Review: Synth Pop Act futurebabes Bring Us "Spreadsheets In Bedsheets"

By: Norman Hittle

Much like some of our favorite legendary artists, futurebabes came about out of a broken relationship and an artistic mindset to delve into music as therapy opposed to lingering in crippling sadness.

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Since signing to Bandwagon Records in 2015, this Greeley-based synth pop act have been making headway with their drum machines and analog synthesizers that create a nostalgia  of 80s sounds. With a very indie nod to Joy Division and perhaps the Human League, futurebabes presents us with their latest single “Spreadsheets in Bedsheets.”

Aside from this recent release, they have also released 2015’s Day Job EP, 2016’s “Thirsty Man’s Hunger Plea” and 2016’s “Wolves”. You can peep all of these releases on their Bandcamp.

Keep an ear out for futurebabes and their upcoming Colorado shows, as well as a new tune or two as they are currently in the studio!

-Norman

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

Sweden's INVSN Bringing Post Punk Dystopian Pop To Larimer Lounge This Monday (09/18)

By: Norman Hittle

Hailing from the more isolated parts of northern Sweden, INVSN (Invasionen) will take the stage at Larimer Lounge this Monday, September 18th for one of their tour stops in a show curated by Brooklyn Vegan. This five-piece dabbles in post-punk/dystopian pop with a backing of alt rock. Check out the video for their single “This Constant War”:

Regarding the name INVSN (Invasionen, which roughly translates to “the invasion”), the band has said: “We did a couple of records in our native tongue under the name of Invasionen but when we decided to take this globally we felt that a change in language and a new name would be in place.”

INVSN.

INVSN.

INVSN's sound definitely has a post rock/punk vibe with a great deal of raw instrumentation and some more refined pop feels to give it a very gritty, yet well produced appeal very reminiscent of Love and Rockets with hints of Broken Social Scene and Joy Division.

Take a gander at INVSN's full album:

Along with Dead Orchids, INVSN will be making an appearance at the Larimer Lounge Monday as part of their American tour. Details and tickets here!

Keep up with INVS 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.

Review: Empress' Industrial Post-Punk Record 'Ink' Is Buzzy DIY

By: Jesse Sandoval

As the semester comes to a close, a buzz is in the air. Most of us, I imagine, are bristling with the months-long amount of pent up energy that wintertime often leaves us with. We’re biding our time, tending to the last of our stifling inside-duties ‘til that special time of release: summertime, summertime, summertime! And what better music to accommodate these feelings than Empress' most recent release, Ink?

Listen to Ink:

Ink is fun. It’s catchy, it's melodic, it’s earnest, it's punk. Over the span of four years, Empress have been honing their own style of industrial/post-punk and with this release, the Denver-based band has proven they have come into their own. Their DIY approach has led them to a state of self-sufficiency that I am sure many bands pine for. Members Santiago (vocals/percussion), Xavier (bass/rhythm guitar), and Alex (lead guitar/bass) all live together and record everything in their house. This allows them to record at any moment of inspiration and, from what I’m told, them doing just this is not uncommon. Several of the tracks on Ink are likely products of some band member’s sleep being interrupted in order to capture a moment’s inspiration before it’s lost in deep dreams…

Empress.

Empress.

The music on Ink is completely enjoyable because of how straight-cut and organic it is. Empress don’t try to be anything they’re not, and don’t try to affect any sound that isn’t true: they do what they do and that’s it. Their music is strong because of it’s simplicity, and ultimately, it works because it accurately conveys some of the most basic feelings we all share: feelings of longing, of unrequited love, of disconnectedness, of humanity.

As Empress have developed their musical abilities, they’ve also taught themselves to mix their own music (I’m a sucker for DIY) and the progress they’ve made in their last four years is very impressive. In the time since they cut Ink, they have actually been working on some new tracks and were kind enough to share some of those with me too. It’s clear that they are expanding and breaking their own molds, and I can see that there will be more to look forward to from Empress. Unfortunately, we will not be able to witness their long-term growth first-hand because come May, they will be moving to LA to shake up what they can there.

Good news is, on Saturday, May 6th they will be playing a show to celebrate their departure at Seventh Circle Music CollectiveThe Beeves, Meeting House, and others will share the stage. So go give Empress a warm Colorado farewell, and keep up with up with the trio after their move here.

RIYL: Joy Division, New Order, Wipers, The Cure, NIN

-Jesse

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

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake: A Chat with the Venomous Band's Frontwoman Hayley Helmericks

By: Deana Morton

The band with a bite: Denver's Snake Rattle Rattle Snake.

There’s something venomous about Snake Rattle Rattle Snake. The band name alone describes a sound that is alluring, hypnotizing and mesmerizing, all of which the group manages to deliver effortlessly. As someone who leans toward bands like The Cure, Joy Division and Depeche Mode, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake fits right into my wheelhouse. Their latest release Totem is textured with synthesizers, guitars and drums. Lead singer Hayley Helmericks' psychedelic crooning voice is reminiscent of great singers like Siouxsie Sioux or Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen. SRRS have a unique sound with a progressive modern edge.

Hayley recently chatted with me to discuss the evolution of her vocals, the Denver music scene and how Snake Rattle Rattle Snake is a family affair.

Do you remember your first exposure to music?

My brother Wilson (guitar/keyboard) and I grew up in a household where there was always music on. My folks were taking us to music festivals from the time we were born!

Was there a particular album or singer that inspired you to start singing?

I was always drawn to Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac when I was young. Then of course there was a brief Top 40 radio phase, then a singer-songwriter phase and by the time I could drive myself to the record store and buy my own music it was all PJ Harvey, Fugazi, Radiohead and Sleater-Kinney.

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake.  

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake.
 

You have such a beautiful, distinct voice with so much confidence and a command over your lyrics when you sing. I’m guessing it’s been a journey to develop your vocals. Can you talk a little bit about that process?

First of all, thank you! I've always been a singer but I definitely wasn't always confident about it. I was the little kid who would sing and show off for my family but if put on the spot, I would shut down and get super shy. That said, I've always been outspoken and confident in other areas of my life, so once I started playing with other musicians and turning [things] up loud, it became easier. I have a low voice so it took me some time to figure out how to use it to my advantage. My first band Monofog was loud and raucous and I was screaming a lot. In Snake Rattle Rattle Snake it has been more about maintaining the natural power of my voice, but using it in a more precise way. I think I'm a much better singer than I was 5 years ago.

What year did Snake Rattle Rattle Snake form and how did you all come together?

We played our first show on Valentine's Day 2009, so we've been together 6 years now. My husband Doug and I were in Monofog together for many years before that and knew we wanted to start a project with my brother Wilson. The three of us had written songs and jammed in the past and it was good timing to start something new. We knew Andrew Warner (drums) from the days of playing shows with his old band Red Cloud West and he'd always expressed interest in playing too. We've had a couple of people come and go, but Jon Evans has been playing bass with us for a while now. [He is] another addition brought on from being friends through music, namely his old band Achille Lauro who practiced in the same building as us.

Scaled.  

Scaled.
 

You guys have received a lot of attention as one of the best Denver bands of the year from 303 Magazine and The Denver Post. How is the Denver indie music scene different or the same from other indie scenes around the country?

This is a tough one and the short answer is I don't know! The scene in Denver is very insular, a nod like "Band of the Year" here doesn't mean anything anywhere outside of Denver; outside of Colorado. And that's fine. We've been lucky to get local attention and it has afforded us lots of great opportunities. There has been, and continues to be, the problem of getting noticed on a national level. Things like OpenAir and various arts programs help, but there isn't the infrastructure here yet to support bands/musicians/artists because our scene is still relatively new and growing. We are lucky to have a diverse sound and a large talent pool. There is a LOT of music here- we are beginning to be known for that in Denver and people are certainly banking on it.

Hayley on   OpenAir   Colorado Public Radio.  

Hayley on OpenAir Colorado Public Radio.
 

You’ve shared the stage with bands like The Dead Weather, The Rapture and Devotchka. What has been your most memorable performance and how has sharing the bill with such high profile bands impacted how you approach to live performances?

Watching the Dead Weather sound check in an empty Ogden Theater while we folded freshly screened shirts will always be at the top of my musical memories list! And playing with The Rapture after spinning their music at every dance party I've ever had was amazing. Playing with those bands just makes you want to get better, write better songs and put on a better show (but I feel like that after I see any amazing band, high profile or not). It definitely does make you consider the production of it all- I want fabulous lighting and set design and outfits too! And good sound, I always want good sound.

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake recently released the video for “The Breath and Glow” by filmmaker Matthew Brown. What was the concept behind the video and how did the creative process unfold?

Matthew Brown is a friend of ours and he had always shown interest in doing some kind of film work for us. When we released Totem he singled out "The Breath and The Glow" immediately and we basically let him go wild with it. He had recently moved to LA, so he was primed to cast great actors and find cool locations. He picked up on the dark, psychedelic vibe of the song and went with it. We couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

SRRS's latest release:  Totem .  

SRRS's latest release: Totem.
 

I think the chorus to “Versus” is a perfect example of the dark, enchanting lyrics that fill Snake Rattle Rattle Snake’s catalog. Is there someone in the band that takes the lead writing lyrics for each song, or is it more of a group effort?

I write all the lyrics. I've been a journal-keeper and poem-writer since I was young, and that took the form of lyrics once I started playing music in my teens. I like to create imagery without spelling it all out for the listener. I like there to be a little mystery, a little bit of obscurity.

Catch Snake Rattle Rattle Snake at their next Denver performance: at UMS!

-Deana

Follow Deana on her music blog 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.