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.

The Weekend Six: Six Shows to See 04/22 & 04/23

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Less snow. More shows. Here’s to the weekend!

Today (Friday 04/22):

Billy Shaddox Band at Vindication Brewing in Boulder 530PM-Close

Billy shaddox.

Billy shaddox.

We love easing our way into the weekend. And tonight you can do just that with Billy Shaddox and his band at Vindication! A Boulder transplant by way of California, Shaddox has been playing shows around the Front Range for awhile now. Last summer, he released the LP I Melt, I Howl, produced and engineered by Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, Langhorne Slim). We will actually be dropping an exclusive feature on Shaddox soon, so that’s all we’ll say for now! Start your Friday early and get to this show!

Check out Shaddox’s track “Let You Go”:

Midnight Strange at The No Name Bar in Boulder 10PM-Close

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When the strange play the bar things get… more than strange. You never know what this indie country outfit will do when they hit the stage! But they always bring a hollerin’, dancin’ party, so you best make your way on over to the bar with no name. It’s gonna be a grand ‘ol time, yah hear?

Listen to The Midnight Strange’s live performance of “Ed Sentcha”:

Punch Drunk Munkey Funk with Boulder Sound Lab at The Lazy Dog in Boulder 10PM-Close

Punch Drunk Munkey Funk.

Punch Drunk Munkey Funk.

Fort Collin’s PDMF are making their way to the B for a super funky set tonight with Boulder’s “transcendental brain massage therapy” five-piece, BSL. There will be jazz, there will be funk, there will be disco, there will be mambo, and there will be a party. That’s a guarantee. So head over and check out this crazy time!

Listen to Punch Drunk Munkey Funk’s “Montuna”:

Tomorrow (Saturday 04/23):

The Farmer Sisters at Jamestown Mercantile Co. Cafe in Jamestown 7PM-Close

The Farmer Sisters.

The Farmer Sisters.

If The Beach Boys taught us anything, it’s that siblings can harmonize like no one else. And Jamestown’s got some of those sweet harmonies happening tomorrow night thanks to The Farmer Sisters. With their voices, an acoustic guitar, and their playful stage presence, the duo will have you hushed and captivated in no time. And c’mon the Merc is the best, so make your way up the mountain tomorrow!

Watch The Farmer Sisters live performance of “No Apologies” for Front Range Explorer:

Cycles with Terrapin Flyer featuring Melvin Seals at Quixote’s True Blue in Denver 9PM-Close

Cycles.

Cycles.


Terrapin Flyer, one of the country’s most prominent Grateful Dead tribute bands, is taking the stage at Quixote’s tonight. The group has actually had several GD/Jerry Garcia Band members as part of their collective at various times, and tonight Melvin Seals is one such player. He’ll be joining the jammin’ band for a night of psychedelic transportation. And speaking of psychedelic, Denver’s psych/rock trio Cycles will be sharing the room on the side stage. It’s going to be an awesome mashup of sounds tomorrow night, so make your way to the True Blue.

Watch Cycles debut music video for their song “Soulf*ckah”:


Both Nights (04/22 & 04/23):

FoCoMX: Fort Collins Music Experiment Festival in Fort Collins


The annual FoCoMX fest is this weekend, and showcases talent mostly from Fort Collins, with a few other Colorado bands sprinkled in. With shows packed into more than 25 venues over the course of two days, there will be something for just about everyone! You can view the full lineup here and get your wristbands at this link. Maybe if you’re lucky, Slowcaves will let you crash on their couch after their set...

BCFM

Boulder County Farmers Market is every Saturday from 10AM-2PM. We’re working closely with BCFM to promote the music at the market, and this week, acoustic act Left Hand Market Boys will be playing near your favorite vegetables. Stop by to hear their strings and songs and grab some local treats from one of the many delicious vendors near the band!

GREEN LIGHT RADIO

This week, our Sunday partnership with Green Light Radio and Streetside Productions will feature a track by Boulder’s Billy Shaddox. The talented singer/songwriter just sat down for an interview at David’s Desk, so we’ll be dropping that for you soon. Hopefully you’re planning to catch his show at Vindication this weekend (see above)! Make sure to tune in to any of the Colorado Community Network Radio Stations here (95.3 or 95.5 Boulder) or stream Green Light Sunday night between 9-10PM to catch Shaddox’s track “I Melt, I Howl”.

See you in the sun!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on twitter and instagram.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured.