Review: CITRA Serve Up Hard-Hitting Rock On New 'Mr. Copacetic' EP

By: Norman Hittle

Denver-based rockers CITRA just rolled out their Mr. Copacetic EP to the world. The first release since 2017’s single “Air,” CITRA isn’t pulling any punches with their new EP.

With this dosage, CITRA serve up some heavy-hitting rock with nods to the Foo Fighters and riffs reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age respectively on “Static Erratic” and “Felt So Right.” Moving into track three “That’s What She Said,” the pace takes a small backstep as the song washes over in smokey bar ballad. “Grant My Wish” is a swinging return to some edgy rock while the EP wraps up with the fast paced and hard lined “R.Y.F.F.” According to the band, this music isn’t about any particular theme; however, with the current cultural climate, they couldn’t help but feel a social and political charge energizing their motivations.

Photo Credit:  Mark Tepsic Photography

CITRA have plans to tour with these new songs, adding to their already impressive collection of fan favorites like 2017’s “My Mind,” which already boasts over 10,000 plays on Spotify alone (no small feat for a homegrown band). Yet, they come out of the gates with a realistic attitude:

“We don’t think we’re trying to change the world. Just hopefully getting people out to shows and listening to the music to have a good time and forget about your life for an hour. We think if your goals are beyond that, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.”

CITRA.

CITRA.

Mr. Copacetic of course has its own origin tale. Unlike their debut EP Ocean which was recorded immediately after the band formed, the new release has had many capable hands guiding it along like Chris Andrews of Monument Sound on the mixing end and Mike Kalajian of Rogue Planet (The Dear Hunter) mastering.

“We tracked drums at Evergroove Studio and the following week rented a mountain house to track the majority of the rest of the EP. Being fairly isolated was a great way for us to focus on the songs and on making them the best we could. We feel Mr. Copacetic finally represents our sound as it has developed since our formation a couple years ago.”

Keep your eyes peeled for a new music video for “That’s What She Said” in the coming weeks by following the band on their socials 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.

Premiere: Spiral Cell Releases Eerie Music Video For "Prologue"

By: Norman Hittle

Near the end of 2016, Scott Uhl, the man behind Spiral Cell, brought us his first full release with The Maze in the Tree Rings, a highly conceptual album blending the lines of progressive rock with contemporary video game soundtracks that had us questioning artificial intelligence versus reality. Now at the crest of 2018, he’s released the premiere video for the first song of from that record, aptly known as “Prologue.”

I won’t go into too much detail, but my first impressions of the video were that it was either: A) a post apocalyptic world with someone visiting from another planet perhaps to gain knowledge of Earth's demise, or B) someone surfacing from a sci-fi bunker after some cataclysmic world event. Either way, it’s mysterious, thrilling, and seems to fit well with the actual music.

I got a moment to catch up with Scott via a phone interview, and though he admits the video fits nicely into his conceptual creation for The Maze in the Tree Rings, he also wasn’t about to spoil my own interpretations of his music and the video. Spiral Cell is highly conceptual through and through, and though Scott admits he has a vision for what the story of the video is, he stands true on the ideal that “art is in the eye of the beholder,” which means he wants us to have the freedom to take from what he creates instead of telling us what Spiral Cell is fully about.

What Scott was willing to tell us about Spiral Cell and the video for “Prologue” without spoiling any surprises were some behind-the-scenes details:

First and foremost, the same people involved in the recording of the music are featured in the video. Scott’s wife Danielle, who is featured singing on some tracks of his last record, was the makeup designer and a body double; the “woman” creature is Mackenzie Beyer, who was the voice of “the guide” on several tracks;  and of course, Scott himself is the hazmat suit-wearing, flashlight-wielding explorer.

Scott also shared that though the video was filmed on three different locations on three different nights, each night of filming, observers called the police to the film scene due to the creepy nature of him walking around with a flashlight and hazmat suit and because the fog machines used were mistaken for fires. Yet, he said in each situation the police allowed them to continue their production and wished him well in its completion.

Scott Uhl. Photo Credit: Underexposed.

Scott Uhl. Photo Credit: Underexposed.

One of my favorite behind-the-scene hints came up when I asked Scott about how he was structuring “Prologue” into the storyline of the The Maze in the Tree Rings concept. The end of the video seems open-ended, as if it could be a finality or just the beginning, and “Prologue” in name and as the first song on the album begs the question: Is it the actual beginning, or is he telling a story in reverse Tarantino-fashion? Scott of course was enigmatic about all of it, but informed me that “Prologue” is not necessarily the beginning nor end of the story. “There are some subtle hints in the actual song that allude to where in the story ‘Prologue’ actually falls,” Scott told me, but he wants to leave it up to the listener to decide. Challenge accepted!

If you have yet to check out The Maze in the Tree Rings, I would liken it to a solid union between The Dear Hunter and Stephen Wilson. Take a listen below:

Spiral Cell may also have more for us on the horizon. “Though I wish I could make a video for every song, that’s not likely within my budget, but there will be more,” Scott said. He’s already planning a live performance video for one of the songs, but does not have a date set for its release.

Keep up with Scott and Spiral Cell on Facebook.

-Norman

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

Review: Spiral Cell's New Record Will Have You Questioning A.I. VS Human

By: Norman Hittle

If you can imagine the sounds of progressive/experimental rock set in a sort of sci-fi dystopian storyline and added the ambient sonic elements of a video game, you might just be able to begin to grasp what Spiral Cell is all about. Though I'd also recommend you listen to it, you know, because words can only describe music so much.

Check out Spiral Cell's The Maze In The Tree Rings:

Scott Uhl is the harbinger of the multi-faceted, multi-media, and multi-conceptual Spiral Cell project. And he's beginning to accomplish what a great many people in the music industry are predicting for the future: a fully integrated and multi-level experience combining music, art, storytelling, and gaming. What's more is his drive to put on a great live show with all of this- including synchronized lighting, backing tracks, and full stage decor.

Spiral Cell. Photo Credit: Underexposed

Spiral Cell. Photo Credit: Underexposed

Delving in to Spiral Cell's latest record, The Maze In The Tree Rings, I'm reminded of the juggernauts in the progressive/experimental movement and the nods made to legendary acts like Pink Floyd as well as more contemporary acts like The Dear Hunter and the Devin Townsend Project when I listen to Spiral Cell.

Scott told BolderBeat: “My goal as I was putting this together was to make something that viewers would at least pay attention to. Whether they like it or not, that’s not the point- as long as they pay attention. I’m a live performer, and I always love performing live. The studio recordings of it are necessary, but my main focus is putting on an intriguing live show. Since the first show, I said my goal was to get people to either say, 'That was f*cking amazing!’ or ‘What the f*ck was that?!’ If I get one of those, I’m happy!”

Photo Credit: Underexposed

Photo Credit: Underexposed

Though Scott claims there’s an established storyline to the project, he’s not quite ready to tell all of it. But he encourages us to listen and see what it means to you as the listener.

“Prologue” begins accapella, among haunting piano and guitar mixed with static radio transmissions. “(Re)start” encourages the sci-fi video game theme with an interlude between an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and the presumed protagonist user, bleeding into “Divergence / Discovery” with its melancholy guitar notes echoing into a progressive and industrial climax. “Immersion” gallops in on incessant strumming before easing into a washed out dream state, while “Wake / Walk” is a chill and upbeat instrumental track that could easily find it’s way into the ending credits of a movie. “Ellipsis” is another sort of interlude that seems to convey the sense that the protagonist may not survive whatever it is the A.I. is testing them on. “Taste” continues the A.I. dialogue while bleeding into an enigmatic bossa nova rock sound, while “Cellophane Blindfold” comes together with a film noir lounge sound through the dialogue of what sounds like a detective on a voice memo recorder.

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“Asymptote” is a haunting piano laden countdown to what seems like some sort of driver simulation that flows into “Spiral”, which is another user versus A.I. type of interlude. “Consonance” is a pensive, piano driven arpeggiation that progresses into full industrial electrorock with the A.I. giving some sort of psionic-test with riddles. “Free Flow” formulates under a chill indie electropop flag, along with string instrumentals and female vocals, while “Ocean” creates a longing and beckoning vibe in a calming alt blues meets electopop vibe. “Untitled” carries its namesake in a mysterious assortment of samples over a bed of echoing pianos, and finally “The Prism” concludes the complex tale of this record with dreamy acoustic guitar and autotuned male vocals.

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Check out Spiral Cell September 29th at Sunshine Studios Live in Colorado Springs supporting One Eyed Doll and keep up with Spiral Cell on Facebook.

-Norman

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

Review: Chess at Breakfast's 'The Gutshalls'

By: Austin Michon

Somewhere between ambient, crawling ballads, and full force grunge rock, Fort Collins’ own Chess at Breakfast have carved themselves a niche in the alternative rock genre with their debut EP, The Gutshalls.

Listen to Chess at Breakfast’s The Gutshalls:

Mixing slow psychedelic sounds with cranked distortion, simple grooves, catchy riffs, and full-out sonic onslaught, Caleb McFadden, Justin Daggett, and Mike Davis intermingle each instrument into one cohesive unit. While some songs are reminiscent of a grungy, shoegaze style, others are a more modern indie rock experience, with each of the five songs seemingly highlighting a strength or focal point of the group.

In Hindsight,” a track I could see floating through a Buffy the Vampire Slayer intro, instantly transports you to the sounds of the 1990s, while “Andesite” takes you through a trippy, Pink Floydian sonic landscape, punctuated with moments of raw emotion and rock. “415” provides an almost jazz-esque groove which gives way to the trio’s characteristic heavier rock sound.

Chess at Breakfast.

Chess at Breakfast.

Somewhere between Modest Mouse, The Dear Hunter, and The Smashing Pumpkins, Chess at Breakfast have created unique, fun altrock that I hope to hear much more of. Be sure to catch them at Fort Collins’ Downtown Artery this Friday, April 7th with Race to Neptune and Turvy Organ. And keep up with Chess at Breakfast here.

-Austin

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