), “Nightmare”

Genre: Dracula Monster Mashing on a surfboard.

You could easily put this song right into a late 60s or early 70s horror film without too much question. This one doesn’t terrify me, but it’s oldie pop surf rock vibe mixed with the prospect of a nightmare from which you can’t wake up from have me, to my horror, dancing to a terrifying prospect. I blame the lyrics and the organ for the extremely catchy quality that found me in such a nefarious position.

5. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, The Commandments According to SCAC (2016), “Commandment 3”

Genre: Suspiciously benign late 50s era-esque death pop.

“Commandment 3” is a lighter track musically that doesn’t disquiet like Echo Beds, Animal / Object, or Janet Feder quite do; it’s a fun ditty with lyrically dire consequences. There’s a “Love Potion No. 9” quality to this track, from the mix of it’s catchy melody, to the very serious subject matter and consequences of drinking a love potion & kissing a cop, to that of the acutely real difference between you catching the Queen Snake or the Queen Snake having caught you.

6. Animal / Object featuring HAALAND, Yule – Ogy (2016), “Little Drummer Boy”

Genre: Unpredictably sourced nonlinear chaotic noise.

There was a period of time at Guantanamo Bay when David Gray’s “Babylon” was put on loud and constant repeat as a form of torture. This seems like a particularly cruel form of torture. The original “Little Drummer Boy” on repeat would be my personal hell. But when it comes down to it, even your favorite song on repeat 24/7 becomes torture as equal and painful. What this song by Animal / Object does to really creep at you is not as heavily percussion-dependent as many others. It’s all strings. Not the whole song, but the part that gets you where it matters on Halloween.

7. Stella Luce, Zugenruhe (2009), “Monsters”

Genre: Murderous lullaby crooning creepstyle.

If Bjork and Joanna Newsom have an illegitimate child out there that we do not know about, Stella Luce is her. She might live in a beautiful, albeit potentially haunted music box. When she sings in the shower, I imagine it in all minor chords, which tend to stimulate greater feelings of tension or apprehension. From the sliding up the xylophone scale the starts it off, to the plucking strings that come in, the sounds reminiscent of record player static with drums in no hurry, and a Bjork-Newsom voice, the lyrics of this one seal the deal of songs about monsters we’ve told our children forever. Brothers Grimm, anyone? I can’t believe we called those “fairy tales” and read them to children…

8. Jane Rigler and Janet Feder, Rarefactions (2015), “Quiver”

Genre: Ambient jungle terror.

Pan flutes make a quiver effect, and an intermittent reminiscence of Spanish-style guitar suggest a regional, cultural musical theme and influence on “Quiver”. It skits and scatters and slithers around your ankles, and mostly, you definitely wouldn’t want to be walking alone in the jungle listening to this tonight, unless you like being that much more freaked out… especially if you’ve ingested Ayahuasca first…

9. Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Totem (2014), “Bad Magic”

Genre: House of mirrors B movie camp-glam.

In “Bad Magic”, subtle percussive underlayers usher you into that haunted house in a film scene where you go inside, get lost in a hall of mirrors, and sense Mike Myers may be in possible pursuit (from Halloween, not Austin Powers). It doesn’t sounds like the infamous score or soundtrack from Halloween, but it does sound like something people in a film would look cool dying to. If that’s too weird, too bad. It’s Halloween.

10. Colfax Speed Queen, Satisfaction Intended (2013), “Skeleton Man”

Genre: Rock'n’roll into the grave.

This tune plunges straight into vocals. “Bag of bones!” guitar riffs punctuated with exclamatives from the organ make this song comparatively friendly and funky. And let’s be honest, a skeleton was always the least scary of the scary-costume genre. But then you realize here “he’s gonna kill himself,” and Skeleton Man isn’t really dead yet, which is why he terrifies us. Because if he doesn’t change his story, he might show up right here, right now.

11. Native Daughters, War Elephant (2012), “War Elephant”

Genre: Horror western languid death march rock.

It’s the fact that I think the narrator is dead by the time we get this musical missive that unsettles me most. His narrations are presented as happening in a nightmare: “And then I woke up,” his husky voice tells. The musical narrative that ensues then takes us where the dream wouldn’t have if he’d stayed asleep. The horn serenades like a march to meet fate with the man, creature, spirit; whatever it/he/she may be. Which never ends well. Enjoy the discomfiting solitude of lamenting guitar strokes and bass chords knowing you’re on a journey in the dark toward an even greater darkness.

12. Qbala, Battle Cries (2015), “So Alone”

Genre: Reality based lyrical fear hop.

This one represents fundamental questions and anxieties that will stick with you long after Halloween. The fears of the day-to-day: “At an all time low… When you fail you must continue to begin, within the walls of desperation and hesitation...  is it all in my head? Or is it in the mirror?”  The honesty, lyricism, and frequently minimalist style of this track are almost chilling, and the fear of who you maybe haven’t become feels real. Same with what’s held you back. It shows the earnestness it takes to do you. The time is now.

13. Rubedo, Love is the Answer (2015), “Psychic Tune”

Genre: Teddy Ruxpin death rattle.

You’re a child. You have a doll or stuffed animal that talks when you pull a cord or push a button or squeeze its plush palm. And then the batteries start to die, the voice slows, and it terrifies the dickens out of you. The deliberate vocal torpor in this song brings those vibes, and makes even understanding the lyrics, in a seeming contradiction, at times more challenging. Equally slow, loose acoustic guitar strokes sit behind nearly-spoken backup vocals with drum hits you could almost call lazy, but not in the derogatory sense, make this song the one you might like to go to bed or wake to the morning after your many Halloween rousings.

Happy Halloween. Follow BolderBeat on Spotify for more Colorado music playlists. 

-Joliene

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

Listen to BolderBeat's 'End of Summer' Spotify Playlist

By: Joliene Adams

Every month, we publish a new Spotify playlist for your ears. Make sure to follow us on Spotify and take a listen at BolderBeat. Here is September's playlist:

BolderBeat's 'End of Summer' Playlist:

1. Tenth Mountain Division, “Drunk Man’s Blues”

Song most likely to sneak jam bandy vibes and bluegrass inspirations right under your nose without it mattering one wit.

There’s something about the way the vowels are pronounced. I’m convinced it has something to do with the hints of warm, soulful vocal spice. You won’t have much to say about a mandolin not being able to throw down after this song either. Rock undertones and jam overtones effectively avoid over-indulgence and hit the baby bear right where the Goldilocks counts.

2. Big Gigantic, “Got The Love”

Song most likely to dance in hi-tops on a spaceship to.

Somewhere along the way, soulful hip hop meets orchestral marching band and they all go to Burning Man together and start a band. This is what happens afterwards. If not a true story, it’s a believable back-story. Also, I couldn’t help but think, “Is that a wooden cowbell coming in at 1:44?”, even though I know better. How can that not make a person smile?

3. A Shadow Of A Jaguar, “Mama Needs The Bottle”

Song most likely to be mistaken as coming from Denver.

Denver isn’t the end all be all. But they do have more rock and roll. Bar none. We almost did, until West Water Outlaws broke up. And then there’s The Yawpers, who relocated to and announced themselves officially as a Denver band. Drop into the rock bowl at the sound of charging, down-stroke guitar grit, and quick, punchy drumbeat stalls between classic, unfrilled, rolling rock drums. Watch out for rhythmic vocals with attitude enough to make you want to spill your whiskey. Just buy the cheap stuff before, m’kay?

4. Envy Alo, “Bodzinger”

Song I most want to see the crew of Scooby Doo dance to.

Instrumentals done well drive me wild. I’m no less obsessed with words than music. But music doesn’t need words. It can communicate perfectly fine on it’s own. Also, killin’ it cool on the keyboards. Anyone would look amazing dancing to this song in bell bottoms. Groovy, but in the still totally hip way.

