Posts Tagged ‘Denver’

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Despite the lyrical content reflecting the roller-coastering emotions of the past few years of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley’s lives together as a family and as a band, as dreamy as ever, sedating ’80s dance-pop with the neo-psychedelic tints of Beach House and Johnathan Rado. Each track on the record is as full of unique instrumental flourishes as it is harrowing tales of pain and recovery, never sounding the least bit derailed or psychologically overwhelmed.

In January 2018 we went on tour. After years of scraping by, we found our footing with our fourth record Yours Conditionally. It was a commercial success that set us up to to play the biggest rooms of our career. But three shows in, I developed a raging case of influenza. Each night I dragged myself onstage and croaked out the set in a delirium. After a particularly bad soundcheck, Patrick asked me if we should cancel the show. I couldn’t imagine giving up the thing we’d work so hard to achieve. “I’ll be on stage even if you have to mic my coffin,” I joked.
The next morning I fainted and had a seizure while grocery shopping for breakfast. Patrick carried me through the check-out lanes screaming for a doctor. I woke later in a hospital bed. Patrick leaned over me, crying. “That’s it,” he said. “I’m cancelling the tour. I thought you were dead. We’re quitting the band. I’m going to be an accountant.” But I was on the mend. We missed two shows and pressed on.

This is the story of deep-rooted companionship strengthened by pain and loss. These songs carried us through our grief. It is us at our most vulnerable, so we kept a small footprint, recording everything ourselves in our home studio. I set out to describe the love I have come to know after ten years of marriage, when you can no longer remember your life before that person, when the spark of early attraction has been replaced by a gravitational pull.
Band Members
Patrick Riley, Alaina Moore
Swimmer is available everywhere February 14th, 2020.

Midwife. Photo credit: Alana Wool

As Midwife, Denver based multi-instrumentalist Madeline Johnston plays what she describes as “Heaven Metal,” or emotive music about devastation. Johnston began developing the experimental pop project in 2015 while a resident of beloved Denver DIY space Rhinoceropolis. The venue/co-op started in the early aughts and nurtured local artists until 2016, when its doors were shuttered due to high tensions surrounding the safety of DIY spaces (not coincidentally following the horrific Ghost Ship fire in Oakland).  Residents were displaced around Denver and artists like Midwife were forced to start over.

However, it was at Rhinoceropolis that Madeline became close with Colin Ward, an artistic confidant and friend to whom her new album, Forever, is dedicated.  Madeline comments, “He was my roommate and was the embodiment of that place [Rhinoceropolis] in a lot of ways. We became really close friends there. I was always learning so much from him, about life and being an artist. He was an amazing teacher and friend to me.”  When Ward passed away unexpectedly in 2018, she turned towards sound to express the indescribable feelings that partnered with her grief.

These mournful sounds ultimately developed into her new album, Forever.  The 6-song LP is a latticework of soft focus guitars and precise melodies– anthems of light piercing through gray clouds of drone. On the track “C.R.F.W.,” we hear Colin Ward reading a poem that speaks of a leaf falling from a tree in autumn: “imagine the way a breeze feels against your leaf body while you finally don’t have to hold on anymore.” Johnston responds with slowly radiating tones, branches stretching out to hold the leaf one last time.  “I wanted to write him a letter. I wanted to make something for him in his memory,” Madeline says of Forever.

On ForeverMidwife combines ambient and dream pop into nuanced, reverb-soaked music that is equally haunting and moving.  Look for the album to be in stores on April 10th via The Flenser and see Midwife performing at Roadburn Festival in The Netherlands following its release, as part of the Flenser 10 Year showcase.

“Forever” Out April 10th and released by The Flenser

Denver indie-pop quartet Wildermiss is dropping a new EP, In My Mind, November 1.

When the members of the popular Denver indie-pop outfit Wildermiss shot the video for “Paralyzed” earlier this summer, they called on their friends to take photos of themselves around downtown Denver.

But members also approached strangers on the street, and the video soon had a Spanish flight attendant and people visiting from Japan taking part. “It was cool to communicate with them just through trying to get their photo and tell them what it was for without really talking to them,” says vocalist Emma Cole. “It was really cool meeting all these people and kind of hearing a smidgen of their story, but also just catching them at that moment in Denver for a video.”

