Review: Retrofette's New Single "Lover In Japan" Is a Tasty Summer Splash of Synthwave

By: Norman Hittle

Denver-based Retrofette are an electropop act with 80s era funk and a splash of synthwave. Their latest single, “Lover in Japan,” is due out just in time for summer. Check it out:

If you left it up to me to describe Retrofett’s sound, I would liken it to what might have happened if Broken Bells, Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, Prince, and David Bowie had the chance to record a song together. Is it that good?! Yes, yes it is.

Frontman Sean Culliton pretty much nailed the overall feel with his comments on the song when he told us, “Lyrically, (it’s) a melancholy note written to an estranged lover. But sonically, it's a sunny day at the beach with neon sunglasses and volleyball montages.”

Retrofette. 

Retrofette. 

The band is the byproduct of keyboardists Sean Culliton and Xavier Provencher's love for vintage synthesizers and sweaty dance floors. Joined by synth bassist Ben Weirich and drummer Dylan Johnson on stage, the quartet’s brand of 80s-tinged synthpop was born in March of 2016. Aside from this single, Retrofette released its debut three-song EP I Don’t Mind in 2016. They have also played BolderBeat’s Official Showcase at 2017’s Underground Music Showcase, been listed as one of 303 Magazine's top Denver acts to see, and selected as the “Best Pop” act of 2017 by Westword Magazine.

The guys will be celebrating the release of “Lover in Japan” this Saturday, June 2nd at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. The night will also feature sets from Motion Trap and DJ Clay Cornelius. Tickets and show details 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.

Lost Lake Lounge To Showcase Synth Sounds Tomorrow Night (11/25)

Denver’s Retrofette is set to headline Lost Lake tomorrow, November 25th for a night of synthpop with Whiskey Autumn and Nasty Nachos. Makebeliever will also throw down a DJ set to kick off the evening.

Retrofette at the BolderBeat UMS Day Party. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Retrofette at the BolderBeat UMS Day Party. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Earlier this year we premiered Retrofette’s music video for “Skeletons;” the four-piece also played the BolderBeat Underground Music Showcase Official Day Party, along with Whiskey Autumn. Needless to say, we’re stoked for this show!

Retrofette will be releasing a remix of their debut EP I Don’t Mind, with tunes remixed by local artists including futurebabes, Optycnerd, Snubluck, and Nasty Nachos.

Whiskey Autumn. Photo Credit:  Hannah Oreskovich

Whiskey Autumn. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Said Sean Culliton about the night, “The whole concept behind this show is to highlight a portion of the synth community in Denver. There's a bigger community here for live electronic bands than most realize. We want to showcase that and hope to make this into a recurring event.”

Nasty Nachos.

Nasty Nachos.

Tickets are $10 online at this link and $15 day of show. This is the perfect show to cap your Turkey Day weekend celebrations- see you there!

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


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

By: Norman Hittle

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

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

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

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

-Norman

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

Review: After Remixing A Track For Bon Iver, Nightshifts Has A Debut Single Of His Own

By: Julia Talen

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

Listen to “All Along”:

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

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

Nightshifts.

Nightshifts.

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

-Julia

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

Motion Trap Release Alluring Single + Video In Anticipation Of Their Forthcoming Record 'Heavenly Bodies'

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s Motion Trap have been referred to as “Tycho with dance moves” and “Mogwai on crack.” The nu-dicso duo, comprised of Kyle Williams and Nathan Rogers, formed back in 2012 and have been making ears everywhere drip in thick synth dance hooks ever since. This September, Motion Trap are releasing their newest record, ‘Heavenly Bodies.’ The indie electro dance album mashes guitar tones with synth, distorted vocals, and all things digital into something impossible not to groove to. It's mysterious, alluring, and dancey as hell. Recently, Motion Trap released their single from the record, “Youth Blood,” and the track’s accompanying music video. It caught our eardrums, so we chatted with the band to learn more about this glow-in-the-dark two-piece and their newest vid. Read on:

What is the story behind the video for “Youth Blood?”

Recently we have been writing more upbeat songs, like our first single 'Molecule,' but with 'Youth Blood' we decided to showcase a darker side to our songwriting. I have heard people describe this sound as being ‘a more sexy Motion Trap.’ It has a deeper feel, and a possibly deeper meaning, one that is open to interpretation, but also means something to us. We love double meanings in our songs and this one has the internal dialogue of a person struggling with a feeling and trying to cope or figure it out in that moment.

Watch Motion Trap's music video for "Youth Blood": 

Who filmed the video?

Jeremy Pape shot it and Shaun Burder edited and directed it. They are both from Collective Culture out of Denver and do an amazing job. We also had the opportunity to work with some great actors, JoJo Lupe and Rob Ferrell.

Motion Trap. Photo Credit:   Blake Jackson

Motion Trap. Photo Credit: Blake Jackson

Where did you record the single?

We always record all of our songs in our home studio and when they get to a spot we call 'almost finished,' we sit in without our engineer Rocky Tran at Conway Sound to put some final love on the tracks before sending them to be mastered.

Of all the tunes on upcoming Heavenly Bodies, why’d you choose to release “Youth Blood” to us as one of the first?

I would say because it is so different than most of our music. We love the deeper feel this song has. That is why we chose this- to showcase a different side of our songwriting capabilities. Also the dark tone of this song felt like it lent really well with our black light theme. We had a great time experimenting with different lighting and painting techniques with this video.

Kyle Williams. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Kyle Williams. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Cool! What’s up next for Motion Trap?

We have our CD Release Show at Larimer Lounge September 8th! The record will contain both singles, 'Molecule' and 'Youth Blood,' as well as six other tracks. We are bringing a massive light show along that we are collaborating on with our good friend Nate Davis from Color Shadow Productions. We have some special things up our sleeves for this show and can't wait to release the new album!

Make sure to catch Motion Trap at Larimer Lounge on Friday, September 8th with Get Along and Time Scale for their release show! Tickets here; keep up with Motion Trap and their new record ‘Heavenly Bodies’ by peeping their website.

-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.

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Brought Together Artists & Fans For Four Days Of Awesome

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s annual four day music festival The Underground Music Showcase rocked South Broadway last weekend. We crawled the strip, ate nothing but pizza, and almost refused to sleep in the name of good music. Here are some of our favorite things about this year’s festival:

The Bands

Of course we went to as many shows as possible and of course most of them really rocked our socks off. But here we’re going to be shameless and first tell you about the killer acts who played our packed official day party.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

BolderBeat & KGNU combined forces this year to bring you Brunch with a Beat at The UMS, which was five hours of sugar and synth by some of Colorado’s most promising electro acts.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Mirror Fears kicked things off with her industrial goth pop, Church Fire kept things movin’ with their Crystal Castles-esque electronic primal therapy, and DéCollage wrapped the front of The Irish Rover in Mylar and swept the stage with their avant-garde pop. Retrofette’s synth stylings followed, and created a massive dance party full of hip-shaking & flash tattoos. Whiskey Autumn’s indie synth pop closed the show; their unreleased track "Birds That Flew" had many whistling along to its chorus. And in between sets, DJ Erin Stereo crushed sweet beats. We gave away tickets to upcoming Future Islands and Thundercat shows, and we passed out donut lollipops, which many showgoers expressed they hoped were laced with weed (they were not kidz).

As for the rest of our UMS:

Anthony Ruptak.

Anthony Ruptak.

Our first official set at UMS 2017 was at Hi-Dive on Thursday with Anthony Ruptak, who started us off with amazing tunes from his new record Don’t Let It Kill You, and even streamed a Facebook live anti-Trump vid from the stage. Punk rock.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ghost Tapes were a funky, neo-soul standout at Skylark; frontwoman Ishka Phoenix had the crowd melting as she delivered tasty R&B sounds from her ice cream microphone.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Corsicana gave us tasty indie tunes while we nommed hard on an Illegal Pete’s burrito, which was the only non-pizza item we allowed ourselves for sustenance. The four-piece are playing a couple of big Colorado shows with Hippo Campus this month, so make sure to roll to those.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

OptycNerd describe themselves as “eclectro indie pop hop sexy time,” and well, we wish we’d written that ourselves. Their sexy time at Hi-Dive was enjoyed.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus brought her dark, operatic vocals to the main stage; Red Fang spouted the classic rock stoner jams they’re known for to a headbanging crowd.

What is cooler than wearing glow-in-the-dark face paint? Glow-in-the-dark guitar strings- DUH. Motion Trap had ‘em at their Rover set on Saturday, and they played their electro sonic disco tunes to a packed house that boogied with them from start to finish.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

All Chiefs kept us out of the rain at Hi-Dive with their indie rock vibes, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones kicked up some folky soul at Gary Lee’s Motorcycle Club, and GALLERIES played a heartfelt tribute show celebrating the life of late Denver music prodigy Kyle McQueen.

The Outfit.

The Outfit.

Rock’n’roll’s The Outfit played their final set ever at 3 Kings Tavern on Friday to a mosh-ready, beer-heavy crowd who were clearly sad to see them go.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

The Savage Blush had a killer psych rock-dripping set at the main stage, Slowcaves brought us chill wave surf rock sounds, and Dragondeer managed to blues rock us almost straight through a downpour, though they had to cut their set a bit short when the rain just about flash-flooded the festival parking lot in true Colorado fashion.

Esmé Patterson.

Esmé Patterson.

Brent Cowles revived a soaking crowd with “Cold Times” when the sun came back out, Esmé Patterson slayed her evening dream rock set with unreleased music and a touching tribute with Kitty Crimes to the late Tyler Despres, and Benjamin Booker crowd surfed his way right into Colorado’s heart, closing out the main stage of the festival Sunday evening.

The Booze

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Breckenridge Brewing was a main sponsor for The UMS this year and we sipped many an Avalanche by the main stage throughout the fest. Dewar’s had what felt like a tiny house made for drinking with free smells and scotch eggs. It was delicious and why you would have wasted your tongue on any other mixed drink in the hot sun and the pouring rain is beyond us.

The Bunny

Yeah. This one.

Yeah. This one.

Mixed Up Gifts’ pop up shop on South Broadway had some sweet merch for sale from Sacred Bones Records and a creepy night light if you’re in the market to wake up afraid of the dark only to find Jason lurking in your bathroom. But best of all was their bunny, who tried to coerce festival-goers into the shop while eerily reading children’s books through the window.

The Budz

No, not that kind you typical Denverite. Overall, we had a rad time at The UMS this year, and we highly encourage you to check out all the bands we mentioned, all the acts we live-interviewed with Zach Dahmen, and any of the performers on the local lineup in general. Because if there’s one thing we came away with after four days of music-hopping insanity, it was with community- from the performers themselves, to the UMS staff and volunteers, to the eager ticket holders bouncing from show to show hoping to find their next favorite band- Denver came out to support its own. Whether we were playing beach volleyball in the artist tent during a downpour or running from the main stage with our best budz to get back to Broadway for a set (those smarter ones took the Meow Wolf bus), this weekend really showcased you- the local music supporter. And for that, we and apparently Governor Hickenlooper, thank you.

Check out our full photo gallery from The UMS here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Thrash Vibes, Garage Rock, & Green Things- Oh MY!

By: Trevor Ryan

Last weekend, I found myself once more at the University of Colorado’s Memorial Center attending another incredible show put on by Club 156. The vibe was familiar, only this time, an almost hardcore energy filled the room. It was very hype-y; the sound crew seems especially stoked for the coming show. I arrived early, and a few fans already lined the walls of the intimate venue; a small room hosting a quaint stage bursting with grungy potential.

Listen to Loretta Kill’s “Too Cool For You”:

First onstage was Loretta Kill. With a very garage rock sound, the trio utilized heavy distortion accompanied by growling vocals. Theirs is not always an easy sound to master in a small room, but Loretta Kill definitely killed it. They emit a bit of that nostalgia you had listening to Nirvana in your youth, combined with experimental gestures and a “too cool” attitude that is somehow instantly appealing.

Princess Declaw. 

Princess Declaw. 

Next up was Princess Dewclaw. An act that I will not soon forget, this five-piece held absolutely nothing back. The first thing to hit you was lead vocalist Amanda G.’s pipes. The self proclaimed “no wave trash pop” frontwoman gave literally everything she had with ear shattering wails, followed by abrupt near-whispers. And the whole time, she rolled her eyes excessively, apathetic in stature, and in an almost character-like way. Meanwhile, behind her, the band used intricate synth work and some sick rhythm to really make it all POP!

The Beeves.

The Beeves.

Following them, the show’s headliner appeared: The Beeves. This trio is an insanely tight act in their appearance and their sound. Their glances to one another while playing had me wondering what move they’d make next; that unspoken language that keeps everything flowing in a good set. But just as you’re distracted by their tight playing, that’s when it enters: The Green… Thing. A mascot of of sorts parades around the stage, holding a seemingly pointless purpose, until you realize how pumped you become watching him. You want to dance; you want to mosh and The Beeves will get you to do it with classic ska elements set to a hard rock theme and a punk/thrash vibe. Move.

Listen to The Beeves’ self-titled EP:

Once again, Club 156 put on a fantastic show. You'll go for the people; you'll stay for the friggin’ insanity! Keep up with their upcoming events 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.

Review: AMBIT's New Single "Guest House" Will Take You to a Low-Lit Dungeon of Your Choosing

By: Jura Daubenspeck

AMBIT is Denver’s oozy & bizarre garage house trio that is “a little Chicago & a little Detroit.”

AMBIT.

AMBIT.

The eclectic group has some new music for anyone looking to shed their skin a bit and get weird. With a palindromic approach to creating music focusing on loops and patterns, their sound is one you’ll likely find blasting in a late night warehouse party.

Members Jason Iselin (guitar/bass), Eli Mishkin (vocals/guitar/bass), and Jeffrey Wentworth Stevens (bass/modulations/drums) are no strangers to Colorado’s music scene, playing in other bands such as Hot IQs, george&caplin, Wentworth Kersey, and Morriconez. AMBIT then made their start performing at the Underground Music Showcase in 2015.

AMBIT’s minimalistic darkwave sound beckons listeners to unbuckle their brain and get on the dance floor. Their previous releases, including “heartbeat noise,” “townies,” and “night drive,” incorporate dark and wavy bass beats, melancholic vocals, and splashes of space-like synth. At times, AMBIT sounds a bit like The Faint’s Danse Macabre album, while other times, you could swear you have already heard their music featured in the neo-noir crime film Drive.

The band released new music last week; their single “Guest House” dropped, which you can listen to above. “Guest House” follows suit to AMBIT’s previous releases with march-like rhythms, repetitive vocal commands, and a very subtle buildup. So close your eyes while listening to this track, and let yourself be taken to a low-lit dance dungeon of your choosing.

If “Guest House” is indicative of what is to come for AMBIT, there’s much to look forward to. Keep tabs on the band via Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, and Soundcloud for future releases.  

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist 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.