The Weekend Six: Six Shows to See 09/11 & 09/12

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Another weekend is upon us Boulderites. And there’s a lot of great music happening. Here are our picks:

Today (Friday, 09/11)

arleigh kincheloe, lead singer of sister sparrow and the dirty birds.  

arleigh kincheloe, lead singer of sister sparrow and the dirty birds.
 

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds at The Fox Theatre 830PM-Close

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds are a seven-piece rock outfit from NYC. Though they’ve been making music since 2008, their self-titled debut album wasn’t released until a couple of years later. But from there, the band blewwww up. Since 2011, they’ve been playing 150+ shows a year, and this summer alone they hit 15 festivals, including Loveland’s Arise. They’ll rock your bones and the show is less than $20 so hit the Fox tonight.

jebediah almond of the almond butters. photo credit:   Hannah oreskovich    

jebediah almond of the almond butters. photo credit: Hannah oreskovich
 

The Almond Butters at The No Name Bar 10PM-Close

We have mad love for the Butter boys. After months on hiatus, they played a show back in July that we wrote about here. They have several fall performances on the books and some new material planned for their show tonight. It’s finally your chance to put on your best britches and party down with the Butters. Don’t miss it y’all.

Tomorrow (Saturday, 09/12)

shafer.  

shafer.
 

Danny Shafer CD Release with special guest Paul Kimbiris at eTown Hall 7PM-930PM

Shafer is a Boulder-based musician who plays 200+ shows a year, and as Marquee Magazine said, "Rarely has one singer songwriter caused such a stir.” Not only is he a talented performer, but he books music for a lot of local venues, and he runs Conor O’Neill’s open mic night. He’s an essential part of the Boulder music scene. And tomorrow is Shafer’s CD release show for his latest album, “Weddings, Floods, and Funerals.” Paul Kimbiris, who we wrote about just yesterday, will be opening the show. To see both of these musicians for only $15 is a steal. Get your tickets here. Now.

forrest lotterhos, cody hart, and matty schelling of asalott.  

forrest lotterhos, cody hart, and matty schelling of asalott.
 

Asalott at The No Name Bar 10PM-Close

It’s been a minute since Asalott has had a show and we are thrilled they’re back at it! We first featured Asalott in a July article here. They have a Middle Eastern trance sound with a hip-hop pulse and they’ll be bumping things around behind the big brown door tomorrow night. It’s impossible to sit still during their performances, so go sway to Lotterhos’ sick hammered dulcimer skills.

polaroid of pettine from misfire. photo credit:   becky guidera    

polaroid of pettine from misfire. photo credit: becky guidera
 

Misfire with Realtalk at Owsley’s Gold Road 7PM-Close

Misfire is a supergroup of sorts consisting of Aaron Pettine of Booster (keys), Ara Verbano of Realtalk (bass), Cameron Heitmeier (guitar), and Peter Wills formerly of Shane Tully and the Rain (drums). After watching the Booster/Realtalk show at the Lazy Dog a few weeks ago, we have a feeling the energy at this show will be insane since various members of both groups are involved. Pettine told us Misfire has no set list planned for tomorrow- it’s all improv- so get ready to groove! Anddd we’re planning a Realtalk feature later this month, courtesy of Nikki Steele, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, hit this show and dance all night.

bhat,


bhat,

Valerie Bhat at Johnny’s Cigar Bar 9PM-Close

Bhat is a local singer/songwriter who plays a mixture of folk, rock, and blues covers, along with some original tunes. She’s played a number of venues this summer and hosts the Open Mic Night at the Eclectic Cafe in Louisville. Go check out her rich vocals and skilled guitar playing at good ‘ol Johnny’s.

So many great sounds. See you out there, Boulder!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Album Review: Paul Kimbiris' "The Dark Side of Pearl"

By: Pete Laffin

Paul Kimbiris' newest release is his best work yet. 

Ever wonder what Bob Dylan would sound like if he could sing?

First off, I entirely reject the notion that Bob Dylan actually can sing, or that he is an “interesting” or “unique” singer, as people like to say at parties. The man can’t sing.  What’s more, claiming he can only diminishes his genius. The genre known as “singer/songwriter” seemingly requires the capacity to perform two specific functions. And yet, Bob Dylan became the greatest ever without being able to do one of them. Consider Michael Jordan becoming the greatest basketball player without being able to dribble, or Churchill becoming the greatest orator with a stutter. This is what Bob Dylan somehow pulled off. There’s no need to make excuses for him. His accomplishment is otherworldly, akin to Beethoven composing the Ninth Symphony while deaf.

paul kimbiris.

paul kimbiris.

Another qualification: In no way am I equating Dylan to the subject of this review, Paul Kimbiris. Dylan didn’t just write some of the greatest songs you’ve ever heard, he wrote most of them. When a song plays in a bar or a coffee shop and someone asks “who wrote that?” the answer is usually Dylan. In hundreds of years, skeptics will question whether or not any human could be so prolific in a given craft, the same way they question Shakespeare: Was there an enslaved coterie of writers he stole from? Was Satan in on it?

But back to the initial question: What would Dylan sound like with a decent set of pipes? This writer’s contention is that it might sound a lot like Boulder’s own Paul Kimbiris, especially on his latest album, “The Dark Side of Pearl.” His vocals are rich and deep with a timbre that occasionally rattles the ground. And yet, he retains the frantic dips and leaps that define the Dylan aesthetic. His songwriting is pretty darn good, too.

The title track “The Dark Side of Pearl” is where my Dylan musings find their strongest foothold. On the iconic downtown strip of Boulder known as Pearl, one strata of society buys $900 table napkins from knick-knack shops, while another earns its keep juggling flaming swords, or slinging coffee, or washing dishes, or working retail, as Kimbiris himself did years ago. From behind a counter he watched the crowds march down the red brick walking mall with plump shopping bags and blissful expressions. This track is a whimsical meditation on those days. It’s not the biting social commentary familiar to Dylan fans, but simply one man’s recollection of a less-than-stellar sitch: “All your confidence has left you/And you feel no one respects you/A simple hello would make all the difference in the world,” he wails at the chorus with his Dylan-esque vocal abandon. The perky rhythm and melody stand in contrast to the subject of the piece, which provides a satisfying dissonance. The essence of this track is that of the proverbial madman laughing at the rain, and you’ll find yourself laughing and clapping along too.

“Heavy Things” is another tune colored with the markings of Dylan. “Heavy things always come down/Get used to it/Deal with it,” is the bluntly sung chorus, a modern echo to A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall.” Even more than on “The Dark Side of Pearl,” Kimbiris takes the vocal aesthetic of Dylan and infuses it with his own signature opulence. The instrumentation on this track is simply beautiful: the winding electric guitar notes in the deep background, the skillfully placed keyboard notes, and the resonant cello bows (played powerfully by Philip Parker of Denver’s Glowing House; also the record’s producer). The sound is more early-era alternative rock than it is folk, and the combination is damn cool. And more importantly, when he laments the heavier happenings of life, it rings with authority. The qualitative feel of the song is a great match for the message it hopes to convey. This song sounds like the hard-fought acceptance of life’s tragedies.

When Kimbiris first handed me the disc and I saw a track entitled “Sitting Home Alone with Your Guitar” I recoiled. Listening to artists talk about their art to other artists is something I’m just plain sick of. Having played stages for the past eighteen years, I’ve had my fill of listening to this kind of thing. (I’ve similarly been unable to attend a writer’s “talk” since grad school.) At this point it all just seems so (sorry, Mom, I can’t avoid the word)… masturbatory. And worse, the attempt to do so within a singular piece of art is loaded with landmines. It’s just so easy to come off trite or self-involved, or worse, miles off the mark. But after listening to the track dozens of times, I find myself experiencing two of life’s greatest feelings: being surprised, and being wrong. Kimbiris’ secret for pulling off the dreaded artist-explaining-art-in-a-piece-of-art is remaining a few feet off the ground throughout the piece, never committing to maxims, but sticking to abstractions. In this way, he is able to convey his experience without sounding preachy or clichéd. “When you’re sitting home alone with your guitar/The universe expanding, a union torn apart/Counting constellations from the rooftop of your car,” is the line recurring at the chorus, accented by some of the highest and truest vocal notes on the record. The description rings true: The art we make, we don’t really make, but access, from a place somewhere above our heads, and we pull it down and filter it through our souls. What’s more, the song itself is a clinic on quality songwriting. The airy and wispy vocal harmonies are a modern take on Simon and Garfunkel, but not as sleepy as what you might hear on a Fleet Foxes record. The cascading finger-picking gives a nod to the virtue of minimalism in acoustic music, and the nearly imperceptible shifts in volume dynamics keep it interesting till the end. The successful execution of this track is an accomplishment acoustic players from coast-to-coast would like to have under their belts.  

