Premiere: Listen to Moon Hammer's New "Unravelled" + the Band Tells Us How This Track Was Sewn Together

Moon Hammer. (Left to right: Reed Fox, Megan Crooks, Ishka Bee Phoenix, Mark Emmons) Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Moon Hammer. (Left to right: Reed Fox, Megan Crooks, Ishka Bee Phoenix, Mark Emmons) Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

Denver’s Moon Hammer, an ever-changing collection of Moon Magnet-affiliated artists, is playing Denver’s Underground Music Showcase on Sunday, July 28th at 3 Kings Tavern at 6PM. In anticipation of their show, they decided to premiere their new song “Unravelled” with us today before it drops on all streaming services this Friday, July 19th. The song has been created and “destroyed” several times over to near its final completion, so take a listen:

“Unravelled” was mixed by Neil Lyons and frontman Reed Fox, and mastered at Moon Magnet Studios, but prior to that, a lot went into the actual writing and recording process of this track. Says Fox, “Moon Hammer is a writing collective and most of our shows feature a lineup of different members. Everyone can bring songs to the group to play and it's usually Megan Crooks (Ancient Elk) or Ishka Bee Phoenix (Ghost Tapes) because they're genius songwriters. Megan showed us her song ‘Unravelled’ two years ago and everyone was eager to bring it to life. Usually the songs are recorded and released quicker, but this one took longer because we kept reimagining it and adding stuff to it, which is ironic because it is the most minimalist recording I've ever been a part of. The process was a lot like the quote I'd never credit because it came from Bono: ‘Making records is like making sausages, the end result is palatable but you don't want to see how it's done.’ Basically we recorded a ton of things and all agreed it was best to scrap almost all of it.”

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

Oddly enough, “Unravelled” almost became a House track at one point in the process. “We recorded it live initially with Dylan Johnson (The Other Black/Dandu) on electronic drums. Derrick Bozich (House of Aura/Sound of Ceres) came over and was recording mellotron months later and since the drums were recorded through an SPDS and every drum pad sound was mono on one channel, Derrick re-recorded the drums on separate tracks. With this project, Neil and I email projects back and forth frequently so I sent it over to him and he remade the drums again and re-recorded some awesome 808 bass. I think it was our third reiteration of drums and bass. He made it sound incredible and chopped up Megan Crooks’ vocals and threw the samples on pads and played them like an instrument (just like you hear in the recording). Then he emailed it back and I made a House version of the song. We considered using it for the chorus when Neil and I met up again at his studio to mix it some more and ended up realizing the House version was a terrible idea.” says Fox.

So how did “Unravelled” finally become sewn together?

“We scheduled a session for Megan, Ishka, Jeremy Averitt (Esmé Patterson), and Kevin Netz (Jurassic Netz/Fever The Ghost) to come over to Moon Magnet Studios and record more stuff, because we still were unhappy with [the song], but little did we know that a version from a year prior was our favorite, and the one you hear now is pretty much that. Kevin recorded gazillions of synths and bass (again) on it. Jeremy recorded xylophone over the whole thing. Ishka recorded vocals. Months after that we listened back to the version from a year prior and realized that was the best version and that we just needed to release it. Then Neil and I met up at the Magnet and I tried to include all the people that had recorded on it which was virtually impossible because that version had scrapped everything.

What you hear now is Neil on the beat, vocal chops, and 808 bass. Neil, Jeremy Averitt, and I co-produced it. Neil did a ton of the snazzy creative things. Derrick's mellotron is on the end of it, and you can hear Kevin's synth on the chorus. Ishka's harmonies are on the chorus and Megan sang and wrote the song of course. Jeremy's Xylophone is on the intro. We kept exploring options and didn't realize the song had already been finished and ended up having to dig up an old project file to get back to how it was before we ruined it.” Fox told us. 

In the end, the complex, two-year recording process of “Unravelled” almost mirrors the lyrics Crooks wrote from the start. Adds Megan, “This song is about letting the force of change and chaos take control and gracefully bowing to its power with faith that things will fall back in place for the better. I wrote the [lyrics] on a whim two years ago, pulling the knowledge from the ether, not knowing I was preparing myself for exactly this time in my life.”

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

After letting the force of change take control over their final product and battling their creative demons to get to the gold, Moon Hammer’s “Unravelled” is finally ready for eardrums everywhere. As for what this collective is up to next, Fox tells us, “Moon Hammer is performing on the MCA rooftop with Wes Watkins August 2nd at 7pm! We're also unleashing two more singles before the year’s over, so check out our Spotify to hear our recent releases!”

Keep up with Moon Hammer here.

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

From the Eats to the Tunes, Here's Why We Can't Wait for Grandoozy

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Colorado will finally be home to a new music festival this September. The concert promoter, Superfly will debut their first festival, Grandoozy at the Overland Park golf course September 14th-16th. Being the co-creators of other major festivals such as Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, Superfly is not new to creating a memorable experience for concertgoers.

During the fest, we can look forward to over fifty acts, all of which will cater to different tastes in music. Big-name headliners include Kendrick Lamar, Florence + the Machine, and Stevie Wonder. While at the fest, you can spend your Sunday rocking out with St. Vincent, and if you were unable to snag tickets to see The Chainsmokers’ sold out show at Red Rocks in 2016, Grandoozy is your chance to see them in an outdoor setting with a great view of the Rocky Mountains. This is the first time Kendrick Lamar will be back in Denver since last July, and the first time since he won his historic Pulitzer Prize for his record DAMN. His performance is going to be a definite Denver must-see.

The weekend will also be the ultimate Denver music festival experience, from the music to the food. Between performances, make sure to grab a bite or a few before the next act! The entire festival will pay homage to all things local, from the beer you drink to the food you order. The vendors list will spotlight local favorites like Snooze: an AM Eatery (Adam Schlegel), Justin Cucci (Linger, Root Down, Vital Root, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, and El Five), Carrie Baird (executive chef at Bar Dough and participant on Season 15 of Top Chef Denver), Jen Jasinski (executive chef/owner of Larimer Square’s Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Stoic & Genuine, Ultreia), and Tommy Lee (chef and owner of Uncle and Hop Alley). You just might find your new favorite dish or meet the chef from your current favorite restaurant!
    
After you have finished your food from our local vendors and feel like dancing between acts,  head over to the Break-Room. It will be Grandoozy’s taste of a disco club right in the middle of the Mile High City. The Break-Room will be a dance lounge to satisfy all music tastes, from ambient to electronic. The lineup features various local DJs who are both up-and-coming, as well as popular within the industry. Some of the local acts will include Sunsquabi, Head for the Hills, The Drunken Hearts, AMZY, and Black Pumas.

Ultimately, this will be a showcase of our beautiful city, spotlight our local food vendors, celebrate our local talent, and it will put Denver on the map for big-name music festivals in the future. This is not the festival to miss, so grab your friends and buy your tickets before they sell out!

Grandoozy pricing starts at $99 for general admission single-day tickets, $224.50 for general admission three-day tickets, $249.50 for VIP single-day tickets, and $674.50 for VIP three-day tickets. They can be purchased online here.To get you pumped for our first major festival, make sure you follow Grandoozy on Spotify, and add their playlists! We’ll see you at the Park!

-Taylor

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

The Neighbourhood Sold Out Yet Another Denver Show

By: Taylor Naiman

Last Friday, The Neighbourhood took the stage at the Ogden Theater in Denver. The five-piece are best known for their tune “Sweater Weather,” which first hit the airwaves in 2013. This catchy tune launched them into stardom and put them on Billboard’s Hot 100 the same year. With their song titled “Honest” from The Amazing Spiderman 2 soundtrack, the band continued to stay in the popular music sphere in 2014. This year, the band dropped their self-titled record, which features 12 new tracks, has garnered some buzz, and has afforded the group international tour plans this summer with numerous festival appearances. For such a young band, The Neighbourhood have found a perfect blend of indie rock, R&B, electronica and hip-hop that works well. Their sound is often chilling and moody, and their live shows are riveting thanks to frontman Jesse Rutherford's charisma. Needless to say, when Denver was picked to be the first city on the band's 2018 spring tour, devout fans could not have been more excited.

The Neighbourhood. 

The Neighbourhood. 

Fans began lining up at noon in the freezing weather on Friday in Denver, and the line wrapped around several blocks. This was clearly a crowd who appreciates small venues and loves the intimacy of seeing The Neighbourhood outside of a festival experience. In fact, since 2013, The Neighbourhood have played sold-out shows at Denver’s Ogden Theaterand every year, their audience comes back for another round.

Jesse Rutherford. 

Jesse Rutherford. 

Once in the venue and out of the cold, the crowd suddenly found their voices and dance moves after a somewhat sleepy opening set from Field Medic. After The Neighborhood took the stage, there was not one quiet or motionless individual. Everyone in the crowd knew every word to all of their set. Looking around, you could see how this band’s music has truly formed a community. There were girls, guys, mothers, and even security personnel singing and dancing along to the music. Throughout the duration of their set, frontman Jesse Rutherford demanded attention, and for the song, ”Wiped Out!,” he made his tambourine a quintessential staple in the live song, creating a rhythmic channel that the audience fell right into.

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During the show, fans heard tunes from the band’s first album I Love You along with songs from their most recent album The Neighbourhood. Some of their set included “Dust,” “Afraid,” “Scary Love,” “Daddy Issues,” and “Stuck With Me.” Though the band closed with "Sweater Weather" and didn’t come back for an encore, fans didn’t appear disappointed.

Catch The Neighbourhood next at Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California this weekend, and make sure to follow their Spotify.

-Taylor

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

Review: American Grizzly Release New Folk Rock Record Of Past, Present, & Future Sounds

By: Norman Hittle

American Grizzly, a Chicago-based folk rock unit, has released their new self-titled EP to a steadily growing fanbase.

To those of you familiar with The Lumineers, you’ll notice a good deal of homage paid by American Grizzly. But also in attendance are some mellow nods to Mumford & Sons and a slight helping of Neil Young. The band’s own take on their style is rock’n’roll influenced by all things past, present, and future: from tube-screaming noise-rock to the minimalist approach of rural American folk music.

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The EP starts out with the calm folk ballad “Ex-Lovers,” picking out a steady warm chorded windchime of rhythm into the equally calm, but more minimalistic “Ain’t Whupped Me Yet.” Track three, “When Love is Found,” comes in with a southern flair and more upbeat feel. The more straightforward “Rock n’ Roll Cigarettes” lives up to its name with a very muted 40s era feel, yet boasts being the edgiest track. Finally, the EP closes out with the innocent feeling “From a Window,” which comes as a return to classic folk with a solid influence of blues.

American Grizzly.

American Grizzly.

If you like what you hear, the band has a solid backlog of discography that you can peruse with leisure on their Bandcamp!

-Norman

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

Rain In July Rocked Their Moon Room Set From Start To Finish

By: Nathan Sheppard

While it was a chilly Tuesday outside, inside The Moon Room at Summit Music Hall, everyone kept warm while enjoying some excellent tunes. For what was arguably one of their best shows of the year, In My Room kicked things off with a bang. Their raw and edgy sound can be compared to Movements, loud and fast.

Coldfront.

Coldfront.

Next was Coldfront, hailing from Ontario, Canada, who put on a solid show with their energetic and upbeat style of pop-punk. They recently released a new album called Float Around that you can check out here. Hot Mulligan, who are on tour with Coldfront, followed with their angsty punk rock, and had the crowd singing along with them.

If I Fail took control of the stage next and showed why they are one of Colorado’s best pop-punk bands. Their infectious riffs had the audience on their feet and the band’s introspective lyrics gave our inner emo kid all the feels.

Rain In July.

Rain In July.

Rain In July was the final band to take the stage, and rocked it from start to finish. RIJ put on a lively show that had the crowd hyped and off their feet. Once everyone was singing along to their songs, they even threw in a cover of “Bodybag” by Hit The Lights. RIJ finished off their set with a fan favorite “Breathe” and a special guest appearance from Andrew Elofson from 1000 Miles of Fire, which was the perfect way to cap an epic show. The guys proved why they are one of Colorado’s best up and coming bands with a very bright future. You can check out their latest EP “Trying To Breathe” on Spotify.

Keep up with Rain In July here and check out the full gallery from this show for more photo madness.

-Nathan

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

Winter Is Coming So Snuggle Up To Our 'Cozy Vibes' Playlist

With a few snowfalls behind us now and many more ahead for those of us in states with actual seasons, we’ve got a cozy playlist for you to cuddle your ears with this winter:

Tastemaker Sierra Voss has crafted this warm blanket of fireside sounds for us, which features songs from artists like Leif Vollebek, The Haunted Windchimes, Bon Iver, Hallie Spoor, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats, Whitney, and more.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to check out our many playlists, and if you’re an artist looking to submit your song for playlist consideration, roll to our Contact page and do it!

Stay warm music lovers.

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

GoGo Penguin Bring Their Jazz Electronica To Boulder Theater

By: Mirna Tufekcic

It’s always such a rush to find new music and get excited about the prospect of hearing it live. Are you into jazz? If so, you’re in luck! The UK’s GoGo Penguin trio are playing the Boulder Theatre this Wednesday, September 6th.

GoGo Penguin.

GoGo Penguin.

To music lovers and musicians alike: these guys are about to blow your musical brains out. Trippy, jazzy, trip-hop, and classical melodies meshed with modern beats and deep bass jives, concocted into a potion that gently pushes the envelope and makes your ears perk up- that’s GoGo Penguin. Just listening to them on Spotify made the hair on the back of my neck stand tall.  

Check out GoGo Penguin:

If GGP are anywhere as playful live as they are on record, Wednesday’s show is bound to be a sonically bountiful evening for your ears to feast on. Get tickets while you can, folks! Who knows when this talented crew will cross the pond again.

-Mirna

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

The Rocket Summer & 888 Bring Crowdsurfing Alt Pop Tour To Denver

By: Matti Earley

Local icons 888 returned for a stop in their hometown on Friday at Denver’s Marquis Theatre. The alt-pop three-piece first started gaining momentum in 2015 by winning 93.3 KTCL’s Hometown for the Holidays contest, and ever since then, they’ve been busy on a national scale. Friday’s show marked the start of their second tour of the year, following one with Missio in the spring.

888.

888.

“Gold" was an example of the kind of juxtaposition 888 have mastered in sound. It is the ideal pop radio hit, but not formulaic in the way that some top 40 songs can be. Instead, it feels like a much needed moment of honesty about the uncertainty that comes with trying to find a place in the world. Such underlying fears were explored even further and with a more melancholy overtone in “Creepers,” which came out less than a month ago and was great live. Of course, the trio also played their hit "Critical Mistakes," the song that arguably gave them their start on a national level.

The Rocket Summer began his impressive set soon after 888 ended, and played over 20 songs to fans. Ten years after the release of his record Do You Feel, Bryce Avary is still going strong. His choice of what to play Friday was undoubtedly a culmination drawing from his entire discography, and even included songs that he had never been done live before.

The Rocket Summer.

The Rocket Summer.

As evidenced by putting “So Much Love” near the beginning of his performance, Avary is uncontainably joyous about being a musician. This really showed in his interactions with the audience, who were as much a part of the show as him. After playing on a platform in the middle of the crowd, Avary made his way back upfront via crowdsurfing. In between songs, there were moments on the setlist specifically designated for him to talk with the audience. And rather than a preset encore, he asked the crowd what we wanted to hear before finishing with a few fan favorites. One of those, called “Brat Pack,” came from 2005’s Hello, Good Friend and was a seriously popular throwback that was crazy to hear live.

The Rocket Summer with 888’s tour wraps up in less than two weeks on August 29th at Arizona’s Crescent Ballroom. Make sure to catch a show while you can, and in the meantime, check out both acts recent releases on Spotify.

-Matti

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Rock Out To Our 2017 Underground Music Showcase Playlist

By: Hannah Oreskovich

With Denver’s Underground Music Showcase just a couple of weeks away, our very own tastemaker Sierra Voss has created a sweet summer playlist full of tunes from tons of artists on this year’s lineup.

Denver darling (and headliner) Esmé Patterson opens our playlist, followed by fellow headliners Benjamin Booker, Zola Jesus, and Red Fang. There are a ton of Colorado favorites to bop your heads to after that-  déCollage, Dirty Few, Dragondeer,  CITRA, The Velveteers,  Slow Caves, Television Generation, and Whiskey Autumn- are just some of the artists you’ll find on our UMS playlist!

So get ready to pop a cold one at Irish Rover, headbang at Hi-Dive, and dance with us up and down South Broadway at the 2017 UMS! Get your festival passes here!

Listen to our 'Underground Music Showcase 2017' Playlist:

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to check out more of our playlists, and if you’re an artist looking to submit your song for playlist consideration, roll to our contact page and do it!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Jump Into Summer With Our 'Pickin' On CO Summers' Spotify Playlist

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Just in time for summer and the many folk & bluegrass festivals that come with it in Colorado thanks to Planet Bluegrass, here’s our ‘Pickin’ On Colorado Summers’ Spotify Playlist:

Tastemaker Sierra Voss has put some serious tuneage together for your summer soundtrack. Trout Steak Revival classically opens our pickin’ playlist, with tracks by Caribou Mountain Collective, Fruition, The Haunted Windchimes, Elephant Revival, Punch Brothers, The Infamous Stringdusters, Blitzen Trapper, Railroad Earth, Sarah Jarosz, and others. Several of these artists play the upcoming 2017 Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to check out our many playlists, and if you’re an artist looking to submit your song for playlist consideration, roll to our Contact page and do it!

Happy Summer.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Dive Into Groovin' Hip-Hop Tunes On Our 'Welcome To It' Playlist

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Wanna groove? Then dive into ‘Welcome To It’ right meow. We promise you won’t be able to sit still.

Deca opens our hip-hop Spotify Playlist tunage this month, with tracks by Nas, Qbala, J. Cole, No Name, Trev Rich, and of course, Tribe Called Quest. Tastemaker Sierra Voss has thrown in some lip-lickin’ numbers into this one.

Trev Rich per Sierra Voss for BolderBeat. 

Trev Rich per Sierra Voss for BolderBeat. 

Make sure to follow us on Spotify for continued tunage, and if you’re an artist looking to submit your song for playlist consideration, roll to our Contact page and do it! Welcome to it.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Jump In The Sun With Our 'Hey Spring' Spotify Playlist

By: Hannah Oreskovich

After the 80 degree weekend we just had, spring feels like it’s just about in full swing. What better way to usher in the sunshine than to roll down your windows and bump some good music? Lucky for you, we’ve got a new playlist up that will help yah do just that.

Check out our ‘Hey Spring’ playlist, courtesy of our tastemaker Sierra Voss:

The Pixies open the 16-song mix, Denver’s The Shady Elders close it, and there is a lot of deliciousness sandwiched in between with tracks by Dressy Bessy, White Denim, The Yawpers, Queens of the Stone Age, Colfax Speed Queen, and more.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify for continued tunage, and if you’re an artist looking to submit your song for playlist consideration, roll to our Contact page and do it!

Spring on kids.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

(Un)Traditional Love Songs: A Playlist For Your Valentine's Day & So Much More

By: Joliene Adams

Forget complaints about Valentine’s Day commercialism. Let’s think instead on the limitations of the kind of love that gets advertised to us. Love comes in all shapes and sizes far beyond romantic, and this playlist reflects all those feelings and shades of love. Wherever you are at in your love life and whoever you love in whatever ways, whether the burning embers of passion or the charcoal heart of getting burned from love; from your lover to your mother, it’s all here:

Listen to BolderBeat’s “(Un)Traditional Love Songs” Playlist:

1. “Death Hex” – The VelveteersDeath Hex (2016)

No one said love came without barbs. Hook, line, and sinker, The Velveteers rock straight for the jugular. John Demitro’s drums thunder with the urgency of foreboding storms while Demi Demitro’s tight, heavy guitar licks smack you awake. Staggered vocal notes build tension up to lift off as Demi lets melodic hollers unapologetically rip. If their rock doesn’t shatter the teacups on your shelf, you haven’t turned that heavy grit up loud enough.

And this one’s lyrical content doesn’t dote expressly on love. Demi speaks to this in an interview covered by BolderBeat’s Hannah Oreskovich, “‘Death Hex’ is about awakening from the dead and saying goodbye to the past. It was really inspired by a sense of magic I felt happening. It’s a story of coming back from a bad situation and coming out on the other side better than you ever imagined.” It might not be about love, but it’s an ages old story, that of the lover who rises from the ashes. Take your heartbreak, wipe the floor clean with it, and rise from the ashes bigger, better, stronger, faster, badder-asser.

2. “Didn’t See You There” – Red Fox RunRed Fox Run (2015)

Ever turned around or glanced sidelong at your buddy and all of a sudden SPLAT, you think, “I did NOT realize my friend was this cute let alone that that I was in love with them this whole time?” This number cascades and careens as your own feelings might at such a realization. Red Fox Run fearlessly showcase vocalist and rhythm guitarist Daniel Rondeau shouting out a proclamation from the truths that sit in the center pit of a heart. He’s proclaiming hopeful, but it’s clearly uncertain since “I couldn’t love you more than I do right now” isn’t the end of the sentence. Red Fox Run keep it playful, but in the end, they’ve said all they need to say.

It’s the year anniversary of Red Fox Run being no longer, an anniversary that may bring with it many a fan’s broken heart. But the good news is that three out of four original RFR members continue on in their new Denver-based project Wildermiss.

3. “I Like You” – Ned Garthe Explosion Flashlight Tan (2016)

Crash forward, skid in sideways, stop abruptly- you’ll travel at all different speeds in Ned Garthe Explosion’s capable hands. Splaying themselves across diverse elements is something familiar to Ned Garthe Explosion and their fans. As Andy Thomas of Westword notes, 2016’s Flashlight Tan finds frontman Ned Garthe and his co-conspirators messing around with genre and intent “writing deliberately toward a certain genre, in an earnest near-parody that’s so good you can’t tell it’s a parody. It’s a depth of vision that can only be achieved late at night, when the cops are nowhere to be found.” But isn’t that love sometimes? Crashing forward, landing backwards… and even sometimes ending in a weird parody you sort of knew existed.

4. “Call Through the Wire” – Inner Oceans Call Through the Wire (2016)

“If I leave you in the night...” The suggestion alone leaves you indignant, does it not? The sentiment wells up from something clearly much deeper as Inner Oceans’ frontman Griffith Snyder sings lushly of the story unfolding. “I see you all the time and it hurts to think you were right,” he sings. The sound is atmospherically absorbing while the message delivers clear adoration with a twinge of regret and a still-in-love/lust-with-you. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two, in life or in music, and I can’t come down on which it might be here but I’m ok with it.

5. “Shooting Star” – RossonianYou Are Your Own Dentist (2013)

Rossonian use space and astral phenomena as metaphor, delivering dreamy and delicate wonder. This one is absolutely a love song, but also earns love for the success of their symbolic narrative. It propels, then floats, taking pause to deliver changes in emphatic subtleties. Rossonian is master of small sound shifts across a slow build, lending the song a complexity that doesn’t announce itself like a smack to the face, but rather comes at and through you like the feeling of slowly waking up. This one’s a gentle journey from one end of conscious awareness to another, starting gently and sleepily as it comes to burn bright-eyed awake.  

6.  “Day I Was Born” – 5ive, Jessica Jones – Radioland (2016)

There’s romantic love, and then there’s the love for your mother. Both can overpower. If I had any doubts as to which it was here at first (the word “mama” is sufficiently vague enough terminology to always throw me off without further clear direction), Jessica Jones’ vocal turn sways results to the latter. “Mama you believed in me, even when my skies were gray, you gave me the entire world… people asked me how’d I got so strong. I tell ‘em that my mama showed me the way. You always raised me up right, with all the love you gave.” Where 5ive (Quinn Lynch) and Jessica Jones put the soul in your playlist, your mother put you and your soul into this world. So if you tell anyone you love them on Valentine’s Day, make it your mother and be sure to thank her.

7. “If I Grew a Violet (You’d Ask for a Rose)” – Andy Sydow A Little Messed Up (2016)

Ever read the children’s book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie? This is an adult version of that tale in more ways than one. If you give a mouse a cookie, they’ll want a glass of milk. They will want something else and more after the glass of milk, so on and so forth until eternity. Sydow dishes up love pangs boiled over lost hopes in the spirit of said book. Emotionally honest, raw words of disappointed love come in, combined with loving, earnest, even sweet melody. The message delivered could interpret as one lover's greed or the other’s embittered pessimistic complacency. You can’t tell who is at fault but you can tell who fell short of the two: the “I” of the singer. It sounds at once an apology, and at once a screw you.

But this tune is also for the times everything you give or have isn’t enough. It’s a song of love exhausted and felled short. Although heartbreak does lead to some great songwriting, as Andy Sydow reminds. Thank you for breaking your open heart for us, Andy.

8. “Tilt-A-Whirl” – The RailsplittersThe Faster It Goes (2015)

If Colorado’s associated with bluegrass, The Railsplitters play a huge support role in buttressing the strong reputation and taking it on tour across the nation. Clear-ringing harmonies usher in a fast-paced minimalism foregrounding wise essentials and together, they come carrying melodies at different speeds, much as a Tilt-a-Whirl carousel making circles. Research lends insight here, for when Dusty Rider songwrites he, “writes with the full band in mind, imagining an entire song in his head before it’s even heard it out loud.” This one is a reflective reminiscence on the memories of someone who came before, but is gone now. And with mind racing, you start to question yourself and all that was.

Lauren Stoval’s lead vocals are clear as sunlight on snow, while Dusty Rider and Peter Sharpe’s alternations between plucking each note and full-bodied strumming chords lend interest and supplement with distinctive, rhythmic filler. Leslie Ziegler’s bass comes in barely, but richly, serving the more invisible role, like that of editor to writer. And of course, there’s Joe D’Esposito’s fiddle coming in on the top to send the song off into its final soars of that gloriously spinning Tilt-a-Whirl.

9.  “Someone Like Me” – SF1 Inamorata (2012)

From hand drums to lyrical repetitions, SF1 keeps their sound light, and their message relatively straightforward. There’s a serious sense in which this song seems at once upbeat, and then anything but. It’s a song that wouldn’t have to come without heartbreak, but it takes its pride on walking away in fulfilled request from another. “You’ll never find someone like me” could come out all wrong in a breakup, but the cheerful sonic delivery here gives this song a quality of what you sing in your head knowingly to comfort and uplift your own self on the walk home, giving props to your emotional regulation in honoring a request, and moving on.

10. “Bloodstream” – IoliteBloodstream (2016)

Bloodstream’s sophisticated stormy pop comes through even better on headphones, as Iolite’s (Elina Odnorlav) full-bodied indie-electronica pounces at you with confident authority. She fuses an ear, talent, and a decade of piano work with electronic assets wisely, and all at the ripe old age of seventeen. Laying down this kind of sophisticated, well-calibrated arrangement with undergirding convinces you she’s worth your ear time. The sheer carnal sensuality of this tune pulses at you with a cosmopolitan sensibility, one that makes the heart beat fast. Iolite is fierce, and if you need more proof, read BolderBeat’s interview with Odnorlav by Sierra Voss.

11. "Wait to Rust” – Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut, Sur EllzLive and Die Like This (2016)

Triple Denver whammy! This Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut (Jon Shockness), and Sur Ellz (Khalil Arcady) collaboration 110% comes out the most natural thing in the world. Lyrically and vocally caressing you with emotion, this trio allures in their fervent R&B/soul blend as soft finger snaps and harmonies soften your ear and melt into your heart chambers.

Marque caresses your emotions with intimacy in both lyric and lead vocals. Muted cymbal, reliant drums, and the hushed guitar unobtrusively lend rhythm, combining together and across this song to create instrumental romance and a certain sense of enchantment. The heart, bloodstream, nervous system, and muscle memory in you recognize the message: wanting something at a cellular level you know at a cognitive one is only going to destroy or undo you. Having a heart is a wonderful gift and real son of a gun, ain’t it?

12.  “They Love to Hate” – Molina Speaks, DJ Icewater Sex Money Ego (2016)

Robust, fresh beats thump and bump as they palpitate at heart rate speed. Chill, smooth, and with a pinch of lyrical sass, this one’s also purely carnal. It’s got sexy love and wantingness combined with a creed of holding-your-cool and enjoying all the spontaneous pleasures of life. It’s definitely a turn-up tune for cruising in your car, or even cooler, on your low-rider bike with the sweet speaker you should probably have. Molina Speaks and DJ Icewater have collaborated to make something seductive, both in romantic passions and in making you just want to live out loud to the full. So get to it.

13. “Lucid Recall” – Sunboy Yesterday Is in Love With You (2016)

Yes to a song that I’d enjoy instrumentally, yet do with its lyrics just the same. Sunboy give it a good 55 seconds before vocals seep in though, setting the feel first. If only we all had lucid recall, but memory doesn’t always work that way. Yet, at the same time, it’s by dint of the lyric “haven’t felt this way in a long time” that we remember: sometimes it isn’t the memory, but the feelings evoked that bring back lucid recall in all its vivid glory. And what a robust memory sensation it is when it hits.

Synthy sounds and a certain protraction allow emotions here to take flight. Vocals and piano instrumentation undergird a sound that might be tinny and emotionless otherwise, which would be the last desirable thing in a song so emotionally charged in content. Like Iolite’s “Bloodstream,” headphones are most recommended on Sunboy’s “Lucid Recall” for best up-close-and-personal vibes.  

14. “Medicine” – Rose QuartzAxis of Love (2015)

In the abstract, medicine is there to make us better. Humans are no strangers to using or abusing another person in this way at some time. Sometimes leaning on others is necessary and appropriate. But there is a difference between asking for help and being soul-suckingly co-dependent or reliant. Like a prescription drug, it can be toxic, and this song rails against the notion that one partner serves that role. You can use medicine or abuse it, and this one splits the difference.

A combination of electronic space-esque warble, full-bodied guitar notes, and clips on the drum machine set the scene. Lyrically unapologetic, this is a power number for those times you need to speak to your decision to leave someone who treats you like something to be used up rather than given to. Rose Quartz build and release tension with efficacy, establishing a subtle back and forth strain that fits the bill in the stark truths this electronic groove-pop song seeks to sing out and deliver sans apology. The only thing bigger than its sound may be the heart behind it. This is definitely one to get sassy to under lights on the dance floor, and that sounds like a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All songs per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

You 'Gotta Get Back' to Denver's Walnut Room Tonight with Seth Walker

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Seth Walker is playing at The Walnut Room in Denver tonight, Friday, January 20th. He’s a singer/songwriter who has been writing songs and creating albums since childhood. His Spotify profile goes back to 2007, but he’s been steeped in the culture of music since birth. In fact, he may just have genetically inherited his talents from the generations of musicians he comes from: his grandfather was a professional band and choir director, and both of his parents, who collaborated with him on his latest album Gotta Get Back, are professional musicians who have helped shape Walker’s musical inclinations, aspirations, and talent. But genetics aside, it’s clear that Walker’s been putting time and work into his artistry for years.

You’ll be quick to realize the talent and professionalism that envelops each song in Walker’s new album once you have a listen. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that it takes a village to create a whole, cohesive sound. Beside his parents, Walker brought his sister into the mix, making it truly a family affair. And to further the family theme, Jano Rix of The Wood Brothers produced the album, and member Oliver Wood collaborated on some of the songs too. The “keeping it in the family” is a sizzling thing with musicians these days and Walker’s got his finger all over it.  

Check out Walker's Gotta Get Back:

As for genre, which can be a difficult thing to pin down sometimes, Seth Walker makes it even harder to confine. Gotta Get Back is certainly an eclectic mix of jazz, country, soul, funk, blues, and classic gospel. All of these flavors come through on the album and they’re a direct reflection of Walker’s experiences from living in places like North Carolina (where he was raised in a commune) to Austin, Texas, to New Orleans, and finally to his current place of residence in Nashville, Tennessee.  

So, if you want to feast your ears on a spread of good tunes, and you know they’ll be played to a T considering Walker’s history and experience with music, come out tonight! Besides, if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get  to experience the community vibes that Walker used to create his latest record and even see some of the other musicians who collaborated on Gotta Get Back right next to Walker onstage.

See you there! Peep the Facebook event; tickets here.

-Mirna

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

'Resolution As Revolution' - Give Our January Spotify Playlist A Listen!

By: Joliene Adams

Did I make a New Year’s resolution? Did you? Whether any of us did or didn’t, the fundamental spirit behind it is a worthy reminder. Every day is an opportunity to begin a personal revolution in all the ways you might dream. Here is a playlist that, for each of its own various sonic and lyrical reasons, can help you toward your own resolution for revolution in 2017.

Click here for our 'Resolution As Revolution' Playlist or play it below:

1. “Highways” - REIGHNBEAUSister Grotto – Blood (Deluxe) (2016)

“Highways” has audible ebb and flow. Electronic pulses fuzz and fade in close while ten words make up the lyrical content and are given constant return. The repetition begins to act on the ear and body/brain like a mantra. A collaboration between New Mexico’s REIGHNBEAU and Denver’s Sister Grotto (Madeline Johnston), this one is dream fuzz that occupies a space somewhere between the here and there of the slightly awake and half asleep. What begins with gentles sounds of a rainstick fades to what sounds like a resampling of the rainstick with more static and fuzz interlaced. Sophisticated subtleties keep this song interesting alongside its relaxed and meditative feel. Let this one help you develop your own mantra for the year to come. Open your heart throttle and imbibe sound poetry: 2017 is a wholly open road.

2. “When” - RUMTUM – Mystic Wonders (2013)

Sampling Vincent Gallo’s hauntingly wistful and imminently gorgeous 2001 “When,” RUMTUM puts a pip in Gallo’s depressive downtempo and melancholic step. RUMTUM takes it away and makes it fresh, fun, and comparatively light. Basically, they take Gallo’s frown, turn it upside down, and give it proverbial jazz hands. They take Gallo’s gentle cooings and splice them to a tune to tap your toe to. RUMTUM isn’t afraid to experiment with anything, and you shouldn’t be either. It’s the new year after all.

3. “Elevate” - Kid Astronaut – Moon Theory (2015)

“Elevate” is chalk full of takeaways. “We were not born to be complacent,” Shockness maintains. Agreed. His loungy R&B sound with a soft hip-hop thump to undergird here goads and uplifts you gently into that place of higher being. And, “We were born to be special.” The task is yours to become the most special version of yourself you can. The possibility to be that is the gift you are given at birth. You owe it to yourself, and the most fundamental things between you and better you at any given time is complacency if you’ve fallen into it. Shake yourself awake. “Elevate” is loaded positivity; it is, in other words, more than positivity for positivity sake. Kid Astronaut summons the best of you.

4. “Base” - CRL CRRLL – Wave (2015)

CRL CRRLL (Carl Carrell) successfully builds a musical jenga tower with “Base” one piece at a time. The song retains solid structure despite the increased pressure of newly added elements, balancing R&B notes in lead vocals, hip-hop in backup vocals, a jazzy quality to the drums and keys, and  then you already have several musical layers by the time her chill lead vocals come in clear. As the song chugs forward into jazzier fusion with all these elements, it ends with a sudden peaceful fade out of ocean shorescapes and the faintest mutterings of what could be voices at the wharf: “Lovin’ just what I am, lovin’ just what I ain’t.” The creed of self-acceptance will serve you well in the next year if you can abide.

5. “Into the Wind” – King Cardinal – Once a Giant (2015)

Remember that scene from Ace Ventura where Ace himself rips out a waiter’s heart and gives it to him in a doggy bag? Welcome to how it feels to listen to King Cardinal’s soulful alt-folk. This is a safe one to cry, mourn, long, hope, and remember to. Brennan Mackey gives the term singer/songwriter new meaning, and he wants your second chance. You enter without words, while Ben Waligoske’s steel pedal daggers you in the side. It continues to supplement, yet give that country-underbelly feel that allows heart pangs to echo through the room. Lean into life as you would gale force winds. Looking back too hard can get you depressed, looking forward too much can bring you anxiety. Just lean where you are, lean into the wind; trust your struggle and be not afraid.

6. “Just Don’t Stop” – The Kinky Fingers – Vagabond (2015)

Tone and message make this a happy, head-bop worthy (or inducing) tune. There is a delightful float in Taylor Doyle’s guitar, and soar in his vocals. Eventually, he stops crooning as he sends you off on a couple high notes, punctuated neatly with three steps back down and low, “Just. Don’t. Stop.” We take instrumental flight with Daniel Hogan and Travis Page’s soft rhythmic drums keeping it steady while the guitar takes surf rock-esque flight with reverb indulgences. This one’s a fun journey for the ear that never loses its path despite its wanderings. It’s a good one to get, or keep, you going in the new year.

7. “Get Loose Have Fun” – Dirty Few – Get Loose, Have Fun (2012)

Dirty Few touts warm beer and out-of-tune guitars; they never get too serious about themselves save two exceptions: partying and playing drinking man’s music. They want you to have a jolly good sullied blast of a night, and they shake it off with the tambourine whose sound drops into the background but propels the track forward from the get-go no less. Dirty Few here has that slight 60s pop beat in its pulse and the “ooh, ooh, OHH, OOH” backup vocals. It’s the kind of 60s vibe you can readily imagine leading to proto-punk on down the line, and then to skate rock. But we’ll call it dive-bar rock because no matter the acoustics of the place, any dive-bar is the best venue to catch Dirty Few in. It’s homecourt. Let’s get this 2017 party started!

8. “The Mtn Song” – Rayland Baxter – Ashkelon (2013)

Uh oh. We’re getting sentimental again. But Rayland Baxter could be singing about shoelaces and nonsense and get you to emote. Fortunately, he knows not just how to sing with all his heart, but to storytell both as musical abstraction and in literal lyrical composition. This is one to give you chills. It’s so soft and sweet. He whistles, serenades, and implores, turning over tender phrase after tender phrase as drums and guitar support this gentle, unhurried, and earnest offering of love. Love is all he has to give. Is that enough? Normally I’d say no. But syrup-ing from his earnest, low-lyrical valleys and high peaks, I’d say, “I’ll think on it. Ask again tomorrow,” and know I’ve already decided while falling asleep to the sound of those endearing whistlings in my own head. Even if love is all you have to give in 2017, it’s better than nothing at all, and is, quite truly, one of the best things in the world you can give. So take a note from Baxter and do it with all your heart, soul, and perhaps even your singing voice, should you be so inclined.

9. “Whistle While You Work” – Wheelchair Sports Camp – No Big Deal (2016)

You come in building off mixed whispers of Emcee Kalyn Heffernan. It’s a sheer drop at 00:20 into straight hip-pop thereafter, coming at you with melodic and rhythmic whistles and Joshua Trinidad’s synchronized trumpet horn on blast. Intermixed are, by comparison, callous, hard-cutting electronic beats. They all join together and maintain the BPM to make this track the banger that it is. From the first, Emcee Kalyn Heffernan’s vocals and lyrical delivery are all her own. She captivates. And when she turns the phrase, “they call me Little Miss Guided,” it’s just one of her many lyrical delights. In reference to Wheelchair Sports Camp, the Village Voice reported, “If there were ever a moment for a queer, disabled rapper with a love for pot, jokes, and revolution to be a star, the moment is now.” It’s about time. Thank you 2017.

10. “Left Fist Evolution” – Bianca Mikahn – Left Fist Evolution (2010)

A low, thumping beat and hushed, bluesy choral vocals reel you into this tune. Bianca Mikahn weaves her story in poetic clips and fragments that suggest a certain story without really telling a story in the classic sense. But there’s a story there, for sure. She leads the listener to hear, see, and feel what she’s driving at unequivocally without saying who, when, where, or why. Lyrically, vocally, and stylistically, “Left Fist Evolution” is powerfully evocative. I’ve heard the word “fortified” used to describe Bianca Mikahn, and that is how the listening process and outcome of “Left Fist Evolution” feels. We all need fortification, and music is the next best supplement to vitamins. So take yours by taking this one in.

11. “No Worries” – Trigga ManThe Reminders – Hit Man (2012)

Sampling another old favorite, The Specials’ “Ghost Town” is featured in the background here, and their reggae and ska influence comes through beyond the sample in this song. Where it’s got a pinch of dance hall in the female vocal chorus, there’s a dash of hip-hop with male vocal delivery in verse. Where musical components blend samplings and reminisce on interrelated genres, the content delivery blends too, packed full of literary, cultural, and political references. “Get it twisted like Oliver, yo.” you hear. This is a composite piece of precocious stature that makes it easy to miss if you’re too busy getting down to it the first go around. But also, in 2017, tell yourself as often as possible: “Me no worry with what them say and me not goin’ to be afraid.” Hold strong with Trigga Man and The Reminders’ beats.

12. “Music Is a Gift” - Grim & Darling - Beauty Through Pain (2015)

Music is good for you: mind, body, and spirit. And Grim & Darling part with their musical gifts for your benefit as gentle organs and strings grace your entrance: “Create a song as a gift just to give it a way, royalty free, no fee, just in hopes to teach about loyalty, honesty, forgiveness, giving second chances lovingly. Nobody’s above the beat, in fact we need it to breathe. That’s the mentality. Give away your masterpiece as if we never had to eat, leave your ego as a casualty. I’m glad to be passing this to all of you, it’s all truth, try to use it, I will too. I hope we can all focus on the consequences of what we do.” Grim & Darling’s mindful tune serves as an homage to what you musicians do for us. This isn’t empty flattery. Being a musician isn’t easy work, but humans thrive in music, so thank you. Scaling up and down graduated xylophone bars with patience, the delicate clear sounds ring a victorious and encourage your feeling the same about your own power. Get after the new year.

13. “Ready to Live - Pt. 1” - Thug Entrancer - Death After Life (2014)

We start and end on a meditative note, only here we go pure electronic instrumentation. This one’s a sonic journey from sound artist Ryan McRyhew. Thump off to the pace of an electronic pulsating heartbeat as horn-reminiscent tones enter. Sounds begin to grind in and on top, creating an ever complex liftaway into layered reflections on itself. McRyhew does his personal sound poetry one to two new sounds at a time, letting you slowly take in the cerebral, but ready flow of this musical peregrination. Get work done or space out in daydreams to this one. It’ll get you where you’re going if you let it take you there. I hope 2017 finds you more ready to live than ever, and this playlist serves as a continued asset in your endeavor.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All songs per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

10 Commandments and 8 Questions: A Conversation with Slim Cessna

By: Will Baumgartner

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is a Denver institution. The band has survived 24 years (you read that right; they formed in 1992) without even a “hiatus,” let alone a “breakup” despite members living in different states for large chunks of those years. For this alone they deserve not only credit, but a certain awe, for as anyone who has tried to run a group knows, it’s hard enough to keep things going when you all live in the same town, let alone all over the country. Add on the fact that the band creates amazing music together, performs like they’ve just brought an insanely fun party from their house into the club, and has brought their party to Europe with great success, and you have the makings of a great story about perseverance and love in the modern music business. Actually, let’s call that a novel: Where most bands’ careers can be read more like short stories, SCAC’s is more of an epic tale.

The band’s music has been called everything from “experimental rock” to “alt-country,” but after experiencing them live, on record, and in their sublimely strange videos, facile categorizations need to go out the window: This is just an amazing band. No discussion of the group would be complete without some mention of Slim’s “sidekick” Munly, a wickedly talented songwriter and bandleader (Munly and the Lupercalians) in his own right. Munly, who joined SCAC in 1999, has been the group’s main songwriter for years and wrote all the songs on 'The Commandments According to SCAC,' the band’s sixth studio album, and their first on their own label, SCACUnincorporated. The rest of the band, with Lord Dwight Pentacost on custom-designed double-neck guitar, multi-instrumentalist Rebecca Vera on keys, pedal steel, cello and more,  bassist Ian O’Dougherty, and drummer Andrew Warner are all consummate musicians and performers.

'The Commandments' came out in September of this year, and is an outrageously good album, with videos for each of its 10 songs on YouTube, which provide their own otherworldly visual experience as a foil to SCAC’s music. There are plenty of live videos online as well, and checking out a few of those is a great way to get prepped for what will no doubt be two of the best concerts of the year, when Slim Cessna’s Auto Club take over 3 Kings Tavern in Denver for two New Year’s shows on December 30th and 31st.

Slim Cessna's Auto Club.

Slim Cessna's Auto Club.

In an attempt to prepare myself for the excitement and madness that is a SCAC show, and to better understand the workings of the group and the mind of its frontman, I sat down with Slim and asked him a handful of questions. I was impressed by his humor and graciousness; he couldn’t say enough about Munly and all the members, including Vera and Lord Dwight (with whom he also has an “experimental folk” quartet he clearly loves called Denver Broncos UK or DBUK). In fact, he seemed much more eager to talk about his beloved bandmates than himself.

In a section of our conversation that occurred before the “official interview” that follows, I asked Slim about the somewhat unusual situation of the frontman not being the main songwriter. With characteristic humility, Slim said, “We play to our strengths, and Munly’s has always been songwriting. I’m mostly good at putting on a show and acting like an idiot.” The band’s New Year’s shows at 3 Kings will no doubt prove once again how outrageously good he is at putting on a show, and his answers to my questions prove clearly that there’s a very intelligent man behind that act. Read on:

The main thing that has always struck me about Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is how the dark subject matter of most of your songs is juxtaposed against the delirious fun of how they’re performed. Is this deliberate?

No. I don't think the songs need to be considered dark. I think of them as life-affirming good stories. The narrator in each story is always seeking redemption through whatever source they are able to understand. Yes, we do have delirious fun. 

The hellfire-and-brimstone aspects of your Baptist upbringing get a humorous treatment in your music. Were your parents very seriously religious, or was the church just one part of their whole cultural picture?

I wasn't raised in a fire and brimstone Baptist church. It was much more conservative than that. We sang hymns and it wasn't anything like our shows. Much has been made of our performance that compares us to a tent revival. I think that's based on reputation and what has been thought and then repeated over the years. I suppose that's understandable given our sometimes over the top live performances. We also don't shy away from using biblical content. 

Check out Slim Cessna’s Auto Club’s video for “Commandment 3”:

How did the Auto Club originally get together? Were you already friends with some of the members?

Always only friends.

It’s always a plus for me when the members of a band seem to be real friends who enjoy and love each other onstage and off, rather than just being sort of “business partners” and SCAC definitely comes across as group who are actual friends. How do you feel this helps your music and performances?

This is my family. This is important. We all have each other's backs. 

SCAC.

SCAC.

During the years when you were all living in different parts of the country, did it ever feel like too much work to keep the band going? How did you manage working up new material and rehearsing it?

It was more work than was good for us. We did our best to maintain and continue. Somehow we managed.

SCAC’s music has been categorized a few different ways, including “alt country,” “gothabilly,” and even “Southern gothic,” but in conversation you call it simply “American folk music.” Do you find these attempts to pigeonhole what you do limiting or superfluous?

Gothabilly keeps showing up on Wikipedia. I've personally logged on to erase it, but it always comes back. Who does that? It's my least favorite word. It reminds me of muscle-bro-cartoon-looking-characters with perfectly dyed pompadours and face-makeup. I thank God every day we are nothing like that. 

How did starting your own record label and recording your album DIY affect the whole process of making 'The Commandments According to SCAC'?

Recording and releasing on our own has been wonderful. We had to learn to rely on each other in new ways. We discovered new gifts even after decades of friendship. 

Listen to The Commandments According to SCAC on Spotify:

After getting some well-deserved rest in January, y’all hit the road again in February for a tour of the Western US, and then head right back to Europe. Seems like there’s no rest for the wickedly talented. Would you be happy going on this way indefinitely?

Yes. What else do we have anyway? We have nothing to fall back on. I suppose I'll do this 'til I die.

Make sure to hit up one of SCAC’s New Year shows this weekend. Details here and I’ll see you there!

-Will

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

Elephant Stone's New Record 'Ship of Fools' Is A Psych-Pop Delight

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Montreal’s psychedelic sorcerers Elephant Stone physically released their fourth full-length album Ship of Fools on November 25th, and boy, is it groovy. Courtesy of Burger Records, their newest release takes you on a kaleidoscopic trip down the rabbit hole with a slew of sounds that are redefining modern psych-pop.

