A-Mac & The Height Reach New Peaks With New Record 'Part of It All'

By: Will Baumgartner

The ridiculously talented Denver band known as A-Mac & The Height have made a lot of noise over the past year, with a sold-out album release show at the Bluebird Theater, performances at their own Spread the Word Music Festival as direct support for the Kyle Hollingsworth Band, and a two-month fall tour which took them from the Midwest all the way to Florida. Behind all this activity is the group’s frontman and songwriter Alex MacKenzie-Low, a musically driven young man whose contagious energy not only drives the band, but has been an important part of the Denver area music scene for several years. I first met Alex when he booked my band at Moe’s Original BBQ in Englewood and the relationship has continued through a few years of the Spread The Word Festival, an annual event which is MacKenzie-Low’s personal labor of love and has been a vital and energizing part of the local live music landscape for the past five years.

A-Mac & The Height. 

A-Mac & The Height. 

Having seen the band (formerly known as A-Mac DZ) a number of times, I was not at all surprised to find that their current album Part of It All is filled with the same great songs and stellar musicianship I’ve come to expect from this band. The genre description on their Facebook page- “upbeat folk rock, reggae/world, hip-hop, jam” prepares the listener for a rather common combination of sounds in today’s music landscape, but the album itself is much more than the sum of these parts.  

Listen to Part of It All:

“Sun Comes Up” kicks off the musical journey of the record appropriately enough with a driving mashup of reggae and hip-hop, and a story of finding oneself and one’s family of friends through persistence and music. It begins with hopping on a train, facing loneliness and pain with the line, “‘Til I find my friends, my motivation/Music, yes, my inspiration.” These are lyrics that anyone who has chosen the challenging life of a musician can understand: we feel so much, and life can be so frightening and difficult, but music and the people we play it with makes it all worthwhile. From the drum and bass intro through the masterful rapping in the middle, all the way to the end, this is a great song performed by a super-tight band.

The second song, “Ends I’ll Never Know,” takes us into distinctly brighter territory. If “Sun Comes Up” is about climbing out of the darkness, this one is about dancing in the sunlight. It’s a happily grooving song with a bouncy guitar line that sounds like it could have come from Paul Simon’s Graceland or The Rhythm of the Saints albums, at least to my ears, it definitely has that happy South African/Latin-inspired feel. It’s also a markedly pop-sounding song, with its catchy chorus and hook-driven arrangement. You can practically hear the smile on MacKenzie-Low’s face as he sings “Oh I, oh I, ready for whatever comes my way today/Yes I, yes I, ready to grow to ends I’ll never know.”

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 “Indica From Heaven” is, not surprisingly, a feel-good party track. If weed is your party, blaze up and groove on down. The deeply funky reggae feel, horn lines, keyboard solo, and the lyrics all encourage the listener to just have a good time and not think too much. It’s also one of the most danceable tracks on the album, so don’t get too stoned to get up! The syncopation and breaks in the arrangement make it perfect for busting some moves.

The fourth track, “It Would Be Easy,” starts off in a sadder place. It’s a breakup song with lyrics like, “All our friends know you crushed my soul,” so the musical feel is appropriately wistful, at least at first. But the song is also about letting go, so there’s a break in the middle that suddenly feels like a Calypso/Salsa dance party, with a rolling Latin-sounding piano line and horns bouncing merrily over the top. You never know what to expect with these guys!

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“Streets of Colorado” is a homecoming anthem from a traveler who has gone away, but come back to where he’s from and feels most at home there. It’s the most rock-sounding track on the album, and the band ably supports the singer’s story with another tight arrangement and more excellent playing.

The album’s penultimate track, “Back On My Own,” revisits the theme of lost love while still emphasizing the singer’s drive to pick himself up and keep moving, which seems to be almost the theme of the whole disc: persistence, as Calvin Coolidge said, is omnipotent. As with all the songs on this album, the arrangement is a big part of what makes this song work: the individual instruments and the way they play off of each other, the musical dynamics, and the juxtaposition of different musical styles stacked together to create a balanced structure. The casual listener doesn’t need to “get” what’s going on behind the music to enjoy it, but musicians, songwriters and arrangers will find much to appreciate and admire. 

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And so we come to the final song on the album, “Here’s to the Love.” It’s a testament to the strength of MacKenzie-Low’s spirit that while he’s writing a song as a requiem to a dear friend, he still insists on not wallowing in the pain of his friend’s passing: “I will remember the good times always/No one can take away your memory, so here’s to the love.” You can hear the pain in his voice and in the music, and still, there’s that insistence on finding the good in everything, even death. So, ultimately, it’s not a sad song, but a celebration of life and love.

Again, I can’t overemphasize the strength of the musicianship on this record, and its importance in making it a successful recording. Drummer Matt McElwain, bassist Stephen Edwards, keyboardist Karl Rivers, saxophonist Joey Bean, and lead guitarist Ted Kleist are all great musicians, period. Colorado is lucky to have such talent in our midst, and A-Mac & The Height are blessed by the way they work together.

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Part of It All is available on Bandcamp. A-Mac & The Height are just returning from their fall tour, and will perform next in Colorado on Saturday November 25th at Mother Muff’s in Colorado Springs. Keep up with the band on their Facebook page and website.

-Will

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

Review: On Repeat Experiment With Synth And Space Sounds On New Single "Pontoon"

By: Julia Talen

It’s been a couple of years since Blake Britton and Jake Lamos, the artistic duo behind the music group On Repeat, have announced new music aside from their single, “Minus,” released in early 2016. In October 2015, On Repeat issued their debut EP, The Mighty Unkind, and followed up their EP release with shows throughout the Denver area at venues like Larimer Lounge and the Seventh Circle Music Collective. Since February they have not played a live show and have been working away on their latest EP comprised of fresh songs including their recent release, “Pontoon.”

The artwork for On Repeat.

The artwork for On Repeat.

The track, “Pontoon,” shifts away from the grunge-y alternative overtones of their first EP, honing in on mixing and layering harmonies, instrumentals, and vocals interspersed with explorative electronic sounds. The intro of “Pontoon” draws you in slow, as the twangy guitar and subtle, easy bass treks along on an even melody. Soft symbols and steady drumbeats accompany the dynamic notes of a keyboard. The notes sound like the high keys on an electrified organ and begin to elevate the seemingly folksy tune, alluding to the forthcoming experimentation that On Repeat weaves into this track.

Listen to On Repeat's "Pontoon":

A Local Natives and Modest Mouse vibe consistently cradles the first half of the song as Jack and Blake’s vocals meld together swimmingly singing lyrics with the lines, “raised on a pontoon I was used to loneliness/tempted by the signs that I’d finally make it.” The poetic lyrics are vague, yet leave room for creating your own impressions as the song lulls back into a calm composition after the first refrain, thus mirroring the intro.

The single begins to build wondrously with the second refrain. On Repeat fuses together distinctive elements as they subtly thread in underlying vocals crooning, “only want it, ‘til you’ve got it/now you want it, you don’t got it” with experimental sounds like space noises and synthy intentional bits of feedback. The track finishes off with the low-key melody rescinding while blurred and blended sounds erupt and wrap up the song, leaving the listener almost on a cliffhanger, wanting more. I suppose we have more to look forward to when On Repeat releases their latest EP and perform this song and others live with The Ephinjis and Meeting House, Friday, September 29th, in Englewood at Moe’s Original BBQ!

-Julia

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

Boogie Lights Brings Electronic Dance Funk To Denver


“The feeling of the 70s mixed with the sounds of today to create a new genre: Electronic Dance Funk.”  

That’s what Denver’s DJ Boogie Lights has become known for in the local music scene. Mixing the sweet, sweet sounds of 70s funk and soul with 90s house, nu-disco, and modern tropical house, Boogie Lights has become affectionately known as the “Everlasting Gobstopper of Funk.” 