My highest expectation for the record was a song of Kimbiris’ I’ve been familiar with for some time. “Bring Out Your Dead” is a straight up modern folk classic. If you love soulful acoustic music and are a fan of Monty Python (and man, are there a lot of people who fit this description), this might be your favorite song ever. It’s also another track where my Dylan-on-steroids vocal comparison finds a home. While “Dark Side of Pearl” recalls early Dylan protest songs, “Bring Out Your Dead” is more of the 70s Dylan love jam variety. While Kimbiris dips and climbs the length of his range with startling immediacy, the timbre of his tenor sustains. The elegant melody derived from a chord progression familiar to every guitar novice (you can figure out most of these songs in a single sitting, I even covered one at a show last weekend), the bittersweet beat, the lyrics that raise more questions than they answer: It all adds up to some seriously satisfying song-smithing.

Which is why I have to sadly conclude this track an opportunity missed. The magic is in there somewhere, but you have to strain to hear it due to overproduction. There is simply too much going on in the instrumentation, and the elaborate harmonies seem unnecessary, especially if you’ve seen this video on YouTube. The production is too smart by half, and the vocals are sterile in comparison to what Kimbiris achieves elsewhere on the record. Word is he will be re-recording this track for an upcoming project, and I can’t wait to hear how it turns out anew.

the album art from "The Dark Side of Pearl".

the album art from "The Dark Side of Pearl".

I’ll end with the real gem of the album: “Home Soon.” This track more than any reflects modern rock sensibilities; it could stand out in any of Ryan Adams recent releases. It’s got an infectious hook at the bridge, but it doesn’t rely on endless repetition (think “Let Her Go” by Passenger). The vocals are revelatory in their scruffy authenticity and the instrumentation is pristine, yet soulful, especially at the transitions, which are aided by rich cello bows. Local luminary Gregory Alan Isakov aided Kimbiris in the studio on this one (he also has co-writing credit for the track). Kimbiris was emphatic on the following point in the run-up to this review: If you want to make a great record, find great musicians to help you pull it off. He raved about the contributions of Patrick Meese, Ben Gallagher, Jeb Bows, and Philip Parker, each accomplished music makers from various musical outfits.

Though I can’t go into each track in-depth due to space/time restrictions, that’s not to say they aren’t worth some deep listening. If you want to hear how a single major-to-minor note dip can alter the complexion of an entire composition, take a listen to “Mexico.” If you revel in being stabbed in the heart by a single lyric (“Don’t know what I’m going to do/There’s a light in the tunnel and I hope it’s you”) listen to the “Ballad of Alex and Victoria.” And so on. Just buy the record, if only to give me a good old-fashioned bullshit check. You’ll thank me for it.

And if you see Kimbiris’ name on a local lineup, get your ass to that show. (Hint: There's one this weekend.) It’s rare that any local scene should harbor such a talent. Chances are, he won’t be part of it for long.       

-Pete

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

Emily Shreve: EP Release "Bliss and Gravity"

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Emily Shreve's new EP will haunt you in a good way. 

Denver-based artist Emily Shreve.

Denver-based artist Emily Shreve.

