Kyle Emerson's New "I Can Change" Video Combines the Desert’s Psychedelic Mystique with Slick Indie-Folk Flare

By: Julia Talen

Currently featured as one of Indie 102.3 FM’s Local 303 Artists, indie rocker Kyle Emerson has been building anticipation of his sophomore album, Only Coming Down, out this fall. He dropped his first single from the forthcoming album, “May You Find Peace,” earlier this year. His second single was just released with a stop-motion collaged music video for the song “I Can Change.” Emerson says that the tune was, “written very quickly and demoed acoustically shortly after. Not overthinking the lyrics and letting them be more on the raw, personal side of the spectrum felt like the only place to exist lyrically… and it influenced the direction of the album from there.

The track feels very personal, and the music video alludes to that rawness while also being playful with a hodgepodge of colorful imagery that adds to the story behind this captivating piece. The video opens with a woman lying down facing a window of a moving van, as viewers look over her shoulder and see the van passing from the city to the suburbs to the sea and eventually to space, as the window frame melts away. Dawn breaks, and a grizzly head rises over a mountain like the sun as Emerson begins to sing, presumably connecting Emerson to this grizzly face. 

The lyrics offer a plea, seemingly to the girl in the van, that the protagonist of the song can change his partying ways, but as the music video evolves, we see less of that girl and more of a grizzly bear-headed man playing music. As the collaged video evolves and ebbs with cut-out butterflies swooping over backdrops and colorful layers that shift like a kaleidoscope, listeners realize this song has transformed into a plea no longer to the girl, but to the protagonist’s own self that he can change. 

Kyle Emerson.

Kyle Emerson.

The refrain swells at the same time the viewer sees the words “I Can Change” in white, bold font scroll over the vibrant background like film credits, while voices harmonize and instruments explode. Emerson cries the lyrics, “I can change/ I can change/ I can change.” He continues singing, “I’ll just hit the highway/and start all over again,” when the van from the beginning appears and drives through the forest, the mountains, San Francisco and Joshua Tree. As demons symbolized by images of fire, bats, caves and booze continue to follow the grizzly-headed character, there is a heightening of tension between adventure, nature, escapism, and haunting thoughts- all the themes of this memorable song.

Given Emerson’s success with his first album, Dorothy Alice, it’s no surprise that this local artist continues to create music rich with elements of the desert’s psychedelic mystique welded with his own slick indie-folk flare. Check out Emerson play this tune and others as he performs on the Main Stage at the Uundergound Music Showcase this Sunday, July 28th at 3:20PM.

-Julia

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

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.

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

By: Julia Talen

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

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

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

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

Prep Rally.

Prep Rally.

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

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

Keep up with Prep Rally here.

-Julia

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

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.

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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.

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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.

Fast Car Slow Car Has Us Dreaming About "Waffles"

By: Julia Talen

Philly-based bassist Breshon Martzall of The Districts’ offshoot project Straw Hats has ventured into his own side project called Fast Car Slow Car. He recently released a music video for his latest single called “Waffles” and it’s definitely worth a watch. The trippy video embodies a DIY vibe, gritty and not overly-produced, containing intriguing visuals, contemplative themes, humor, and rad wackiness.

The video opens with Martzall standing in front of a blank wall with an animation projected onto it, and corded phones hanging upside down; a very peculiar, inverted world evocative of the track’s lyrics “I feel so upside down on picture perfect days.” The opening shot is a play on perceptions, reality, and truth, priming viewers for the remaining scenes and shots of the film. As the video progresses, multi-colored shapes like circles, squares, and hearts distort, focus in on, or cover up parts of each frame, elevating the videos themes surrounding confusion and search for clarity.

The self-aware intermission in the video made me chuckle, filled with silly factoids about waffles, offering a reminder to not read too deeply into the trippiness of the video and perhaps the world’s general absurdity. Either way, the project evokes, intrigues, and invites a rewatch.

Keep up with Fast Car Slow Car 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 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.

