Corda Vera's Brand of Indie Is Rocking the Boulder House Party Scene

By: Taylor Falkner

Boulder, Colorado may be a land for new music, but it is certainly not a new land to the music scene. Once considered the next mecca of young musicians and “…the Berkeley of the Mountain Time Zone”, Boulder is a place for musical exploration and inspiration. It is located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, with the majestic Flatirons at the backdrop of everyday life. It helped create legendary bands like Zephyr, The String Cheese Incident, 3OH!3 and Big Gigantic just to name a few. The unique aspect of this list is that it encapsulates a variety of genres, and therefore further exemplifies how up and coming artistry in Boulder is not bound to the limits of a single genre.

This limitless sound opportunity is also expressed in the genre of indie rock. Indie originated from the concept of independent labels, but has evolved to describe “a sonic aesthetic influenced by various forms of post-punk and lo-fi music”. Moreover, indie is not overly concerned with meeting the criteria of what makes a good “commercial sound”. It is raw, and the use of at home recording equipment adds another unfiltered and imperfect dimension to the music which enriches the listeners experience. In this generation dominated by technological advancement, the D.I.Y. mentality of indie is blossoming due to the convenience and easy accessibility of online platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify. The spirit of this fresh freedom is very much alive in the city of Boulder, and it is where you can also find the beginnings of the very local band Corda Vera. As an underground, basement dwelling, house party band of Boulder, Corda Vera, swiftly takes on the essence of Boulder and the attitude of indie music in the twenty-first century.

Corda Vera.

Corda Vera.

Corda Vera is a band of four twenty-year olds, one female and three males, some of which are on the journey to obtaining a college degree at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Simone Fohrman (vocals), Josh Bennett (drums), Sam Sawyer (bass), and Thomas Perry (guitar) all have been brought together through the allure of Boulder. Each member has their own style and differing musical background and inspirations, which compliment each other very well in their original music. They have an undeniably otherworldly aura to them, which makes them relatable to the confusion and individual growth that many college students experience while away from home where everything is safe and comforting. Their songs manifest a perfect blend of Sonic Youth grunge rock vibes with an indie, and somewhat psychedelic, sound. Setting themselves apart from today’s millennial teenage angst, Corda Vera plays into their emotions rather than becoming a victim of them.

As the band guides listeners on a trip away from wherever they may be, the lyrics sung by band leader Simone touch base on the interpersonal connections in all kinds of relationships. Their song “Over The Edge” encapsulates this well. The dark, yet enchanting bass riff that Sam bewitches listeners’ ears with transports one to the shuffling streets, lit only by the moon, in the faraway land of Istanbul. The song sends one to face the unknown. Through every thud of the bass drum the city breathes and comes to life and then, “Bang!” A shot echoes from Josh’s snare drum and the chills run down your spine. “We’re lost in translation/building my agitation/you can’t keep what ain’t yours,” Simone croons. Immediately the tension the band has been building is released by a powerful statement that gives the listener a piece of mind. Simone’s lyrics of feeling uncertain about her own emotions towards her counterpart reflect the universal angst that anyone can relate too when they feel shorted in a relationship. Instead of shying away from this angst, Simone and the rest of Corda Vera embrace it by turning it into a powerful energy, one that makes the listener feel as if they are walking a fine line and indeed about to fall “Over the Edge.”

A major factor to the unique tone and mood that Corda Vera puts out is due to the vast array of musical influences. All sorts of unconventional things can be heard in their music from various genres, scales, and even the effects used on every instrument. Their use of the harmonic minor scale in “Over the Edge” is what gives it its eerie vibe by dancing with the devil’s note. At the same time, however, you can here an influence from The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” which helps keep the song in a mystical world of its own.

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In the song “Nao” Corda Vera makes you feel as if you are floating through the clouds daydreaming. With a heavy chorus and reverb, Thomas, the guitarist and Boulder native, encapsulates what it is to feel weightless and floating. The ticking of the hi-hat alters time, and the audience is left in a place where there is no up and down or left and right. In respects to most other songs called “Heartbreaker,” Corda Vera’s version is one of the band’s fastest tempo songs. Moreover, it stands far apart from sounding that of Led Zeppelin, Pat Benatar or even Taio Cruz’s “Heartbreaker,” and sounds more like a contemporary electronica song. The drums are reminiscent of that of Seal’s in his hit “Crazy” or Moby’s “Porcelain”, while the guitar bares resemblance to that of Lenny Kravitz. Mesh all of this up with chorus-driven spacey vocals, and you have something totally new.