5. Policulture, “Great Respect”

Song most likely to render me unable to think of anything but bunny rabbits in sunglasses dancing in a field throughout it’s entirety.

You can definitely skank to this, but you don’t have to. You can dance like a slinky might to the guitar too. Ska and reggae are certain influences, but the track is in no way walled-in by them. Short, jumping keyboard strokes with a steady low-key bass keeps the groove moving forward.

6. Sunsquabi, “Odyssey” (feat. GriZ)

Song most likely to jet ski in outer space to.

If you hear this song in the elevator on your way to work, by golly you have the right job. Elevator music has a nasty reputation. My words here are no diss and all compliment. Sunsquabi and GRiZ could totally fly on an elevator, and chances are everyone’s day would be better and the world itself would be a better place for it. High five.

7. Gregory Alan Isakov, “Suitcase Full of Sparks”

Song with the best story to tell, and the best way of putting it.

“Travelin’ through the graveyard/suitcase full of sparks/honey I’m just trying to find you.” You’ve got my attention Mister Isakov. Light smatterings of harmonica and banjo punctuate earnest lyricism, and have a way of making new feelings come from old familiars. It’s amazing how light instrumentation and unobtrusive background vocals can hit your heart with a such a thunderous thud. Here is the song most likely to make me feel feelings & get those goosebumps.

8. Augustus, “Virtues”

Song that’s the most unto itself amongst all.

Augustus’ “Virtues” is the most own unto itself amongst the whole set. This number has the most interesting musical arrangements and distinct use of instrumentation. Won’t find vocals that hit so high delicately and then swing low anywhere else on this playlist, period. Cello like molasses that doesn’t stick, and thus doesn’t slow down the way it pours over you so warm and soft.

9. Cold River City, “Time Slips Away”

Song most likely to make me chill the heck out when a bus is late, all the while falling in love with the person at the bus stop next to me.

Now that’s some saxy sexaphone (courtesy of guest Jeremy Mohney). Back and forth male and female vocals lend this song a lyrical, crooning playfulness that doesn’t hinge on catchy word play. It speaks to the still-in-love love struggle when it’s done in reality, but far from it in heart. Hits me like permission to move on from any break up while still knowing the past was special and untouchable. If you think that’s hokey, it still won’t stop my pokey.

10. Sixty Minute Men, “Born This Way”

Song most likely to listen to on a catamaran at sunset.

Possiblly the best transition from and into a song on the playlist. Cold River City to Sixty Minute Men rolls like a board off one wave, up onto another. This song’s not in a hurry, and the slow simmer gives the listener rooted boots on the ground and soaring above the clouds vibes all at once. Put it in cruise control and tap those thumbs on your steering wheel folks.

11. Na’an Stop, “Questions”

Song that sounds most like an album single, and I somehow feel most likely to least question if I heard it on commercial alternative radio.

It’s catchy, folks. It makes me grateful for stereo speakers and headphones. It’s lyrics call you out and leave you feeling encouraged all at once. Keys and horns sometimes make you feel like someone might be laughing at you, but in a way that doubles back and only has you laughing at yourself, life, and all of us. It’s catchy. But it’s way more than a surface tune.

12. Evanoff, “Transcendance”

Song whose title best matches its music.  

Transcen + (d) + ance. That’s how we do on this ditty. The song title works on two levels. I feel like I could transcend my next climbing problem to this at The Spot, then dance the good vibes that follow off at The Fox straight after. Vocal thunder emanating from a teacup, heavy beats that don’t browbeat: this song communicates what it calls itself without riffing off some theme or line from lyrics, because it has none!! Best guitar shredding to boot.

13. The Motet, “Know It Too Well”

Song I’m most likely to dance to on isolated vocals alone.

More cowbell?! How yesterday of you. MORE ORGAN. The Motet knows it too well. I’d call this articulate funk, an ice cream sundae of funky guitar layers cut fresh and so clean. So much more than a wedding song, I can’t help but say that I can picture everyone from grandma to the youngest buckaroo dancing out on the floor having a good sass time at anyone’s matrimony.