It’s not the first time Wildermiss has taken to the streets of Denver for a shoot. In the video for “Carry Your Heart,” the four lugged an old couch from location to location.

Thematically, the video ties into a lyric in the song, “Just another look in your eyes and I’m paralyzed.” The imagery comprises a series of black-and-white photographs that have been stitched together and give the appearance that the subjects are sitting still while the background shifts behind them. In a way, the subjects appear frozen in time, or perhaps paralyzed, because of the effect.

“We just thought it would be a fun way to present the lyric video,” guitarist Seth Beamer says. “Our goal was to get as many pairs of eyes as possible.”

Band Members
Emma Cole,
Joshua Hester,
Seth Beamer,
Caleb Thoemke

“Paralyzed” from the new EP “In My Mind” out everywhere 11.01.2019

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The Yawpers fourth album delivers more great rock ‘n’ roll. The Denver trio The Yawpers are blazing a trail of roots rock brought bang up to date with balls and panache that gives one hope for the current state of American rock. It ain’t dead yet. On their last album – 2017’s Boy In A Well – they veered off left field to deliver a concept album set during the First World War, but on “Human Question”, their fourth, they deliver ten songs that, whilst having an over-arching theme of redemption, self-destructiveness, and the healing that can come from unity – be that in a band or society in general – is a ride filled with great songs that raise you up, smash you to the ground, and drag you to your feet again, until your ears feel like they’ve been in the aural equivalent of a mosh pit. These guys do tension and changes in tempo with real finesse.

Opening track “Child Of Mercy” sets the scene with its discordant intro. There is a Doors-like guitar hovering lightly over the dark rhythm. The vocals are shamanic, the lyrics full of street shaman smarts over a heavy, tight blues beat. The drums pound. The guitar gets dirty. There is a heavy bridge, the guitars slicing through like power tools, building up into an explosion of sounds ravaging the streets.

Dancing On My Knees is more heavy blues with a 60s rock beat. The drums pound out the message hitting the beats on the vocal punches. The background vocals are like police sirens and a devil’s chorus. The bass veers off into demonic deepness. The violent chaos is controlled, brought back into subtle rhythm and a bottleneck guitar shrieks and howls like an animal in pain at the side of the road. There is more control on Human Question, a 70’s psychedelic rock infused song, but it’s a control filled with tension. It is the beauty of desperation and it builds up layer by layer. Man As Ghost is Americana tinged with folk music and displays a more contemplative side to The Yawpers. This is music played on a porch, staring across at a mountain sheathed in clouds, wondering about life.

Next up, Earn Your Heaven, is a raw slab of Stooges like rock ‘n’ roll mayhem. The drums pound and pound and hold it all together as the guitars strew the studio with mayhem. Time to take a breath with Reason To Believe – a delta blues number that resonates like a memory from some dim remembered past. It is elegiac and full of spirit. Carry Me is a gorgeous, slow-burn of a song that fuses gospel, soul and rock that starts slow and mournful as the singer lays out his sins and builds up into full throttle rock voiced fervour as he begs for salvation. Stunning. Forgiveness Through Pain is fuzz boogie woogie with Led Zep influences to the fore. It’s dirty blues, heavy with salaciousness. Can’t Wait returns to the laid-back folk tinged Americana sound, with a lighter touch that feels like the sun emerging after a storm. Album closer Where The Winters End has a 50’s ballad opening, followed by jangly 60’s rock. It’s a haunting rock prayer that is a perfect, thoughtful end to a great album.

It’s not always easy to say why a band sounds the real deal but these guys do. Part of it is due to it being so effortless, as though rock runs through their blood and into their muscles and straight into the instruments. This is roots rock at its basic level but so much more with complex shades that are revealed on repeated plays – that’s if you can switch off from the physical response your body has to the visceral blues rock hybrid. It has everything a good rock album should – rock out tunes with violent energy, nuanced moments of folk and blues, thoughtful lyrics and band members who all complement each other, each taking a moment in the spotlight but always remaining a band.

Recommended for people who like real rock ‘n’ roll music.

PORLOLO – ” I Quit “

Posted: March 22, 2019 in MUSIC
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Porlolo aren’t quitting music or anything drastic, bandleader Erin Roberts has just done the far more sensible thing of ditching her day job and writing a song about it. The stand-alone single, “I Quit”, is the first new material since the Denver act’s 2018 album, Awards, with Erin also confirming work is underway on a brand new album for later this year.

Discussing the track, Erin has cited the influence of the 60’s pop on the track’s sound, with twanging guitar lines, doo-wop like vocals and strutting bass-line, adding a distinct girl-group swagger to Porlolo’s usual wide-screen country-rock vibe. The track was actually written prior to Erin walking out of her job, as she explains, “singing this song puts power back in my hands when the going gets rough. I’ve used it as mantra to sing repeatedly to myself when faced with tough situations. Dehumanizing bosses, turgid gatekeepers, class ceilings, blind eyes. Sometimes when there’s nothing nice left to say, you can just say ‘I QUIT’.” An anthem we’ve probably all been able to relate to at some point, thankfully seventeen years into a musical career Porlolo sound better than ever, and nowhere near ready to quit the important stuff.


60’s inspired, dreamy but stick-it-to-ya track for everyone, everywhere that’s ever wanted to quit. When you don’t have anything nice left to say, say “I QUIT”.

From high in the Rocky Mountains, Last of the Easy Riders descend with “Unto the Earth”, its new psych-infused country-rock long-player.

While the Easy Riders’ first outing exhibited the band’s kaleidoscope of trippy guitar sounds and production techniques, Unto the Earth unveils the band’s earnest songwriting chops and knack for genuine Bakersfield-Sound country. Though, the guys certainly didn’t abandon its lysergic-leanings, especially on the mind-warping title track – which also serves as the lead single.

With no shortage of jangly guitars, piano and pedal steel, the LP no doubt echoes Clarence White-era Byrds, but it doesn’t stray far from the band’s Southwestern-rock ‘n’ roll roots. The early-‘70s AM rock sounds of “Free Wheelin’,” the opening track, reverberates the band’s nomadic lyrical tendencies, while promptly setting up the sonic road trip Unto the Earth delivers. “Turn the Tide,” which closes Side A, melds brilliantly modest Tom Petty-esque guitar riffing with the Easy Riders’ signature vocal harmonies – which soar across both sides of the wax.
Being the first full-length for the band, the members – whom all share songwriting credits – were able to stretch out and laydown some lengthy and tastefully-stacked arrangements. From the fiery doors-esque jamming on “Woodland Echoes” to the ominous western guitar lines of “Shadow Cruiser,” numerous moods freely wander across the nine-song track list.

Last of the Easy Riders are 4 songwriters playing a mix of raw Midwestern treble and passionate deep-south rhythm and bassCulminating in original High Country Folk Rock and Southwestern Psych.


The band’s co-founder Christopher Minarik (guitar/backing vocals) is joined by the lineup heard on the LP is bassist/vocalist Dan Duggan, guitarist Bradley Grear and drummer Mitch Mitchum. Unto the Earth was recorded in March 2017 in Lansing, Michigan by producer/songwriter George Szegedy – who also offered up his own song for the disc, the twangy-and-wistful “It Won’t Be Long” After five months of mixing and fine-tuning, the Last of the Easy Riders were ready

Tennis we can die happy

Every album represents something foundational to our lives during the time of its creation. Yours Conditionally was about extricating ourselves from an industry that made us feel joyless and restrained. After a successful campaign that involved starting our own label and learning how to record on our own, We Can Die Happy finds us on the other side of that leap of faith, reveling in the sense of freedom and control we’ve found in our work. While making the track list for Yours Conditionally, a couple of songs didn’t seem to fit.

One song, I Miss That Feeling, had been giving me trouble for months. The concept came to me after I noticed the way that certain physiological aspects of anxiety could be read as feelings of pleasure when presented as a list, without context. We had gone as far as recording and mixing it, but when I listened back, I knew I had gotten it wrong. I scrapped everything except the chorus lyrics which detailed my own experiences with panic attacks and started over. I hoped I Miss That Feeling would be an easy fix and the rest of the EP would take shape around it. Instead each song resolved itself while I Miss That Feeling remained stubbornly incomplete. In the final days of our deadline, feeling the pressure, I had a panic attack. Even in the middle of hyperventilating, I thought spiraling into anxiety over a song about anxiety was oddly fitting. Very me. In the end I settled on a kinder approach. I made the minor chords major; I softened things. I made the song a love letter to my constant companion rather than a denunciation of it.

yawpers cvr censored 0 The Yawpers give a track by track breakdown of their new concept album, Boy in a Well: Stream

Back in 2015, Denver outfit The Yawpers brought their blues rock sounds to Bloodshot Records with their label debut American Man. The trio are now back with their follow-up, Boy in a Well, set for release this Friday, August 18th.  Produced by The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson (who also plays on the album) and Alex Hall (JD McPherson, Pokey LaFarge), “Boy in a Well” is a concept record about just what its title suggests. Set in WWI-era France, the story follows a mother who abandons her child down a well, where he grows up alone and afraid. The complex and ambitious tale is told both through 12 muscular, unpredictable rockabilly tracks as well as an accompanying comic book by the Legendary Shack Shakers J.D Wilkes.

“I wanted to write a melodramatic tragedy, but one so tragic that it has kind of a necessary levity,” says frontman Nate Cook, who wrote the record in the wake of his failed marriage. “Musically, the intention was to make a biting, frenetic, punk fueled record that sounded like it was recorded in the ’50s. Nodding to the past, present, and future. Emphasis during recording was placed almost solely on the spirit of the take and or song, often sacrificing polish for authenticity.” the band has provided an exclusive track-by-track breakdown of the entire thing. Cook takes us through the record’s theme and creation, while drummer Noah Shomberg digs into the songs’ structure and dynamics.

“Armistice Day”: Nate Cook (vocals, guitar): As the first song of a record that’s both historical and narrative, the writing on this one proved maybe the most difficult. Sonically, we all tried to maintain a very muted, fogging opening, and then midway tear through to something more immediate. On the narrative side, this is the song where the eponymous character is conceived by a young French girl and a soldier returning from the front lines. Instead of hope, I tried to set up a life that is entirely perverted by and beholden to the past.

Noah Shomberg (drums, vocals): One of the main musical themes Jesse [Parmet, guitars/vocals] and I attempted to address with Boy In A Well was to create intensity without using large dynamic shifts as a tool. However, sometimes you just have to smash. The song starts out nebulous in groove and slowly builds intensity via rhythmic shifts. The purpose of the drums and guitar here is solely to create a bed for the vocals to rest on. The song builds progressively throughout the third verse but not necessarily in volume until the last vocal melody refrain.

“A Decision is Made”: NC: Obviously a more rockabilly tune, and necessarily. We needed to forward the narrative substantially here, so there’s quite a bit of exposition and explanation. Rockabilly lends itself to wordier songs, and so I was able to cram a pregnancy, parental abuse, a birth, and a messianic complex into three minutes.

NS: Straight up rocker. I tried to re-imagine the “rockabilly” shuffle on the drum kit and explore different ways of phrasing it. Where can I place accents to help build tension and build intensity through the verses?

“A Visitor is Welcomed”: NC: The girl who threw our titular character down a well has dealt with the trauma through delusion. She believes her child is the second coming of Christ, and brings offerings of food, gifts, etc to the monster that is growing underneath.

NS: The groove on this song was inspired by a few late nights watching Ken Burns’ documentary on Jazz. We wanted to use a groove that sounded like the “Big Four” as a nod to our musical heritage. It’s a groove that originated from drummers in second line bands in the late 1800s.

“Room With a View”: NC: The first song told entirely from the perspective of the Boy in the Well. I attempted to not use personal pronouns, and make sure his description were limited to comparisons, as he has had no interaction with the outside world, and has no real sense of “I”.

NS: Stay out of the way. The function of the drums here is to support and add color. Nothing more, nothing less.

“Mon Dieu”: In a shameless ripoff of Steinbeck, this song finds a rabbit falling in the well, and the boy’s desire for love killing it. This becomes the impetus for him climbing out.

Looking back, this song felt like it came together the easiest. It was one of the first songs we jammed on and completed. The drum arrangement is all over the place. It’s maniacal and suits the performance of the song just right. We recorded this song with only one microphone which forced me to hit the cymbals a little bit differently. Instead of crashing with the middle of the stick, I played everything with the tip of the stick. I think it adds a cool sonic texture to the drums in this song.


“The Awe and the Anguish”: NC: We recorded the first two thirds of this song entirely on a field recorder that was the same [Alan] Lomax used. We used one mic, and self controlled dynamics, which was new for us. This serves two functions, one being demarcating the boy’s transition from the well to the outside world, and also to demonstrate the alien nature it presents to him.

NS: This was another attempt to stay out of the way of the vocals (and story). The melody and guitar part are so vibey, all it needed was some maraca and a few downbeats on a marching bass drum … until the end.

“Mon Nom”: NC: This is a song entirely about the boy’s search for identity, and finds him using personal pronouns as he grasps a greater sense of who or what he is. Given his upbringing, most of his conclusions are pretty menacing. The last repeated line means “I am the second coming of Christ” in French.

NS: In my opinion, this song achieved everything we were trying to do with the performances on the record. We use rhythm to build the intensity of the whole song. The drums start out stripped down, eventually adding each part of the drum set and then variations of the basic groove to build tension. Nate’s vocal delivery is incredibly dynamic, starting in a low Johnny Cash rumble and ending in a Nick Oliveri style scream. The vocal delivery complements the lyrics most effectively on this song. Additionally, Jesse’s guitar playing is straight forward and outside of the box all at once.

“Face to Face to Face”: NC: In the course of her routine visits to the well, mother encounters son. They recognize each other. In a bizarre sacrifice form, and out of some novel primal instinct in him, they have an “Oedipal” encounter.

NS: Rhythmically and harmonically, this song is outside of the wheelhouse. One of the more interesting instrumental arrangements on the record for me. We tested what we could get away with on this one, but still kept the style somewhat familiar.

“No Going Back”: NC: The encounter is predictably violent, and some innate ethical boundary has been crossed. The mother lies still, presumably dead, and the boy, having destroyed (again) something he loves, is wracked with agony.

NS: I don’t recall what inspired us to write a rockabilly song in 5/4, but we got a kick out of how unusual it sounded. It took us several hours of playing various grooves and parts in 5/4 to wrap our heads around it. Nate and I keep the groove straight forward and Jesse does a great job at smoothing out the angular feel. The transition to 4/4 in the chorus gives the song some serious momentum. Some of the playing towards the end of the song is a personal nod to a drum hero of mine, Jon Theodore [of Queens of the Stone Age and The Mars Volta]. Lastly, I think this is another instrumental arrangement that compliments the lyrics/story.

“God’s Mercy”: NC: This is basically a suicidal lament, as the boy throws himself back down the well. Finishing the job this time.

NS: This is a lullaby, so I did what seemed natural: Stay out of the fucking way. We used a ribbon mic placed about three feet above the tom, cranked the gain, and I played the floor tom with my hands. We achieved a pretty cool sound.

“Linen for the Orphan”: NC: Months have passed. As it turns out, the girl was only rendered unconscious during the encounter with her son, and has come to term with their child. Unfortunately, she dies in child birth. Her parents, not wanting the child, decide to get rid of him. After a doctor smothers the child with a sheet, they need to find a place to dispose of the body.

NS: This guitar/drum vibe was inspired equally by the Cramps and the Dead Kennedys. I loved the feel of the song “Police Truck”, so Jesse and used that for some of the inspiration for the verse grooves. My favorite parts are the builds in the song. I tried to use the bells of the cymbals to build intensity rather than just crashing. I also tried to get as quiet as I could but without ever getting too loud. Tension, release, tension, release.

“Reunion”: The body is taken to the well, and thrown onto the bones of its father.

The main riff was taken from a jam session that Jesse and I had from the previous summer. We brought that to a rehearsal and Nate pushed the song into a surf pop direction to juxtapose the lyrical content. Irony, a classic Cook move. We had our pal, Tommy Stinson, lay down some 12 string on this track which added a pretty and twangy sonic layer to the song. All in all, what better way to end the record?