The man behind Boogie Lights, Mark Henrichs, has been releasing remixes, mash-ups, and original tracks for the past two years under his current moniker. Just last May, Boogie Lights released his biggest single to date, “The Feeling (ft. Abi Clark).” It’s a transportive fun house of funk and disco with upbeat electronic elements and catchy lyrics. It’s got a 90s nostalgia to it that makes it hard not to want to just rave out to in your favorite mesh vest.

Listen to Boogie Lights’ “The Feeling (ft. Abi Clark)”: 

This Saturday, July 8th, Boogie Lights has his debut show at Denver’s Tony P’s. Mammoth Water and Universal Concepts will share the stage for a funkclectic evening. Grab details here and if you miss it, make sure to catch Boogie Lights next at Moe’s Original BBQ in Englewood on August 19th with Johnny & The Mongrels and Sylva.

 Keep up with Denver’s Boogie Lights here.  

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

Review: Redline Alchemy's '194 EP' Is As Fluid In Sound As These Multi-Instrumentalists Are Onstage

By: Norman Hittle

The guys in Redline Alchemy don't accept the traditional approach to having a band. To them, playing music is so much of a fluid art, that they themselves fulfill that fluidity by being multi-instrumentalists and loosely structuring themselves in a myriad of genres.

Listen to Redline Alchemy’s new 194 EP:

Comprised of the Ausmus brothers (Joe, Dan, and Nick), Corey Golon, and Nate Wilson, this quintet explores musical wizardry in their 194 EP through rock, jazz, funk, reggae, and jam band feels. With nods to notable bands such as Primus, Sublime, and Silverchair throughout their five songs, I also couldn't help hearing some Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Led Zeppelin influences.

194 EP opens with their single “Soul Searching” in a fun free flow that kicks into a 90’s era alt rock reggae feel that combines the stylistics of Cake and Gorillaz in a garage band format; song two “Pluto” follows suit musically and brings up the comical controversy of the dwarf planet’s categorization as a planet:

“Pluto is a planet, don’t you understand.
Your head’s stuck in Uranus if you can’t handle that.
Unless it is the Death Star then I think it's safe to say.
Pluto got the shaft in every way.”

Song three, “Rhythm of the Dance,” languishes with a sort of Counting Crows jam vibe while song four, “Burning Slow,” unleashes the EP’s best guitar lead lines and some fantastic saxophone soloing. The final track, “Making Moves,” starts out with some accapella, then hits with hip-hop and reggae jam feels to close out the EP.

Overall 194 EP is a solid writing effort from the guys in Redline Alchemy. It’ll be interesting to see where they take their music from here. Catch them at Moe’s BBQ Saturday, June 10th and keep up with the crew on their 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.

Meeting House Are Getting Ready To Drop New Music On You

By: Trevor Ryan

There really is no debate on whether or not the world needs more aspiring young musicians. We need bands that not only challenge themselves in forward motion, we need advocates for our influences as well. We need bands like Meeting House. I recently talked with guitarist/vocalist Ethan Cowell about where the band is since their last chat with BolderBeat, what's on the horizon, and of course, their upcoming new music, which will be released May 19th with a show at Denver’s Seventh Circle Music Collective.

Meeting House. Photo Credit: Veltrida

Meeting House. Photo Credit: Veltrida

If you haven't heard of these guys yet, they’re the loud, bluesy band from Denver CO with a grungy funk rock center. It's hard to put a name to their exact sound, but from the sound of it, these guys intend to keep it that way. With a well received self-titled EP, and countless live shows under their belts already, it appears that there is no stopping this three-piece group. And as you'll find out in my conversation with the frontman below, they have much, much more to give us.

Listening to your self-titled EP, it definitely feels like your sound comes together organically. Would you consider yourselves collectively still in that “finding yourself stage” or are you pretty comfortable with where you're going?

I don't think it's a matter of sound really. We don't want to sound like anything. We want it to sound like us. So I don't know, we may not ever find it.

Life at a Meeting House show. Photo Credit: Veltrida

Life at a Meeting House show. Photo Credit: Veltrida

You've been compared to The White Stripes and Arctic Monkeys. How does that kind of recognition make you feel?

