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.

Color Red Studios Releases Dragondeer's Latest Digital 45 Record

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Denver’s own Southern-funk disco-blues band Dragondeer dropped a digital 45 earlier this month with two tracks featuring bassist Jeff Franca from Thievery Corporation and guitarist Jordan Lint from Analog Son. The band dove into deep sonic territories during their Color Red Studios session. Color Red is a Denver-based record label and music hub for local and visiting artists to collaborate and create music together. Self-proclaimed to be “more than just a record label, Color Red is; a music scene, a curated artist group, a media outlet, a studio, a genre-fluid music platform, a global launch pad of ideas.”

From the Color Red sessions, Dragondeer’s two new tracks are a true testament to the above statement. “Mirage Á Trois” has a cool-cat sexy vibe that grooves, but listen closer and you’ll hear it’s really talking about the delusional traps one’s own mind can create, you know, the me, myself, and I kind of mind tricks that suck you in and leave you wandering in an illusion. “Max Patch,” a more upbeat, carefree funk groove, is a jam session among the bandmates during their stay at a mountain cabin on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Equal parts soul and rock’n’roll, the lyrics speak to the easy vibes of sipping on moonshine and jamming with family and friends while fluffy white clouds pass above a Smoky Mountains cabin. The boys sure did paint quite the scene and ambiance with these two tracks.

Dragondeer has played with the likes of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Shakey Graves, and Drive By Truckers; they’ve been at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival; and now the band is hitting the road for a summer tour. They will be making appearances at the Firefly Music Festival and Electric Forest (with The String Cheese Incident). Click here for Dragondeer’s full tour dates.

-Mirna

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

Professor Plumb’s "Pleiades" Is Brought to Life in an Epic, Animated Space Odyssey

By: Adam Cabrera

In Professor Plumb’s new music video, their psych-rock song “Pleiades” is brought to life in an epic, animated space odyssey. 

Composed by bandleader Benom Plumb and animated by Jeremy Brown, the blazing rock’n’roll instrumental is illustrated into an adventure out of the solar system and across the galaxy to the distant star cluster known as the Pleiades. 

The track, which was first released in 2018 on their Majic 12 EP, is an example of the band’s compositional side. Plumb argues, “I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style.” 

As for the video itself, Plumb was inspired by an old astrological myth while stargazing one night at his home. “My backyard faces south,” Plumb explains, “and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades… that's when I came up with the idea for the video.” Planetary alignment, end-of-the-world prophecies, and other science fiction can be found all over Professor Plumb’s other work in songs like “Red Sky” or “Dark Star,” and this new music video is no exception. 

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Plumb took his ideas to Brown, initially picturing a fleet of alien spaceships headed home to their star in the Pleiades. However, according to Plumb, they decided to remove the ships in favor of something more visually abstract while still trying to allude to the idea of an advanced alien civilization. In place of spaceships, Brown came up with the concept of an outer space “megastructure.”

“Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games,” Brown says about the music video’s final image of a Dyson sphere (a colossal space structure built to harness the energy of a star). 

Fueled by Professor Plumb’s high-energy space-rock performance, Brown describes the final cut as “a hyper-real, first-person journey to a distant part of the galaxy” and a “mysterious galactic tour guide.” 

Check out the full interview below if you’re interested in learning more about Professor Plumb, Pleiades, and the creative production behind the video. You can also check out the new video on Professor Plumb's website where you can find more of their music along with more information about the band. They’ll be performing live at Denver’s Underground Music Showcase happening July 26th to July 28th and are also planning to release a lyric video for their new song “Take That!” sometime soon.

Professor Plumb.

Professor Plumb.

In your previous work there is a big emphasis on political or societal themes like in last years Midnight Creep lyric video or this years single Red Sky. But, with Pleiades being an instrumental it seems that you’ve decided to put an emphasis on more of the space rock / psychedelic side of the band. Is this the case or does the song represent more to you as the writer? 

BP: Yes, that's definitely the case with “Pleiades.” I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. Pleiades was an opportunity for me to display my compositional side and cosmic wonder. 

What was the reason behind naming the song “Pleiades?” And, What made you decide to produce a music video for this song in particular?

BP: Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to travel to a constellation that can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. My backyard faces south and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades, so that sounded like a good one to visit to me. That's when I came up with the idea for the video. I listened to the song over and over with my eyes closed to try and visualize what an epic space travel video would look like. I relayed these ideas to Jeremy and he made it look even better than I imagined in my head. 

How does Pleiades compare to the rest of your catalog in terms of overall sound and style?

BP: Out of all the songs I've written, I think “Pleiades” is one of my favorites. I was always a fan of rock bands doing cool instrumentals and I had always wanted to do one myself. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style. I played most of the instruments on the track, so the overall sound of the recording is me. It hits all the points of my catalog so far: dark, mysterious and hopefully, keeping the listener's head bobbing. 

At the end of the video I noticed what looks like a Dyson sphere is pulled into the shot and I’m wondering what that might have to do with the song thematically? Or, just being a fan of science fiction myself, I’m curious if you have any big influences from the sci-fi genre that make their way into your music?