In this eleven-track album, Rishi Dhir (singer/bassist/songwriter) and his bandmates Miles Dupire (drums/backing vocals), and Gabriel Lambert (guitar/backing vocals) set up camp around the sacred pillars of evolution, exploration, and excavation. The record’s opener “Manipulator” sounds like a 70s era party montage. But don’t be fooled by its inviting sensuality- the lyrics point more fingers than just a passing thumbs up.

Watch Elephant Stone’s video for “See The Light”:

Flirting between the strobe dance floor (“Where I’m Going;” “The Devil’s Shelter (feat. Alex Maas))” and a dim-lit hookah lounge, (“Run, Sister, Run;” Silence Can Say So Much,”) Ship of Fools incorporates a vibrant array of colors, textures, and flashes of light. With clever guitar hooks, sitar solos, and dreamy synth vocals that remind you of that one afternoon you spent in outer space, it’s a psychedelic trip that can be ingested song by song, but is better served in its entirety.

Check out Ship of Fools for yourself on Spotify:

Listening to Ship of Fools, it’s almost certain you’ll be reminded of other psychedelic rockers such as Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Tame Impala, The Flaming Lips, The Black Angels, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, the latter two of which Rishi Dhir has recorded, performed, and toured with.

This is one record it’s best to let yourself float away with as you're carried by its astronautical ship of wonders, exchanging pleasantries with the debris because in the end, we’re all just fools anyway, right?

Listen to Ship of Fools here, and in the meantime, check out Elephant Stone’s multicolored music video for “See The Light” above.

-Jura

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

"Let's Build An Album Together!": Riley Ann's Latest Project Is All About Fem Rock

By: Claire Woodcock

Colorado's Riley Ann is ready to release her latest batch of songs. There’s just one problem:

“I want to move forward with not only recording this project, but also my whole music career. But when there are so many bands willing to play for so little, it’s hard to make a living as an artist. If you turn down a non-paying gig, there’s someone else behind you who’s willing to play for exposure. It undercuts everyone else and it really has a negative impact on the entire music community.”

Riley Ann’s path from fiddling folk in Illinois with The Matriarchs to her dynamic one-woman folk rock band paved her route to Colorado. Since her move in the fall of 2015, her presence and drive have initiated various collaborations, like her Old-time duo The Darling Ravens, and a new bluegrassy pop trio, DJ Meow Mix & the Grabbers.

“Although I have several musical projects going, this album is my passion project. Now that I’m back from tour, I’m getting an all-female rock band together. My new tunes need a full band, and that’s the perfect way to showcase them live.” she recently told me.

Riley Ann.

Riley Ann.

Her story of how, in a year, she became a vocal advocate for musicians to get paid a living wage for their art, is a story that many music transplants in Colorado’s bumping scene have had to grapple with.

“Artists deserve to get paid for their art. Playing simply for exposure devalues the music,” she said. “And when that mentality spreads, how do musicians make a living? It’s not going to be through album sales or digital sales. On Spotify I get one-tenth of a cent per listen. You can’t make a living on that.”

Riley Ann launched her Kickstarter campaign in November, teasing her first single “Bloodhounds,” which was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jay Elliott (IntroVertigo Recording) and Dominick Maita Mastering, both of whom are based in Boulder, Colorado. The single is an authentic sample of Riley Ann’s new sound from the forthcoming album, which features a full rock band.

“Bloodhounds” is dark and gritty, with roots in Old-time and a heart in rock’n’roll. Riley Ann’s single was recently featured on Colorado Sound as part of Chris K’s Colorado Playlist. Her vocals are vibrant, carrying the same electric currents in the realm of female frontwomen like Angel Olsen, St. Vincent or Mount Moriah.

“I’m excited to get these songs out into the world and I don’t want to risk having to record them one at a time as I can afford them,” she reasons. “Because the longer I wait, the longer they’re going to sit, and the more dated they’re going to sound. They sound current, they sound contemporary, and they just fit right now within this renewed appreciation for the fem rock scene. It’s kind of like when Mumford & Sons came out. Everyone tried to sound like Mumford & Sons, but by the time everyone began to sound like Mumford, it was too late.”

Riley Ann’s presence in the Boulder music scene is remarkable. Not only has she founded the Coalition of Women Songwriters organization, where she’s connecting female musicians with jam and performance opportunities, empowering them to tour, write, and negotiate a living wage for their art. She also volunteers with Girls Rock Denver, a nonprofit camp that helps teen girls find their voice and form bands and collaborations. Riley Ann has proven herself throughout the past year to be a musician dedicated to building up the community around her.

“I don’t want to nickel and dime this album, I want to do it right,” she says. “And using crowdfunding is the way for me to expedite this whole process and get these songs out into the world as soon as possible.”

Riley Ann’s Kickstarter campaign ends in just a few days, so make sure to give it a view to see her rewards and show support. Donating to a local artist means you’re donating to the Colorado music scene! More about Riley Ann and her music can be found on her website.

-Claire

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

December 17th Has Officially Been Declared Colorado's Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Day

By: Sierra Voss

Governor Hickenlooper hereby proclaimed December 17th as Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Day last night. That’s right, this sweet Denver-based band now have a day all their own for all they have brought to the world with their music, and more specifically, for all they have brought to Colorado.

During the short ceremony prior to the show, Hickenlooper made a declaration to the sold-out Ogden crowd, bestowing the honor upon the band:

“So we want to do something really special tonight to thank them for everything they have done to put us on the map in such a big way…
Whereas the folk R&B group haS traveled over 208,000 miles in the last 18 months, touring the world and playing sold-out venues; and
Whereas, since June 2015, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have performed 246 shows in more than 16 countries across the globe; and
Whereas Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats sold over 640,000 albums and have performed for over 700,000 people, not including you; and
Whereas 7.1 million people have listened on Spotify and streamed the equivalent of over 432 years of the group's music; and
Whereas, managed by Chris Tetzeli and Denver-based 7S Management, the group, even with their global travel, has deep roots to the Colorado community; and
Whereas their upcoming August 2017 show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a world-renowned venue with 10,000 seats, sold out in just 7 minutes!; and
Whereas Colorado’s music scene continues to grow and thrive through the enormous talent, dedication, and passion for community that musicians like Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats brings to our state;
Therefore, I, John W. Hickenlooper, Governor of the entire State of Colorado, do hereby proclaim forever after, December 17th, 2016 as Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Day in the state of Colorado."

And so, on the snowy Saturday night, fans celebrated a day in the name of the band as Nathaniel Rateliff dropped to his knees, thanking the audience as the Colorado flag was wrapped around his shoulders.

The adoring crowd launched into dance as the band opened their emotionally heartfelt set. The room was buzzing with positive vibes encapsulating the support this community has had for Rateliff & The Night Sweats throughout their journey. It was clear how moved Nathaniel was as he stopped every few song to praise the crowd and speak his heart, wiping away tears.

It seemed all and every popular Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats song was played, including of course, the band’s hit song, S.O.B. The band closed with this track and departed the stage, prompting the crowd to burst out into chorus singing back to the band for an encore.

It was a magical night for Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats fans, and an important recognition from the state regarding Colorado’s growing music scene. The band’s next announced Colorado gig is the aforementioned Red Rocks Ampitheater show in August 2017. Looking to catch a show before next summer? Check out their international tour schedule here.

-Sierra

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

'Colorado Sings Colorado'- Our December Spotify Playlist

By: Joliene Adams

Paper Bird knows what I mean. We both get it. Coloradoans LOVE Colorado. With plenty of good reason. This month's playlist is a love note to you Colorado, and all the music scene does to stoke fires in the hearts and minds of its people. To honor that love Colorado artists also have for their art and the people who listen, here’s our playlist of no-shame-sing-your-heart-out-loud for Colorado. We’re listening and thank you!  

BolderBeat's 'Colorado Sings Colorado' Playlist:

1. DéCollage, Magnetize (2016), “Denver Hustle”

DéCollage is one of those rare, exceptional beasts whose capacity for innovation is matched by their ability to effectively, cohesively render it on repeat. Their knack is a multidimensional, sensorial experience. I wouldn’t call DéCollage stylistic minimalists, but just as the art form of décollage, (where you remove parts to create your art rather than to add like a collage) this group has a sharp sensibility for which parts to leave in, and all the more importantly, which to leave out. They achieve stylistic versatility across and within songs without giving way to clutter.

There’s also something definitively fashionable about DéCollage’s music. This is in no way to trivialize it or call it fleeting. Quite the opposite. It’s so damn fashionable because it picks up on the numerous textures, trends, and facets available in contemporary and past pop to render a whole new thing from all these roots. “Denver Hustle” sounds runway ready. “Hold that pose,” they lyrically interject, “Hustle, hustle, hustle. Shine, shine. Summer, summer. Glow, glow, glow, glow.” Get it girl, get it.

2. Bop Skizzum, Coloradical (2012), “Coloradical”

What we have here is unadulterated funk’n’roll. This band is eight members thick and it sounds like it. “Coloradical” is fit to start a spontaneous street parade from the second the percussion hits. Crunchy guitar and saxophone raise the bar of this tune, and keep the voracious good times spiraling upwards.

I’ve always prided myself on an immense capacity for fun, and Bop Skizzum renders that passion musically. Though disbanded as of Valentine’s Day, 2014, Bop Skizzum made the final cut of sixteen potential songs found of Colorado musicians playing Colorado-themed music because: A) Colorado lives for the funk; dies for the funk and B) This tune is fun as hell. May the horn section and keys bring the funk to the fore always.

3. Mesita, With Love, from Laniakea (2016), “Chronolorado”

The piano hit me like a rearview mirror. Reflective. You can see forward past it, backwards through it, but both through the ultimate view of now. Emotively drift off to the gentle unfolding of instrumental minimalism on this track. And no worries: the thematically, existentially-heavy material will lighten your load like a backpack lifted from the shoulders at a journey’s end. All in due time, Chronolorado.

4. Head for the Hills, Robbers Roost (2007), “Telluride Song”

Appropriately, we have one of Colorado’s most popular bluegrass bands of the day singing about Telluride. Joe Lessard’s lovely fiddle, (which I’ve heard described as a violin you can spill beer on) gently brings you in. Solo vocals give way to echoing ones as the fiddle breaks things down hard and shows exactly how beer might get spilled on it, being played with such exuberant force and all. Sam Parks’ mandolin definitely shows how to roshambo right proper all the same too. This is a song the whole family will tap their feet to at the farmer’s market or a bluegrass fest. Classic Colorado for everyone.

5. Fed Rez, Folk Rock (2016), “Danver”

Let’s play a word association game. I’ll say a word, and you say out loud the first word that comes to your mind. Your word is: Denver.

What’d you come up with? I’ll hedge my bets it wasn’t diversity.

Fed Rez brings a Chicano/Mexican contingent into their work heavily on this number, both linguistically and culturally. And the song’s as full of food as a belly on Thanksgiving. “Danver” doesn’t eliminate your appreciation of the song as a listener if you don’t happen to know what a pot of hot posole is or chicken mole either. But if you do, I bet your stomach’s growling.

Fed Rez refer to themselves as allegorical hip-hop. Whatever the precise allegory is on “Danver,” food and location are definitive themes, as you ride around Westwood and Athmar Park to Green Valley Ranch and Park Hill, effectively cruising Denver with the Fed Rez Mile High City natives.

6. Grant Farm, Grant Farm (2012), “Funky Boulder”

This one sure sounds like the Boulder I know and love. As with a number of songs that made this playlist cut, this one’s good for dancing away or driving down a road, hand out the window doing that thing where you swerve and wave it against the force of the wind. But keep an ear- the pace of this song keeps at a clip that the brief escalating drum builds with a charging guitar that could easily get you caught speeding. Ride on you mountain roads.

7. The Good Time Travelers, The Good Time Travelers (2016), “Colorado”

My favorite moment on this tune is a very specific, but subtly calling one. “Getting high in the country, above the tree line, my head’s in the clouds. Getting low, in the ______.” Play another word game with me. What goes there? I’d go with valley. The Good Time Travelers go with canyon. And that’s so Colorado of them! This one’s a lighter, more reflective piece. The acoustic singer/songwriter duo keeps it simple and true. It’s an honest homage to home sweet home.

8. Hang Rounders, Bring Your Sister (2015), “I-70 Westbound”

Hang Rounders hang their hats on a simple foundation of guitar, pedal steel, bass, banjo, tenor guitar, drums, backup vocals, fiddle, and the proclamation that they are best heard live and danced to. Sonically? Good old fashioned country western. Thematically? Good old fashioned country western. Pick a highway, any highway. Pick a past or current flame… aim for one you’d most want to hear say or say to, “Daddy, would you please come home?” Add 3AM and snowing literally, or as metaphor, and you arrive at the same place as the listener: memories and/or daydreams of flying down that chosen road toward a chance of love. Nostalgia.

9. Paper Bird, When the River Took Flight (2010), “Colorado”

“Colorado! It’s your mother’s favorite state!”

Paper Bird represent something a lot of folks think of when they think Colorado music: bluegrass, Americana, and rootsy. They inject a sense of humor into this one, hitting the nail on the head that you’ll all whoop and yell “Colorado!” with joy when you make it here, but in all honesty? “No offense, but we won’t miss you when you’re gone.”

Caleb Summeril’s banjo strums undergird harmonica solos with Paul DeHaven’s guitar make you want to take a turn on the dance floor as each instrument takes it’s turn at the forefront. This is good mountain town porch music to the hilt. They ask you to sing along, and that’s a gas. I sang proudly in the shower to this tune more than any other jam, so that’s absolutely something. Coloradans are nuts for Colorado and Paper Bird sings it proudly.

10. Dechen Hawk, Soul Sessions (2012), “My Hometown”

Dechen Hawk’s hometown is Boulder. So this one’s a love song that is, well, just that: a love song. It just happens to take place in his hometown. References to the city don’t come up, but this well known Front Range artist is a staple of a vital, vibrant component of the local music scene. Our solo artist goes soft and soulful with variations in vocal delivery that keep this track interesting while showcasing a certain diligence of Hawk’s songwriting and musical composition abilities. The ultimately cheery melody alongside the sometimes lamenting lyrical content lend an authenticity and a fresh uplift, despite sometimes hard feelings. And that’s love.

11. Bud Bronson & The Good Timers, Even Better Times (2014), “Denver Rock City”

“Denver Rock City” comes at you straight with punk’n’party roll. They sing of changes Denver’s undergone or undergoing in the same lyrical breath as they sing of a stubborn personal refusal to change one’s ways or intentions. They tell you flat out, “And I know it’s a shame South Broadway is gone, but we’re all still kickin’ man- the party’s never gonna stop.” Bud Bronson & The Good Timers full-bodied guitar with rock rolling drums brings the perfect backdrop to keep said party going musically without you ever having to reduce yourself to vodka redbull to do it. They even got me to give it up for John Elway without thinking twice, and I’ve never seen The Denver Broncos play. Live or on television.

12. Lotus, Nomad (2005), “Colorado”

Get in the recliner, chez lounge, or down on the ground and lay on your back because it’s time to float off into full relaxation mode. Mike Greenfield’s light whisking of brushes on the drums and tender splashes on the cymbals combined with Luke Miller and Mike Rempel’s warm and restful guitar chords take you there inherently. It’s an instrumental love homage to Colorado. Considering both the song title, and this track’s downtempo lounge music vibe, you can easily imagine yourself wandering on a warm Colorado summer on a sunset mountain trail with zero of effort (either in imagining, or in physical labor). Chill.

13. Small Hands, This is Our Colorado (Single, 2011), “This is Our Colorado”

Small Hands’ (aka Richie Wallace’s) first two influences listed on Facebook are Hunter S. Thompson and Wu-Tang Clang. Chances are good that could be someone from many places, but any Coloradoan familiar with its literary and musical ties know the two are staples on the scene. If you’re even remotely familiar with the Boulder area, Small Hands will give you known coordinates that stimulate crisp mental visuals in no time. If you’re not familiar with it whatsoever, carefully crafted and accessible lyricism create a mental picture that won’t have you missing out on the joyride: “Lookin’ at the mountain silhouette… sky ahead, electric blue… Towering rocks tempting you to climb… Yellow aspen like fire in a sea of pine…” The song cruises and lets the visuals seep through its hip-hop poetics and uncomplicated, rich electronic and drum backbeats. Smooth.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All songs per the artists featured.