Knuckle Pups' Debut Record 'San Panino' Drops This Weekend

By: Julia Talen

Knuckle Pups, a Denver-based five-piece band, are releasing their first ever musical project, San Panino digitally and on cassette tape this upcoming Saturday, October 27th. And to be honest, after a listen, I was shocked that this is the first project the group’s produced.

Knuckle Pups.

Knuckle Pups.

Texture deepens each track on San Panino, perhaps because of the exceptionally layered vocal harmonies and the dynamic instrumentals. Bare and percussive elements echo, while dialogue with airy and ethereal synths glides listeners through this original project, filled with movement. The movement feels adventurous and exciting, and it carries listeners into unique yet comforting musical realms.

San Panino opens with the track “Last Whim,” a tune bursting at the seams with energy which explores coming of age, youth, and relationship complexities. The tune runs, and listeners run with it, cruising through the song’s wonderful syncopation. You also get a taste of the group’s exceptional vocal blends, which thread throughout the cassette.

The next track, “New Reckless” opens up with playful synths. The tune feels whimsy, in an infectious way as Oliver Holloway (principal songwriter) croons questions like, “So what/am I/ today?” The title gets at the recklessness of relationships- new relationships- and the wondering and questions of one another which comes along with that freshness. The tune builds and listeners hold on through its progression, reflective of the song’s final lyrics, “Hold on.”

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“Bottom Baby” is perhaps the most poetic and inquisitive track, with lyrics like, “Down to the bottom baby/out of control/ upside the inside maybe.” My favorite part of the track is the bridge, a mixture of catchy percussion, and “ooo’s” which flood the track like waves drifting through various facets of the tune to what feels familiar.

San Panino finishes with “Wealthy Diner.” We linger in the slow verse on this one, accompanied by Holloway’s shaky, raw, and refined vocals. He sings, “Lovely the way you lie with me/just where we’re supposed to be/and across the moonlit line/we would watch the wealthy dine,” and the instrumentals take off, lifting us into that “moonlit line.”

Knuckle Pups emerges in a vast sea of Colorado indie music with an extremely original and enticing project, a project that elevates the group, showcasing an originality that’s difficult to compare. The casette’s rich layers and imagination compel listeners to hold on for the ride and get lost in the sublime landscape of the music.

See Knuckle Pups for yourself this Saturday, October 27th, at Larimer Lounge as they take the stage with Saintseneca and Trace Mountains for their release show.

Keep up with Knuckle Pups 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: NIGHTS New Single "Over & Over" Stands Out From the Haze

By: Julia Talen

Blogger, fashionista, poet, and musician Mel Denisse has been growing her latest musical project NIGHTS since the start of the year, first with her single, “Hollow” released in January and then the followup single “Gone,” which has a new music video. Just recently, her latest tune “Over and Over” dropped. The track, which was produced by Carlos de la Garza (Teenage Wrist, Paramore, Jimmy Eat World), has already snagged a spot on Spotify’s “New Rock” playlist.

NIGHTS alt-rock vibe radiates from her latest track, but the intensity of this song’s shoegaze elements differentiates it from her first two gripping singles. “Over and Over” starts off with a soft, balanced melody incorporating electric guitar and bass as well as a steady drum beat. But as the song moves forward, the residual sounds of the guitar, bass, drums, and vocals carry subtly through the track, amplified in the catchy refrain. It finishes off with nearly twenty seconds of thick amp echoes that slowly fade, a poignant compositional choice. All of the haziness embedded in the track mirrors the lyrics and themes of the song-the inescapable and nebulous rumination of the mind “over and over” again.

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Additionally, for each of Mel Denisse’s singles comes exquisitely photographed album art. For ”Over and Over,” Denisse stands amongst mist, fog, and haze in several photos that have been layered, reiterating the tune’s ideas and concepts.

With the intriguing content in her latest single and the talent evident in all of her music this year, it’s no doubt that NIGHTS career is just beginning to bloom and flourish.

-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.

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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.

OptycNerd's Newest Single "Instigator" Is Made to Get You On Your Feet

By: Julia Talen

OptycNerd's latest single, “Instigator,” out June 1st, is the perfect addition to your summer party playlist or that mix you put on in your car for late night summer drives.

OptycNerd.