BP: The Dyson sphere is 100% Jeremy so I'll let him address that in more detail. I'm definitely a sci-fi nerd. The original idea of the video was to have some spaceships flying through space to go home to their star in the Pleiades. In production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. After talking through this idea, Jeremy came up with the "megastructure" around the starm similar to what scientists recently theorized could be surrounding a massive star observed in our galaxy. 

JB: It’s definitely inspired by a Dyson sphere, but I think a true one would completely encompass the entire star, the idea being that one could harness 100% of the star’s energy. Benom had wanted it to be clear that this star is home to an advanced civilization, and I can’t think of anything more advanced than an enormous space station surrounding a gargantuan star. Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet, and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games. The god rays and subtle flickering are definitely a nod to present day exo-planet detection techniques!

When I watch the video I can’t help but be reminded of trips to my local planetarium when I was younger and that natural fascination with outer space that most people have. How much does astronomy and maybe even astrology influence your music? And if so, has that been an interest of yours for a long time?

BP: Astronomy has been an interest of mine since I was a kid. I read and study astronomy as a personal hobby, so that has a huge influence for sure. As for astrology, I don't follow it for spiritual living, but I do have an interest in it. We see the marks of astrology all throughout history and that events have coincided when the planets and stars align into certain positions. That's basically what “Red Sky” was about, when Earth sees this dreadful winged planet in its skies, it means destruction is at hand. It's subtle, but this mysterious winged planet from Red Sky makes an appearance in the “Pleiades” video, just as we exit our solar system and before we go into light speed. 

Jeremy, have you worked on any other music videos in the past? If so, how much or how little did your previous experience influence the final product?

JB: This is the first music video I’ve worked on professionally. Earlier in my career, I did a few personal music-related projects here and there, but nothing to this scale. Music videos are a lot different than narrative film, which is primarily my background, in that the music should still take center stage and drive the visuals. Throughout the process, Benom and I wanted to make sure that the visual complexity and intensity ramped up or down based on the energy and beat of the music. I’d like to think that the video helps you hear the song more powerfully so that it makes more of an impact. Furthermore, with an instrumental song like “Pleiades,” I think it’s especially powerful to give the listener an idea of what inspired the music in the first place.

How involved were you with developing the idea for the video? Or, how much of the video was your own creative input compared to Benom?

JB: The creative process was very much a collaborative effort between Benom and myself. The original idea and the initial brief were provided to me early on, and I developed some concept art and storyboards. After that, it was a consistent back and forth between the two of us. For example, we both knew the hyperspace effect was going to be a big part of the video, so that’s one of the first things I began working on, and it went through many iterations before it became what you see in the video. Benom is probably the best client an artist can ask for; his feedback is not only clear and visionary, but also practical and actionable. We both brought our ideas to the table and we saw eye to eye on just about everything. When we did have some differing opinions, we reached compromises that satisfied us both.

Do you have a particular style of animation that you like to brand yourself with or do you not like to box yourself in? Is there a personal animation style that characterizes the video?

JB: This is a difficult question for me to answer, but a great one! Professionally, my background is in post-production for live-action film. Working as a digital compositor (think green screens and CG characters) for 8 years before coming to Colorado, I rarely got to exercise my own creativity beyond the very limited freedom given to me by my supervisors and directors. In other words, my style was the style of whomever was signing my paychecks! I suppose I’d have to say that my “style” is invisible visual effects that aren’t supposed to be noticed… now that I’m in a position to be creative in my own right is that no, I don’t have a style that I like to brand myself with… yet! 

What was the initial idea behind this music video? Did that idea change or develop in the production process? And, did it come out how you had hoped?

BP: The initial idea was to have some spaceships flying through space and time to go home to their star in the Pleiades. The idea did change. For example, in production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. It came out amazing and I appreciate Jeremy's patience with me during the process. 

JB: After 40+ iterations, it changed quite a bit in some ways, but stayed true to the original idea in all the ways that count. One thing that we eventually cut was the ship itself. At first, I think we both felt it was really important, but after some feedback that Benom got, we realized that the ship was a distraction that kept viewers from being able to enjoy the rest of the frame. Another example that kind of went the other way, was that originally, the solar system fly-through was much shorter. After a few versions, it became very clear that there’s only so many ways you can make hyperspace, galaxies and stars look different before it starts to get a little boring. So, we decided to give more weight to the solar system at the beginning. In the end, I think it was a great choice for the overall pacing of the video.

One thing I liked in particular about the video is the simplicity and far-outness of it. Was that a creative choice either of you made or maybe a stylistic choice?

BP: I believe it was a mutual creative and stylistic choice. We both imagined a sort of light speed tunnel, like from Star Wars, but more transparent so we could imagine all the galaxies flying by, but all the while, the Pleiades is still forefront in our center vision as a reminder of the destination. 

I also notice how the video throws out a lot of common music video tropes and opts for a more abstract approach. How do you think the video compares to the usual rock video format?

BP: I felt the music really just lent itself to something artistically abstract. I suppose the usual rock format is mostly all about the band, the look, the ego, etc. That's not wrong in any respect, I like to see the band too. However, this is about taking people on a trip for two and a half minutes and the audience has no idea, nor do they care, what the band looks like or who they are. I like that about this video. It's just all about the music and artistic creative expression. 