The motley crew that is Corda Vera has led them to create a sound that they can call their own. They all have different musical influences but their love for music, courage to face unsettling truths, and their desire to just have a good time has brought them to create something unique to everything else going on in Boulder currently. By blending such a vast array of sounds and with themes based in personal experience, Corda Vera are as authentic as it gets. There is no facade that they are attempting to convey. They are a group of friends who met through their love of music at open mic nights at Innisfree Cafe on the Hill and decided to join forces. In turn, they have given the students of Boulder, and hopefully more to come, a chance of a genuine experience.

Keep up with Corda Vera here.

-Taylor

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

The Pamlico Sound: Get Baptized in Funk This Saturday at The Lazy Dog

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Boulder's TPS are back in the game. 

Funk, soul, and psychedelia. That’s what Boulder’s The Pamlico Sound is all about. Formed in 2010, TPS has shared the stage with acts like Orgone, Kung Fu, Rowdy Shadehouse, The Magic Beans, and Technicolor Tone Factory. The eight-piece outfit have played The Fox, The Boulder Theater, The Bluebird, The Oriental, and many other local favorite spots. In 2014, the band took a hiatus as members worked on other projects, but they want you to know something Boulder: They’re Back! The Pamlico Sound will be throwing one crazy dance party at The Lazy Dog this Saturday, complete with a new killer rhythm section, an explosion of energy, and their “Jive Church” experience (just keep reading and it will all make sense soon young ones). In anticipation for the show, we sat down with the driving force behind the band, Will Baumgartner (vocals/baritone and soprano sax/flute/harmonica) to chat more about TPS and their plans for a 2016 takeover! Keep reading:

So Will, talk to us more about the “Jive Church” concept that TPS and their fans have been raving about since the band’s reformation. We’ve heard good things.

Glad you asked! The Jive Church basically turns our shows into an interaction between Pastor Will B (aka me, The Reverend Ever Ready), the Deacons (band members), Ghana Queen (our female vocalist), and the Congregation (audience) like so: As the pastor/reverend, I ask emphatically, “Can I get a ‘Hell Yeah’ from the Deacons?!”, to which the people onstage reply even more vigorously, “HELL YEAH!” Then, I turn to the audience: “Can I get a ‘Hell Yeah’ from the CONGREGATION?!” This often escalates to urgent calls of “Can I get a ‘F*CK YEAH?!’” And so on… Then, at least once during the show (usually toward the middle and the end), we offer a Funk Baptism, which consists of encouraging members of the Congregation to come to the edge of the stage (or up onto the stage itself), to be sprayed with Funky Holy Water (it’s a lot more sanitary than it sounds) while they writhe and contort in the Holy Spirit of the Funk. Our shows are also spiced up by brief “sermons” from me, Pastor Will/Reverend Ever Ready.

Wow. You literally spray people with Funky Holy Water and they love it?! I’m intrigued and impressed. Are you planning a lot of Funk Baptisms for Saturday’s show at The Lazy Dog? What else are you guys excited about?

Dang, that’s a GOOD QUESTION! In no particular order: Returning to our favorite small club in the homietown; our first show with new member (on trombone and vocals) Thom Holum; our second show with new drummer Curtis Collazo; the great likelihood of having some old friends/local luminaries sit in with the band; periodic stage diving into the arms of our beloved homiefans…

The Pamlico Sound bringing a funkadelic party to any show almost feels like an understatement for the picture my mind is making from all of this…

Yeah- we started out playing rager parties on the Hill to delirious hordes of sweaty wild-eyed lunatics, and that’s still how we approach every show: if you’re not sweaty, wild-eyed and delirious, you’ve mistakenly wandered into another show by a band of impostors. We are here to make you (and ourselves) feel ridiculously happy and free. And aside from the Jive Church shenanigans mentioned above, we always do things like sending the horn players out to wander amidst the crowd and play directly to them, “walk the bar” and so on; we also are known to frequently leap offstage and dance with crowd, and invite audience members to come onstage to sing and  dance with us.

The Pamlico Sound. Photo Credit:   Miles Photography

The Pamlico Sound. Photo Credit: Miles Photography

It sounds like to get the full TPS experience, we’ve got to come to a live show. We can’t wait! Beyond the insanity planned to rock the LD, what’s on deck for The Pamlico Sound in 2016?

