Denver's Underground Music Showcase Proves It's Once Again Unlike Anything Else in Denver

By: Adrienne Thomas 

Denver’s Underground Music Showcase truly is the highlight of the year for many local music lovers, and this year was no exception. As far as multi-venue festivals go, UMS is a well executed one, and was a smooth experience for concertgoers. The “official” UMS venues spanned about 7 blocks down South Broadway, and included 3 separate outdoor stage areas. Most venues had their own vibe, like the punk and modular synth daytime-dark shows at the Hi-Dive, late-night crooner showcases at Skylark Lounge, house and techno dance parties at the 303 Magazine “Green Rom” below 3 Kings Tavern, and the intimate singer/songwriter serenades at South Broadway Christian Church. Simply put, there was always a place to go for everyone, with plenty of food trucks and friends to run into along the way. The heat, once accepted, couldn't hinder the excitement of seeing dozens of local gems and national touring favorites. 

Some of our UMS 2019 local highlights included Anthony Ruptak, Maya Bennett, and Kiltro, who drew devoted fans out in large crowds. Claire Heywood sang to us in church, Pout House jammed out at the Hi-Dive, and Ramakhandra and Emma Mayes & The Hip gave all their energy to a packed 3 Kings Tavern crowd. Favorite touring acts included Earthgang, who included the new J. Cole collab “Dreamville” in their set and even brought crowd members on stage for a very real dance-off. The latin rhythms and energy of Y La Bamba and Chicano Batman also made for a great time, and LA-based soul duo Annabelle Maginnis smiled in a furry two-piece through a killer R&B, upbeat soul set. Still, while the national touring acts may help sell tickets, we all know it’s the local artists who make the UMS something special. There’s no Colorado festival quite like the UMS, so here’s ‘til next year!

See more photos from UMS 2019 here.

-Adrienne

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

Our Top Picks to See at Denver's Underground Music Showcase 2019

By: Adrienne Thomas 

During the last weekend in July, the Underground Music Showcase brings out Denver’s local music scene, along with a handful of national headliners. Affectionately known around town as UMS, the festival came to life in the early 2000s when The Denver Post decided to ask local music experts to name the region’s “Top 10 Underground Bands” in an effort to rouse more interest and support for the local scene, as well as to cultivate a city that successful bands want to stay in. The festival’s evolution continued last year, when Two Parts took ownership of the festival under the direction of Tobias Krause, exciting supporters at the potential for new spins by the local event and marketing agency.

Headlining names this year definitely worth checking out include Chicano Batman, Black Mountain, Still Woozy, Y La Bamba, and Earthgang. Also worth checking out are two hip-hop wild cards from Chicago: Rich Jones and RapperChicks. Let’s dig into these acts, shall we?

Y La Bamba.

Y La Bamba.

Chicano Batman is a Latin psychedelic soul and funk four-piece, so bring dancing shoes to this wildly percussive show. Stoner rockers Black Mountain will show up for the lovers, heady beach followers, and spirited grunge rock fans inside all of us. Still Woozy joins soul/pop melodies and raps together with smooth electronic bounces for a uniquely lovable style. Y La Bamba is an incredibly diverse indie folk/pop outfit from Portland featuring eclectic, female-fronted jams. Earthgang, the fresh and unrivaled hip hop heroes from Atlanta known for collabs with J. Cole, 6LACK and J.I.D., will definitely be a UMS highlight to close out Sunday night.

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The lineup of local bands is beautifully long, and sometimes overwhelming, but mostly a glorious scroll through the talented musicians who walk our Broadways and Colfaxes every day. The heart of UMS is really just a big party where all the best local shows you’re invited to all year happen again- this time all at once- throughout the course of one weekend. Don’t sleep this time. Organize an interactive schedule of your own for the weekend here. But if that’s too much, here’s a list of favorites: 

FRIDAY 07/26

6:00 Corsicana @ Skylark Lounge - Ambient shoegaze that will make for a smooth start to the festival

6:20 Sophie Meiers @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Dreamy electro-pop from Durango

7:00 Extra Gold @Hi-Dive - Kickass country y’all

7:20 Still Woozy @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Playful and melodic chill-hop with a devoted following

7:20 RapperChicks @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Self-described as “3 badass women who rap, sing, play & melt faces all by ourselves” from Chicago

8:00 Claire Heywood @ South Broadway Christian Church - Raspy bird songwriter known for poetic lyrics and soulful vocals and melodies

8:30pm Black Mountain @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Stoner rockers, go for a worthy rock show

9:00 f-ether @ Blue Ice - Electronic compositions, house music, dance party and big mountain energy

10:00 Motion Trap @ Denver Drumz & Music - Dreamy synth dance grooves 

11:00 The Velveteers @ 3 Kings Tavern - Heavy grunge-rock trio, double drummers, powerful female lead

11:00 The Hollow @ The Hornet - Alt rock with horse blinding attitude 

11:00 LITELVL @ Denver Drumz & Music - Triptastic soundscapes 

12:00 Oko Tygra @ The Irish Rover Pub - Dark and dreamy 80’s pop

1:00 @ Skylark Lounge - Shred rock with indie, Latin & ska feels

SATURDAY 07/27

12:40 Kiltro @ The Irish Rover Pub - Experimental folk mixes with Chilean guitar, makes dance party

2:00 Oxeye Daisy @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - A nod to the 90’s, youthful synth/guitar rock band

2:40 Slowcaves @ The Irish Rover Pub - Indie rock with beach vibes 

3:00 Whole Milk @ Skylark Lounge - Surf jazz

4:00 Erin Stereo @ Blue Ice - House/Club DJ extraordinaire

5:00 Chicano Batman @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Latin psychedelic soul/funk 4-piece

6:00 Sur Ellz @ Blue Ice - Future space funk R&B

7:00 OptycNerd @ Blue Ice - Electro indie pop 

7:30 Rich Jones @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Prolific Chicago hip hop artist and evolving pop/soul creator, legendary presence

8:00 Decollage @ Denver Drumz & Music - Kaleidoscope avante-garde pop

9:00 Whiskey Autumn @ The Irish Rover Pub - “Prom jams from the future” meets indie psych synth surf rock

10:00 Anthony Ruptak @ Denver Drumz & Music - One of Denver’s singer/songwriters that we just can’t get enough of

10:00 Definitely, Maybe @ Moe’s Original BBQ - Lush percussive and vocal layering makes this psych rock duo very important to experience live

11:00 Random Temple @ Denver Distilling Co. - Electronic and acoustic instrumentalist known for diverse harmonies and eclectic, high-energy sets

12:00 The Cosmic Ball @ 3 Kings Tavern - A mix of Denver bands partnered with psychedelic production company Synesthesia which is likely to promise awesome visuals and glitter vibes

1:00 Retrofette @ 3 Kings Tavern - Part of the Cosmic Ball lineup, this synth group is not one to miss