Are there any upcoming plans for the band that people should know about? What’s this summer look like for Professor Plumb?

PB: I'm releasing a new song and lyric video soon titled, “Take That!,” which hits on the heightened state of paranoia and divisions growing in the U.S. and around the world. I'll also be performing at The Underground Music Showcase, date, time and venue TBD. This set will be cool and different because it will be a rock duet. I'll be performing on bass/vocals with John Demitro (The Velveteers; Pink Fuzz) on electric guitar. 

Keep up with Professor Plumb 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.

Lettuce's New Record 'Elevate' Will Help You Do Just That + See the Band Live This Saturday, June 15th at Red Rocks

By: Mirna Tufekcic

What happens when a group of award-winning musicians conspire and take three years to incubate a new album? Pure awesomeness, that’s what! I had the privilege to preview Lettuce’s upcoming album Elevate, which drops this Friday June 14th, and boy oh boy, am I excited to share the news! Elevate is a sweet nectar of melodies and sounds emitting only the good vibes you can groove to, hoop to, clean to, and live to! Finally, a spankin’ new, sparklin’ fresh album of 11 songs that make you want to hear more than the record can hold. It’s not often that a band can pull that off these days, so when it does happen the feelings felt are undeniable. Yep, that’s how good it is. Elevate is f*cking awesome.

Lettuce. Photo Credit: Casey Flanigan

Lettuce. Photo Credit: Casey Flanigan

Oh I’m sorry, was it too presumptuous of me to assume you already knew who Lettuce are and jump right into raving about their upcoming album? Forgive me. I’ll start you off on your discovery right here: If you love funky music, then get yourself acquainted with these dudes. They’re super. Lettuce has released something like seven or eight (if you count a live recording session) albums since 2002, and each record has its own wonders and musings, but Elevate really pops, snaps, and crackles with funk and hip-hop, a distinguished horn section, and all-around playfulness in primo artistry.

Based out of Denver, Colorado, Lettuce is a six-member collective of Grammy-nominated drummer and percussionist Adam Deitch, guitarist Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, bassist Erick "Jesus" Coomes, Grammy Award-winning keyboardist and vocalist Nigel Hall, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and Grammy Award-winning trumpet player Eric “Benny” Bloom.  The band exudes an eclectic, free-wheeling style while embracing a progressive and futuristic vibe, thanks to their love of improvisational music. What I said earlier about it being hard to come across a band today that produces a superb album from start to finish still holds, and Lettuce is a testament to the fact that when you follow in the footsteps of musical giants like Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Miles Davis, and modern-day ensembles like Snarky Puppy, you are bound for greatness. If you want to get to know the members of Lettuce a little more, then are you in luck! A six-part series called The Krewe – A Lettuce Documentary Series is up on the band’s YouTube page and even features an in-depth interview with bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes, plus behind-the-scenes vignettes filmed during the recording process of Elevate.

Elevate cover art.jpg

Now, back to the album review of Elevate. Sophista-funkated with oozing swagger, Elevate opens with “Trapezoid” and sets the mood reminiscent of a universe only possible because of Lettuce. “Royal Highness,” the second track on the record, continues deeper into lounge-funk. “Krewe,” the single off the album, keeps the groove in more of a swaying, beachy vibe and you notice yourself grooving a little faster. “Love is Too Strong” is a bluesy funk tune with all the feelings, provided by those undeniably rock-blues guitar riffs. Right smack in the middle of the album is “Gang Ten,” a 13-minute tune you don’t even realize goes on for that long because, yep, you’re still grooving in a sort of perpetually-compelling state of motion. But if you know Lettuce, you know they are not shy about lengthy tracks. There are plenty of those throughout the album.

Elevate also features a couple of tasteful cover tracks, namely “Ready To Live” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” I most love “Purple Cabbage;” in my opinion it’s thee signature Lettuce track on the album. The record ends with “Trapezoid Dub,” and yes it’s got the same name as the first track, but it’s different because it’s, well, like the title implies, tastefully dubby. You see, it’s not just the distinct Lettuce funk that puts you in a trance when you listen to Elevate; there are expanded trip-hop sounds and space-age audio-samples creating a unique atmosphere as the instruments come in together and explode out into the listener’s mind. Boom!

If you’re not compelled by my enthusiastic review of the album, I’m not offended. I would just encourage you to have a listen yourself. Trust me, your ears and soul will thank you. I know mine did. Lettuce is also on a massive tour in lieu of their new album release, so you can see them across the nation. If you want to stay local, they’re playing Red Rocks Amphitheatre this Saturday, June 15th. Check out their website for more deets and dates.

-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.

Will Buck Returns to Colorado with New Solo Tunes & Old Bandmates

If you were involved in the Colorado music scene four years ago, it was nearly impossible to miss rock’n’roll outfit West Water Outlaws. What started as a Boulder house party act in 2010 soon found themselves selling out The Fox Theatre and touring nationally with acts like The Meter Men, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Jerry Joseph, and Rival Sons. But just as things really started to take off for the Colorado band, they split when frontman Blake Rooker moved to Nashville to pursue a solo career. The members all went their own way and the band dissolved.

Notably, drummer Andrew Oakley joined several successful Colorado rock acts until he formed A Shadow of Jaguar with Brian Hubbert. But guitarist Will Buck had a harder time trying to find his future in music until recently, when he decided to release his debut solo single “Fuse”. Next Thursday, May 23rd, Buck will return to Colorado for a show with A Shadow of Jaguar and Denver’s Boot Gun at Larimer Lounge. We recently chatted with Will about his new music, his plans for 2019, and why he’s excited to be returning to Denver next week:

You’ve had quite the journey since West Water Outlaws’ breakup. Talk to us about how your current solo project came to be.

In the wake of the West Water Outlaws (WWO) split, I went on my first-ever solo road trip of California in February of 2015. I was lost, shattered and completely open to anything and everything that took me out of reality and into ‘the flow’ as I call it. Aside from writing and the inevitable destructive coping mechanisms that I developed, I found that traveling and really winging it or ‘drifting’ was really the only way [to live]. I would go on to live an entire year of my life ‘drifting’ but that’s a completely different conversation.

Anyway, on that first fateful trip I stopped at an old friends place in Orange County and recorded a demo of this song in one day. I’d had that guitar riff in my head since the end of WWO and I needed to get it out. After that, the song sat dormant for 3 years.

Will Buck. Photo Credit:  Summer Taylor Mosher

Will Buck. Photo Credit: Summer Taylor Mosher

What happened next?

After I finally learned to sing, which by the way was one of the most humiliatingly frustrating, yet absolutely, amazingly freeing experiences of my life, I returned to this song. I wrote lyrics and self produced the rest of the song in 2018. However, I still kept the original recordings of the guitar tracks. Something about them just had the angst of a desperate man about to explode that I couldn’t recreate. Even the original guitar solo, which was done in one take, made the song. I couldn’t have come at that solo with as much heartbreak, anguish and sheer destruction as that day, even if I tried. It was like a song in captivity that finally broke free.

Did anyone else work on “Fuse”?

I cut the vocals at Speakeasy Recordings in North Hollywood with a groovy guy by the name of Ross Newbauer. Ross got a great performance out of me and pushed me in a good direction, so I've since started tracking most of my vocals for the upcoming EP with him. Justin Peacock, who I know from my Colorado days, mixed the track and seriously brought it to life, those original, grungy basement guitars and all! He mixed a lot of the West Water stuff so I knew he would kick ass on this one. Brian Gardner mastered, who is a total legend and I'm lucky to even have that connection. I think some pretty notable hip-hop guys gave him the nickname Big Bass Brian in the early 2000s for his work and I must say he doesn't disappoint! With the exception of my great friend Wyatt Strassner’s rhythm guitar part, the rest is me on the loose.

You also recently released a video for “Fuse”. Tell us about that.

Marshall Miller shot and directed the music video at The Public Works in Denver. He has the creative eye of a hawk and the patience of a stalking lion. I came up with this crazy idea for the video and he was down! He made all of my creative visions come true and then some. It was also quite fun planning and shooting the whole thing together over the span of 4 days, which was amazing. Normally video shoots are a one day, 14-hour ordeal in my experience, so I felt very fortunate to take our time with this one.

“Fuse” is about a relationship that has gone toxic. It's neither persons fault, but the sad truth is that even though you crave being around each other, the whole thing just blows up every time you do. Each person holds the power to ignite the other and sometimes you can't resist being lit up by them even though you know it's going to end badly. I think a lot of people have experienced this conflicted mindset in one way or another, so I wanted to portray that in the video.

What inspired the story of the video?

I've had the necklace in the video for years- it was actually a piece I found at the Boulder Art Mart on Pearl [Stree] and I wore it so much people started calling it my "signature piece." Overtime it started to mean more and more to me, almost like my soul if it were portrayed in an image. So like the song alludes to, I'm sort of at the mercy of my soul’s captor after I hand over the necklace to the two masked women in the video. I call them "the experimenters" as they then start to run trials on me once they've retrieved the key to my subconscious. The shots of me sort of floating in an abyss with a light on my face are supposed to represent just that- my subconscious. Marshall sent me some prototype shots of him in this world we described as "the box" early on and that's what sparked the whole idea for the video. Then we came up the other worlds as we referred to them as "the observatory" which is the room where the masked women are viewing me on surveillance footage inside the "container" where I've been stowed away. Only the one female wearing my necklace possesses the power to transfer between the worlds. That female’s name by the way is Bailey Turner and her partner/leader in crime is MJ Szymanski; they did a terrific job and were total pros in front of the camera.

Photo Credit:  Summer Taylor Mosher

Photo Credit: Summer Taylor Mosher

What else will you be releasing this year?

I have a ton of plans for the rest of the year- I don't want to give away too much but I am definitely releasing a four-track EP this summer that I recorded in New York City at Figure 8 Studios with Andrew Oakley on drums and Wyatt Strassner on guitar and backing vocals. And I will be touring surrounding this release! I can't wait to see where it all takes me now that the song is out on all platforms!

Sweet. How do you feel about returning to your old musical stomping ground this week?

I am extremely excited to return to Colorado. I lived in Boulder for 8 years and miss it all the time. It is one of the best places in the world and holds so many special people in it! I am most excited that Andrew Oakley (drums) and Vince Ellwood (bass) from West Water Outlaws’ original lineup are going to join me onstage for my set. That is a dream come true for me- to stand on stage in Colorado with two of my best friends again and rock out for a room of radical people.

