Review: Prep Rally "Break In" the New Year with Latest Single

By: Julia Talen

Just shy of one year after the release of their debut EP, Passing Notes, Denver electro-pop duo Prep Rally will reign in 2019 with the release of their new single, “Break In” when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve.

Prep Rally.

Prep Rally.

The pair, made up of Tatum Russo (vocalist and flautist) and Drew Norris (instrumentalist), have clearly pulsed the Colorado indie scene with their dance-pop tunes, ethereal, tiered vocalization, and intriguing instrumentals.

“Break In” highlights these enticing qualities in Prep Rally’s music, evocative of the pop trifecta, Haim with it’s upbeat, fun pace and dance feel. Norris’ explorative instrumentation is certainly something to take note of- it’s playful and different with each verse, and has a whimsical quality that keeps listeners engaged. In addition to the instrumentation, at times in the track, Russo’s vocals have a retro vibe similar to Denver’s beloved Alaina Moore. At other times during the song, when Russo’s vocals are layered, the tune reminds me of something celestial off of Grimes’ Vision album.

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Along with the delicious indie quality of “Break In,” the lyrics couldn’t be more fitting for a fresh start in the New Year. Listeners will take away invigorating optimism from lines like, “I used to break down… I’m breaking in now” as they spin and strut their way into 2019 with this track.

-Julia

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

Fast Car Slow Car Has Us Dreaming About "Waffles"

By: Julia Talen

Philly-based bassist Breshon Martzall of The Districts’ offshoot project Straw Hats has ventured into his own side project called Fast Car Slow Car. He recently released a music video for his latest single called “Waffles” and it’s definitely worth a watch. The trippy video embodies a DIY vibe, gritty and not overly-produced, containing intriguing visuals, contemplative themes, humor, and rad wackiness.

The video opens with Martzall standing in front of a blank wall with an animation projected onto it, and corded phones hanging upside down; a very peculiar, inverted world evocative of the track’s lyrics “I feel so upside down on picture perfect days.” The opening shot is a play on perceptions, reality, and truth, priming viewers for the remaining scenes and shots of the film. As the video progresses, multi-colored shapes like circles, squares, and hearts distort, focus in on, or cover up parts of each frame, elevating the videos themes surrounding confusion and search for clarity.

The self-aware intermission in the video made me chuckle, filled with silly factoids about waffles, offering a reminder to not read too deeply into the trippiness of the video and perhaps the world’s general absurdity. Either way, the project evokes, intrigues, and invites a rewatch.

Keep up with Fast Car Slow Car 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.

Denver's Holiday Bazaar Features Food, Fashion, Fire Pits, & Booze

By: Julia Talen

Denver’s Holiday Bazaar is back, and ‘tis the season! This festive event takes place at the end of November into December. For those anxious to scope out a variety of local vendors while sipping on festive libations, Stapleton’s Shops at Northfield host a Denver Bazaar Pop-Up event on Thursday, November 29th from 4PM-10PM. Admission is free and the Stapleton Holiday Bazaar will feature over 40 fashion trucks and rad vendors, plus attendees will have a wide range of libations to choose from including beer, wine, cider, and spirits.

The Bazaar.

The Bazaar.

RiNo’s  Holiday Bazaar spans across the second weekend in December- December 7th 5PM-10PM (free admission until 7PM) and December 8th and 9th from 10AM-5PM (free admission until 12PM). For those who stroll in late, admission is $5 at the door which gets you into the giant, trendy Bazaar located at 2845 Walnut Street showcasing 100+ vendors, makers, artists, and more.

Not only can guests shop around, but they can also hang by the fire pits, nosh on snacks from some of Denver’s finests food trucks, listen to music, and check out the RiNo BOOZ Hall centrally located in the Bazaar featuring booze from Rising Sun Distillery and Jack Rabbit Hill Farm (among others.) And don’t worry about snow or icy conditions, because the inside of the Bazaar is heated, so you can soak up all of the cozy, holiday vibes. To learn more about this awesome event visit the website 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.

Knuckle Pups' Debut Record 'San Panino' Drops This Weekend

By: Julia Talen

Knuckle Pups, a Denver-based five-piece band, are releasing their first ever musical project, San Panino digitally and on cassette tape this upcoming Saturday, October 27th. And to be honest, after a listen, I was shocked that this is the first project the group’s produced.

Knuckle Pups.

Knuckle Pups.