SUNDAY 07/28

12:00 Laura Goldhammer @ Ross-Broadway Branch Library - Classic Americana merges with quirky styling to create socially-conscious folk music often accompanied by her stop-motion videos

1:00 Katie of The Spirettes @ Ross-Broadway Branch Library - Ethereal guitar-driven rock

2:20 YaSi @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Much like her Iranian-American upbringing, her music is a melting pot, with a mix of R&B, hip-hop, and pop 

3:20 Kyle Emerson @ Goodwill - Buzzy indie rock

4:00 Bellhoss @ Denver Drumz & Music - Female-led folk meets DIY punk

4:30 Flaural @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Spacey psych-rock band best known for drifting and dancing

5:00 Levi Double U @ The Irish Rover Pub - NuDisco beats 

6:00 Moon Hammer @ 3 King Tavern - A ragtag supergroup of unpredictable and wavy tunes

6:20 Y La Bamba @ Knockout State at Punch Bowl Social - Diverse indie folk/pop outfit from Portland featuring eclectic, female-fronted jams

7:00 Big Dopes @ The Hornet - A modern 90s alt-feel with steady grooves 

7:55 Earthgang @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Hip hop duo from Atlanta known for collabs with J. Cole, 6LACK and J.I.D

8:00 Bun Bun @ Baere Brewing Company - Future Shock Bee Wave G-House

9:00 Cheap Perfume @ Denver Drumz & Music - Long-standing feminist punk-rock band from Colorado Springs

9:00 Emma Mayes & The Hip @ 3 Kings Tavern - “Highly Important People” making highly important music, a soul/funk/jazz band joining complex horn arrangements with lush harmonies

10:00 Los Mocochetes @ 3 Kings Tavern - Latin gypsy-funk band

11:00 Ramakhandra @ 3 Kings Tavern - Hip hop/soul fusion, with a pedal harp!

12:00 The Guestlist @ 3 Kings Tavern - Modern blues & soul

1:00 Ned Garthe Explosion @ Hi-Dive - Kinda bad, kinda rad but definitely a party to end the weekend

Whether you create a guide this year for your own UMS, follow ours, or just wander, discover, and repeat, give my Underground Music Showcase playlist a listen on Spotify. And if you haven’t yet, get your UMS tickets here!

-Adrienne 

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

The River Arkansas Releasing New Record & Embarking on Colorado Tour

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Just when you think there is no room for more blues, folk, country & Americana music in this world, another band pops up and proves its undeniable lure and creative spin on what’s already been done. The River Arkansas is one of those bands that fit that genre, but play with crossing and blurring boundaries as to where they fall exactly. Their sound is just another testament to today’s melting pot of genres that go beyond the box of just blues, just folk, or just country.

The River Arkansas. Photo Credit:   Art Heffron

The River Arkansas. Photo Credit: Art Heffron

The band started in 2014 as a solo project by Mike Clark of The Haunted Windchimes from Pueblo, Colorado. Shortly after laying down some tracks, Clark brought in his friend and bassist Macon Terry. After spending some time playing together, they realized there was something bigger there than just one project. Since then, the band has expanded to include a fiddle player Rachel Sliker, Benjamin Gallagher on the piano, and Robin Chestnut on drums. Each of these musicians is a very talented addition to the band. Together, they give off a heartfelt and wholesome sound which resonates with the Colorado lifestyle of mountain life meets pavement.

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The River Arkansas has played with other Colorado local gems like Grant Farm and the Gasoline Lollipops. The band has released two albums since 2014, and on May 30th they’re releasing their newest album Any Kind of Weather at Syntax Physic Opera in Denver before embarking on tour to several other local mountain venues including the Jamestown Mercantile, Brues Alehouse in Pueblo, Elevation Brewing in Salida, and Deerprint Wine in La Veta.

Any Kind of Weather is a continuation of the band’s effort to blend folk, country, blues and Americana into a smooth concoction. I had the privilege of previewing the album for BolderBeat in lieu of the album release party this week and here are my two cents: The album is certainly country-forward, if not for Clark’s distinct, heartfelt, growling, and raspy country vocals than most certainly for the fiddle, harmonica and banjo sounds that predominate songs on the album, like “Bury Me,” “Big Bald Buddy,” and “Lady Luck.”

Photo Credit:   Art Heffron

Photo Credit: Art Heffron

Many of the songs are easy listening, either moving the listener to a gentle sway, or a light stomp of the feet. Tasteful peppering of the piano throughout the album gives the songs depth that a lot of country music doesn’t experiment with. The drums and guitar of the more upbeat songs like “Balloon Girl,” “Gone in the Morning” and “Mona” add a bit of a rock’n’roll vibe to the mix, allowing some of the songs on the album to break away from a heavy country/folk feel and move into the Americana realm. The slower songs like “Cuernavaca,” “SF Bay” and “Slow Down” take on more of that folky-country-blues tune, giving the album a hardy dose of all the goods. Reminiscent of The Band, Sturgill Simpson, and The Sam Chase, fans of country and Americana are surely going to enjoy The River Arkansas’ junior album Any Kind of Weather.

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist 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.

Dynohunter Ending Their Spring Tour at Cervantes' with New Music

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Live tech-house music is not a frequent occurrence, even if you find yourself attending a lot of music festivals. However, if you are one of the festival goers who really enjoys electronic music, then live tech is what you ought to seek out if you haven’t already! What I’m getting at here festheads is Dynohunter, a live tech-house act you might have seen perform at music festivals across the country including Electric Forest, Summercamp, Joshua Tree, Sonic Bloom, Arise and others. They've opened for some of the biggest names in livetronica including Papadosio, Eoto, Opiuo, Sunsquabi, Ott, and The New Deal, and supported world renowned DJs Shpongle, Bonobo, Infected Mushroom, Klingande, and The M Machine. The trio has been on a six-week nationwide tour as of late, and they’re closing it out on May 22nd by headlining Denver’s homegrown music event Re:Search Wednesdays at Cervantes’ Other Side.To add to the shenanigans, the event will also feature Casual Commander (Sunsquabi), Aaron Bordas (Late Set), Mikey Thunder and Jordan Polovina. Needless to say, if you’re a tech-house fan, this will be one for the books!

Dynohunter.

Dynohunter.

It’s an added bonus if you like to dance fellow festi lover, because a live Dynohunter show is a sure way to be moved. With a sound embraced by fans of house and techno, and a live performance fueled by the organic energy of live instrumentation, their music is undeniable on the dance floor. Trust me, I’ve seen a few myself. The group’s sound is dark and tribal, peppered with worldly rhythms and deep hypnotic grooves tastefully mixed in with hard-hitting dance tracks, uplifting melodies, and soulful improvisations. This trio is truly a breath of fresh air to the world of electronic dance music. The band’s creative ways of blending deep electronic influences with live saxophone (Clark Smith), bass (Fred Reisen), and drums (Nic Thornsberry) forges a new path in the vast expanse of electronic music.

Dynohunter has released 12 EPs and three full-length records in the past four years with no sign of slowing down. Their newest releases “Third Rock from the Sun,” “Lyra” with Eli Spiral, and “Ectoplasm” have been running hot during their current tour. They’re also keeping it fresh with a single, “Night Tripper”, due for release on May 31st which you may just get to hear early if you stop by their Cervantes’ set. Come and get your electro fix on Wednesday, May 22nd and experience Dynohunter for yourself! It’s bound to be a non-stop tech-house dance party. See you on the dance floor!

-Mirna

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

FreeMusicForFreePeople Is Throwing an Immersive Event at Denver's Mercury Cafe This Weekend

This Saturday April 13th at Denver’s Mercury Cafe is the FreeMusicForFreePeople (FM4FP) Showcase “Live from the Multi-Verse,” an interactive multi-art experience to celebrate community. FM4FP is a community and media organization that has been serving the Denver area since 2013 who formerly held a residency at Gypsy House Cafe. This year’s event is thrilled to have a home at Mercury.

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With an emphasis on synesthesia, the FM4FP Showcase will focus on an immersive theatrical storyline to engage and entertain the audience with music, circus art, dance, visual art and poetry.   The event is in partnership with Youth on Record’s FEMpowered program and participants have been offered an event internship opportunity at the showcase so they can develop their performance and event planning skills.

Starting at 7PM, the night will feature performances by Lady Gang, Reed Fox, Definitely Maybe, Twin Flame Medicine, Random Temple, Smiley Gatmouth, Sunflower duBois, Circus Performers (Dani Rose and Katie Nadal), Abby Moon & Crescent Dance Project, Nimbus, Bun Bun and FEMpowered Interns. MO SPKX, “2017 Westword MasterMind” and “2018 Westword Best Solo Rapper” will emcee the evening.

Find more information on FM4FP and their mission click here; learn more about Saturday’s event at this link.  

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

First Listen: Whiskey Autumn's 'Modern Doubt' Is a Synth Pop Hollywood Dream

Today, we’re proud to premiere Whiskey Autumn’s new record ‘Modern Doubt.’ The Denver four-piece are releasing the record this Friday, April 12th at Lost Lake Lounge with fellow Denver bands The Milk Blossoms, OptycNerd, and a DJ set from Motion Trap. Synesthesia, who hosted The Pink Party earlier this year, is presenting the show. Take a listen:

 ‘Modern Doubt’ is the follow-up to Whiskey Autumn’s 2017 EP Ice Cream In The Sun. The first single from the album “Birds That Flew,” premiered with 303 Magazine, followed by the premiere of “Let’s Go Sailing Instead” on CPR’s OpenAir. The studio recording of “Monochrome Actress” premiered with our friends at Ultra5280 recently, and the band’s live music video for that song just debuted with Westword last week. Whiskey Autumn will also be on CPR’s OpenAir this Friday for a live session in support of their release and Lost Lake show. Clearly, this is a Denver band with a trajectory worth watching.

Whiskey Autumn. Photo Credit:   Vossling

Whiskey Autumn. Photo Credit: Vossling

Overall, ‘Modern Doubt’ is a psychedelic pop rock album with an overarching theme rooted in modern anxieties such as technology, political doubts, and navigating an always connected world. The album features dancey synth lines, jangly beach guitars, a Hollywood film noir sample, natural sound interludes, and produced hip-hop drum breaks. The record was written by frontman Greg Laut, produced by band members Laut and Jason Paton, mixed by Chris Scott (OptycNerd, Young The Giant) and mastered by Jim Wilson (David Byrne, Neko Case, The Yawpers). Recently, Laut answered a few questions for us about the band’s new record, Friday’s show, and Whiskey Autumn’s 2019 plans:

Tell us more about ‘Modern Doubt’.

Modern Doubt was written and recorded throughout 2017 and 2018 and reflects my experience of the tumultuous landscape of our current times. My bandmate Jason Paton and I threw out any preconceived notions of what our sound is supposed to be and challenged ourselves to create a record that transports the listener to the world that each song exists in, whether it be a dreamy beach, an old Hollywood film, or a crowded airport. For us, that meant looking at the songs through a cinematic lens and setting the scene with natural sound samples and production choices that catered to the storyline.

That’s really cool. It seems like you’ve already had a lot of attention surrounding this record. What else can you tell us about the release show this Friday?

This will be a Whiskey Autumn show like you've never seen before! We have a new rhythm section and a batch of new songs that will be played live for the first time. Synesthesia is presenting the show and they're bringing along Andy Ai and Kat Phenna who will be providing dystopian, film noir visuals that tie into the themes of Modern Doubt. It's going to be a wild night!

What else can we expect from Whiskey Autumn in 2019?

You can expect a vinyl release of Modern Doubt later this year, summer tour dates to be announced soon, and more surprises coming your way in the next few months!

Catch Whiskey Autumn live this Friday, April 12th at Lost Lake Lounge for the release of ‘Modern Doubt’. Tickets are $10 right now if you Venmo @whiskeyautumn; $15 day of show. Find more information on Friday’s gig at this link and keep up with Whiskey Autumn here.

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

Review: Lief Sjostrom's 'Impossible Parade' Focuses on Post-Rock Vibes in a Neo-Classical Fashion

By: Norman Hittle

The cello-wielding force of reckoning Lief Sjostrom has released a new EP Impossible Parade.

As with the growing body of work that is Lief Sjostrom, this EP sufficiently augments the sonic progress of his career. Almost like the next release of a trilogy or series, it makes you want to go back and hear the last pieces to fulfill the story and relive the experience again. However, Impossible Parade focuses more on the post-rock vibe in Sjostrom’s neo-classical fashion, with tracks that are laced with a bit more momentum and tension.

Impossible Parade is both canon and progressive to the tale Lief is weaving for us. It fits nicely in the sense of feeling like the composition of a somber and grieving movie or game. I have and continue to imagine the darker moments of Lord of the Rings, Vikings, Skyrim, and the Witcher series in comparison. In simpler terms, his songs have a stygian Celtic folk feel that resonates with an almost enchanted medieval era.

Lief Sjostrom.

Lief Sjostrom.

If you haven’t ventured into the ambient, yet visceral soundscapes of Lief’s previous releases, I’d encourage you to take a moment to do so. I’ve detailed his other works for BolderBeat, Counting Breaths and The Longest Night. I promise, if you enjoy Impossible Parade, you’ll enjoy all of Sjostrom’s records.

Lief will be performing Saturday, April 13th at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Make it a point to enjoy this evening by grabbing details at this link!

Keep up with Lief Sjostrom here.

-Norman

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

Boulder-Based Nobide Are Making Waves One Big Stage at a Time

By: Natalie Pulvino

Boulder-based live electronic band Nobide is fresh off a show at the Boulder Theater, soon to headline the Larimer Lounge, and has a lot in store for this summer’s festival season. We sat down with Nick Vann, founder of Nobide, to ask him about the band’s authentic sound, local influences, and upcoming endeavors.   

What differentiates Nobide from other live-electronic acts?

Probably our versatility- we want to make all types of music, not get caught in one sound or genre. We’ve been working on combining the production elements with the live instruments, figuring out how to allow the produced pieces to function like a band member. Our live setup is pretty crazy- I can now manipulate and change the sound of the guys as they’re playing [and] do DJ production effects live which is pretty crazy.

You’ve described Nobide to BolderBeat previously as “organic-electronica,” emphasizing the live aspect to your music. What is your process for infusing the produced pieces with the organic element to create the perfect blend?

Our process is evolving as we figure out our sound. We’re still fresh as a unit, so we’re not sticking to any one process for writing or playing- it’s all very open right now. As far as putting songs together it’s really important to me that the songs don’t come out sounding like just another band. There’s so much possibility with production and sound… I’m always looking to hear something new, both musically and in regards to how a piece actually sounds.

Are there any local live-electronic acts that you draw inspiration from?

Mxxnwatchers is making some really forward thinking stuff, as is Evanoff. Break Science are the OGs. I think we all feed off each other, but we’re all sorta doing our own thing and pushing it as far it can go. To me that’s the ideal- there doesn’t seem to be much of a point in making stuff that sounds too much like someone else.

How do you cultivate that influence while maintaining a strong sense of authenticity in your music?

I think seeing how other people approach their music is the best kind of inspiration. We try not to take what other people are actually doing musically or sonically into account and just focus on doing what sounds best to us. In that sense we have no choice but to be authentic.

Nobide recently opened for The Floozies at the Boulder Theater- what was that like for the band?

It was a huge moment for all of us. I grew up in Boulder, so it was especially exciting for me. It was so killin’ to play for the hometown crew and have them show up like that. Nobide is Boulder-bred, and I think it was cool for the Boulderites to see the evolution of the project. A lot of people got introduced to the music that night too which was exciting. We’ve got mad love for Boulder.

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Are there any shows you guys have played that have been super memorable?

The Boulder Theater show was one for sure, as well as The Fiillmore when we opened for Sunsquabi in January. It’s always exciting to play big rooms with big sound systems. We played with Michal Menert in January and that was a full-circle moment. I’ve been listening to his music for years.

Nobide is on the bill for Summer Camp Music Festival, Sonic Bloom, and a few others that will be announced soon. What is the band looking forward to most about being on the lineup for these festivals?

I think mostly meeting new people- artists and fans alike. It’ll be cool to see how our music stands up and translates in new environments. It’s a big opportunity, but it’s also just gonna be fun as heck.

Do you foresee any challenges that may arise from playing festivals as opposed to singular shows?

It’s definitely going to be a compromise on some fronts [since] we have a pretty complex setup for performing, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. It’ll be a good challenge to be pros, to know it’s not all about us but more about the vibe of the whole event.

There’s been talk that the band may be hitting the road soon. If you guys go on tour, where would you want to play and who would you love to play with?

Eventually all over the world! But for now we’re trying to get down South and out to the West Coast and Midwest, start slowly expanding our radius through the U.S. We’d love to play with all sorts of people that like to get down. Lettuce, Pretty Lights, Zhu, Rufus Du Sol, Bonobo, Odesza… We want to bring this music all over!

Keep up with Nobide here and don’t miss their headlining show at the Larimer Lounge this Saturday, April 6th. Tickets & information here.  

-Natalie

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

Premiere: Denver's Boot Gun Debuts with a Bang with Two Singles & a New Music Video

Denver’s Boot Gun have entered the Colorado music scene with a serious bang. Today, the three-piece are releasing their debut single and video for “Virginia,” a high-energy rock’n’roll track with a Southern twang, and a rebellious video featuring a slew of Denver haunts to match. And folks, one thing’s for sure, the trio comprised of Keith Lawrence (guitar/vocals), Davie Landry (bass/vocals), and Cody Hart (drums), have brought the party.

“Virginia” was recorded and mixed by Todd Divel (The Yawpers, In The Whale, The Velveteers) of Silo Sound and mastered by Hans Liburd of Burdhouse Mastering. The video was directed and filmed by Colin Anders of Slice Cinematics (Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats, A Shadow of a Jaguar, Dragondeer). Boot Gun also featured several friends on the track’s instrumentals including Bullfrog Baugh on harmonica, who makes an appearance in the video about 40 seconds in, Sam Janik on guitar, and Bill McKay on organ and piano.

Says frontman Keith Lawrence about the track, "Virginia came to me in multiple dreams last summer. I showed the boys the main riff and they said ‘Sounds great. Where's the rest of the song?' I told 'em I had to go back to sleep to hear [and] see the rest of it. A few months and a couple of disco naps later, we had us a rock’n’roll ripper."

A ripper it is indeed. “Virginia” is a boot-stompin’ tune rife with slashing rips, harmonica twang, and a jangly toe-tappin’ keys solo that will force you on your feet. Some of that energy didn’t enter the track until the boys rounded things out in the studio though.

Says Keith, “As a band, we all believe that a song isn't finished being written until we record it. Todd at Silo pushed for certain creative ideas that we were able to let shine on these tracks. Having Bill McKay sit in on keys helped round out the sound and bring our musical intention into fruition."

Boot Gun. Photo Credit:  Mountain Trout Photography

Boot Gun. Photo Credit: Mountain Trout Photography

Along with “Virginia” and their debut music video, Boot Gun also released their B side “Feels Like A Storm” today. While “Virginia” takes you on a wild ride, quite literally in the video, “Feels Like A Storm” is the moodier, heavy-hitting track from the trio.

Says Davie, “‘Storm’ is a song that we wrote collectively. It started with Keith singing but never felt completely right. So we argued and laughed, and laughed and argued, and I was forced to sing it… In the end, it became the beast that you're listening to today."

You can listen to “Virginia” and “Feels Like A Storm” on all major streaming platforms and catch Boot Gun live at Cervantes with Dave Watts & Friends on Friday, April 12th.

Says Davie on Boot Gun’s debut, “It’s a young band's take on all the rock’n'roll we love and grew up on. We go from A to Z, then back to A just make sure you're still with us."

Join that trip and keep up with Boot Gun here.

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

Ryan Bingham's 'American Love Song' Is Aptly Inspired by Life on the Road

By: Natalie Pulvino

“I’m just a person like everyone else who’s influenced by the world around him.”

Photo Credit: Donnie Hedden.

Photo Credit: Donnie Hedden.

Ryan Bingham, a renowned singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, got his “big break” by co-writing the theme song “The Weary Kind” for the 2009 acclaimed film ‘Crazy Heart.’ Now, he’s on tour across the U.S. performing his newest work, ‘American Love Song.’ We sat down with him this week to talk about the record, his songwriting process, and what his music means to him.

How does ‘American Love Song’ differ from your previous projects/records?

I’d say it’s a lot more on the blues side than my previous records. I definitely set out to make more of a blues record than anything.

What was your musical process for writing this album? Can you describe your emotional journey with it?

You know, I always tend to need a bit of solitude to write songs. I wrote some at home, some on the road, and some at a friend’s place in New Mexico out in the middle of nowhere. I need to find some place where I can get away from distractions. You know, I definitely draw off of all my experiences, kind of past and present- it’s all a part of it. If the songs aren’t making me feel something while I’m writing... I try to feel those emotions first, I think that’s pretty important.

Do you typically write lyrics first or instrumentals? Was that the case with this particular record?

Usually the music always comes first- yes definitely.

Can you describe your process for choosing lyrics to fit the instrumentals?

The music just really sets the tone for whatever emotion is going to come. There are definitely notes and chords that are lighter and darker than others, so the tempo and then the key of the song sets the tone for what’s to follow.

This album has a lot of political references and even touches on border politics. What, in your words, is this album truly about?

Well there’s a lot of layers to it, a lot of stuff that I’ve experienced growing up as a kid, moving around the country. A lot of it ties into social issues and what not. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a political album, but it’s consciously aware, which I try to do when I write. I’m just a person like everyone else who’s influenced by the world around him.

A lot of your music touches on your childhood and life experiences. What role would you say music has played in helping you get through hard times?

Writing songs has always been a kind of therapy for me. Sometimes things are difficult to express or talk about. Writing music and playing guitar has always been an outlet. Now, you find folks that you have common experiences with, and it’s gratifying to share that stuff with people and hear stories about how maybe a song helped someone get through something similar.

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Tying your new album ‘American Love Story’ in here, what did you portray through this album?

You know I think at the end of the day, the album is pretty layered, it’s very autobiographical, very personal, but it’s kind of my take on the world around me and how I’ve been influenced by current events. I’m not necessarily sure if that was the goal. I’m always going to write songs about things that I’ve experienced, and the past few years I’ve traveled around the country and met people, and now I’m telling stories about that and sharing experiences with people.

Do you have a song, written or not written by yourself, that you’d say you identify with the most?

I do, there’s a Bob Dylan song called a “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” that I heard when I was very young that I very much identified with. You don’t hear that kind of song on the radio.

What, in your mind, makes an album cohesive? How do you know when it’s complete?

I don’t know, sometimes it never does feel complete. I guess the narrative of the album, you kind of revolve around the center of that. You know the album is complete when you have 12-13 songs and you don’t want to take them off the record.

Who are you speaking to in ‘American Love Song’?

It’s really just anybody who wants to listen and enjoys the music. I try to take everybody into consideration when writing these songs, and everybody’s feelings and emotions are reflections of my own. If there’s some young kid in a small town looking for music that has a different message than they’re portraying in the pop commercial world, then maybe that’s a good thing.

You’ve won a number of awards, including a Grammy. After such an accomplishment, where do you hope to see your music career take you in the next few years?

Oh, you know, I just feel very lucky to have the opportunity to get out on the road and play for people. It’s never really been about winning awards or accomplishing a sense of, I don’t know…  my interpretation of success is being out here and being able to do it and people want to hear the songs. I feel like I’ve already ‘made it’ in so many ways, [that] I don’t know if it could get any better.

Catch Ryan Bingham at Denver’s Ogden Theatre this Tuesday, April 2nd. Grab tickets at this link.

Keep up with Ryan here.

-Natalie

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

Premiere: Elektric Animals' "Vulnerable Thing" Digs Deep

By: Sam Piscitelli

There’s always been some sort of heaviness that accompanies the Rock genre; a pressure to make as much noise as possible. The tricky part is keeping the music grounded in the roots of its composition and lyrics. A lot of the time, the story of the song can become muddled in the making of it and what the band itself is trying to convey. Luckily, for Elektric Animals their song “Vulnerable Thing” not only deserves recognition, but shines a light on the future of what alternative rock can be, if only fought for with a little persistence and love for the craft. The Denver trio, comprised of Nick Sanders (vocals), Oscar Jara (guitar), and Jerrid Van Scoy (bass) recently formed and today, we’re proud to premiere their newest single:

“Vulnerable Thing” digs deep into the message that in life, you have a tendency to carry the past into the present. It can be both a force of positivity, or of negativity. Whether it’s the scars you’ve endured or the happiness you wish to see fulfilled, life can either make you or break the person you are destined to become. Elektric Animals decided to pour their souls about this aspect of life into this track. This band is fearless, yet honest, which reminds us that music is a treasure, not just a glimmer you can shove on a shelf somewhere.

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The music industry at times seems to settle for uninspired music; music that only garners in split seconds of attention. Elektric Animals seem to be the opposite, creating music that involves fleeting moments and engraving them more permanently inside our heads. Not many bands or artists can take fleeting moments and engrave them like this, but this is a band who does so knowing that the only attention they crave is from the real stories they lead.

Keep up with Elektric Animals here.

-Sam

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

Jr. Rabbit Talks Band Dynamics, Influences, & What Music Means to Them

By: Natalie Pulvino

Amidst some of the most notable jam bands and the thriving live-electronic scene, Denver is exploding with a number of up-and coming indie-rock bands. This week, we sat down with Jr. Rabbit, a four-piece project with a laid-back attitude but a serious vision. Singer-songwriter and guitarist Ryan Howell talked to us about the band’s formation, their new singles, and what rehearsals can look like. Read on:

Tell us a bit about Jr. Rabbit. How many people are in the band and who plays what?

I’m [Ryan] on guitar, and I lyrically write most of the music. Shayne MacLaughlin plays lead guitar and drums, Stephen (Eski) Edwards plays bass guitar, and Tyler Moyer plays the drums.

How did you all meet and form Jr. Rabbit?

It mainly started with Tyler and I last year jamming and writing originals, and [we] took it from there. It’s sort of an open project- we let a lot of people in on the recording process. Another cool fact is that me, Tyler, and Shayne are all from the East Coast and all met up around 2012 when I was in Colorado on tour with a different band. Three years later, I moved out here to start my own thing and it sort of went from there.

How would you describe your music?

Musically we try to work on dynamics- most of our songs are three to four chords. Personally, I try to just write things that are relatable. I try to relate to the inner-emotion of the person in our songs.

What inspired the name Jr. Rabbit?

Honestly, there’s not a cool story, I wish there was. I was driving one day and that phrase just popped up in my brain and I thought it flowed nicely, and it was just something that stuck in my head.

Who are your main influencers?

I vocally reflect off Deer Tick and definitely Modest Mouse. We also gain a lot of influence from Classic Rock, which is instilled into all of us… that’s what we grew up listening to with our folks. But we all have different backgrounds. Eski grew up on AC/DC and Tyler and I grew up on Funk.

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What excites you guys about the two singles you’ve released, “Situation” and “Rain to Wine?”

We’re getting good overall- we’re not just trying to make it a catchy song lyrically, we’re trying to make it something that other people can relate to but maybe are afraid to express. “Rain to Wine” is about addiction, and I’ve struggled, and I know friends who have struggled. Songs like that make it okay for other people to talk about that problem, and if not at least it’s a sigh of release for someone who’s going through the same thing. That’s sort of why I got into music- I felt like someone else was writing what I was feeling and it made me feel less alone.

What has been your biggest challenge since working together as a band and how did you overcome it?

Showing up on time. Shayne is always on “Shayne Time,” as we call it. But other than that the challenge is trying to believe in what we’re trying to do and hoping to see that catch on. We’re not doing covers; we’re mainly originals, so the biggest frustration is for people to get on board with our originals.

What are your band rehearsals typically like?

It’s mainly a little bit of everything. At first we usually just start jamming, whether it be a cover song or just improv. We do at least one improv jam per show to just create something in that moment. Then we’ll typically go through our new stuff and end off on the stuff we all know to make sure it’s polished and sharp.

Where has Jr. Rabbit played recently, and which venues are in the books?

We’ve been playing at this place called Maddie's Biergarten in Castle Rock. They’ve got the full setup with a stage and soundboard, and they gave us residency there for all of March. We’ll be in Denver and Fort Collins in June.

Where would you guys like to be with your music career in 2020?

Hopefully in a place where we’re making a living off of it, wherever that may be. I want to be playing for anyone who wants to listen to real, genuine, authentic music. But we’ll see, everything takes time.

Keep up with Jr. Rabbit here.

-Natalie

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

Spectra Art Space Is Our Favorite Thing Happening in Denver Art Right Now

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Last Saturday, BolderBeat entered the neon-lit doors of Denver’s Spectra Art Space to an at-capacity crowd. The gallery and event space’s latest art opening party “Colorado Vibes 3” was in full swing with walls dripping in local photography and paint work, fashion models strutting down a catwalk outfitted with black-lights, and musicians playing in the venue’s outdoor patio space. The exhibit, which is available to view over the next month, features all-local artists and a slew of mediums: pencil work, hand-drawn illustrations, mixed media, sculpture work, clothing, fashionable eyewear, photography, jewelry, and more. Whether your eye is drawn to Lexie Lund’s girl-power glitter guns and metallic tampon display, the psychedelic colored pencil work of Nick Fast, Nova Lee’s ominously friendly “ET Phone Ohm”, C.o.l.t.A.l.i.t.Y’s polaroid posters, glitchybb’s kitties, or iamnotunique’s illustrated boxy creature collection, there’s something for every art fiend at Spectra. To check out all of the artists in the “Colorado Vibes 3” showcase click here.


All photos in this feature by Ana White Photography.


Owned and operated by Sadie Young and Kayla Smith, together this lady duo have transformed their storefront on Denver’s South Broadway into a full-on art escape. Young has been hosting music and art events in Denver for nearly 10 years, and has a BFA from MSU Denver with a focus in painting. Smith is an actress and theater aficionado when she is not working at Spectra.

Says Young, “It's important for us to showcase local art because every single artist/musician/actor etcetera is a small business and small businesses are what hold communities together.”

Most everything in Spectra is for sale, with proceeds from sales and events benefiting both the space and the artist. The one-room gallery features a ton of winding niches to explore; behind it there is a covered patio and a retro CD-decorated gazebo equipped with heaters perfect for early spring nights. For “Colorado Vibes 3”, the outdoor area had bite-sized food and drink options with various singer/songwriters playing to the socializing crowd. Indoors, a DJ booth which looks as though it were blasted onto Broadway straight out of a spaceship, had artists spinning tunes while attendees gallery-perused until the synthy percussiveness of DR3AM CA$T took the stage and started a dance party.

The evening’s fashion show was a definite highlight and featured Denver designers including Ellen Bronson, Smasher Robot, KatDog Couture, iLit Designs, and Impek Apparel. From Bronson’s flashy fabrics with a rock’n’roll feel, to the black-light button-ups and bow ties from Smasher Robot, there was enough stylish garb for any Denver fashionista to drool over. Hair & makeup for the show took six hours to complete and was fabulously done by Amanda Brooke of Wonderland Hair Parlor.

Says Young, “My favorite part of the ‘Colorado Vibes’ showcase is how many new artists it adds to our growing family of makers. One of the things I am most proud of Spectra for is being a lot of artists’, musicians’, and designers’ very first taste of being a professional creative. We have been several artist’s first show and first sale, we have been musician’s first show, and designer’s first fashion show. I think we are especially unique because we actually believe in our artists and our creative community, and we would do just about anything to support them and encourage them to pursue their passions. The ‘Colorado Vibes’ format we created is a way for us to highlight the amazing underrepresented talent in Denver and present art and the creative scene in a way that's accessible to everyone, patrons and artists included. I started Spectra because I love being a resource for artists and I wanted to present the art world in a unique way including fashion, fine art, lowbrow art, music, comedy, installation, and performance in one space.”

Spectra’s mission is to “support artists and provide a space that cultivates creativity through highly curated contemporary art exhibitions, events, and detailed immersive experiences” and the opening party for “Colorado Vibes 3” was all of these things wrapped into one glittery, psychedelic ball of smiles and awesome dance moves.

Needless to say, if you haven’t yet explored Spectra Art Space in Denver, it’s time you made the trip. Not only will they send you down a rabbit hole of haute creativity; every time you go, you benefit the local Denver arts scene in more ways than one.

Says Young, “I would like for people to know that we offer several creative classes each month, as well as a plethora of fun events. We are also looking to raise money so that we can renew our lease and hire an additional employee so we can grow and continue to support the hundreds of artists in our family. We have just started a Patreon with a ton of amazing reward options [too]!”

An   iLit Designs    eyewear look by    Ana White Photography  .

Spectra has two upcoming events on their calendar: a performance night by Ahee with • AVRY • on April 25th and their “Bombastic Plastic Toy Show” on May 4th with Meow Wolf, Ratio Beerworks, and others.

Turn up your imagination today and visit Spectra! Learn more about this amazing art space here.

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

Attila & All That Remains Brought Heavy Hits & a Wall of Death to Recent Denver Show

By: Nathan Sheppard

All That Remains and Attila hit the stage at the Oriental Theatre this past week for a night that every metalhead could appreciate. Sleep Signals and Escape the Fate opened things up for the co-headliners.