We can’t wait to join in the rockfest. Tickets for Will’s show with A Shadow of Jaguar and Boot Gun are here. Keep up with Will Buck and his adventures here.

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.

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: Corsicana's "Reprieve" Recalls The Detriments Of Growing Up

By: Sam Piscitelli

Growing up as naive children we tend to imagine life as an exploration of majestic intent. We prefer to seek out our own wanderlust in order to see what the world has prepared for us. There’s an impression that the lives we lead will be difficult at times but we tend to see it as less realistic and more fantasy than anything else. In Corsicana’s new single “Reprieve” from their forthcoming record Perennial, that flawed logic falls short as we’re given an authentic perspective into the detriments of growing up.

Corsicana makes it clear within their first line that there’s essentially no give and take left in their adult lives except when they’re asleep. With taut precision and delicate placements Corsicana’s “Reprieve” introduces us to the loss of innocence, the unwarranted heaviness it leaves on your chest and the undying life of having life figured out only to end up questioning the answers you had before. The song is contradictory in the sense that it lulls you into a warm familiarity while also causing a recurring shock of wondering what’s ahead, but it’s the contradictories complexity that makes the song genuinely sincere. The ability to mourn while comprehending the ability to move forward is the basis of learning to live through life.

Corsicana.

Corsicana.

The attempts at painting a picture that is a universal struggle may seem like a challenge, but here, it’s done with ease. It just goes to show that an old idea can have a nuanced perspective when done right. It’s a welcomed approach to an idea that’s seemingly been all dried up. The idea of growing older is largely capitalized on, but is rarely executed right. While Twenty-One Pilots hint at growing up as unromantic and Taylor Swift muses she wants to turn back time, Corsicana’s take is about relying on life to balance itself out. “Reprieve” is a song that expertly unravels life’s little moments, whether that may be the beauty, the ugly, or the fine line that treads between them.

Keep up with Corsicana 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.

After 10+ Years, The Feathermerchants Are Releasing a New Record

It’s been more than 10 years since Connecticut’s Feathermerchants released new music or played a live show. In fact, you’d be more likely to find founder and guitarist Pete Veru wandering CU Boulder’s campus with his nose in a book on Dutch finance than you would on a stage. The recent Ph.D. graduate left the band in 2007 for academic pursuits; the other Feathermerchants members moved on to new lives then too. But today that’s all about to change. After 11 years, Feathermerchants have released a new record, A Pull From The Flask.

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

Veru founded Feathermerchants in 1996 and has always been the band’s primary songwriter. After recording a demo with renown producer Jim Chapdelaine in Hartford, Connecticut, Chapdelaine actually joined the project. Veru then recruited bassist Drew Glackin and drummer Jon Peckman. The next year, the crew began recording their self-titled debut record and added Erin O’Hara and Allison Winston into the fold on lead vocals. Guest musicians like John Fay (The Tragically Hip) and Hassan Hakmoun also played on the debut.

Upon its release, the single “Water and Dreams” was picked up from Feathermerchants by director Frank Todaro for his film Above Freezing. The band then scored a distribution deal with Rykodisc and found themselves making waves on the CMJ college radio charts. Reviews of the record, however, were mixed and around 2000, lead singers Erin O’Hara and Allison Winston left the project and were replaced by Shannon Kennedy. It was also at this time that former Saturday Night Live bassist Paul Ossola joined the fold as Glackin left to join The Silos.

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

With a new lineup, the band found themselves back in the comfort of Chapdelaine’s studio, where they recorded their second release Unarmed Against the Dark. The album was an indie folk pop piece with “songs with deep hooks drenched in reverb.” Feathermerchants even recruited Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers; Rolling Stones) to play on a track, the song “Brooklyn Ferry” which is a tribute to Walt Whitman. Upon completion, Unarmed Against the Dark fell into the hands of a South African publicist by chance, and the band developed a large following overseas thanks to a slew of South African media features. Soon, Feathermerchants found themselves playing a number of high-profile shows at places like Joe’s Pub, on festival lineups like South by Southwest, and with other popular bands of the time like Keane, October Project, and Grey Eye Glances.

In 2006, the band released what has previously been their final record, Last Man On Earth. The band’s radio success continued on the CMJ charts, and they were even featured on National Public Radio. The band swapped Ossola for bassist Jay Wiggin and continued performing. In 2007, the group played what would be two of their last shows at Joe’s Pub and the University of Hartford’s Music for a Change series. Both of these live sets were recorded, and Chapdelaine locked away the tunes without much thought at his studio following the shows.

A Pull From The Flask.

A Pull From The Flask.

Shortly thereafter, the band parted ways amidst the dying record label industry and the emergence of live streaming services. Veru went on to academia, Kennedy also pursued an advanced degree, and Chapdelaine went on to earn 13 Emmys for his work in the music world. Peckman and Wiggin continued playing in local projects in the East Coast music scene.