OptycNerd.

The infectious dance-y tune lyrically explores the complexities of relationships, specifically the instigation of nuanced relationships and how trying to figure out who the instigator is can take away from the moment at hand.

The instrumentals and composition of the track excel in a myriad of ways. The song begins with an ethereal almost alienesque introduction before echoing vocals enter and layers of drums, percussion, and clapping build along with a catchy tempo. As the song fills out, OptycNerd's interest in multiple genres comes through.

Bursts of pop sounds rupture the light, electronic feel of the song, evocative of bands like Passion Pit and CHVRCHES. A synthy guitar bridges the refrain and verse at one point and the track recedes with a funky outro in which the muffled, muted, cosmic vocals melt into a full circle ending.

OptycNerd has themselves instigated a melding of different sounds to cultivate a quintessential electropop tune that will make even the non-dancers want to dance along.

-Julia

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

Daphne Willis Is Bringing the Freak to Boulder's e-Town Hall This Week

By: Julia Talen

To classify Daphne Willis as one type of musical artist is a difficult feat. She’s been immersed in the music scene for over ten years, having released several records, her most recent being 'Freaks Like Me.' On it you’ll find gorgeous ballads like “Somebody’s Someone” mixed with pop dance tunes like “Out of the Black” and “Just a Little Bit.” Her music gives listeners a glimpse into Willis’ personal experiences which she’s honest and open about.

Daphne Willis. 

Daphne Willis. 

Her latest single, “Do It Like This” (which includes a sweet music video shot on the Queensboro Bridge in NYC featuring dancer Shereen Jenkins), is the perfect upbeat track to blast and sing to in your car with your windows rolled down this summer. Not only that, but she’ll be in Boulder Friday, May 18th bring her vibrant spunk and rich voice to e-Town Hall. We spoke with Willis to hear more about the evolution of her multifaceted musical career and what to expect at her upcoming show.

When did you start playing music and how has your career evolved?

Sure. Well I grew up in a musical family. Both my parents went to UT Austin; my mom was a vocal major and my dad was an engineering major so I grew up singing in a musical family. We always used to listen to music and sing. My parents had me taking piano lessons when I was little. I did that for a while. Played a little bit of saxophone. And then I ended up getting really into poetry when I was in sixth grade. I learned how to play the guitar when I was in high school. I originally started playing cover songs, and once I kind of got more comfortable with the guitar I started writing my own songs.

And then did you study music in college?

No, I’m completely self-taught. I started writing songs in school, and then I went to DePaul University -I’m from Chicago originally- and I started playing out at open mics in the blues clubs and stuff like that. I had written a handful of songs and got a band together and we would play the bars in Chicago, and then we started touring around in the Midwest.

I had this little acoustic EP I had made, and I submitted it to some sub-licensing companies, like you know when you’re in P.F. Changs and you hear music playing? I had my song playing in a catalogue like that. And it was playing on American Airlines flights. The president of this record label was on the flight, and his iPod died, so he plugged his headphones into the armrest and my song was playing. It was crazy. I was eighteen/nineteen at the time and they flew me out to L.A. and the whole thing. The A&R guy that actually signed me, he’s based in Nashville so he was having me go to Nashville for co-writing and to work on the record that I was going to do with them.

So basically I signed a deal and dropped out of school. I took the opportunity and started doing co-writing in Nashville. I did a couple of records with Vanguard Records and then left the label. Now I’m independent as an artist, but I’ve signed a publishing deal with Sony ATV so I’m now a song writer. I write pop music for Sony ATV, and I’ve been with them for three years.

Cool. Speaking of songwriting, what does your process look like?

Well, I write all the time. I write four to five songs a week, and I co-write a lot which is pretty standard in the music industry. A lot of my writing is done in New York, L.A., and Nashville. And I collaborate.

Sometimes we start with the melody. Sometimes with lyrics. Sometimes someone already has like a track made so we write to a track. I often kind of categorize the writing sessions. So if I’m writing for somebody else, it’ll go a little differently than if I’m writing for me. Or, you know I do a lot of film and T.V. writing so the film and T.V. writing is always a little different too.

It all kind of just depends. For me I try and draw inspiration from things I know. I like to write what I know, things from my friends and family’s experiences, kind of just what I see in the world and experience in the world.

That’s awesome. You have kind of a range of different sounds. You’ve got some dancey pop songs and more mellow ballads, like “Somebody’s Someone.” I’m curious, what are some of your musical influences?

I grew up with The Beatles and Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. And I grew up with a lot of jazz and blues influence being in Chicago. I also grew up with a lot of you know the R&B of the nineties- Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. And with all the hip-hop so I have kind of like a hip-hop influence too. I don’t know. It’s kind of all over the place, but it’s fun to be able to blend the genres by just weaving a message and theme throughout the music.

Nice. With your upcoming show at e-Town together, I have to ask. Have you and Dave Tamkin ever played together before, or how are you two connected?

Oh my gosh, it’s so fun because we go so far back! I’ve known Dave for ten years. He’s from Chicago too and we used to play the same clubs and were in the same circles in Chicago. Then we finally played a show and hung out and really hit it off. We stayed in touch though both of us moving away, and he’s just the best. He’s my homie.

That’s great. What should audiences expect at your Boulder show?

I like to talk about the song and give people a little bit of insight into my world and how I wrote it. I’m super open about my personal experiences, and the show is going to be heavily revolving around mental health. That’s the theme of the show. I’ve been in recovery for two years and have a lot of experiences, like pretty much everyone else on the planet with the mental health stuff. So I think it’s just gonna be a nice, open atmosphere. It’s going to be really fun.

Get your tickets to Daphne Willis and Dave Tamkin’s e-Town show 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.

Making Movies' Music Powerfully Explores The Modern Day Immigrant Experience

By: Julia Talen

Latin-indie-rock band Making Movies serendipitously forged when singer/guitarist Enrique Chi played music at a “Day of the Dead” street festival in Kansas City. Upon hearing him play, Maria Charaund, the leader of a folkloric Mexican dance group for children, encouraged Chi to play at her restaurant up the street and to meet her sons. Turns out Maria just so happened to be the mother of Juan Carlos and Andres Chaurand (now Making Movies’ percussionists).

Chi connected with Juan Carlos, who’d grown up playing Latin and salsa music and dancing to Mexican folklorico. Chi shared all along that his musical vision was “always to grab those Caribbean rhythms, those Latino rhythms, and re-link them to rock’n’roll. At the time I didn’t know how linked they already were to rock’n’roll. I just had like this gut instinct that they were. And once we started playing with Juan it was just like it instantly it all made sense.”

Making Movies.

Making Movies.

The bilingual band evolved into a group of four; two sets of brothers: Enrique and Diego Chi alongside Juan Carlo and Andres Charand. Their Latin cultural backgrounds pulse through their music, charging their songs with important messages and themes critically relevant to the country’s current political climate. We spoke more with Enrique Chi about the band’s cultural background, ideology, and their upcoming show May 14th at e-Town Hall in Boulder.

You spoke a bit about the band members familial roots in the music. I’m also wondering, were there any sort of influences from Kansas and growing up in the Midwest that have shaped your music?

I have a lot of thoughts on this. I feel lucky as an artist to be so introspective all the time, because I’m always forced to answer those sort of questions you know, ‘How did you get here?’ and it’s good for humans in general. On one hand, you have Juan Carlos and Andres who have Mexican-American roots, and you have the disconnect from Mexico, which inspires you to get more folkloric. It was something that happened with me too. Like their mother started that dance group in order to keep their roots.

One thing about being in the Midwest, when you feel so disconnected from people that are like you, you can find small pockets, but you’re always the small minority. So you cherish the things about your cultural identity at a heightened level. I think a lot of people try to like shed their parents’ culture, like, “Ah my parents, they were like this or that. I’m different.” But when you’re an immigrant from an immigrant family those things about the old versions of your culture, they become super, like you romanticize them. And so everybody in the band loves old, old Latino music. We don’t really listen to contemporary Latino artists very much. We listen to the classic stuff that we remember hearing at our grandparents’ house or grandmother’s house or with our mothers or whatever because of that longing. Because it brings us back home. So that’s one weird influence.

