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