We plan to give up sugar and coffee, participate in beauty pageants, and save kittens from trees. After we’ve done all that, we are planning to record all our new songs with Josh Fairman at Scanhope Sound (Josh has recently recorded/produced/mixed/mastered albums by The New Mastersounds, Atomga, and Analog Son, among others.) We’re also in the planning stages for our next Funkstravaganza, which is where we choose our favorite local funk bands and throw a big fat dance party with them at Cervantes’ in Denver. That will probably be happening in March or April. We’re also looking at festivals and regional tours.

Awesome! Anything else you want to tell us before Saturday, Pastor Will B?

Bring us your wired, your floored, your hugging bastards longing to be Flea.

Funk yeah. See you there Beaters.

Join the FB event here.

Watch The Pamlico Sound perform in the Radio1190 Studio here:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Realtalk: From House Parties to Headliners

By: Nikki Steele

What started as a house party band has become so much more.

Sean Campbell of Realtalk.

Sean Campbell of Realtalk.

If CU Boulder formed a band, it would sound exactly like Realtalk, which in a way is actually how Realktalk came to be. It’s hard to imagine how the Realtalk members would have met each other had they not been hanging in CU dorm rooms together and chatting at parties on the Hill. Realtalk has all of CU's favorite things rolled into one band: beats you can easily zone out to after breathing in some special Colorado air and a funkiness that makes you want to party and have a good time. But Realtalk’s music also has an awareness that there is more going on in the world than just the party lifestyle of your average college student.

A Hill House party Performance.

A Hill House party Performance.

After meeting each other and officially getting the band together, Realtalk started playing house parties, a lot of house parties. House parties come with the most casual networking known to mankind. Someone sees a cool band, asks them to play at their house party, and before you know it, you have played every weekend for months all over Boulder. And that’s exactly what Sean Campbell (lead vocals and guitar) and Julian Kitzmiller (drums) explained happened to Realtalk on this year’s summer break. Playing every single weekend had its benefits: Realtalk had a lot of chances to practice together, they networked to play different parties, and they built a legitimate Boulder fan base. The more times someone sees you at a party, the more times they remember you. And let’s face the facts- it’s going to take more than one booze filled night for people to remember what your band sounds like, so being the ‘unofficial house party band’ encourages some memory for even the most drunken of partygoers.

Although both Campbell and Kitzmiller enjoyed their house party stretch (and told me they would still play them today), they were excited when they started to actually book local venues. And their loyal fanbase from their nights on the Hill came in handy. When they booked Denver’s Bluebird Theater, where they opened for Rocktin, a lot of the faces they saw in the crowd were familiar. Talking to Campbell about the experience, he smiled, “When you’re up there and it’s a venue that can hold like 500 plus people and you realize you’re just this college band trying to make it, it’s a very real moment. You realize that people sell this shit out.” Which is exactly what inspired one of the band’s current goals: to sell out the Fox or the Boulder Theater.

Before taking the stage at the Bluebird.

Before taking the stage at the Bluebird.

But beyond parting, where does that awareness of world happenings that Realtalk sings about come from? Campbell explained that when he writes music, his lyrics are pretty personal. So when his brother started covering the Baltimore riots this year as a reporter, Campbell started getting a whole new perspective on what was happening in his home state. This new perspective led to Realtalk’s song “Freddie Gray.” The chorus, “It takes riots and violence before we are listening” was inspired after Campbell watched his brother covering the protests on the front-lines. A song like “Freddy Gray” is obvious proof that Realtalk is much more than just a college-made-party-band.

Post bluebird Performance. 

Post bluebird Performance. 

Since Realtalk has convinced Boulder cops to let the band finish a song before shutting a party down, played at the Bluebird theater to an awesome crowd, and written lyrics that give you goosebumps, what’s next for this local five-piece? First and foremost they are headlining a show featuring opener Whatever's Clever at the Lazy Dog tomorrow night! This is their first time headlining a gig, so get there! Realtalk also has plans to release an album by Christmas. And finally, Realtalk is wanting to connect with other musicians by creating a bi-weekly event where they meet up with other local artists and work on a song together. The idea is to give musicians that don't have a full band the chance to create an entire song, or to give full bands the opportunity to try something new. This event will be recorded live and they’ll toss the audio up on their website. Stay tuned for more info on this cool collaboration idea!

So who are Realtalk? As Kitzmiller says, “[We’re] a combination of energies coming together. When I go out there and play by myself, I get a certain amount of satisfaction, but I don’t smile or sweat or love life as much as when we we’re all out their playing [together]. That is what [Realtalk] is for me. I love playing with these guys. I love playing on stage, I love playing house parties; I love anything that allows us to just jam.”

Give Realtalk a listen here and catch them tomorrow night headlining the Lazy Dog!

-Nikki

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