Honestly I don't even believe it, like it seems so awesome. It's such an honor to [be] put out there and be compared to these people. Like I said, I just have a hard time believing it.

Just recently, you guys have played Moe's BBQ, The Moon Room, and Seventh Circle Music Collective. What would you say is your favorite type of venue to play as a band?

One with nice people. We just like to play. That's the reward for us: having the privilege to play anywhere.

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You've been teasing with talk of new music on May 19th. So as fans, what should we expect from the new release?

That's a tough question to answer. We have so much music. We just like to make stuff and record. Hopefully just honesty. We don't want to come across as overly cliche. We just don't want to sound like we're trying to be anything, we just want you to hear... us.”

Will the new music be a follow-up EP?

We’re actually still deciding, arguing over how much we want to release. Whether it be one or two songs, or a full album.

Ethan Cowell. Photo Credit: Veltrida

Ethan Cowell. Photo Credit: Veltrida

Are there any bands that you've encountered or played with that are really fueling you at the moment?

The Beeves are our number one best friends in the entire world for sure, both on and off stage. But The Ephinji’s are a great band as well- we play with them a lot. We feel really blessed to be part of the environment that is the Colorado music scene.”

These guys have an energy that will make your bones jump- you know the kind I'm talking about. So make sure you see ‘em while they're still in the underground. Catch them at Meeting House with The Beeves Friday, May 19th at Seventh Circle Collective before they jet out on tour. Keep up with Meeting House’s latest news on Facebook.

-Trevor

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

Explore the Underground "Indie Garbage" That is The Hunger Artist

By: Jura Daubenspeck

The Hunger Artist (“H.a.”),who goes by his pseudonym Travis Moor, or ™, for short, is a bit of an anomaly. Constantly grappling between the need to create and the reluctance to unveil these creations to the public, he promenades through Denver’s underground music scene with his tribe and plays music for the hell of it.

It’s likely you have not heard H.a.’s music before, unless you’ve stumbled into one of their shows at The Deer Pile, or at a word-of-mouth house party. There’s nearly no music released online, which serves as a protective layer, as well as a call to action: if you’re going to judge their self-titled “indie garbage,” at least get up and dance to it in person first.

Since 2011, the band (Travis Moor, Hunter Fausnaugh, Collin Fausnaugh, and Stefan Short) have been creating music you can move your body to, but when examined further, their tunes also have a deeper meaning. Circulating throughout the themes of philosophy, love, and the overarching goal of self-actualization, H.a. teeters between a playfully punk attitude, pop-like beats, and a general quirkiness that does not fit any mold.

I had the opportunity to talk to Moor himself, which felt like a rare treat. Aside from discussing the general history of the band, their inability to fit into Denver’s exclusive music niches, and the hilarity of pigeons, what I found most fascinating about our conversation was the concept of creating for the sake of creativity, rather than for other people.

The rationale behind much of Moor’s creative decisions revolves around “inside jokes with himself,” and when prompted about what he wants people to know about him, Moor replied, “I’ve never really thought about it until I started thinking that people actually may want to know me. I want people to focus on what they’re doing and what they’re experiencing.” We discussed Franz Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist,” which details the life of an archetypal artist, who, despite the declining appreciation of his craft, performs no matter if anyone is watching.

In the last few years, H.a. has been hitting it hard, finishing an album, recording music at The Spot Studios, and having enough music for a second and third album. And if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to hear some of it. The band just released their music video for “Gotta Live a Life” which adds a quirky spin to the concept of corrupted ideas and groupthink. The video was directed by Josh Mackey and stars the ever-bizarre punk musician Little Fyodor.

Watch H.a.’s “Gotta Live a Life” music video:

While the connection between artists and their fans is often highlighted, The Hunger Artist plays the devil’s advocate, and suggests that creativity should inevitably exist for the creator itself, because in the end, it’s your soul that rests in that piece of art.

