Bellhoss's Latest Video Features a Dancing Flamingo Party at Fort Greene & Everything Pink

By: Julia Talen

Produced by Lady Cactus Media, bellhoss’s latest music video “geraniums #2 primes listeners and viewers for the release of this local folk-indie-space punk band’s first EP geraniums. Frontwoman, Becky Hostetler moved out to Denver five and a half years ago to pursue a master’s degree in political science and has been infiltrating Colorado’s music scene ever since, most recently with a performance at MCA’s B-sides and with an upcoming show at Underground Music Showcase this July. Her poetic, self-proclaimed “sadcore” tunes bend genres and traverse existential themes.

The flamingo-themed video project for “geraniums #2”, shot inside Fort Greene, pilots relatable topics and motifs through many shades of pink. The video opens up with a catchy intro as two strangers, dressed as flamingos, walk into a flamingo-themed party. The camera lens meanders through the synthetic hot-pink crowd to hone in on Hostetler, sitting awkwardly on a couch next to a guy playing a song for her, or seemingly for anyone who will listen, on the ukulele. She begins to sing and removes her kitschy, plastic flamingo glasses. Her eyelids are the only ones at the party smothered in blush-colored eye shadow.

Hostetler's warm voice, akin to Swedish folk-duo First Aid Kit, mingles with the melody as she moves through the party towards the bathroom singing, “I imagine earthquakes early/ I dreams of geraniums/ I will kill my own thoughts thank you/ I don’t need your help.” In the pale pink bathroom, Hostetler puts on lipstick and then takes it off, as the band rolls through the refrain accompanied by mellow, gazy instrumentals, harmonizing the lyrics, “I’ll do what I want to/ I’ll do what I have to figure it out.”

Bellhoss.

Bellhoss.

Eventually Hostetler leaves the bathroom and bumps into a line of people, who appear angrily impatient with her, before she heads to another couch and sits down next to two television screens showing lengthy singular shots of palm trees and ocean waves. The video has this simulacrum feel to it with the vapid pink assembly of folks and the plastic costumes and birds. It’s as if our protagonist is moving through a world covered in seran wrap. Hostetler sings, “Reading all the bible backwards/ waves crash into the sea/ peeling off my own skin sickly/ crashing into the sea,” and listeners get this sense of alienation, not fitting in, feeling backwards like a wave moving the wrong way, as our protagonist navigates this giant sea of pink.

At one point Hostetler joins the party-goers for a group dance, the only time throughout the video that she actively blends into the crowd. The synchronized dance feels empty, and Hostetler eventually leaves it before ultimately leaving the party.

This brilliantly crafted video gives a taste of bellhoss’s musical poeticism and artistry in digging through the cringey, dark, and all too true themes of feeling different and feeling like you don’t see yourself in something. This project offers a peek into what’s in store as the group continues to make music in the Mile High City. Check out the video and don’t miss the band’s release party and show at Lost Lake Lounge, June 9th with Corsicana and Two Tone Wolf Pack.

-Julia

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

ZEMBU's Latest Track "Human" Reveals How Transformative Art Can Be

By: Julia Talen

Colorado based musician and producer ZEMBU recently released an inspiring and deeply poetic music video for her latest single, “Human”. ZEMBU shared that the song, “Human,” is about the day she learned that her mother had died by suicide. The verse of this indie-pop tune contains lyrics that examine various realms of human nature, and the video itself enhances the single in a variety of ways.

ZEMBU.

ZEMBU.

It opens up with celestial “ooo’s” and flashes of ZEMBU’s body, backgrounded by overexposed landscape shots. The video immediately sets a sort of seeking and inquisitive tone for this art project, as ZEMBU’s “Human” takes us on a journey.

Series of elegant shots of ZEMBU dancing against the sun near the water and the forest roll as she begins to sing. ZEMBU’s vocals have a rich hollowness to them, like there is space for listeners to move deeply into the facets and dimensions of her voice. Her lyrics in this song, such as, “She won’t say goodnight no more/simplicity comes in a haunting form,” invites a similar dive into the subject of suicide and its connection to our humanity.

The use of light in the video also reflects the shadows, undertones, blurriness, and fluidity of the song’s themes. In some shots ZEMBU is over exposed, the light blurring out pieces of her body and creating new shadows, while in other shots we cannot make out the features of her face in the dimmed lighting, as she blends further into the natural background.

Additionally, ZEMBU’s use of dance and the way she organically moves her body in the shadowy and overexposed images and shots of herself in nature also evoke the embodiment of humanness that the song navigates. Her words continue to match the visual vision of this project with lines like “I was so ready to take the blame,” “What if, what if, what if, what if, what if,” and “We are human after all.”

This project uses music, poetry, dance, and film to express and explore, to capture a piece of what it means to be human, and how open and raw that can be for all of us in different ways. ZEMBU’s latest release reveals how transformative, trascendental, and truly powerful all avenues of art can be.

-Julia

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

Modern Suspects Release New Music Video for "Desufnoc"

By: Julia Talen

On April 1st, Denver band Modern Suspects released a music video for their latest single “Desufnoc.” Filmed entirely on an iPhone X, guitarist Bart William’s visualized the inspiration behind the film, while frontman Garret Myers wrote the song, galvanized out of a devastating tragedy in which a close friend of his died in a plane crash.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, “Desufnoc,” is confused spelled backwards, and the single and video grip viewers as the group explores the absurdities and the inexplicable aspects of life through visual and audio media.

The video opens with an old Volvo pulling out of a garage on a dry, sunny day. There is music in the background and the viewer thinks that the song is beginning, but the camera hones in the the Volvo’s driver- a woman in a leopard coat with blue hair- listening to what’s on the radio. Anticipation builds as she pulls into a parking garage and we wonder where she is going, but before we can find out, she walks past a series of framed pictures hung on a wall and the camera zooms in to one of the frames, taking the viewer into another realm of the film as the song begins.

As the music flows, the camera continues to hone in on other picture frames, glasses, or mirrors and we melt into new scenes. This movement between different corners of life through pictures and frames elevates lyrics such as, “I’m confused/I’m confused/I feel so confused/Don’t know which way to go.” Viewers become disoriented much like the aftermath of a tragic and sudden loss. The symbolism of moving through frames also makes the audience consider memory and time, and how these play out in the stories that make up our lives and the lives of others.

Modern Suspects.

Modern Suspects.

As the film progresses, the viewer progresses through scenes that are perhaps touchstones of Myers’ personal experience: there is a scene in a body of water, a cemetary, a church. The film ends with a man running toward a house, jumping through a window into a scene evocative of the beginning of the video. The leopard-coated lady listening to Modern Suspects through headphones then walks past another series of frames hung on a wall as the story closes.

Overall, the video sets out to “confuse” viewers, reflecting on events, scenes, stories, and tragedies that take place each day of our own lives and can easily feel disconnected and absurd.

It’s no doubt that Modern Suspects’ visual and musical talent shine in this dreamy pop tune, beautifully accompanied by a thought-provoking video project which brings viewer closer to the lyrics of the track.

Keep up with Modern Suspects here.

-Julia

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

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

By: Julia Talen

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

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

54462898_2016067018696786_6342540757630451712_o.jpg

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

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

Prep Rally.

Prep Rally.

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

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

Keep up with Prep Rally here.

-Julia

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

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

By: Julia Talen

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

Lollygags.

Lollygags.

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

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

50155014_2024068087673169_6946405501521362944_o.jpg

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

-Julia

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

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

By: Julia Talen

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

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

The Symbols.

The Symbols.

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

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

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

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

Keep up with The Symboles here.

-Julia

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

Review: Prep Rally "Break In" the New Year with Latest Single

By: Julia Talen

Just shy of one year after the release of their debut EP, Passing Notes, Denver electro-pop duo Prep Rally will reign in 2019 with the release of their new single, “Break In” when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve.

Prep Rally.

Prep Rally.

The pair, made up of Tatum Russo (vocalist and flautist) and Drew Norris (instrumentalist), have clearly pulsed the Colorado indie scene with their dance-pop tunes, ethereal, tiered vocalization, and intriguing instrumentals.

“Break In” highlights these enticing qualities in Prep Rally’s music, evocative of the pop trifecta, Haim with it’s upbeat, fun pace and dance feel. Norris’ explorative instrumentation is certainly something to take note of- it’s playful and different with each verse, and has a whimsical quality that keeps listeners engaged. In addition to the instrumentation, at times in the track, Russo’s vocals have a retro vibe similar to Denver’s beloved Alaina Moore. At other times during the song, when Russo’s vocals are layered, the tune reminds me of something celestial off of Grimes’ Vision album.

37866860_1879983622305127_59709747745521664_o.jpg

Along with the delicious indie quality of “Break In,” the lyrics couldn’t be more fitting for a fresh start in the New Year. Listeners will take away invigorating optimism from lines like, “I used to break down… I’m breaking in now” as they spin and strut their way into 2019 with this track.

-Julia

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

Hat Trick Debuts Video Launch Featuring Arkansas' Couch Jackets

By: Julia Talen

Hat Trick, based out of Silver Street Studio in Ashland, Nebraska, is a new, promising recording and film project featuring up-and-coming musical artists. The production and film crew shoot artists performing three consecutive songs in their studio, free of charge for musicians. The bands that perform then receive equally split earnings from the video, which is posted on Youtube. Hat Trick recently released their first session with Little Rock, Arkansas-based psychedelic indie rock band Couch Jackets.

Hat Trick engineered a really nice sound quality in this short session. We can clearly hear the builds in each track, the folksy, lineal drum (played by Hunter Law) in “Elephant Tusk (Helluva Musk)”, the mesmerizing, flowing-and-ebbing interlude that carries viewers into the final song, and the unique and essential twinkly layers of the band’s keyboard (played by Harry Glaeser). Additionally, the video and studio’s sound mixing highlight the unique blending of vocalist/guitarist Brennan Leed’s Mac DeMarco-esque vocals with vocalist/bassist Ben Eslisk’s wide-ranging voice.

The session’s film quality also deserves a mention. Viewers don’t just get a shot of the entire band recording. We see different angles of the band, close ups on solos, and Hat Trick’s film quality captures the band’s versatile, super funky vibe, one that’s been described as, “progressive psych rock with a groove that… sounds like an alligator's eating [the band].”

Couch Jackets.

Couch Jackets.

For newer musical artists looking for a sweet studio experience as well as the opportunity to progress in the music scene, and for music-junkies searching for new music, scope out Hat Trick’s creative project and endeavor and look out for more sessions in the near future.

-Julia

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

Denver's Holiday Bazaar Features Food, Fashion, Fire Pits, & Booze

By: Julia Talen

Denver’s Holiday Bazaar is back, and ‘tis the season! This festive event takes place at the end of November into December. For those anxious to scope out a variety of local vendors while sipping on festive libations, Stapleton’s Shops at Northfield host a Denver Bazaar Pop-Up event on Thursday, November 29th from 4PM-10PM. Admission is free and the Stapleton Holiday Bazaar will feature over 40 fashion trucks and rad vendors, plus attendees will have a wide range of libations to choose from including beer, wine, cider, and spirits.

The Bazaar.

The Bazaar.

RiNo’s  Holiday Bazaar spans across the second weekend in December- December 7th 5PM-10PM (free admission until 7PM) and December 8th and 9th from 10AM-5PM (free admission until 12PM). For those who stroll in late, admission is $5 at the door which gets you into the giant, trendy Bazaar located at 2845 Walnut Street showcasing 100+ vendors, makers, artists, and more.

Not only can guests shop around, but they can also hang by the fire pits, nosh on snacks from some of Denver’s finests food trucks, listen to music, and check out the RiNo BOOZ Hall centrally located in the Bazaar featuring booze from Rising Sun Distillery and Jack Rabbit Hill Farm (among others.) And don’t worry about snow or icy conditions, because the inside of the Bazaar is heated, so you can soak up all of the cozy, holiday vibes. To learn more about this awesome event visit the website here.