Then in 2016, Veru returned to the states after a historical research stint in Amsterdam. He called Chapdelaine and the two reminisced on their last shows as the Feathermerchants. Chapdelaine invited Veru back up to his studio, where the duo spent time listening and mixing the once-forgotten recordings from their final performances. Together, they gathered 16 tracks for A Pull From The Flask.

“Jim and I sat through dozens of hours of mixing and producing. There were songs that we played during those shows that we hadn’t played since the late nineties; songs that Shannon Kennedy never [even] recorded in the studio.” Veru told us. “After putting it away for ten years, all of a sudden it sounds fresh to me again. We really were hitting our stride as a live band right when things ended. I think younger kids who were musically aware in the 90s might think so too.”

We definitely do. Chapdelaine and Veru self-admittedly enjoyed piecing together their new record, so whether you’ve been a Feathermerchants fan for years, or it’s your first introduction to this now classic 90s band, we hope you’ll share in our excitement of the release of A Pull From The Flask. You can find it on iTunes today.

Keep up with the Feathermerchants here.

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

Good Charlotte's Current Tour Celebrates The New and The Old

By: Nathan Sheppard

Good Charlotte are currently wrapping up their Generation Rx U.S. Tour and made one of their final stops in Denver this past Wednesday at the Ogden Theater. The stacked lineup included up and comers The Dose, along with Knuckle Puck and Sleeping WIth Sirens.

Good Charlotte.

Good Charlotte.

Good Charlotte started the set out with the first two songs of their latest album Generation Rx, and then really got the party started with “The Anthem.” They then rattled off a few more songs from their break out album The Young and The Hopeless, and reflected in between songs on how the meaning of these tunes have changed for them over the 16 years since the album was released. Frontman Joel Madden reflected on “Riot Girl” specifically, and how being a father made him feel this track has evolved into a women's empowerment song, showcasing the key role women have in making not only the punk scene, but the world, a better place.  

The guys continued with this theme of reflection throughout the set, asking the crowd where they were and what they were doing when a specific song came out. And after each reflection, there was a story about hope and encouragement, since a lot of the songs originally came from an emotional and sometimes dark place. Even though there was a lot of introspection on the night, it was a great celebration of the 20+ years that Good Charlotte has been a band. They capped off the evening with the pop punk classic “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous”.

The last few dates of Good Charlotte’s tour hit the West Coast, so make sure you get your tickets to celebrate one of the essential pop punk bands of the 2000s. Tickets and 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.

Desert Hearts Brought Their Creative & Colorful Vibes to Boulder on Current Tour

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It was a house and techno gathering without the grit: the Desert Hearts’ party last week at Boulder Theatre was a homey vibe with a very young crowd, and yes, most people showed up in costume. The 15+ and up show was full of colorful vibes.

Desert Hearts began in 2012 at Burning Man as a dream founded by Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Porky, and Marbs. Since then, it has evolved into a mission of radiating love and a conscious ethos of house and techno. The quartet takes turns on the turntables and projects heavy percussion for hours, and last week’s party was no exception. The band’s vibe is approachable and lighthearted, which is why any age interested in getting into the techno and house scene would find Desert Hearts a non-threatening beginning.  

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Much like Burning Man, coming dressed up in costume is totally a thing at a DH gathering, and highly celebrated. There was an aura of a music festival like Electric Forest, where the crew also threw a party this summer. With a whiff of innocence in the air and plenty of time and space to dance it out, Desert Hearts won’t bring out the dark side of the bumpin’ house genre if that’s what you’re into, but if lightness and percussion within the comfort of your living room is what you’re after, this is a band you’ve got to check out.

Catch a Desert Hearts show for yourself here.

-Mirna

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

Vermillion Road Celebrate Newest EP With Packed Show At Lost Lake

By: Nathan Sheppard

Denver band Vermillion Road recently released Escape, their first EP in the last three years. To celebrate, the band played an intimate show at Lost Lake this past Friday. They were joined by Right Before Rain, Sophie Music, and Creature Canopy for support.

Vermillion Road. 

Vermillion Road. 

Lost Lake was buzzing even before Vermillion Road took the stage, and the guys were able to channel that energy into their amazing performance. Frontman Will Robinson is a showman through and through, and he was able to get the crowd hyped either singing along or dancing with each song. While it was only about a 45-minute set, it was still a solid one where everyone had a great time. It was the perfect way for Vermillion Road to introduce everyone to Escape.

Escape is a six-song pop-rock EP that encapsulates the bands new direction from their previous rock roots. The opening track “Gasoline” is a fun, upbeat love song that will definitely get stuck in you head. Halfway through is “Eye On You,” where you can hear the influence of bands like Imagine Dragons or OneRepublic. The song combines the right amount of rock with a touch of electronic beats. Escape gives you everything that we like from Vermillion Road and adds a little experimentation which will catch your attention. It’s the perfect record to jam to anytime of the day and will have you listening on repeat.

Keep up with Vermillion Road and grab their new EP here.

-Nathan

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


Rumours Follow Set to Release New Wave Single "Mr. Miserable" This Week

By: Norman Hittle

Denver based new wave act Rumours Follow have been steadily gaining momentum in the Colorado scene since winning Denver alternative radio channel 93.3’s Big Gig in 2014. Nearly four years later- not to mention four years stronger- the band are set to release their new single “Mr. Miserable" later this month with a show at Lost Lake Lounge. 

Rumours Follow.

Rumours Follow.

To say the least, the track is an exciting blast from the past, fortified with the tech of modern electronic music. It’s easy to call it new wave and synth pop on the surface, but there’s a lot more going on than can be gleaned on a first listen, such as the band’s nods to 80s greats like Prince and Duran Duran.

Rumours Follow successfully fuse elements of jazz, funk, synthpop, and alt-rock together, while maintaining a high-fidelity production value that definitely couldn’t be heard in the 80s when their brand of music inspiration was in its heyday. Yet regardless of era, this band is making 2018 a staple in their career. Just earlier this year, the band released their single “Spitting Rain."

In accordance with continuing to be noticed, Rumours Follow will be officially releasing their single for “Mr. Miserable” with a debut release show at Lost Lake Lounge Saturday, May 19th. Event details and tickets here.

Keep up with Rumours Follow on Facebook.

-Norman

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

Hollywood Undead Bring Unique Rap-Rock Blend to the Fillmore This Week

By: Nathan Sheppard

Rap-rock group Hollywood Undead, best known for their debut album Swan Songs, will be hitting the Fillmore Auditorium this Wednesday, April 18th for a co-headlining show with In This Moment and support acts Ded and The Word Alive.

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The five-piece band from Los Angeles, known for their intricate mask designs, released their fifth studio album Five last October and are taking their new beats on the road this spring. You can anticipate a mix of their new material including “California Dreaming” but also some fan favorites like “Undead” from the guys. Hollywood Undead are known for their crazy live shows, so with the first stop of the tour being in Denver, expect the energy to be through the roof as both headliners put on an epic performance. You can check out the newest album here and tickets for the event can be found here.

Keep up with Hollywood Undead on Facebook

-Nathan

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

Viretta To Release New Music Video This Friday (03/30)

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Viretta, a Denver-based alt-rock band, is coming out with a 12-track album that took over two years to complete. Why? The band took it upon themselves to record and mix the whole thing in their own studio, making it sound exactly the way they wanted. The tracks were their oysters. 

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As it turns out, taking on this task all by themselves was no small feat. Mike Moroni, Viretta’s frontman, lightheartedly admits to the pains and turmoil of taking on such an endeavor saying, “It was hell!” Ultimately though, he acknowledges it was worth the fruits of labor. Combining the heavy riffs reminiscent of Queens of Stone Age and with Radiohead-like reverb, the album fronts an electric hard-rock swagger with vulnerable and emotional wanting. And now the band wants you to get ready!

The single off the upcoming album, “You are My IV” is already out. If the rest of the tracks deliver like this song does, then we’re all in for an angsty, roaring, riff-rocking treat to satisfy all our alt-rock cravings.

The Fear is scheduled for release in full across all platforms on May 18th. In lieu of the date, Viretta will be releasing three music videos to get you amped, starting with the first video for the album’s second track “Cordyceps,” which will be released this Friday, March 30th to view online, or if you find yourself on Market Street in Denver at The Black Buzzard, Oskar Blues Grill & Brew you can see it in person. Viretta will play a live show, along with The SIR Band, before unveiling the video to the crowd.

Want more details? Head to the Facebook event and get tickets!

-Mirna 

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

Thunderpussy Are the Storm the Rock'n'Roll Revival Needs

By: Hannah Oreskovich

This Seattle four-piece are shaking up rock'n'roll with a vengeance.

Last Sunday, a thundering snow storm hit Colorado’s Front Range. As the sky rumbled and started spitting fat white flakes instead of rain, Seattle’s Thunderpussy rolled into Denver fresh off of four SXSW sets including an official C3 Entertainment showcase. The band recently made NPR’s “100 Artists to Watch at SXSW” and during the fest, debuted the new song “Show Your Colors,” which they co-wrote with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready. Their Denver gig was hand-squeezed between a quick trip home and their upcoming Treefort Music Festival appearance and if you braved the storm, Thunderpussy rewarded you with a seductive, spitfire show of rock’n’roll that left the crowd swooning.

Thunderpussy.

Thunderpussy.

“Hi! I’m Molly!” frontwoman Molly Sides exclaimed as she traipsed inside Summit Music Hall, wrapped in a leopard-print coat. As I reached my hand out to hers, she giggled, “Sorry I’m freezing!” and after shaking hands, she held mine and laughed, “But you’re nice and warm!”

As we chatted about Sides’ affinity for snow as an Idaho native, the girls headed to the green room for wardrobe. If you’re curious what that entails, it’s velvet onesies, fishnet stockings, rhinestone bras, and thigh-high glitter boots. And those boots were made for stompin’ on more than just the stage. In a recent interview with Billboard, guitarist Whitney Petty talked about K.Flay’s Grammy nod as the only female artist in the rock category, musing, “I'd say the time is ripe for Thunderpussy to high kick the patriarchy where it counts with a thigh-high, rhinestone encrusted, platform boot.”

And that’s how Thunderpussy rolls- they’ll hold your hand right before serving up their brand of kickass on the stage.

Whitney Petty.

Whitney Petty.

After a session of greenroom pictures where the girls kept apologizing for the cloud of hairspray that hung above us (“Don’t worry! It’s organic!” bassist Leah Julius promised with a smile), the girls paraded out in their heels to the cheers of the crowd.

Currently touring on their 2018 record Greatest Tits with a full album dropping later this spring, the band opened with “Speed Queen,” a song which nods to Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and The Runaways all at once. As Sides sang into a vintage-looking mic, her gyrations soon turned to her crawling on the floor while locking eyes with audience members; meanwhile Petty stood above her with one heel pranced on an amp as she leaned into the crowd ripping on guitar and headbanging. Julius jumped off of drummer Ruby Dunphy’s “Pussy” emblazoned kick drum and jazz-trained Dunphy kept a steady beat while the chaos ensued. And this, truly was just the beginning.

Molly Sides.

Molly Sides.

As a frontwoman, Sides seems to pull from performance artists like David Bowie, Elvis, and even Lady Gaga. She is never found standing still, her soaring vocals envelope a room, and though I didn’t get to ask, I left feeling like she must have a dance background. Her stage persona is rock’n’roll seductress, something you can also see in the band’s music video for “Speed Queen.”

Sides is almost impossible to stop looking at, but when you do Petty, Julius, and Dunphy are equally engaging. Petty slashes on guitar in a way that 80s hair metal bands would look up to. She slays, and her solos bring forth those classic rock’n’roll eruptions you look for in this type of sound.

Holding down the low end, Julius’ performance is highlighted with fits of energy- she headbangs just as much as the crowd when she’s not jumping from amps and the kick drum. And Dunphy, who was flying back to Seattle the next morning so that she could make it to her classes at Cornish College of the Arts, is a damn riot. She’s all smiles whether she’s pounding cymbals on “Velvet Noose” or tapping the snare with a light jazz flair on “Torpedo Love.”

Apart, each of these women ooze talented prowess; together the four-piece have an undeniably intense chemistry, one which builds and disseminates throughout the room from start to finish. It’s no surprise that the band has been selling out shows on their Pour Morals tour at spots like LA’s Viper Room, where Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith was seen checking out the band. At Sunday’s Denver show, Kid Rock’s entire tour crew strolled in for a listen, blowing off steam before prepping for Rock’s Pepsi Center performance later in the week. When industry pros start showing up for you regularly, you know you’re doing something right.

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Thunderpussy closed the night with “Torpedo Love,” which they just premiered a video for with NPR. In it, Thunderpussy perform the track live in an abandoned nuclear power plant silo.

Said Sides about the video, "When working with Magic Mama Massy, enthused wild ideas literally explode everywhere…  As we crept up to the monstrous structures, it seemed as though they'd been waiting for us, and the concrete curtains calling to us. With both nature and nuclear walls hovering, a beautifully eerie collaboration ensued."

And somehow, that sums up Thunderpussy too: one part sensitive, seductive, and beautiful; the other nuclear, explosive, and ready to tear your heart out.

Sink your teeth into Thunderpussy’s newest music and catch them at Treefort and other major festivals all summer. They’re poised for a takeover, so best brace yourself for the storm.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram.

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

Pidgeons Playing Ping Pong Sell Out All Colorado Shows On Recent Run

By: Cy Fontenot

This past weekend, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong hit Colorado with the tastiest serving of the funk we’ve seen in awhile. After their free show in Vail for the Burton Concert Series, Pigeons hit the road and stopped next in Durango for a steamy sold-out show at the Animas City Theatre, a notoriously rowdy venue. They then kept the good vibes flowing at yet another sold-out show at Denver’s Ogden Theatre.

Pidgeons Playing Ping Pong.

Pidgeons Playing Ping Pong.

Pigeons is quickly developing a very committed fan-base thanks to their fun(k)-loving vibes, incredibly tight musicianship, and catchy songwriting. While their original songs are nothing short of awesome, the crowd especially enjoyed their medley of “Funkytown” > “Play that Funky Music” > “Brick House” > “Play that Funky Music.” The band also covered tunes by Lotus and David Bowie. This is a band who keeps it interesting whether they’re playing tunes from Pizzaz, Pleasure, or Bowie.

If you have yet to catch a Pigeons show you can check out their new album, Pizzaz, and upcoming tour dates here!

-Cy

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

Supergroup Of Jam Musicians To Play Cervantes' This Saturday (02/17)

By: Cy Fontenot

Four well-known onstage improvisers are coming together for a joint night of jams this Saturday, February 17th at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom. Steve Kimock, the San Francisco-based guitarist best known for playing with several psychedelic jam projects over the past 40 years including ZERO, Steve Kimock Band, and The Grateful Dead, will be playing with PRAANG. Composed of mystical wizardry, Kimock’s guitar style pushes the boundaries of what you thought possible with music.

Joining Kimock on stage this Saturday will be the legendary rhythm section of Michael Travis (String Cheese Incident) and Jason Hann (EOTO), as well as a modern innovator with an ancient style, Jamie Janover, who combines the use of cutting edge technology with ancient instruments to create an out-of-this-world sound! Trip-hop downtempo DJ Templo will also be making an appearance. 

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This show truly features a supergroup lineup sure to evoke a sense of musical enlightenment for anyone in attendance. Tickets can be found here.

Find out more about this event on Facebook.

-Cy

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