Lucky for us, H.a. has an upcoming show with Stereoshifter, The Backseaters, Sliver, and Defying Mara at Moe’s BBQ on January 28th, and it’s bound to be a great time. Tickets can be purchased here.

-Jura

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

Moe's BBQ Has One Tasty Lineup Planned This Thursday

By: Jura Daubenspeck

This Thursday, October 13th, Amy Kress will performing at Moe’s BBQ on South Broadway in Denver, the perfect spot for tasty eats and even tastier tunes. With the release of her album Fly this past summer, Amy’s material is fresh, vibrant, and edgy.

Amy Kress.

Amy Kress.

Amy will be joined by special guests including Leigh West, Mawule, Pearls and Perelz, and Teal and Tangent:

Leigh West.

Leigh West.

DIY electronic pop artist Leigh West pushes the boundaries of her music, with floaty melodies that keep it hypnotic and strange. Self-taught, self-developed, and classically trained, Leigh’s obsession with her craft has proven to be successful at her many gigs in Denver and Los Angeles. Her debut single “Hello Estella” made it to college radio across the nation, and acquired almost 40,000 hits on YouTube. Leigh West’s music is a smorgasbord of color, synth, and in-your-face beats.

Mawule.

Mawule.

Denver R&B artist Mawule reminds us that so much of the beauty of music comes from its ability to strengthen, empower, and connect others. His recent music video release for “Black is Beautiful (feat. Bianca Mikahn & ILL Se7en)” is gaining momentum and serves as a powerful message for our country. Mawule’s soothing vocals, gentle yet powerful stage presence, and catchy electronic beats make his music a unique experience that always elicits good vibes.

Pearls and Perelz.

Pearls and Perelz.

Solo artist Olivia Perez, otherwise known as, Pearls and Perelz is a mystery yet to be unveiled. Her ethereal, abstract sound strays from congruity and encourages the exploration of the mind’s dark corners. Pearls and Perelz keeps it cool, slow, haunting, and trance-like. Her music creeps up slowly and brings out the moodiest of feels.

Teal and Tangent.

Teal and Tangent.

Dubbed as “dark indietronica,” Teal and Tangent represent the half-dream half-awake fogginess that occurs in the depth of the night. Made up of rocker Adrienne Osborn (vocals) and Alex Moroz (keys, Ableton), this duo casts their dreamy poetry onto an effervescent journey into space. Teal and Tangent invites you to get lost in their rhythms, and listen with closed eyes.

Thursday night’s lineup is a downright interesting, eclectic combination of varying electronica artists, all sent to bring an added boost to the tail end of your week. So if you’re feeling moody and groovy, be sure to make it out to Denver’s Moe’s BBQ this Thursday at 8:30PM! Tickets are on sale now; grab them while you can.

-Jura

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

Amy Kress: Concerts, Fashion Shows, Standup Comedy, and a 2017 Tour

By: Jura Daubenspeck

As 2016 heads for its finale, Amy Kress is showing no signs of stopping. With the recent release of her sophomore album, Fly, Kress has plans to play frequent shows throughout Colorado the remainder of the year, and is already planning out her 2017 Southeast Tour.

The album art from Amy Kress'  Fly .

The album art from Amy Kress' Fly.

In regards to touring, Amy is doing what many indie artists do these days: booking her own tour. With help from the BLDGBLKS Music Company team, she has mapped out her tour route, started researching and reaching out to supporting artists, and contacted venues. The three-week tour will take place in May and June 2017, where she’ll be making numerous stops through Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and finally, a hometown return to the Denver area.

This jam-packed tour is bound to be one for the books, and will set the stage for Amy to share her inspiring story with a larger audience. When asked about the tour, Amy shared:

"I've never driven across that part of the US, so I'm excited to see new sights and meet new people. I'm looking forward to the whole experience really, both the good and the bad. I'm excited to just being daring, not letting fear of the unknown guide my heart. I'm approaching this fearlessly because no matter the outcome, I'll be doing the most adventurous version of what I love that I can think of."