Follow BolderBeat on Spotify for more Colorado music playlists. 

-Joliene

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

Boulder's Intuit: Go Ahead- Drink The Holy Water & Trip The Light Fantastic

By: Joliene Adams

Boulder's Intuit. 

Boulder's Intuit. 

Boulder band Intuit’s frontwoman Chloe Watkins drinks unadulterated holy water straight from the tap. This lyric confession comes out through melodious, textured hydroscapes on Intuit’s track “Holy Water”, from their 2012 self-titled album.

“Wind, rain, water…” Watkins says, “But mostly, water.”

Yet all of these elements are included in Intuit’s musical influences: rain sticks and waves blend over shorelines, a cool rush of water enters your ears, a languid warmth from a small horn section rolls in overtop.

Listen to Intuit’s “Holy Water”:

But right now, there’s the unmistakable sound of a bee buzzing near Watkins as the two of us sit on the patio outside one of the trailers on “the sunny side” of Eldorado Canyon, where the daylight lasts a little bit longer. It’s here where Watkins makes a new declaration: If she could have it your way on stage, which partly consists of you having the best, most daily-grind reversing and rejuvenating experience possible, you’d be tripping the light fantastic. Dancing. That substance free, mood-altering practice humans have exercised since the Paleolithic era, best we can tell. That’s to trip the light fantastic. An old, favorite phrase. And the music you hear from Intuit is inspired by these time-honored traditions.

When Watkins “sees someone dancing with their eyes closed”, she knows she’s “brought them to another space.” Describing Intuit’s music as “healing”, she knows it sounds silly. But music is healing: a relaxed frame of mind, of movement; we reap multiple health benefits from both. It just might be hubris to proclaim oneself a healer. But she doesn’t.

Check out Intuit’s live performance on Second Story Garage:

You don’t have to be 100% into groove-based funk, reggae and hip-hop influenced music to appreciate what Intuit does. “Music needs a listener.” Watkins tells me. This is why she considers live performances as the best rehearsal. “If you don’t take it out of the closet, it isn’t music. It’s got to come out and play to be fulfilled as an art form.” This stands out as a defining ethic, and one to be respected, regardless of genre. Rootsy, earthy comfort food. That’s how I describe the sounds of Intuit; where the emotional weight a cello can bring helps thread in the grounding nature of what is otherwise an eclectic mix of the traditional setup of a guitar-vocalist (Neil Sullivan), bassist (Matt North), drummer (John Jyemo), and percussionist (Scott Parker Mast).

As the bee near Watkins keeps buzzing, she tells me: “Neil and I are the original members. We’ve had the intention to play music for our whole lives. Playing music is what we set out to do”. Intuit possesses a “hell or high water” commitment to their music-making, and a passion for the world around them and the people, places, and things within it.

Their drive is evident in their recent happenings: Intuit has played The Fox, competed in and placed second in this year’s Oskar Blues Battle Of The Bands, and are currently about a month into recording their newest album at The Crucible Recording Studio in Eldorado Springs.

Chloe Brooke Watkins. 

Chloe Brooke Watkins. 

“There’s this bee that won’t leave me alone!”

I confess, like one of those terrible people who don’t tell you something’s in your teeth, that I knew it was there. It lands on her third eye. When it finally sits on her forehead, I can’t help but think of her as marked: marked with the parallel of productivity and the ability to orchestrate grand things through her daily devotion to hard work, to making music, and to drinking that unadulterated holy water. Bottoms up!

You can catch Intuit in Denver at the Appaloosa Bar & Grill this Wednesday (4/20), or in May at Denver’s Spread The Word Music Festival at Quixote's and its Boulder counterpart, Owsley's. Keep up with Intuit on their website

-Joliene

I am obsessed with language and count music in it's scope. Raised on doo-wop, grunge rock, and Merle Haggard in the PCNW, I still own my first cassette. That was Buddy Holly and this is now. I like to dance. With or without background music.

 

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured.