After 10+ Years, The Feathermerchants Are Releasing a New Record

It’s been more than 10 years since Connecticut’s Feathermerchants released new music or played a live show. In fact, you’d be more likely to find founder and guitarist Pete Veru wandering CU Boulder’s campus with his nose in a book on Dutch finance than you would on a stage. The recent Ph.D. graduate left the band in 2007 for academic pursuits; the other Feathermerchants members moved on to new lives then too. But today that’s all about to change. After 11 years, Feathermerchants have released a new record, A Pull From The Flask.

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

Veru founded Feathermerchants in 1996 and has always been the band’s primary songwriter. After recording a demo with renown producer Jim Chapdelaine in Hartford, Connecticut, Chapdelaine actually joined the project. Veru then recruited bassist Drew Glackin and drummer Jon Peckman. The next year, the crew began recording their self-titled debut record and added Erin O’Hara and Allison Winston into the fold on lead vocals. Guest musicians like John Fay (The Tragically Hip) and Hassan Hakmoun also played on the debut.

Upon its release, the single “Water and Dreams” was picked up from Feathermerchants by director Frank Todaro for his film Above Freezing. The band then scored a distribution deal with Rykodisc and found themselves making waves on the CMJ college radio charts. Reviews of the record, however, were mixed and around 2000, lead singers Erin O’Hara and Allison Winston left the project and were replaced by Shannon Kennedy. It was also at this time that former Saturday Night Live bassist Paul Ossola joined the fold as Glackin left to join The Silos.

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

With a new lineup, the band found themselves back in the comfort of Chapdelaine’s studio, where they recorded their second release Unarmed Against the Dark. The album was an indie folk pop piece with “songs with deep hooks drenched in reverb.” Feathermerchants even recruited Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers; Rolling Stones) to play on a track, the song “Brooklyn Ferry” which is a tribute to Walt Whitman. Upon completion, Unarmed Against the Dark fell into the hands of a South African publicist by chance, and the band developed a large following overseas thanks to a slew of South African media features. Soon, Feathermerchants found themselves playing a number of high-profile shows at places like Joe’s Pub, on festival lineups like South by Southwest, and with other popular bands of the time like Keane, October Project, and Grey Eye Glances.

In 2006, the band released what has previously been their final record, Last Man On Earth. The band’s radio success continued on the CMJ charts, and they were even featured on National Public Radio. The band swapped Ossola for bassist Jay Wiggin and continued performing. In 2007, the group played what would be two of their last shows at Joe’s Pub and the University of Hartford’s Music for a Change series. Both of these live sets were recorded, and Chapdelaine locked away the tunes without much thought at his studio following the shows.

A Pull From The Flask.

A Pull From The Flask.

Shortly thereafter, the band parted ways amidst the dying record label industry and the emergence of live streaming services. Veru went on to academia, Kennedy also pursued an advanced degree, and Chapdelaine went on to earn 13 Emmys for his work in the music world. Peckman and Wiggin continued playing in local projects in the East Coast music scene.

Then in 2016, Veru returned to the states after a historical research stint in Amsterdam. He called Chapdelaine and the two reminisced on their last shows as the Feathermerchants. Chapdelaine invited Veru back up to his studio, where the duo spent time listening and mixing the once-forgotten recordings from their final performances. Together, they gathered 16 tracks for A Pull From The Flask.

“Jim and I sat through dozens of hours of mixing and producing. There were songs that we played during those shows that we hadn’t played since the late nineties; songs that Shannon Kennedy never [even] recorded in the studio.” Veru told us. “After putting it away for ten years, all of a sudden it sounds fresh to me again. We really were hitting our stride as a live band right when things ended. I think younger kids who were musically aware in the 90s might think so too.”

We definitely do. Chapdelaine and Veru self-admittedly enjoyed piecing together their new record, so whether you’ve been a Feathermerchants fan for years, or it’s your first introduction to this now classic 90s band, we hope you’ll share in our excitement of the release of A Pull From The Flask. You can find it on iTunes today.

Keep up with the Feathermerchants here.

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.

Psych Rock & Multimedia Project King Eddie To Release New Record 'Holographic Universe'

By: Norman Hittle

King Eddie, a denver-based psychedelic rock and VR multimedia project, is preparing to release their second full-length album, Holographic Universe, this Friday, November 17th.

King Eddie.

King Eddie.

Holographic Universe was recorded at Moon Magnet Studios in Denver and marks the band’s first full length release since 2015’s King Eddie (self-titled) release.

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The band’s charge, led by Jay Mars (guitar and vocals), is further filled out by guitarist Benjamin Buttice, bassist Velvet Adams, and drummer Linton Wright. King Eddie’s sound is reminiscent of some of the more lo-fi Britpop concepts of the late 70’s mixed with perhaps a touch of Tame Impala’s signature modern version of psychedelic rock.

Regarding what Holographic Universe represents, singer and guitarist Jay Mars told BolderBeat: “[The record] is a concept album about reconciling human vulnerability and the depth of your own experience with what quantum science and ancient religions tells us is true- ‘reality’ is an illusion. It's loosely based around virtual reality and the futurism of Philip K Dick and Westworld.”

Jay Mars.

Jay Mars.

The Holographic Universe release party will feature Kyle Emerson, Panther Martin, and DeCollage (DJ set), along with live virtual reality visuals from the DenVR collective. Check out this fully immersive experience at their album release show this Saturday, November 18th at the Hi-Dive in Denver, CO. Event details and tickets here!

-Norman

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

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: The Yawpers' 'Boy In A Well' Is An Intensely Dynamic Psychobilly Concept Record

By: Norman Hittle

The Yawpers’ third album, Boy In A Well, is a conceptual album set in World War I France where a mother abandons her unwanted newborn child. Yet, despite the tragic plot line, the music carries an intrigue that’s difficult to ignore.

The Yawpers. Photo Credit:    Demi Demitro   

The Yawpers. Photo Credit: Demi Demitro 

Recorded with Alex Hall in Chicago at Reliable Recordings with production assistance and instrumental contributions from Tommy Stinson (The Replacements, Bash & Pop), Boy in a Well extends The Yawpers’ sound with intense, dynamic, animated, and at times, deeply personal tunes.

Boy In A Well, which is a followup to the band’s Bloodshot Records debut American Man (2015), was imagined by lead singer Nate Cook after a "reckless combination of alcohol, half a bottle of Dramamine, and an early morning flight." The result is a 12-song onslaught mingling psychological fascinations (German realpolitik, Freud, Oedipus,) and the lasting social and cultural fallout of WWI interspersed with Cook's own emotions surrounding his recent split from his estranged wife. 

Listen to The Yawpers’ first single “Mon Nom” from their new record:

The album’s psychobilly/rock-swing sonic approach seems to have influences ranging from Reverend Horton Heat, to Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and the Cramps. And I couldn’t help but hear some very Lemmy Kilmister-inspired vocals nodding to the late and great Motorhead.

“Armistice Day” lethargically takes form with haunting piano, harmonics and chanting, leading way to “A Decision is Made,” the rockabilly-blues fusion laced with sliding guitars and guttural howls. The sobering “A Visitor is Welcomed” then takes place with an almost gentle caress of acoustic guitars in the wake of the former tracks, and leads us to an equally somber “Room With a View.” All of that ceases thirteen seconds into “Mon Dieu” with a gradual galloping climax into seeming chaos that crescendos into track six: “The Awe and the Anguish.” Here we find a lo-fi recording of twangy guitars and an almost backwater country vibe until the final half minute of anthemic post-rock.

The album artwork for  Boy In A Well .

The album artwork for Boy In A Well.

“Mon Nom” builds from sporadic muted notes into a decisive cadence that marches into “Face to Face to Face,” where a blues/swing builds into straight southern rock. “No Going Back” comes to light featuring a pensive bass line that swells into a solid, yet muted distorted finality. “God’s Mercy” brings us back to a peaceful and calming moment from the maelstrom just before plunging into the surf-rock meets grunge in “Linen for the Orphan.” “Reunion” wraps up the odyssey that is Boy In A Well with a seemingly straightforward (at least for The Yawpers) rock/folk-blues vibe that would fit well in a 1970s Americana collection, drawing out on a final piano note of the angst-ridden, yet sorrowful tale of searching and longing.

The Yawpers will be in Denver at The Oriental Theater Saturday, September 16th for their record release show, with Jesse Dayton, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones, and The Beeves. Get tickets here and keep up with The Yawpers 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: 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.

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.

Review: Steady Dreamin' with Sam Rae's 'Bring Us To New Islands'

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Dive into the sweet, moody sounds of Denver’s soul-folk artist Sam Rae. She’s about to drop her new album Bring Us To New Islands this Friday, April 21st and, oh yes, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Sam Rae. Photo Credit:  Art Heffron

Sam Rae. Photo Credit: Art Heffron

Performing on the cello for nearly 17 years and composing for six years, this Midwest native has made waves with her eccentric, euphoric, and explorative music. She’s traveled throughout the country touring and accompanying folk artists artists like Gregory Alan Isakov, Brandi Carlile, and pop duo The Posiesyet she’s established her own sonic blend of looped cello, dreamy vocals, and folk/electric guitar.

Sam Rae’s 2014 album Stories from the Marrow left much to be anticipated for future releases, and Bring Us To New Islands has definitely delivered. It is a bewitching 8-track album that is just as sensual as it is disembodied. With songs like “The Let Go” and “Dragons,” Sam Rae’s music bares resemblance to the visual qualities of a Miyazaki film, while others like “Don’t Forget The Spaceship” have a slightly heavier cello and electric guitar-influenced sound. With constant incorporation of cooing vocals and rhythmic looping, Bring Us To New Islands is a meal that can be sampled one morsel at a time, but is best served whole. With each song comes a new energy shift that will float you on to your happy place, in whatever realm it may be in.

It’s time to harness the power of badass women like Sam Rae and join her on her exploration of music as a universal language. Check out her shadowy music video for “It’s Alright, It’s OK” here:

Connect with Sam Rae on Facebook and Soundcloud and be sure to give her new album Bring Us To New Islands a prompt listen when it’s released this Friday on all music platforms. The album will be a precursor to her upcoming spring tour, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

-Jura

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

Review: Colorado's TAARKA Drop New Record 'Fading Mystery'

By: Trevor Ryan

Every band has the dream of the perfect album: that one project that resonates with fans immediately. This may not be a far off concept for acoustic/folk band TAARKA of Lyons, CO. With their unique, fresh take on Americana, as well as their seventh album Fading Mystery dropping this Friday, March 10th, it’s safe to say this hardworking supergroup/husband and wife duo aren't going anywhere anytime soon except straight to your ears.

TAARKA.

TAARKA.

Combining a number of sounds including swing, folk, jazz, and even a dash of bluegrass, TAARKA produce a truly unique style sure to appease listeners of a variety of genres. Founded by vocalist/mandolin/guitarist David Tiller and five string violinist/vocalist Enion Pelta-Tiller, TAARKA’s current members also include bassist Troy Robey. TAARKA released their debut album TAARKA: Live In The Studio with Omniverse Records in 2001.

David & Enion.

David & Enion.

Breaking all sorts of new barriers with its folk sounds, Fading Mystery features everything from rugged, bluesy riffs to fun melodic, folksy vibes. This record really takes an imaginative approach to acoustic music. TARRKA give us raw and emotional vocals with full and inspiring instrumentals that honestly bring you chills at certain times. With every track flawlessly transitioning to the next, you never lose the overall “still” vibes within this moving piece of work.

“Polyamorous Polly Ann” comes out as the MVP on the Fading Mystery. Illustrating the honest beauty in acoustic music with such a mellow feel and powerful lyrics, this track proves the raw nature of the record. You can, at times, hear the real emotion in every musician at their own respective moments. In fact, there are times that you forget you're listening to an album and almost feel like you’re standing in the studio with them during their creative process. This is a record you can imagine yourself in.

With its experimental approach, listeners from every walk of life can groove to this innovative and melodically stunning record. Fading Mystery will absolutely leave you needing more, and wondering how 10 tracks flew by so quickly.

So make sure to catch TAARKA this Saturday, March 11th at Shine in Boulder for their CD Release Show, where they will play Fading Mystery live. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door. And be sure to follow TAARKA on the road and in the studio here.

-Trevor

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

The Apples in stereo Release Limited Edition Vinyl Boxed Set of 'Science Faire' + Our Interview with Apples Bassist Eric Allen

By: Claire Woodcock

The Apples in Stereo, who co-founded the famed Elephant 6 Collective (E6), have a new Limited Edition 3x7” Vinyl Box Set of their compilation album Science Faire out today. It’s been 20 years since the collection of EPs, singles, and tracks from the indie pop group were originally released between 1993 and 1995, recorded reel-to-reel at the E6 Recording Co.

“I knew [The Apples in stereo] was good, but I didn’t know the whole world was going to flip out over it,” said longtime Apples bassist Eric Allen. 

The artwork for the  Science Faire  compilation album.

The artwork for the Science Faire compilation album.

After two decades, Science Faire has become representative of “the good ol’ days." As Allen told us, “[Listening to Science Faire] really sparks how excited I was because The Apples were my favorite local band and I liked them as people quite a lot before I even started playing with them. Science Faire just reminds me of the pure joy I got from seeing them and knowing them.”

The Apples in stereo. Left to right: Doss, Dufilho, Fuzz, Ferguson, Allen and Schneider (seated).

The Apples in stereo. Left to right: Doss, Dufilho, Fuzz, Ferguson, Allen and Schneider (seated).

It was the height of the grunge era; back then the Denver band were just “The Apples”, a name inspired by the 1967 Pink Floyd song “Apples and Oranges.” Allen knew The Apples’ original drummer Hilarie Sidney from working at Wax Trax Records on Capitol Hill.

“When The Apples’ first 7 inch came out, I went to the record release show and just thought it was amazing,” said Allen. “It was so different than anything that was going on; to have something that was so poppy and kind of fast…”

The Apples in stereo.

The Apples in stereo.

Allen, who started out on guitar with a few hardcore bands, joined The Apples in 1995 after original bassist Jim McIntyre left and Elephant 6er Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) was filling in on bass. As Allen says, “Everybody plays guitar and every band needs a bass player.” So Allen picked up the bass and signed on after most of the tracks from Science Faire were recorded. “When all of those singles- the stuff that’s on Science Faire- was coming out, those were all the songs that I learned and toured.” he said, “Obviously I didn’t play on the records but I pushed those records; I toured those records.”

At the same time The Apples were first starting out, founding members Robert Schneider (vocalist/lead guitarist/producer), McIntyre, and Sidney were collaborating with Schneider’s childhood friend Mangum, Will Cullen Hart, and the late Bill Doss (The Olivia Tremor Control). That’s how the Elephant 6 Collective came about, paving the way for bands to exist like The Olivia Tremor Control (then known as Synthetic Flying Machine), Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power, Dressy Bessy, of Montreal, and of course The Apples in stereo.

The Apples in stereo 7" EPs (Tidal Wave and Hypnotic Suggestion), and the singles collection 7" Time For Bed with new original artwork. Together, these comprise the new Science Faire boxed set.


A few months after joining The Apples in stereo, Allen got a call from Schneider saying that the band was being asked to open for The Flaming Lips. That was the tour that took The Apples in stereo out of Denver to tour Science Faire, and eventually their later releases.

“Those songs really were kind of the bedrock of our shows for many, many years,” Allen said, adding, “And some of those songs have never left. I mean that’s not to say that we play them at every show or anything like that, but songs like “Tidal Wave” or “Turn Coat Indian” or “Not the Same,” we still play them.”

These tracks are all on the new limited edition Science Faire triple 7" vinyl box set via Chunklet Industries, and Allen’s teasing a more cohesive sound than the record release from ’96:

“Before, Science Faire [were] all these different 7 inch [selections] that came out on all different pressings at different times, and now it’s all been kind of streamlined through one pressing plant.” Allen explained. “It probably does sound a little bit more like there’s more continuity to it than if you just had all of your original 7 inches.”  

Taken from the original masters, the limited edition Science Faire boxed set takes on a wider, more cohesive scope. Allen says that when Henry Owens with Chunklet redid the record, he did it at 33 rpms rather than the initial 45 rpms, making the original recordings not only sound deeper, but more bass heavy, an element of the new limited release that Allen particularly digs.

The box for the limited edition  Science Faire  vinyl set via chunklet industries.

The box for the limited edition Science Faire vinyl set via chunklet industries.

The Apples in stereo have largely been on hiatus since the death of keyboardist Bill Doss in 2012. Lead singer/guitarist/producer Schneider has been a doctoral student at Emory University in Georgia for several years. And today, Allen and guitarist John Hill are the only members still kicking it in Denver.

So under that context, Allen said that listening to Science Faire makes him reminiscent, which isn’t something he goes out of his way to do often.

 “They’re still my favorite people in the world. The Apples [in stereo] is still my favorite band, but when you’re in it, you don’t have that sort of specialness you have when you’re removed.” he smiled.

It’s unclear whether The Apples in stereo will record new music in the future. But for longtime listeners, the new Science Faire triple record will be a remedy. Get the new special edition compilation of Science Faire here. Only 500 total have been pressed, and all of the clear/colored vinyl packages have already sold out in pre-sale, so the remaining limiteds are expected to go quickly, and may even be gone by the time you're done reading this... 

-Claire

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