-Julia

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

Review: Rodes Rollins Comes Into Her Own With 'Velvet'

By: Julia Talen

Rodes Rollins (Talia Taxman) has truly come into her own in the last year and a half. Since the release of her acclaimed, coming-of-age EP, Young Adult, Rollins has gone on to release a series of singles including “Nasty Woman” and “Boom Pow.

30821449_1121872831288200_1272798140406530141_o.jpg

Her next musical project, called Velvet, which drops October 19th, is an A/B Side record underscoring Rollins' impressive range as an artist. Her music straddles the sphere of all sorts of genres, from psychedelic rock to folk with a bluesy flare. This record is no exception.

The A Side's "Mystery Man" opens up with vintage instrumentals, which reminded me somewhat of some of the instrumentals The Growlers incorporate in their music. There is a sort of "Wild West" vibe throughout the tune as well, which is perhaps a nod to Rollins' roots having grown up in Boulder, Colorado. Complimenting that western old-time vibe are her exquisite, spooky, and synthy vocals that allure listeners deep into the story of a search for someone as she sings, "Mystery man/hold a gun to his head/what you want you can get."

41382380_1240157506126398_555519024344072192_o.jpg

Verse foils lyrics on the B side of Velvet with the track "Wrong Turn" when Rollins' sings, "We take a step towards a demise/darling we/try and then we realize/darling we/hung the towel up to dry." In the search her first track alludes to, her second track suggests a wrong turn's been made. In this "wrong turn," Rollins' tune slows down, shows off even more of her incredible vocal range, and plays up a somber side to her vocalization. There too, is an openness in her voice evocative of Cat Power. In addition to her vocals, Rollins rounds out the B Side with an incredible guitar outro solo which elevates the mesmerizing quality of both of her tunes on Velvet, as listeners quickly come to realize her guitar-playing talent is quite remarkable.

Rollins' music is original, combining all sorts of influences as she continues to experiment and grow as a musician. Such originality is certainly a difficult achievement in our musically saturated world, but Rollin's is going for it and doing it well.

-Julia

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

Review: Lost Aliens' New EP Welcomes You on a Celestial Ride of Psych

Lost Aliens.

Lost Aliens.

Denver-based band Lost Aliens formed in early 2017 and recently released their third recorded project, Welcome, Welcome, a trippy triad of hypnotic tunes that melds a variety of instrumental components to create a rich set of textured tracks.

Experimental and psychedelic music sometimes loses the listener if its complexities don’t connect. But in Lost Aliens’ case, the use of the flute and simple percussion grounds and balances out the synths and more cosmic qualities of each tune. The blending of experimental instrumentation with simple instrumentation echoes poetic lyrics that fuse components of earthly nature with celestial spaces, such as “creation in a seed/created by a timeless/floating in the stars/growing leaves of revery.” This wonderful mixing carries throughout the EP and invites listeners to ponder the relationship between the abstract and the concrete; nature and space.

The first track off Welcome, Welcome, titled “Ancient Seas” starts off with a deep, synthy intro whch flows like a tide and dissolves into a duet of electronic guitar paired with the flute. The flute gives the song an ancient feel- it’s roomy and mystical, encouraging the listener to traverse the colorful, celestial landscape the band constructs in their music while holding on to the comfort of the familiar flute. The vocals in this song have an unworldly quality to them and hover around the inquisitive musical landscape. Moreover, the rhythmic track has a soothing quality, a vibe that runs through the other tracks on the EP.

The second track, “Good Question (feat. Swan)” evokes a bluesy vibe alluding to the saxophone that will come into play as the track moves forward. The percussive claps that run through the song ground the more exploratory instrumentation, much like the flute in the first song did. This track wanders like our pondering questions and thoughts, as it builds and fills out, almost painting a panoramic mural of the mind like a jungle, once again melding the cerebral with natural imagery via the channel of music.

The final track, “Star Light (feat Space Kitty),” is the most lyric heavy of the three and follows through on the theme of connecting celestial elements like stars and galaxies to natural imagery. The lyrics are optimistic (“starlight shines from inside all of us”), and as the track unravels, the middle hits a catchy, upbeat stride before building and breaking off seamlessly into more psychedelic territory. The flute is mesmerizing as the track wanders toward the ending when a haunting voice tells the listener, “Welcome, welcome/Welcome all/The carnival.”

Lost Aliens’ EP spawns deep, meditative thinking, as we’re left to consider the carnival of life: our place in the universe, the natural world, and the elements in flux between the two. Lost Aliens have churned out a thought-provoking project that invites all sorts of reflection and wondering from listenings through lyrics and instrumentation.

-Julia

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

Review: Dinosaur City Records Has a New Mixtape Out & It's More Important to Listen to Now Than Ever

By: Julia Talen

Dinosaur City Records (DCR), a small independent label out of Sydney, Australia, has been issuing annual mixtapes for the last couple of years. With their third one released at the end of May, Jordanne Chant, co-founder of the label shared, “the mixtapes are a nice way of showcasing a diverse mix of brilliant music that’s being made at the moment.”

Cody Munro Moore. 

Cody Munro Moore. 

Most of the tracks off Dinosaur City Records Mixtape #3 are unreleased, and listeners can locate indie musicians based in Australia, NYC, and LA across the compilation’s 23 tracks. Moreover, as the DIY music scene continues to go unrecognized or be simply dismissed (ahem Rhinoceropolis and Glob here in Denver), it’s important for people to tune in to what artists are continuing to create and innovate.

Thankfully, DCR is keeping independent music alive. Chant and co-founder Cody Munro Moore clearly have a keen ear for original musicians and listening to this mixtape (via online streaming, digital album, or cassette tape) is a must for any music nerd or curious listener looking for something different than their Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist.

The mix starts with Ali Flintoff of Denise Le Menice. Her hazy track, “Addiction” casts a lofi DIY vibe that’ll permeate much of the album, weaving psychedelic surf rock undertones into the fiber of the tune. It’s catchy, lovely, and enticing.

As we move through the tracks, we get a taste of a variety of genres. “Tender” a tune by Sophie McComish, the artist behind Tuffence Meringue, soothes the listener with hypnotic vocals and instruments, evocative of authentic musicians like Frankie Rose.

Brooklyn-based band Navy Gang’s tune, “Just Kidding Not” follows. Their infectious and witty tune with lyrics, “I’m indecisive/I fucking hate you/No I don’t/Don’t know if I love you” evokes Animal Collective during its chorus, as the band whales, “I don’t ever wanna be alone again.” It’s pretty brilliant. And this clever, experimental tune leads into “Cockroach,” by Bourgeois Earth, which is probably my favorite of the 23 songs.

“Cockroach” is wildly exploratory, melding electronic sounds with brass instrumentation, and ethereal and alien-like vocals that make their mark. If you like the 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion, or really any sort of experimental pop music, you’re going to love this one. Though it’s exploratory, this ingenius track is compact and holds together, not flailing every which way as it probes all sorts of music genres and instrumentation throughout its corners.

Mezko’s “Without You” reminds me of some genius new work from LCD Soundsystem, Bored Short’s “Bar Cards” slows things down a little, reminding me vocally of Alex Cameron’s somber, but brilliant songs. Sadventure’s “One More Night” also breaks ground with its drifty, floaty melody, similar to a song off an old M83 album, getting heavier as it moves along.

13620072_568759453329875_684584240410184434_n.jpg

In the latter half of the album, we hear Painter Paige Emery’s lo-fi, hazy tune, “Here Now Stay Go” which sounds like she’s painting pieces of her song into the air to create a masterpiece of sounds.Track 17, Romy Church of e4444e’s song, Volume Two has a rhythmic opening and shifting and folding lo-fi vocals that are calm yet penetrating. And Cody Munro Moore’s new wave tune “As The Empire Fell Apart” definitely evokes the artful, post-punk vibes of Talking Heads.

I’ve only scratched the surface on the myriad of incredible music across this mixtape. DRC’s curated a record that’s original, unique, cutting edge, and incredibly important to listen too. The small label’s mission to honor and acknowledge independent music is of utmost importance to the music scene these days, so be sure to tune in.

-Julia

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

Review: Elder Grown Release First Record In Seven Years & With It, They've Found Home

By: Julia Talen

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

Elder Grown.

Elder Grown.

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

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

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

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

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

26172809_10155876789044870_3549657419980923413_o.jpg

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

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

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

-Julia

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

Bonnaroo’s Sweet Sixteen: Amish Donuts, Twerkin' with Freedia, Mayor Chance The Rapper, & More

By: Julia Ordog

In case you missed it: Big changes and festival highlights from Bonnaroo 2017. 

It's important to use both hands.

It's important to use both hands.

This year, 65,000 people made the annual pilgrimage to Manchester TN to help Bonnaroo celebrate its birthday with Amish donuts, high fives, spontaneous art, and, of course, a sweet lineup. After 16 years, it’s safe to say that the majority of attendees are a new generation than those that originally formed the first festival in 2002, and the producers have not let this slide by unnoticed. While last year brought a few changes to The Farm that were mostly unremarkable (with the exception of permanent bathrooms, and Live Nation’s first full year at the helm), this year, Bonnaroo got an impressive facelift to keep up with the crowd and meet the younger Bonnaroovians more on their turf.

 "The Other” 2.0

The Other Stage.

The Other Stage.

Throughout the years, it’s been entirely common for stages to come and go and be renamed (Sonic, Who, Kalliope, etc), though the two main stages and three side tents have remained untouched since 2003. This year, EDM fans were given the gift of a remodeled stage in the form of the brand new "The Other.” Previously a tent, The Other had its top blown off and was injected with the spirit of Kalliope (the EDM stage from the last two years known for raging late into the night with the massive VW bug next to it). Now sort of like Which’s electronic little sister, The Other welcomed Big Gigantic, Cherub’s Jason Huber, Marshmello, and many more DJs to the stage this year.

Bacardi Beach 

Bacard's Oasis.

Bacard's Oasis.

In the area Kalliope used to call home, new sponsor Bacardi made its debut with the Bacardi beach- a sandbar complete with fake palm trees, hammocks, a cocktail bar, and plenty of lights to transport festival-goers off The Farm and to spring break. The beach was bumping with DJ sets throughout the weekend, and offered an excellent vantage point to watch shows at The Other without delving into the throng of ragey fans.

Scrims

The new scrims on The Which Stage.

The new scrims on The Which Stage.

All of the bigger stages with the exception of What also got a makeover. This, That, and The Other were all decked out with brightly-colored scrims, adding some decoration to the previously unadorned sets. Anyone who has been to Roo before would have noticed the more controversial absence of the distinct question mark that normally revolves at the top of Which, also replaced by abstract, pastel signage. I myself mourned the loss of the curtains and rotating question mark, and found the stage art to be a bit more cookie cutter than the vibe Bonnaroo is known for, but perhaps (likely) I’m just a sucker for tradition. 

The Weeknd 

The Sunday night slot of Bonnaroo is always saved for the biggest headliner, traditionally a well-entrenched, rock or jam band. Switching it up this year, the spot was given to The Weeknd, a younger R&B/pop star. The rumor mill offered suggestions that the switch was merely due to Bono’s schedule, as U2’s clout far exceeds that of The Weeknd’s, but it seems more likely that Bonnaroo was attempting to reach the younger crowd that normally dips out Sunday morning. The move certainly seemed to have paid off based on the strong crowd attendance Sunday night.

Chance

It would be hard to write about the festival this year without mentioning Chance the Rapper, the reigning “Mayor of Bonnaroo.” For the last few years, whether booked or not, Chance has made numerous appearances on collaborators’ stages across the festival. This year he appeared for Francis and the Lights, led a song at the super jam, and rocked his own set on What, a big upgrade from his last full-set performance in 2014, which was in a tent. The main venue was absolutely packed as Chance made his entrance on a mini-motorcycle, backlit by pillars of fire, and the crowd sang every word as he played hits off Coloring Book, a few favorites from Acid Rap, and other hits. 

U2

It seemed like everyone on The Farm was excited for U2’s second-ever festival performance; the band is currently on tour playing their entire Joshua Tree album front to back. Bono brought his own stage with him complete with gigantic screens and a wild light show, punctuated by the typical headliner fireworks that did not disappoint.