Texture deepens each track on San Panino, perhaps because of the exceptionally layered vocal harmonies and the dynamic instrumentals. Bare and percussive elements echo, while dialogue with airy and ethereal synths glides listeners through this original project, filled with movement. The movement feels adventurous and exciting, and it carries listeners into unique yet comforting musical realms.

San Panino opens with the track “Last Whim,” a tune bursting at the seams with energy which explores coming of age, youth, and relationship complexities. The tune runs, and listeners run with it, cruising through the song’s wonderful syncopation. You also get a taste of the group’s exceptional vocal blends, which thread throughout the cassette.

The next track, “New Reckless” opens up with playful synths. The tune feels whimsy, in an infectious way as Oliver Holloway (principal songwriter) croons questions like, “So what/am I/ today?” The title gets at the recklessness of relationships- new relationships- and the wondering and questions of one another which comes along with that freshness. The tune builds and listeners hold on through its progression, reflective of the song’s final lyrics, “Hold on.”

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“Bottom Baby” is perhaps the most poetic and inquisitive track, with lyrics like, “Down to the bottom baby/out of control/ upside the inside maybe.” My favorite part of the track is the bridge, a mixture of catchy percussion, and “ooo’s” which flood the track like waves drifting through various facets of the tune to what feels familiar.

San Panino finishes with “Wealthy Diner.” We linger in the slow verse on this one, accompanied by Holloway’s shaky, raw, and refined vocals. He sings, “Lovely the way you lie with me/just where we’re supposed to be/and across the moonlit line/we would watch the wealthy dine,” and the instrumentals take off, lifting us into that “moonlit line.”

Knuckle Pups emerges in a vast sea of Colorado indie music with an extremely original and enticing project, a project that elevates the group, showcasing an originality that’s difficult to compare. The casette’s rich layers and imagination compel listeners to hold on for the ride and get lost in the sublime landscape of the music.

See Knuckle Pups for yourself this Saturday, October 27th, at Larimer Lounge as they take the stage with Saintseneca and Trace Mountains for their release show.

Keep up with Knuckle Pups 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: Rodes Rollins Comes Into Her Own With 'Velvet'

By: Julia Talen

Rodes Rollins (Talia Taxman) has truly come into her own in the last year and a half. Since the release of her acclaimed, coming-of-age EP, Young Adult, Rollins has gone on to release a series of singles including “Nasty Woman” and “Boom Pow.

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Her next musical project, called Velvet, which drops October 19th, is an A/B Side record underscoring Rollins' impressive range as an artist. Her music straddles the sphere of all sorts of genres, from psychedelic rock to folk with a bluesy flare. This record is no exception.

The A Side's "Mystery Man" opens up with vintage instrumentals, which reminded me somewhat of some of the instrumentals The Growlers incorporate in their music. There is a sort of "Wild West" vibe throughout the tune as well, which is perhaps a nod to Rollins' roots having grown up in Boulder, Colorado. Complimenting that western old-time vibe are her exquisite, spooky, and synthy vocals that allure listeners deep into the story of a search for someone as she sings, "Mystery man/hold a gun to his head/what you want you can get."

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Verse foils lyrics on the B side of Velvet with the track "Wrong Turn" when Rollins' sings, "We take a step towards a demise/darling we/try and then we realize/darling we/hung the towel up to dry." In the search her first track alludes to, her second track suggests a wrong turn's been made. In this "wrong turn," Rollins' tune slows down, shows off even more of her incredible vocal range, and plays up a somber side to her vocalization. There too, is an openness in her voice evocative of Cat Power. In addition to her vocals, Rollins rounds out the B Side with an incredible guitar outro solo which elevates the mesmerizing quality of both of her tunes on Velvet, as listeners quickly come to realize her guitar-playing talent is quite remarkable.

Rollins' music is original, combining all sorts of influences as she continues to experiment and grow as a musician. Such originality is certainly a difficult achievement in our musically saturated world, but Rollin's is going for it and doing it well.

-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: Dinosaur City Records Has a New Mixtape Out & It's More Important to Listen to Now Than Ever

By: Julia Talen

Dinosaur City Records (DCR), a small independent label out of Sydney, Australia, has been issuing annual mixtapes for the last couple of years. With their third one released at the end of May, Jordanne Chant, co-founder of the label shared, “the mixtapes are a nice way of showcasing a diverse mix of brilliant music that’s being made at the moment.”

Cody Munro Moore. 

Cody Munro Moore. 

Most of the tracks off Dinosaur City Records Mixtape #3 are unreleased, and listeners can locate indie musicians based in Australia, NYC, and LA across the compilation’s 23 tracks. Moreover, as the DIY music scene continues to go unrecognized or be simply dismissed (ahem Rhinoceropolis and Glob here in Denver), it’s important for people to tune in to what artists are continuing to create and innovate.

Thankfully, DCR is keeping independent music alive. Chant and co-founder Cody Munro Moore clearly have a keen ear for original musicians and listening to this mixtape (via online streaming, digital album, or cassette tape) is a must for any music nerd or curious listener looking for something different than their Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist.

The mix starts with Ali Flintoff of Denise Le Menice. Her hazy track, “Addiction” casts a lofi DIY vibe that’ll permeate much of the album, weaving psychedelic surf rock undertones into the fiber of the tune. It’s catchy, lovely, and enticing.

As we move through the tracks, we get a taste of a variety of genres. “Tender” a tune by Sophie McComish, the artist behind Tuffence Meringue, soothes the listener with hypnotic vocals and instruments, evocative of authentic musicians like Frankie Rose.

Brooklyn-based band Navy Gang’s tune, “Just Kidding Not” follows. Their infectious and witty tune with lyrics, “I’m indecisive/I fucking hate you/No I don’t/Don’t know if I love you” evokes Animal Collective during its chorus, as the band whales, “I don’t ever wanna be alone again.” It’s pretty brilliant. And this clever, experimental tune leads into “Cockroach,” by Bourgeois Earth, which is probably my favorite of the 23 songs.

“Cockroach” is wildly exploratory, melding electronic sounds with brass instrumentation, and ethereal and alien-like vocals that make their mark. If you like the 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion, or really any sort of experimental pop music, you’re going to love this one. Though it’s exploratory, this ingenius track is compact and holds together, not flailing every which way as it probes all sorts of music genres and instrumentation throughout its corners.

Mezko’s “Without You” reminds me of some genius new work from LCD Soundsystem, Bored Short’s “Bar Cards” slows things down a little, reminding me vocally of Alex Cameron’s somber, but brilliant songs. Sadventure’s “One More Night” also breaks ground with its drifty, floaty melody, similar to a song off an old M83 album, getting heavier as it moves along.

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In the latter half of the album, we hear Painter Paige Emery’s lo-fi, hazy tune, “Here Now Stay Go” which sounds like she’s painting pieces of her song into the air to create a masterpiece of sounds.Track 17, Romy Church of e4444e’s song, Volume Two has a rhythmic opening and shifting and folding lo-fi vocals that are calm yet penetrating. And Cody Munro Moore’s new wave tune “As The Empire Fell Apart” definitely evokes the artful, post-punk vibes of Talking Heads.

I’ve only scratched the surface on the myriad of incredible music across this mixtape. DRC’s curated a record that’s original, unique, cutting edge, and incredibly important to listen too. The small label’s mission to honor and acknowledge independent music is of utmost importance to the music scene these days, so be sure to tune in.

-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: Elder Grown Release First Record In Seven Years & With It, They've Found Home

By: Julia Talen

The Durango-based band Elder Grown released their sophomore album last month, and though the band's been playing music for a little over 10 years now, they haven't released a record since 2011 (Fire on the Way). Sam Kelly, the band's saxophonist gave insight into why the group decided to self-title this record: "[it] well represents the band because the group… blends so many different genres throughout a set and can kind of sound like a mixtape… this felt like the best representation [of us as a band]."

Elder Grown.

Elder Grown.

The record certainly showcases a range of talent and skill with a bit of a mixtape vibe. The tunes are explorative organically, highlighting the group’s knack to dig into different genres, yet because Elder Grown has a "jam band" improvisational quality to their compositions, the movement between each genre, whether it's funk, jazz, reggae, or hip hop, flows and works.

The motif nature, a connection to Colorado's landscape, runs throughout the record. The first track, "Feel you in the Sun," brings listeners into the album slowly, like a sun peaking onto the Front Range. The instrumentals including the soft percussion and whiny saxophone linger and wander before the band begins to sing lyrics, "Home lies in this dirt, in this earth/Hope lies in your hands, always now, in your hands." The group's vocal harmonies are rich and layered, similarly to their instrumentals, as the track traverses jazz and rock genres over the course of seven minutes, ending full circle on the same notes that it opened with.

The next track, "I Like You," is a more upbeat switch from the opener. The tune has a lo-fi feel with hazy vocals. The funky sax and bass carry through this short track, and the song has an energy to it similar to the adrenaline rush of having a crush that the lyrics allude to, with twists and turns that reflect the ups and downs of human emotion.

The third track "Dreamin'’" showcases another side of Elder Grown: hip-hop. It opens up with a bit of a disco feel but dives into hip-hop with facets of the track and a reminiscence to Jurassic 5. Once again the sax brings a bit of a funky edge to the tune as the lyrics tell a story we can all relate to of a relationship that has ended, but both parties "dream" of what it would be like to go back to the good times.

As the album continues on, the tracks continue to survey the skillful variability this group's tapped into. "Animal" reminded me of Portugal the Man (another very versatile band), "Rolling Thunder" has an Eastern European feel to it with rootsy instrumentals, and "Never Stop Dancing" has a catchy electro-pop ambiance.

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"Made or Ate the Bread," another longer track, was one of my favorites. Lyrically the tune is poetic: "Be mindful how you made or ate the bread/Remember you don't always catch the fish you’re fed/With this in mind I give my thanks and I get my rest." The tune picks up with a groovy beat and more reggae vibes before cascading into a dreamy and wandering interlude juxtaposing the upbeat pieces of the song and holding a mirror up to one of the albums themes: that though you may wander or stray, you always come home to yourself.

Elder Grown has come home to themselves with this album. The sax carries through their tracks, as do the themes of relationships, human complexities, and nature allowing them to seamlessly and organically survey all sorts of musical genres that represent the band's musicality. There's a fearlessness embedded in the tracks. Elder Grown goes for it because they've come home to themselves in this self-titled record.

Check them out this weekend Saturday, May 26th at Denver Day of Rock at the Welton Street Stage.

-Julia

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

Making Movies' Music Powerfully Explores The Modern Day Immigrant Experience

By: Julia Talen

Latin-indie-rock band Making Movies serendipitously forged when singer/guitarist Enrique Chi played music at a “Day of the Dead” street festival in Kansas City. Upon hearing him play, Maria Charaund, the leader of a folkloric Mexican dance group for children, encouraged Chi to play at her restaurant up the street and to meet her sons. Turns out Maria just so happened to be the mother of Juan Carlos and Andres Chaurand (now Making Movies’ percussionists).

Chi connected with Juan Carlos, who’d grown up playing Latin and salsa music and dancing to Mexican folklorico. Chi shared all along that his musical vision was “always to grab those Caribbean rhythms, those Latino rhythms, and re-link them to rock’n’roll. At the time I didn’t know how linked they already were to rock’n’roll. I just had like this gut instinct that they were. And once we started playing with Juan it was just like it instantly it all made sense.”

Making Movies.

Making Movies.

The bilingual band evolved into a group of four; two sets of brothers: Enrique and Diego Chi alongside Juan Carlo and Andres Charand. Their Latin cultural backgrounds pulse through their music, charging their songs with important messages and themes critically relevant to the country’s current political climate. We spoke more with Enrique Chi about the band’s cultural background, ideology, and their upcoming show May 14th at e-Town Hall in Boulder.

You spoke a bit about the band members familial roots in the music. I’m also wondering, were there any sort of influences from Kansas and growing up in the Midwest that have shaped your music?

I have a lot of thoughts on this. I feel lucky as an artist to be so introspective all the time, because I’m always forced to answer those sort of questions you know, ‘How did you get here?’ and it’s good for humans in general. On one hand, you have Juan Carlos and Andres who have Mexican-American roots, and you have the disconnect from Mexico, which inspires you to get more folkloric. It was something that happened with me too. Like their mother started that dance group in order to keep their roots.

One thing about being in the Midwest, when you feel so disconnected from people that are like you, you can find small pockets, but you’re always the small minority. So you cherish the things about your cultural identity at a heightened level. I think a lot of people try to like shed their parents’ culture, like, “Ah my parents, they were like this or that. I’m different.” But when you’re an immigrant from an immigrant family those things about the old versions of your culture, they become super, like you romanticize them. And so everybody in the band loves old, old Latino music. We don’t really listen to contemporary Latino artists very much. We listen to the classic stuff that we remember hearing at our grandparents’ house or grandmother’s house or with our mothers or whatever because of that longing. Because it brings us back home. So that’s one weird influence.

The other thing is that by being in the Midwest, in Kansas City specifically, Kansas City has a vibrant jazz scene. And it has come back up in the last few years. There’s a ton of history there. Like Charlie Parker is from there. And I think the first time I saw Juan Carlos perform I didn’t even know him but he was playing at the jazz museum in a Latin jazz band of sorts. Because the Latino bands, like salsa bands, almost have to play in the jazz environments. Juan Carlos has that… so the improvisational components and those things have kind of stuck with us.

And then Kansas City doesn’t have a really successful music scene. When I was growing up there was like one band that had broken through, that I knew of. It was the Get Up Kids. But outside of that there was hardly anything. And their path was the same path. The scene was all about you rent a van and you play basements or punk-rock venues or you play art spaces. There’s no other tools to a musical career. Which is not totally true, but it is kind of true because in Kansas City, their network runs out pretty quickly if you’re trying to build a real national or international career. So you kind of have to leave one way or another. And if you’re a broke artist you have to buy a crappy van and do whatever you have to do to be playing in New York or Chicago or L.A. and be building connections and experiences. So that thing really stuck with us.

Growing up, I looked up to this band called Shiner. And Shiner’s like this really angular rock’n’roll band. But they became fairly successful through that kind of path. Sometimes the guitarist can be kind of dissonant and angular and that actually comes from the Kansas City indie rock scene or punk rock scene.

Whatever the underground scene may be [that angularity is] almost a necessity. Because you’re playing oftentimes when you’re touring like that with no resources for people that didn’t want to see you. They’re just randomly at the bar, or they’re there because the other band is a local band and they’re not that good but they have friends and the friends came. You’re friends are there because it’s a night out. And you’re the opener and you’ve just drove like seven hours for your one shot in Indianapolis. And you’re gonna make it you know? And you’re opening up to these people and they’re not really there to see you so you almost have to be noisy. You almost have to like yell at them. Like, ‘Hey hey hey! Pay attention over here!’ And it’s almost a gimmick to attract attention and be like, ‘Okay so now that I have your attention, here’s the music we make.’ And so there’s some of that in the Kansas City scene and I think that we have a little bit of that… a little angular.

I’ve seen the photograph of you guys with “DACA” written in permanent marker on your skin, and I’m curious, has the band’s message or political stance shifted since the election?

It’s shifted. It’s kind of both you know. We made the first record about an immigrant neighborhood and the kids who grew up disenfranchised. And even before we made that record we’d put out a video about undocumented kids. ‘Cause I remember, to bring it all full circle, that day I met Juan Carlos and his mother, I also asked this guy who looked like he was in charge, I was like, “Hey this is really cool. A lot of young people they’ve made stuff and they’re selling it. And he was like, “Yeah we have an after-school program for kids in the neighborhood,” and so I was like, “Oh I’d love to volunteer and we can give some guitar lessons.”

And I resonated with, like, I can tell when a kid just moved here from another country. Like I remember that feeling of feeling a little disconnected… And so I’ve been writing about those experiences- about how these kids when they become aware of the fact that they’re not suppose to be here. They’re “illegal” or whatever the words are and how much that shifts their psychology, and so I would write about it because it was on the top of my head. And I remember we used to say, “Oh you know we’re not a political band, we just write about social topics. We write about what we’ve seen and what we’ve lived.”

We already had for four years put up the “We are all immigrants” flag at shows because to me that’s like the story of all music… how do you make any kind of music? It is a mix of all these people’s culture… without human migration nothing is anything. Everything comes from this beautiful mix of what people do. And so you can take pride in your own heritage, but you should do that with this education that human beings have been moving and mixing cultures and language since the dawn of time. We’re just some small part of that huge conversation.

And then we had this opportunity at the Folk Alliance Conference [in February 2017]. We did a musical piece right before the keynote speech by Billy Bragg. A lot of things he said in the speech that day really resonated with me and he told me, ”You know it’s your turn now. Pete Seeger once told me it was my turn now, [that he couldn’t] write songs for your people, your generation… [And] just like that it’s your turn now,” and he looked at me and pointed at me.

After hearing Billy Bragg, I was like, you know, we can be political because the reality is that when you pull out an ideology like that, like a crazy idea like, “All humans should have the same rights as you and I have” and you pull that out of an ideological discussion and you try to implement it into the world in any capacity,  it becomes political. I can’t just say, “Hey these kids who are undocumented, we need to do something” and pretend that that’s not a political decision that needs to be had. For me it’s my life. I know this kid. He is undocumented, and I wish he could go to college and he doesn’t have any other options. He grew up here. But to solve that very human personal problem, it’s a policy, and we don’t claim to know the political answers, you know, but we can raise awareness and ask people to engage. I think if people really look inside themselves they know the answers. Even people who are judgemental, you know, if they meet someone from a different culture and then build a bond that opens their minds, they’re like, “Oh shit maybe I was looking at this all wrong.”

Making Movies at their NPR "tiny desk" performance. photo courtesy npr. 

Making Movies at their NPR "tiny desk" performance. photo courtesy npr. 

And what about the name of the band, Making Movies? How did that come to be?

My dad loved rock’n’roll. He was almost like an outcast in small town Panama, small town Central America, and he would dig for rock’n’roll records. So during my childhood musical experience, I was always going through his vinyls and he really loved Dire Straits. And I loved them as a kid too. I would sing their music. Even before I spoke English, I would sing this song called “The Walk of Life.” And one of their albums is called Making Movies.That’s where I lifted it from. I always thought that’s a cool meaning you know. I loved that music before I knew the language. And so I loved it for the other languages that music carries. And here I’m in a bilingual band. It kind of represents that fearlessness of you know- our music can communicate the story to them through some other mechanism. ‘Cause I still remember the feeling of being elated by that song and I didn’t know words. It just moved me.

Anything our readers should expect at your upcoming e-Town show on Monday, May 14th?

I would just say that the opening act, Alex Cuba, he’s from Canada and he’s like a legend. He has multiple Juno Awards and is really respected, but he hasn’t toured the U.S. very much. So it’ll be a real treat to have him with us, and he’s also won Latin Grammy Awards and stuff like that too, so definitely come out early and don’t miss Alex Cuba.

And be prepared to move a little bit! It’s kind of hard to be at a Making Movies show and not move your hips a little.

Get tickets for Making Movies e-Town show 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: Nate Barnes Dives Deep On New Solo Project Plutinos

By: Julia Talen

Having toured and played with musicians and bands such as Rose Hill Drive, Ryan Bingham, Pete Townshend, and Matisyahu, Nate Barnes has set out on his own with his musical project Plutinos. Listeners can pick up on subtle influences, from the rock’n’roll of Rose Hill Drive to the mellow, singer/songwriter qualities of music by Ryan Bingham in Barnes’ new record, but Plutinos dives deep, proving Nate Barnes as a musician with his own sound and vision. Barnes has written, performed, and recorded all of the music on the EP, and each track incorporates a plethora of Barnes’ musical skills encompassing a wide variety of rock genres, from psychedelic, to indie, lo-fi, classic, and everything in between. Simultaneously, verse content explores the nuances of breaking the mold and becoming yourself after trying to fit into others’ boxes.

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The first track off the self-titled EP titled, “Out of Touch,” draws listeners into the disorientation of feeling “out of touch” with reality and with yourself. The guitar and bass are strong, and symbols thrash as we drop into the tune. Barnes’ voice is hazy and distant, rounding out the harder rock’n’roll instrumentals while also playing on the theme of feeling mixed-up and frustrated, “floating in the wicked sea” of “false hope, broken dreams” and feeling “out of touch.”

The second track, “Dream is Lost,” juxtaposes the first, with a slower more reflective tone. The tune opens up with language that conjures vague but evocative imagery with phrases like “slowly fades away” and “edges blur” denoting dreams, memories, and lost feelings. The instrumentals in this track mirror the sung lines, and the tune feels abstract and lulling.  Echoing and ethereal “ooo’s,” which we got a taste of in the first track, accompany the repetitive refrain in which Barnes croons, “the dream is lost.” His vocals are so echoey they are almost hollow, hovering over the resounding and meandering guitar that takes us through this misty, introspective track, which mourns the loss of a real, true dream, forgotten from getting caught up in a fantastical illusion.

Nathan Barnes.

Nathan Barnes.

Up next is “Trying To Be,” which traverses the relentless pressures of fitting into conventional molds or boxes you think you should be in. The guitar and drums are heavy, again contrasting Barnes’ hazy vocals, which feel slightly more clear in this song. The lyrics are relatable, talking about social media’s influence on people “trying to be” something they’re not, and the tune, quite catchy, makes this one a stand out.

In “Falling Away,” the track opens with a more rustic guitar before Barnes layers his now signature “ooo’s” that haunt and echo with a bass and drums that reverberate. There is a beautiful bridge in this one, almost as if we come to a reckoning in this EP’s story of self-destruction while trying to fit in, where Barnes’ sublime guitar reminds me of something in a Sigur Ros song. Listeners get lost in this tune as it ebbs out and we wake up to the final track.

“Hand in Hand” is a hopeful send off to forge forward from the messiness of life with support so you don’t fade into illusory societal conventions and pressures. The verses sound like Tame Impala- psychedelic and deliciously dreamlike- yet the refrain, which builds, reminds me of the rawness that the Dum Dum Girls cultivate in a variety of their tunes.  A few bridges bring in that interesting, experimental, and ethereal guitar soloing similar to the previous track, highlighting how this holistic album weaves vocal and instrumental themes throughout, keeping it cohesive.

This record “venture[s] into uncharted wates… to dive deep,” as Barnes’ explains, like the mythological creatures named after the trans-Neptunian plutinos, who are associated with an underworld. Barnes’ self-titled EP feels hypnotic, raw, and contemplative. He has taken his experience playing with other bands, elevated it, and created something that is true, authentic, original, and definitely astronomical.

-Julia

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

Katelyn Of Shook Twins Talks To Us About The Band's Evolving Sound & Hints At Special Guests For Upcoming Show

By: Julia Talen

Identical twins Katelyn and Laurie Shook formed the now Portland-based indie-folk-pop band Shook Twins in 2004. They released their first album, You Can Have the Rest in 2008. Subsequent albums, 'Window' (2011) and 'What We Do' (2014) highlight their enticing vibe and unique sound that has evolved and shifted over the years. The layers of ambient and, at times, percussive vocal harmonies that thread through many of their songs remind me of the experimental vocals Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian brought to Dirty Projectors. With groovy acoustic and electronic instrumentals, evolved from their early folk roots, Shook Twins explore all genres and really cannot be confined to one sound; thus, they reach a wide audience. Neil Gaiman has taken notice and put eloquently, “I love the harmonies of the Shook Twins, the dreamlike songs that seem somehow permeated by the American Folk tradition, without actually being part of it. They make music that twines through your soul the way vines cover an abandoned shack in the woods." Shook Twins are coming to The Bluebird Theater this Sunday, October 15th, and we had the lovely opportunity to chat with Katelyn all about the band, from the beginnings to what their future looks like. Read on:

Who makes up Shook Twins?

Laurie, my twin sister, and I are the lead and main singers of the band. Then we have Niko- we just call him Niko Slice- his last name is hard to pronounce, so we just call him Niko Slice. He's kind of the other core member. He plays electric guitar, mandolin, and some bass. We do several of his songs in our set too; he's a songwriter. And then we have Josh Simon on the bass mainly, but he plays guitar as well, and plays some flute, too, actually. And then Barra Brown on the drums. He's mostly all drums, but he does plays flute as well on one song.

Shook Twins.

Shook Twins.

How did Shook Twins get their start, both with you and your sister, and then growing into a bigger band?

We started playing just the two of us at local wineries and bars and stuff in our small town that we grew up in, Sandpoint, Idaho. That was in 2006, after college, when we started doing that, just playing around kind of just for fun. We realized how much we really enjoyed it, and at that point, we were starting to write our own songs, just moving slow and having fun with it. And then we found some players to play with us, none of which are still in the band. The first crew was awesome, and we went on some really fun tours, nothing too legit or anything, but you know, a great time. That was in 2007 and 2008. Then the first band kind of all went their own ways, and Laurie and I decided to move to Portland. We just started meeting other local musicians there- Barra and Josh we met in Portland. Niko we met earlier in California, and he eventually moved up to Portland. Yeah so just a slow process. Laurie and I kept playing since 2007 and have kind of gathered players along the way.

Did you and your sister grow up playing music at all before you started playing at local wineries and bars?

We grew up singing, but we didn't play any instruments until we were 17, so we didn't take it too seriously until after college I'd say.

Did growing up in Idaho influence you all in any way?

It definitely did when we were starting out. When we were writing our first songs, we were there and were really influenced by nature and just the beauty of Idaho. The town we grew up in is totally gorgeous. We had a lot more nature time back then. But with our sound now it's definitely more influenced by the city life. In Portland we're absorbing all that creative indie-artist, indie-rock genre. Our sound has gotten a lot more electronic-y and a lot more groovy than it used to be. It's more city-influenced nowadays.