Photo: Paul Beaty

The Denver indie pop duo and sailing enthusaists Tennis  husband-wife team Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, released their fourth album, “Yours Conditionally”The new record includes the lovely track “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar” as well as opener “In The Morning I’ll Be Better” and the dreamy, dizzying “Modern Woman.” That last song has a new video out in which the band’s Alaina Moore gazes at her reflections in a series of vintage domestic tableaus. Like “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar,” “Modern Woman” is a mannered, sarcastic meditation on womanhood, delivered with a dose of melancholy sincerity.


In the video accompanying the single, she peers into a vanity mirror at her reflection, maintaining eye contact with her own image as she reaches for various potions and salves, the products she leans on to make herself beautiful. The video comprises several dreamy vignettes shot over the course of a single day at a gallery in Denver. Director Luca Venter, who also directed the band’s “In the Morning I’ll Be Better” video, and set designer Kelia Anne envisioned different rooms for the shoot—“really feminine and really domestic,” Moore explained. In each scene, there’s a mirror, and Moore stares into it, transfixed.

“Yours Conditionally” came out in March 2017 ,

Wovenhand - Star Treatment

Star Treatment, the new Wovenhand album, David Eugene Edwards, the Denver musician who has been leading Wovenhand since 2001, since it was a side project of his mutant-country band 16 Horsepower.

His music deals in darkness, and obsessiveness. His songs are steeped in the history of American music, of folk and country and blues, and yet they owe as much to some of the clanging, confrontational forms that followed: punk, metal, hardcore, noise-rock. His songs sound like incantations, like prayers bubbling up from below.

I’d would have been shamefully ignorant of Edwards’ work until Converge frontman Jacob Bannon’s label Deathwish, Inc. put out Wovenhand’s album “Refractory Obdurate” two years ago. Deathwish is usually an amazing source of coloring-outside-the-lines hardcore and metal, I’ll listen to anything that label puts out at least once. Edwards’ clanging, crashing sermons are as much alt-country as they are metal, but he fit weirdly well into the label’s whole project. Wovenhand’s sonics only glancingly intersect with metal, but they conjure a grandeur that we can also hear in some of the best doom. With the new album Star Treatment, Wovenhand have left Deathwish for the more amorphous indie Sargent House Records, but they might be more metal than they were last time out. Opener “Come Brave” has a grand, seething distorto-riff at its heart. The thundering groove of “Crook And Flail” might have pianos and bongos mixed in, but those instruments somehow add to its heaving enormity; they don’t just ornament it. “Golden Blossom” is one of the quieter moments here, but the warmth of its stargazing psychedelia feels like the dank-club equivalent of a lighters-up arena moment.


This time around, Edwards is drawing plenty of his help from the intersecting worlds of metal and hardcore. Two of the musicians from his band are also members of Planes Mistaken For Stars, the reactivated Midwestern post-hardcore greats. Sanford Parker, the renowned Chicago metal producer, recorded the album, and he did it at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio. But this isn’t Edwards’ punk album — at least, not any more than any of his others. Edwards is concerned with older things. He’s said that he named the album Star Treatment because he’s using it to explore humanity’s ancient fascination with the night sky. And in Star Treatment, we can hear the sounds of tiny human specks attempting to wrap minds around the infinite, around forces much grander than themselves. Edwards is a devout Christian, and that’s probably a part of it, too. There’s a ritualistic feel to the album, a sense of devotion to the cosmos. And even if you’re not the tiniest bit spiritual, which I’m not, there is a power in asking the mere questions that so many belief systems attempt to answer.

Edwards belongs to an older breed. He’s in there with Cave, Michael Gira, Carla Bozulich, Dan Higgs, Polly Jean Harvey, David Tibet. He’s a mystic wanderer, the type who seeks transcendence in darkness as well as in light. He never hides his voice. It’s a huge, barreling wail, a declamatory roar. And the music matches the majesty of that voice, calling on traditions that can sometimes go past ancestral country music and into tribal-chant territory. This is big music, a type of music that we don’t often hear anymore. It’s music for calling down heaven. There is plenty of great music coming out these days, but very little of it is concerned with summoning spirits in that same way. We don’t get many albums like this anymore.