With a tour less than a year away, Amy will be booking local shows throughout Colorado, as well as open mics and private parties. On October 13th, she will be playing at Moe’s Original Bar B Que, with opening acts Leigh West, Mawule, Pearls and Perelz, and Teal and Tangent. This will also be a reunion performance for Amy and Teal and Tangent’s vocalist Adrienne O; they last played on the same stage together at Adrienne’s Elevation EP release party in April 2016. This eclectic lineup is definitely not one to miss.

Just two days later, on October 15th, Amy will play at the Center Salon and Spa’s 9th Annual Breast Cancer Fashion Show. She’ll be strutting her stuff on the runway, playing her music, and sharing her story for attendees. Then on November 1st, Amy will showcase her hard work at Denver Improv, with a five-minute standup set at the comedy club. Amy’s ability to talk about her whirlwind story in such a straightforward manner will surely prove beneficial for her on stage.

Amy Kress.

Amy Kress.

Amy hopes to play weekly performances from now until her big Spring/Summer 2017 tour, so there will be plenty of chances to see her belt it out. Tickets for her October 13th show at Moe’s can be purchased here. And keep tabs on Amy’s upcoming announcements on her Facebook and blog.

-Jura

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

Signs and Signals Keep On Flashing In The Studio and On Stage

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Find yourself "Human Again" with Denver's Signs and Signals.

Big things are in store for Denver’s alternative rock group Signs and Signals. The five-piece band, made up of Jason Kelly (vocals), Ryan Fraser (bass/supporting vocals), Brian Carpenter (lead guitar), John Ensey (guitar/supporting vocals), and Jimmy Fountain (drums) brings a powerful, eclectic flair to their music that is continuing to build momentum.

Signs and Signals at Denver Rockfest last weekend. 

Signs and Signals at Denver Rockfest last weekend. 

Since their inception in May 2014, Signs and Signals have played a number of shows throughout Denver, including Denver’s Underground Music Showcase, have been featured on 93.3 Locals Only, and raised over $6,000 in their Kickstarter campaign, allowing them to record their album, Human Again.

Human Again, which was recorded at The Spot Studios, has a number of songs that are powerful, catchy, and urge you to get up and move. Personal favorites from the album include heavy hitters such as “Fight or Flight,” “Human Again,” and “Here In The Dark.” While each band member has varying musical backgrounds, ranging from classical training, to the “by ear” technique, to being well-versed in the punk/ska scene, their unique talents all come together to create a fantastic sound. And as they continue to play together, along with newer members Ryan Fraser and John Ensey, the group has plans to tweak their sound to a heavier, more emotional feel. We can expect from their new music more riffs, artist collaborations, and deep-cutting lyrics- and I, for one, am excited.

S&S bringing the house down. 

S&S bringing the house down. 

After listening to Signs and Signals’ recorded music, as well as watching them perform on stage, I found that their music truly comes alive when seen in person. I watched them play at Moe’s BBQ in November 2015, and the energy felt during their performance was unreal. They had everyone headbanging, singing along, and cheering- and personally, those are my favorite kinds of shows. You could absolutely tell that the group has a strong bond and genuinely enjoys rocking out with their fans. To top it off, their music carries an excellent blend of “radio-friendly rock” with ass-kicking melodies.

2016 has been a hell of a year so far for the guys of Signs and Signals. They performed at the Bluebird Theater in January, the Marquis Theater in February, and finally, brought the house down last Friday night at Denver Rockfest at the Oriental Theatre, along with Innerspace, Vermillion Road, and My Own Iris.

Listen to Sounds and Signals title track from their album, "Human Again:

So what do we have to look forward to with Signs and Signals? After the excitement of their recent performances, the group has plans to write more music, record a new music video, and work on their collaborations, including their recent piece “Gravity Lies” with vocalist, pianist, and songwriter Amy Kress. That track will be released by the end of the summer.

Though you may not have many chances to see them play live during the upcoming months, be prepared for an even stronger Signs and Signals next fall. And in the meantime, check out their music on Spotify, Soundcloud, and their website.

-Jura

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