The other thing is that by being in the Midwest, in Kansas City specifically, Kansas City has a vibrant jazz scene. And it has come back up in the last few years. There’s a ton of history there. Like Charlie Parker is from there. And I think the first time I saw Juan Carlos perform I didn’t even know him but he was playing at the jazz museum in a Latin jazz band of sorts. Because the Latino bands, like salsa bands, almost have to play in the jazz environments. Juan Carlos has that… so the improvisational components and those things have kind of stuck with us.

And then Kansas City doesn’t have a really successful music scene. When I was growing up there was like one band that had broken through, that I knew of. It was the Get Up Kids. But outside of that there was hardly anything. And their path was the same path. The scene was all about you rent a van and you play basements or punk-rock venues or you play art spaces. There’s no other tools to a musical career. Which is not totally true, but it is kind of true because in Kansas City, their network runs out pretty quickly if you’re trying to build a real national or international career. So you kind of have to leave one way or another. And if you’re a broke artist you have to buy a crappy van and do whatever you have to do to be playing in New York or Chicago or L.A. and be building connections and experiences. So that thing really stuck with us.

Growing up, I looked up to this band called Shiner. And Shiner’s like this really angular rock’n’roll band. But they became fairly successful through that kind of path. Sometimes the guitarist can be kind of dissonant and angular and that actually comes from the Kansas City indie rock scene or punk rock scene.

Whatever the underground scene may be [that angularity is] almost a necessity. Because you’re playing oftentimes when you’re touring like that with no resources for people that didn’t want to see you. They’re just randomly at the bar, or they’re there because the other band is a local band and they’re not that good but they have friends and the friends came. You’re friends are there because it’s a night out. And you’re the opener and you’ve just drove like seven hours for your one shot in Indianapolis. And you’re gonna make it you know? And you’re opening up to these people and they’re not really there to see you so you almost have to be noisy. You almost have to like yell at them. Like, ‘Hey hey hey! Pay attention over here!’ And it’s almost a gimmick to attract attention and be like, ‘Okay so now that I have your attention, here’s the music we make.’ And so there’s some of that in the Kansas City scene and I think that we have a little bit of that… a little angular.

I’ve seen the photograph of you guys with “DACA” written in permanent marker on your skin, and I’m curious, has the band’s message or political stance shifted since the election?

It’s shifted. It’s kind of both you know. We made the first record about an immigrant neighborhood and the kids who grew up disenfranchised. And even before we made that record we’d put out a video about undocumented kids. ‘Cause I remember, to bring it all full circle, that day I met Juan Carlos and his mother, I also asked this guy who looked like he was in charge, I was like, “Hey this is really cool. A lot of young people they’ve made stuff and they’re selling it. And he was like, “Yeah we have an after-school program for kids in the neighborhood,” and so I was like, “Oh I’d love to volunteer and we can give some guitar lessons.”

And I resonated with, like, I can tell when a kid just moved here from another country. Like I remember that feeling of feeling a little disconnected… And so I’ve been writing about those experiences- about how these kids when they become aware of the fact that they’re not suppose to be here. They’re “illegal” or whatever the words are and how much that shifts their psychology, and so I would write about it because it was on the top of my head. And I remember we used to say, “Oh you know we’re not a political band, we just write about social topics. We write about what we’ve seen and what we’ve lived.”

We already had for four years put up the “We are all immigrants” flag at shows because to me that’s like the story of all music… how do you make any kind of music? It is a mix of all these people’s culture… without human migration nothing is anything. Everything comes from this beautiful mix of what people do. And so you can take pride in your own heritage, but you should do that with this education that human beings have been moving and mixing cultures and language since the dawn of time. We’re just some small part of that huge conversation.

And then we had this opportunity at the Folk Alliance Conference [in February 2017]. We did a musical piece right before the keynote speech by Billy Bragg. A lot of things he said in the speech that day really resonated with me and he told me, ”You know it’s your turn now. Pete Seeger once told me it was my turn now, [that he couldn’t] write songs for your people, your generation… [And] just like that it’s your turn now,” and he looked at me and pointed at me.