Big Freedia

A New Orleans legend known for her work in “bounce music,” Big Freedia and her team took over the Solar Stage to break down various twerk moves for those of us less fluid with our hips and bodies. During twerk class every morning, I watched the liberation of hundreds of people as Freedia taught them to to “mix it up,” “Peter Pan,” and “toot it up.” The brave were given the opportunity to show off their moves in a giant twerk circle where three people at a time were given the spotlight as Freedia and her crew yelled encouragement in the form of “overdrive” and “ass everywhere, ass, ass, everywhere!” If there’s one thing I learned from Bonnaroo this year, it’s that if you get the chance to go see Big Freedia, DO IT. 

Francis and the Lights

For someone who performed almost entirely by himself on a stage with no background graphics, Francis Farewell Starlite was truly captivating. His mesmerizing synths and big sound were matched by his uncontainable energy and erratic dance moves. Chance the Rapper joined Francis for their iconic choreography of “May I Have This Dance” to extreme fan stoke. And, as if the performance wasn’t already memorable enough, Francis jumped off the stage to run around in the crowd for a bit, and ended his set by doing a back handspring into a backflip that he landed in a split. Mic drop.

Beyond the Music 

In terms of activities, Bonnaroo is offering a lot more to do these days besides going to music. Out in tent city, a few of the pods have been decked out in various themes, offering places to hang out and things to do outside of Centeroo or your campsite. The coffee house and vinyl shop at Pod 7 (The Grind) were in peak form this year, as was the mystical hammock forest out behind it (The Grove). Other holistic programming met a broader audience than usual with record turnouts for things like morning yoga and the 5K run Saturday morning, demonstrating that Bonnaroo has definitely become a more accessible partner that doesn’t require a total departure from one’s daily routines. Activist-central Planet Roo also offers plenty to do and learn, in full-force this year as usual with booths for registering as a bone marrow donor, learning about sustainability, and making your voice heard on various issues.  

Mild weather!

Traditionally on The Farm, temps have left festival-goers feeling like they were melting into a pool of their own sweat that they very well might drown in. While last year brought temperatures that topped 100 (not to mention a thunderstorm evacuation), this year, was all moderate temps and clear skies with a festival high of 89. While at the end of the day, people were hardly less zapped for energy, some of the days were downright pleasant- words I have never used in the past to describe summer in Coffee County. 

Cage The Elephant.

Cage The Elephant.

As usual I lost count of how many bands mentioned it being a dream to play the festival, and of how many artists went right down to their fans and jumped into the crowd, whether it was Dave Bayley from Glass Animals crowd-surfing with a 200-foot microphone cord tether, Cage the Elephant frontman, Matt Shultz, diving into his fans, or Diplo rolling around in a giant hamster ball. The superjam was jammy and super and brought the funk. Fans stormed the venue at two o’clock on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to sprint as fast as they could across the field to get to the front rail for the headliners. The line for Amish donuts was insanely long, people walked around shouting “Happy Roo” to each other the same way people wish each other a Merry Christmas, and people covered themselves in just as much glitter as they did sunscreen. 

Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo.

There may be details that change from year to year as this festival grows and evolves, but throughout my five trips to The Farm, I’ve noticed that the most important thing stays the same: the vibes. In the utopian world of The Farm, a land that is governed on the principles of good vibes and radiating positivity, and whose name literally means “only the good stuff,” there is no room for racism, travel bans, homophobia, or any of the other damaging ideals that we run into everywhere in the world “out there.” Without straying into the quicksand that is politics these days, I will say that this year was no exception to the typical blissful reprieve that Bonnaroo offers from the negativity and aggression associated with the news and watchful Big Brother’s eye- a reprieve that allows people to tune out the drone of society and to instead truly listen to their hearts. The world of Bonnaroo is a beautiful one, where people are free to truly express themselves and where strangers not only acknowledge strangers, but embrace them, help them, and share with them, always looking for common ground instead of reasons to fight.

As usual, by Sunday, I was ready for a real night of sleep and a break from the sun, but as also usual, I can’t wait to go back. Until next year, radiate positivity and stay true Roo. And as always: See you on The Farm! 

See the full Bonnaroo 2017 photo gallery here!

-Julia

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