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What kinds of music did you both grow up listening to, and do any of those artists or bands influence Shook Twins?

Growing up our influences were kind of all across the board from all genres and everywhere. Early on childhood was like, you know normal pop, Celine Dion and Spice Girls. But then the first artist that kind of grabbed us and started turning our ears towards the folk scene was Ani Difranco. And it's amazing that you just asked that because we've been huge fans of Ani since we were 12 or 13 I'd say, and that kind of got us into writing more poetically and darker and deeper lyrics, outside the box. And just last weekend we got to sing with her on stage at the Festy Experience over in Virginia, and it was the best! She doesn't necessarily influence our sound too much today, but her power and her fierceness and feminism are definitely still influencing us hugely.

Speaking of exploring, I looked on your website and read about the Golden Egg, which is really cool, but I'm also curious… tell me about the telephone mic.

Yeah that's definitely become an essential part of our sound. I found it on Craigslist actually. I forget what year I found that; I think it was 2010 or something? We were experimenting at the time, recording ourselves, and started finding it was cool to do different effects, like distortions almost, on certain parts with our vocals. We thought that it added a lot to have a different texture, especially since when we sing together or in unison it's hard to tell that there are two voices singing. But if you add some texture to your own voice then it kind of pops out a little bit more. I was looking on Craigslist for a bullet mic, which is a harmonica mic that kind of has that same radio-y effect. And then I found that weird DIY telephone microphone. It's an actual old phone handset from the nineties or eighties or something, and I got it. And then a fan got me that golden case that goes over it.

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That's awesome. I love the vocal stuff that you all incorporate into your music- it's really interesting.

Thank you.

I was also wondering about what the music writing process looks like for both you and your sister and the group together.

Mostly it's Laurie and I that write together. Sometimes I'll just write a whole song by myself and visa versa. Lately we just sit down and write together, and it's been completely collaborative. On our upcoming record which will come out in the spring, we have a song on there that we wrote as a band which was really fun to do. We don't have that much experience writing with anybody else other than the two of us, so it was a cool experiment. It worked out really well. We will do that again in the future. But mostly it's us, and then we will bring it to the boys and they'll come up with their parts.

The Shook Twins At Red Rocks.

The Shook Twins At Red Rocks.

You mentioned an album coming out in the spring. Aside from the tour you are on now, what's up next for Shook Twins?

Well that actually! We have a duo EP coming out in November, which will tie people over until we get out the full-band, full-length album in the spring. In the meantime, I think we're going to be touring straight through and then start touring really hard, focusing on the album release tour in the spring when the full length album comes out. Nothing too extraordinary coming in the future but just playing shows!

Katelyn did inform me that Shook Twins will have some special guests at the Bluebird playing with them this weekend; some famous Coloradans. I have a few ideas, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

Don’t miss Shook Twins, Sunday, October 15th, with Tallgrass and Ian Mahan, at The Bluebird! Ticket 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: After Remixing A Track For Bon Iver, Nightshifts Has A Debut Single Of His Own

By: Julia Talen

After catching his first break remixing a Bon Iver song and being retweeted by Justin Vernon (who then released the track on JagJaguwar), Toronto musician and producer Nightshifts has released his debut single, "All Along," and its dreamy, lo-fi, vintage-y vibe does not disappoint.

Listen to “All Along”:

Nightshifts shared, "I wrote and recorded the track in my unfurnished apartment when I first moved downtown; just sitting on the floor with my guitar, mics, and synths. I crafted it to sound like it was created at the bottom of the sea."

Nightshifts crafts a wistful, psychedelic track with an underwater vibe that emerges as the tune swims through verse and refrain, fluctuating by way of Nightshift's wailing “oh’s,” echoing guitar, and synths. Nightshifts lyrics like "scratchin' at the surface/like an endless skipping stone/I want to dive into your waters/want to be with you alone" allude to the deep waters of pensive thought one floats in and out of when longing to tell someone that you love them.

Nightshifts.

Nightshifts.

“All Along” vacillates between misty and murky reverberations to a refrain with rooted beats and soulful impressions, like the transition to a night shift; the haze of a bright, neon sign made more visible in the night's obscurity. The catchy bits interspersed throughout blurry, echoing resonances get stuck in your head, making you want to dance a little, as Nightshifts continues to experiment with sound and mixing in this debut single. Nightshifts will be releasing a new song each month over the next year, so keep up with what he drops next 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.