After hearing Billy Bragg, I was like, you know, we can be political because the reality is that when you pull out an ideology like that, like a crazy idea like, “All humans should have the same rights as you and I have” and you pull that out of an ideological discussion and you try to implement it into the world in any capacity,  it becomes political. I can’t just say, “Hey these kids who are undocumented, we need to do something” and pretend that that’s not a political decision that needs to be had. For me it’s my life. I know this kid. He is undocumented, and I wish he could go to college and he doesn’t have any other options. He grew up here. But to solve that very human personal problem, it’s a policy, and we don’t claim to know the political answers, you know, but we can raise awareness and ask people to engage. I think if people really look inside themselves they know the answers. Even people who are judgemental, you know, if they meet someone from a different culture and then build a bond that opens their minds, they’re like, “Oh shit maybe I was looking at this all wrong.”

Making Movies at their NPR "tiny desk" performance. photo courtesy npr. 

Making Movies at their NPR "tiny desk" performance. photo courtesy npr. 

And what about the name of the band, Making Movies? How did that come to be?

My dad loved rock’n’roll. He was almost like an outcast in small town Panama, small town Central America, and he would dig for rock’n’roll records. So during my childhood musical experience, I was always going through his vinyls and he really loved Dire Straits. And I loved them as a kid too. I would sing their music. Even before I spoke English, I would sing this song called “The Walk of Life.” And one of their albums is called Making Movies.That’s where I lifted it from. I always thought that’s a cool meaning you know. I loved that music before I knew the language. And so I loved it for the other languages that music carries. And here I’m in a bilingual band. It kind of represents that fearlessness of you know- our music can communicate the story to them through some other mechanism. ‘Cause I still remember the feeling of being elated by that song and I didn’t know words. It just moved me.

Anything our readers should expect at your upcoming e-Town show on Monday, May 14th?

I would just say that the opening act, Alex Cuba, he’s from Canada and he’s like a legend. He has multiple Juno Awards and is really respected, but he hasn’t toured the U.S. very much. So it’ll be a real treat to have him with us, and he’s also won Latin Grammy Awards and stuff like that too, so definitely come out early and don’t miss Alex Cuba.

And be prepared to move a little bit! It’s kind of hard to be at a Making Movies show and not move your hips a little.

Get tickets for Making Movies e-Town show 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.

joemurray. Drops New "Greater Than I Am" Music Video

By: Julia Talen

At the end of April, Denver-based indie musician Joe Murray (stylized as joemurray.) released his latest single, “Greater Than I Am” with a music video composed of visual representations reflective of the song’s intent and lyrics. “Greater Than I Am” speaks to the very human experience of wanting to be something “great than” you are in the current moment while grappling with the long journey it takes to get there.

The video opens with a bird’s eye view of cars moving through a circle drive, as well as opening credits that introduce the strong accompanying font that will run throughout the video with the lyrics. As Murray begins singing the lyrics, “I can’t breathe when I’m underwater/But I can see all the way to Mars,” each syllable of a word pops onto a black background in bold white font. The syllables don’t come on the screen in the same places, or even in left-to-right linear order, and your eyes can’t seem settle on one focal point when you’re watching. This visual element to the video emphasizes the theme of taking a spiralized pathway toward your goals, rather than something straight forward. Additionally, because the words to the song are segmented on the screen, the step-by-step process of building and reaching one’s goal is further showcased.

As the tune moves toward the refrain, the backdrop changes to a tape of fireworks lighting up the night’s sky within a frame of water moving over rocks and swimming fish. Murray’s careful to put the fireworks video inside the frame because the end goal (or to the “moon” as Murray references lyrically) is enveloped in experiences of feeling stuck (“underwater”) and moving through those emotions.

As the track progresses, and our eyes search the screen for the next syllable of a lyric, images- like a pathway up a mountain, a band playing for an audience, the carp swimming, a train passing, a bird- become layers of one another, mixing and meshing, like the instances that bring us to our achievements.

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It’s no doubt that Murray’s music video has been intentionally crafted to accentuate the meaning of his new single. Viewers don’t miss a beat trying to understand where Murray is coming from. If fact they’ll relate to the human experience of moving through life, wanting something more, but having to be patient and work a little bit each day to get to where they want to 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.

 

Review: Nate Barnes Dives Deep On New Solo Project Plutinos

By: Julia Talen

Having toured and played with musicians and bands such as Rose Hill Drive, Ryan Bingham, Pete Townshend, and Matisyahu, Nate Barnes has set out on his own with his musical project Plutinos. Listeners can pick up on subtle influences, from the rock’n’roll of Rose Hill Drive to the mellow, singer/songwriter qualities of music by Ryan Bingham in Barnes’ new record, but Plutinos dives deep, proving Nate Barnes as a musician with his own sound and vision. Barnes has written, performed, and recorded all of the music on the EP, and each track incorporates a plethora of Barnes’ musical skills encompassing a wide variety of rock genres, from psychedelic, to indie, lo-fi, classic, and everything in between. Simultaneously, verse content explores the nuances of breaking the mold and becoming yourself after trying to fit into others’ boxes.

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The first track off the self-titled EP titled, “Out of Touch,” draws listeners into the disorientation of feeling “out of touch” with reality and with yourself. The guitar and bass are strong, and symbols thrash as we drop into the tune. Barnes’ voice is hazy and distant, rounding out the harder rock’n’roll instrumentals while also playing on the theme of feeling mixed-up and frustrated, “floating in the wicked sea” of “false hope, broken dreams” and feeling “out of touch.”

The second track, “Dream is Lost,” juxtaposes the first, with a slower more reflective tone. The tune opens up with language that conjures vague but evocative imagery with phrases like “slowly fades away” and “edges blur” denoting dreams, memories, and lost feelings. The instrumentals in this track mirror the sung lines, and the tune feels abstract and lulling.  Echoing and ethereal “ooo’s,” which we got a taste of in the first track, accompany the repetitive refrain in which Barnes croons, “the dream is lost.” His vocals are so echoey they are almost hollow, hovering over the resounding and meandering guitar that takes us through this misty, introspective track, which mourns the loss of a real, true dream, forgotten from getting caught up in a fantastical illusion.

Nathan Barnes.

Nathan Barnes.

Up next is “Trying To Be,” which traverses the relentless pressures of fitting into conventional molds or boxes you think you should be in. The guitar and drums are heavy, again contrasting Barnes’ hazy vocals, which feel slightly more clear in this song. The lyrics are relatable, talking about social media’s influence on people “trying to be” something they’re not, and the tune, quite catchy, makes this one a stand out.

In “Falling Away,” the track opens with a more rustic guitar before Barnes layers his now signature “ooo’s” that haunt and echo with a bass and drums that reverberate. There is a beautiful bridge in this one, almost as if we come to a reckoning in this EP’s story of self-destruction while trying to fit in, where Barnes’ sublime guitar reminds me of something in a Sigur Ros song. Listeners get lost in this tune as it ebbs out and we wake up to the final track.

“Hand in Hand” is a hopeful send off to forge forward from the messiness of life with support so you don’t fade into illusory societal conventions and pressures. The verses sound like Tame Impala- psychedelic and deliciously dreamlike- yet the refrain, which builds, reminds me of the rawness that the Dum Dum Girls cultivate in a variety of their tunes.  A few bridges bring in that interesting, experimental, and ethereal guitar soloing similar to the previous track, highlighting how this holistic album weaves vocal and instrumental themes throughout, keeping it cohesive.

This record “venture[s] into uncharted wates… to dive deep,” as Barnes’ explains, like the mythological creatures named after the trans-Neptunian plutinos, who are associated with an underworld. Barnes’ self-titled EP feels hypnotic, raw, and contemplative. He has taken his experience playing with other bands, elevated it, and created something that is true, authentic, original, and definitely astronomical.

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

By: Julia Talen

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

Gasoline Lollipops at Red Rocks. Photo:   Hannah Oreskovich

Gasoline Lollipops at Red Rocks. Photo: Hannah Oreskovich

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Julia

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