Attila, who released their newest album Villian in February, took the show to the next level with their party animal antics. Those antics led to a love-hate relationship with most people, but for those who love them, Attila puts on one of the best live performances of any band in their sphere. From start to finish, frontman Chris Fronzak had the crowd moshing and and even threw in a “wall of death” just for kicks. The set was filled with mostly favorites like “Moshpit” and “Pizza” with some new songs from their latest album as well.

All That Remains was the second headliner of the night and continued the mosh party right where it left off. ATR released their ninth studio album Victim of the New Disease this past November which has been a welcome return to their roots as a heavy metalcore band. The first quarter of their set was heavy, with newer songs from New Disease, followed with a medley of older hits. Vocalist Phil Labonte was able to show off a wide vocal range from high screams to low growls, and even showcased his clean vocals in “What if I Was Nothing?”. They topped off the night with their smash hit single “Two Weeks”, leaving everyone exhausted from moshing and jumping throughout the set.

Attila and All That Remains are about halfway through their American co-headlining tour, so make sure you make it out to one of these insane shows! Remaining dates can be found here.

-Nathan

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.

Synesthesia Is Throwing a Fiercely Feline Inspired Art Party at Spectra Art Space This Saturday

This Saturday, March 16th is Spectra Art Space's closing party for their cat-themed show called "And Meow This: The Tail End.” Synesthesia, the team behind our favorite Pink Party, is curating the evening. The night will feature work from a multitude of mediums by 30+ artists and musical appearances by Funk Hunk, Retrofette (DJ Set), and DLZMKSBTS.

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The Simple Parade's "Broken Beauties" Music Video Is Elegant In Its Simplicity

By: Sam Piscitelli

Since their birth, music videos have primarily been used as visual tools to either tell a story or to garner some sort of response, whether it be for views or for artistic consumption. It’s a way to let the artist’s fans get a glimpse into their head and see a particular song from the perspective they drew their creativity from. Most importantly, a music video can either make or break the song you want it to represent. In their recent video release, Denver’s The Simple Parade don’t allow the nonsense of pressure to dictate their art; rather they let their art dictate the video.

The Simple Parade’s “Broken Beauties” music video aims for potent storytelling rather than reliance on visual escapades. The acoustic approach to the song met with the winding-down city as the day seeps into the night really gives the listener a chance to embrace the ambiance of it all. It makes “Broken Beauties” flourish actually. In the kind of atmosphere that is being portrayed, the lyrics are more accessible and seemingly slip easier into the ear of whoever is listening. This gives the songwriting a front and center spotlight usually unheard of in music videos, which is brilliant when you think about it.

The “Broken Beauties” video depicts frontman Justin Hooper with just a guitar in hand singing while walking through downtown Denver. While it’s not a high-budget video nor one that tries to be, it’s definitely charming in its simplicity, much like the track. Some say elegance can be born from simplicity, and simplicity can lead to excellence. In this case, that’s exactly what is seen (and heard) with The Simple Parade.

Keep up with The Simple Parade here.

-Sam

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


The Strange American's "Till You're Told" Music Video Is Symbolic Of The Musician's Journey

By: Sam Piscitelli

As a musician, whether you’re a solo artist or in a band, there is this acknowledgement that comes with garnering a certain amount of fans or receiving positive praise. It’s as though you are no longer a lone act playing your songs in your bedroom; instead you seem to be a well-known somebody. From there, all seems like it will move upwards rather than careening into a haze of obscurity. But, what people don’t know is the long-haul you’ve placed yourself in; the countless times you  practice your craft, the stomach-turning preparation of every interview or review of you and your art, and the unnerving fear that as quickly as your dreams were made, they can just as easily disappear. In their music video for “Till You’re Told” the Strange Americans symbolically covers the landscape of the music business while also relying on the talent that brought them their success.

The video begins with each band member on their own, forging their individual paths. They all carry one item with them, the items being symbolic of who the band is when they come together. The symbolism in the music video is very subjective, but to me each item plays off one another. For example; the lantern is for the fire the band has inside of themselves, the sticks are the framework of the band, the amp is the way in which they express themselves through music, the shovel is about burying the past, and the suitcase is for the accomplished dreams they wish to carry with them one day. With their now unified front, the Strange Americans then begin to traverse the land together. To me, this shows that while they are further than they’ve ever been before, they’re still on the journey. It’s a music video that reflects upon anyone’s time in the music industry. You can walk for miles with the passions you have, the items you bring along for the ride and create as much as you want, but nothing is certain.

While the symbolism can- and mostly likely will be debated- we can’t ignore how this video catches the heart of the struggling musician. It’s a message that no matter how much you go through from the very beginning till the end of your make or break career, that nothing will be set in stone, especially your reputation “Till You’re Told” otherwise. In a business that is continuously changing, the only thing you can be sure of is the work you put out into the world. Once it’s out there, it represents you and that’s what matters. For a video that has a lot of hidden meanings, it’s untold truth is undeniable.

Keep up with the Strange Americans here.

-Sam

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

I Hate It Here Tell Us About Their Unconventional Sound

By: Adam Cabrera

Exceptionally loud, passionate, and in-your-face, I Hate It Here is a Denver based synthpunk two-piece whose unapologetic, experimental sound pushes the boundaries of contemporary electronic music. The group is comprised of frontwomen Cooper Carrington who acts as the sole producer, lyricist, and vocalist, while Alec Doniger provides accompaniment on drums.

Though Cooper has been releasing music for I Hate It Here over the past three years, Alec was added to the project in the fall of 2018 giving a unique electro-acoustic sound to their live performance. Alec is not featured on their most recent release, Songs for Pouring Bloody Glories: Why There Is None (Amongst Other Things). In spite of that, the album is perhaps the best in I Hate It Here’s catalog and is only improved upon with the addition of Alec’s drumming when performed live.

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For the moment the band will be on hiatus until Cooper returns from attending school in New York City. In the meantime, she will continue to make music under a new project named None Known with plans for an album release sometime this year.

After hearing this news, I decided to attend their final farewell show where I sat down with the duo to ask a few questions.

How did this project come together? Where did it start?

CC: I guess I started recording and writing stuff in 2012 and then I made a lot of bad experimental music under the name Toast Confessions. And then, in 2015 I released I Hate It Here’s first EP.

What was the process of creating that EP and putting that whole thing together?

CC: Yeah um… I guess that was when [writing music] started a continuing trend for I Hate It Here which was really writing about some of my worst emotions and some parts of society that I think are grotesque. So, in a way it’s therapeutic I suppose it’s like a diary almost, but it’s weird because I show everyone in.

What does this project mean to you? Why do you do it?

CC: The “why” is you know just something within me that I guess just commands me to make music and make that a part of my life. For I Hate It Hear though, the “why” was in a lot of ways it was for myself and like I said earlier it's therapeutic and it helps me express things that I am dealing with and articulate them. And, you know, feelings aren’t so easy to describe through words, so I think the sounds that I make help articulate the intensity of them.

What sonically about your music correlates with those emotions?

CC: You know, In a lot of ways they are emotions that are really hard to tell people about in general, it’s not easy just saying them. The sounds are a good way to convey the intensity of these emotions that are often quite negative. So the screaming and the noise I guess it just represents a lot of chaos that is going through my head. I mean there’s also a political element to it a lot of the time. Once again I feel like the political things that I like to talk about are political topics that are not touched often.

What are those topics?

CC: So, for example, Rage Crown’ is a song about street battles between far right and anti-fascist groups. And, you know I’ve attended some of those before. And I guess kind of my emotions around this. What is the effectiveness of this? Does it seem feudal? Does it seem… uh… Why is it that I think it’s so important? What drives me to do that? Or, drug addiction and the whole world around the politics of drugs. Whether there be like legal aspects of it, like the criminalization of substances, or the social elements of it. How when one recognizes one who does a lot of drugs that’s probably a time when they need people to talk to the most and yet that's when people distance themselves from you.

In some of my future releases, I talk more about being trans and just emotions about that. Dealing with transphobia and general discomfort about the subject. And I think it’s also important to talk about whiteness and class. Because I feel like America really just doesn't want you to talk about those things. And, like I said I feel like it's important to talk about these taboo issues.

Do you think your music serves as a medium for those things to be talked about?

CC: I do. I do. Um… I actually think about this a fair amount… You know, I don’t see… Um...

Is that something that motivates you’re writing: opening up the conversation?

CC: I hope! I hope it does. It’s also something I get kind of self-conscious about though.

Why is that?

CC: Well, for one thing you know I talk about things that from a liberal standpoint might be very controversial. And, sometimes I think I may be spitting out perspectives that might actually be nasty that I’m not even trying to convey. So, you know, I’m worried I would never want to make someone so uncomfortable with my music that they would want to turn it off. But, there is a certain level of discomfort that I do want to make people feel. Alec actually once talked to me about how sounds in themselves and music without lyrics can convey some sort of politics in a way, and I thought that was very interesting.

AD: I think that maybe the only reason I say that is because I think it’s almost by escaping, not escaping politics I mean it’s definitely a very central thing, but at least having these spaces to do this, express your political views, you know, I think that is what’s political about it. The fact that we get a chanced to play at DIY spaces like Thought Forums where they open it up for like you know, even if it’s a math rock band that doesn’t have lyrics like Cat Bamboo that last time, I think what makes that political is the fact that it's even able to happen, you know what I mean. Yeah, it’s an expression that isn’t being suppressed and often times that is what politics does in this country. It suppresses people.

CC: Yeah I think you’re really right about just having them perform in these spaces is a political act. Cause in a lot of places all these bands which are often young kids and people in their early twenties and teenagers, you know they can’t always afford to buy out a venue for the night to perform. And that's what's great about DIY spaces is that the whole attitude is that it’s accessible.

What inspires your music making?

CC: Yeah, I find that a lot of people just in general find it hard to talk about very intense emotions that have happened to them even privately with a single person. And I think that creates something kind of toxic in our society, just like a certain emotional closed offness. So I feel like I channel a lot of painful experiences that I’ve had into my music because I think it's important that people be able to be open about those kinds of things.

How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it before?

CC: You know most of the time when someone asks me when I’m like, ‘Oh I make music,’ and someone's just like, ‘Oh what kind of music do you make? I’m just like, ‘Uuh it’s pretty weird,’ and then I don’t know exactly where to go from there. I guess I would say its menacing, I would say its discomforting, but in challenging and important ways. I like to think so at least.

AD: I also find it, I mean I’m not the creator of it, but I also find it really pretty. Not in a sense that is sounds beautiful or conventionally beautiful but in the sense that, like we were talking about earlier, that you’ve created a very very effective outlet. I mean I think what’s beautiful about it for me is specifically watching you perform. Yeah, there’s never a moment in my mind where I’m doubting that you aren’t pouring your soul into this, which is beautiful.

CC: Thank you, I appreciate that. Yeah, even though it is experimental music with lots of elements of noise and avant-garde stuff, it can often be pretty melodic in a lot of ways.

Could you talk about the performance of it a little bit more?

CC: I’ve had someone come up to me and say that they wonder if I did theater in high school and if I acted, and I did, and it was nothing like… Oh my goodness I was um… You know… I’m not playing Huckleberry Finn. I guess I’m kind of the antithesis of that. But yeah, you know, when I go up I feel like it's not acting as so much as is being able to express these… if I expressed these songs in any other way than what I do, which is often pouring a lot of soul into it, pouring a lot of emotions into it, interacting with the audience a little bit during the songs and doing weird stage antics, I don’t see how it could be performed any other way. Like, I don’t see myself standing perfectly still and singing it unless I wanted that effect because that would be weird.

Are you musically trained? Do you have a musical background?

CC: Yeah um, I’m a classically trained vocalist, and I did choir all through high school. And uh, I’ve done voice lessons and guitar and mixing and mastering classes.

Does that background influence your music?

CC: Yeah definitely I think folk, like classical folk, has had a big influence on me and Italian standards and choral music I think have quite a bit of influence on me. And you know I only knew about these things through choir and my voice lessons.

What drew you to music to express your art?

CC: Well I’ve had a drive to sing and to express myself with music since I was young. My mom tells me this story how about how in kindergarten we had our classroom, and there was a bathroom for the kindergarten kids in the class. And, at the same time every day I would go into that bathroom and take a shit and sing my fucking heart out, and the whole class could hear, and I was just clueless. But looking back at that I guess that's the beginning of me not giving a shit about what...

AD: You did give one shit!

CC: I did give one shit, oh my God!

AD: Just putting that out there.

CC: Um… yeah, and I just feel like sounds can carry a lot of emotion. I think singing a poem can take that poem a lot further than maybe just reciting it or reading it?

What are your more modern musical influences?

CC: Uh more modern stuff… I guess I really get inspired by a number of things like I listen to a lot of different music from around the world, so I guess lately I’ve been listening to a lot of like Ghanaian music and also kind of standards and experimental rock, and art rock, and whatnot. But I also listen to a lot of hip hop, and I listen to a lot of electronic music like minimal electronic music like techno and house. And then yeah I guess I listen to a fair amount of noise music and experimental stuff.

Is there anything new coming up in the future for I Hate It Here?

CC: Yeah pretty much what we are performing tonight is almost all new material which has not been released yet so yeah there’s an EP that's gonna be coming out this year, a single that's gonna be coming out this year, and an album under a different project name called None Known. And that is more experimental, and its structure has a bigger element on noise and ambiance. So that whole album is about exploring themes of sexual trauma and transphobia, and kind of the failures of queer theory and domestic violence and stuff. So, it's some really f*cked up stuff, so I’m excited about that.

Keep up with I Hate It Here here.

-Adam

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