The first time we saw Emily Shreve was at the June Boulder-in-the-Round. Her haunting vocals captivated us during her performance, so when we heard she was releasing her new EP, Bliss and Gravity, we wanted to catch up with this Denver-based singer-songwriter. Recently, we had that chance! We chatted with Shreve about her use of dream-like qualities in her sound, why the best parts of recording always happen after midnight, and about what’s next for this intellipop and avant-garde influenced artist.

Bliss and Gravity feels like a dream sequence painted for your audience in the form of stirring vocals, flowing piano pieces, whispery lyrics, and ambient sounds. Talk to us about what inspires you to inject this dream-like quality into your music.

I’ve always been one to use dreams as my inspiration and I love them because they can be weird and impossible, and they can make no sense while simultaneously making perfect sense. I like music that is transportive and takes you out of your normal mindset. Not that normal life is so bad, but it’s important to take your brain to other places. I think that is what good art does, and what a good musician does. They create a moment in time that everyone is a part of; they captivate you and pull you in and take you somewhere you haven’t been before, or haven’t been in awhile. I want to keep going further into dreaminess and go to some different abstract places.

Shreve in the Studio.

Shreve in the Studio.

Bliss and Gravity definitely accomplishes those affects! Speaking of- your howling vocals on “Falling Down” seem to do just that to this listener- to push us deeper into your story; your sound. What was the process like recording this particular track in the studio?

“Falling Down” and “A Temporary Bliss” were actually intended to be instrumental pieces, but I decided to add vocals the day I recorded the piano for those tracks. The vocals were the only part that weren’t technically recorded in the Differential Productions studio. Michael Zucker and I finished a session late, and I was still in music mode, so I used the studio at my dad’s house just down the street to play around with some layers. I was just experimenting, but I ended up writing and recording the vocal part that night and getting it right the first time. I stayed up until 3 am layering everything, and then I found a wav file of a rainstorm on the computer I was using. It just worked so well sonically when I added it, and it fit poetically with the whole concept of the album. Sometimes the best things happen after midnight when you have a microphone.

It sounds like you really got experimental with it, which is awesome. We read in your Colorado Music Buzz interview that you are looking for venues other than noisy bars to perform in, due to your music’s haunting and intimate aspects. Has finding such venues been a challenge for you in the Denver music scene? Where are some of your favorite spots to perform?

I’m not sure I have a favorite yet. I love places where people go to actually listen to music and you don’t have to compete with normal bar noise. Syntax Physic Opera and Mercury Cafe are great spots. There are also places that normally host heavier bands, but that I really like playing, like Lost Lake Lounge or Seventh Circle. I really enjoy nonconventional, intimate settings like house concerts. I once played a backyard speakeasy too, where I got to perform outside, which doesn’t happen often since I am married to my Kurzweil. Anywhere that already has a piano gets major points from me too.

Album Art for  Bliss and Gravity .

Album Art for Bliss and Gravity.

Tell us about one of your very first intellipop influences.

Ahhhh the genre game. I love it so. I’m not sure that I fit into intellipop as it’s often defined, but I like and use the idea of intellipop because I write pop song structures, I use abstract lyrics, and I’m not afraid to change time signatures or use a polyrhythm every once in a while to make a song really creepy (like “Insanity”). I love music that is simple and well written (Andrew Bird, Tori Amos), and I also really love progressive “out there” avant-garde music (Bjork, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or anything Carla Kihlstedt is on).

Sweet! So beyond your upcoming EP release party for Bliss and Gravity at Mercury Cafe on August 28th, what’s next? Any other big performances on the horizon? A tour? A music video?

I will be doing a music video with the very talented writer/director Olivia Carmel. We actually met where I work and it seemed a little serendipitous that she already had an idea for a video for one of the songs from Bliss and Gravity. We’ll be exploring the visual interpretation of some of the lyrics on one of the tracks. I’ll be booking lots of shows locally for the coming months, and I’m rearranging my life to set myself up to tour by next year. In the meantime, I am really excited to be an introvert this winter and dive into composing another album.

That’s our chat Beat kids! Now go get dreamy with Emily Shreve’s music here, and don’t forget to hit up her EP release party next week. Event details are right here. And you can get info for pre-ordering Bliss and Dreams if you click me.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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