Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
"The most exciting thing for us right now... Everything," answers drummer, Chris. "We're in a world of firsts."
True, Mehko and Ocean Birds are brand-spanking new, the spring chickens of Denver's music scene. Everything is relatively up in the air, still, particularly the lineup. Lead singer and ukelele player Stephen only arrived in Denver about four months ago, at the beginning of this summer. Why Denver?
"Everyone here is doing something, and they have this openness. You have house shows here, that never happens other places. The crowds care about what's going on onstage, they aren't just looking for a cool place to smoke a cigarette." As for Mehko and Ocean Birds, Stephen explained the recent origins of the group, sitting on the curb out front of the then-closed Larimer Lounge, where the group had just finished their set.
"'Mehko' is what I called myself as a solo act. As far as the Ocean Birds... anyone can be an Ocean Bird. This isn't my band, it's all of us. Everyone is as permanent and as impermanent as anyone else. How it goes is, we meet someone, play together. If they're in, it's because we just got that feeling - that they really care, that we can make music together."
As for now, Mehko and Ocean Birds consists of seven talented musicians. Stephen on vocals and uke, Chris on Drums, Allison and Isaac on the beautiful cello, Micah on keyboard, Kate on 'dream vocals,' (as Stephen put it), Leslie on tuba, and Robert on trumpet.
"We're like a molecule with various neutrons and electrons darting around," Chris adds.
If that's true, the group, whoever happens to be playing at the moment, has a bond as strong as those in a diamond when they are making music together. Everyone involved is a part of what they love most, and it's very evident when hearing them play, or talk about why they play.
Chris expressed the most important part of a live performance: "With this band, specifically, everyone likes to use this venue for catharsis - let emotions flow, and find what makes us human."
"You can talk to anyone with music," agrees Allison. "you can't do that with anything else." Stephen follows the metaphor: "Like, with a painting, you can work on it for a week and then find out it doesn't work. A song either happens or it doesn't."
Mehko and Ocean Birds does what it does, all for the right reasons. But, readers not familiar with the band's work might be wondering, what exactly is it that they do?
"We do magic, we play love songs. Aggressive, chaotic, passionate love songs," offers Micah. Stephen recounts the band's practice session days before the show.
"We were playing at my place, we had been at it for over an hour, and my roommate busted in, and put his hand down and said "Man, you can't do this right now. It's too much for me right now." Instead of being miffed at his roommate's obstinacy, the group took it as a compliment - indeed, the music they produce is out-of-this-world, in every sense of the term. The cohesion of the rag-tag-seeming selection of instruments is something that can only be fully appreciated when you see the band, perhaps at their next show? More on that later...
Mehko and Ocean Birds are presented with some pretty unique challenges - they're new, and they are a daunting 7-piece act. Timing practices, sussing out the sound balance (for example, between a ukelele and a tuba,) and properly memorizing their rapidly growing catalogue all come to mind for the group. Yet, Mehko and Ocean Birds are on an exponential trajectory at this point. A month from now, the group hopes to have doubled their repertoire, and to get in to the studio for some professional recording time.
In the more short term, the band has a couple shows ready for your listening enjoyment.
Friday, August 28.
The Tea-House (house show)
721 Elati st, Denver, CO 80204
All Ages, No Cover.
Friday, September 11
The House for Clownfish (house show / cupcake bar)
2001 S. Clayton st, Denver CO 80210
All Ages, No Cover.
*note: Yes, I did attend their show at Larimer Lounge. Yes, I did intend to review it.... No, I was not allowed into the club - alas, Larimer Lounge is strictly 21+. The show this Friday will be reviewed here!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Cutest music news ever - The Decemberists' Colin Meloy announced from his Twitter that the band was 'busking,' or, playing on a street corner for tips, on Royal Oaks, MI's Main street.
Alas, the impromptu street sesh ended in a ticket from the Royal Oaks cops... Busking is technically illegal without a license in Michigan.
Panic! at the Disco has had a turbulent summer - two members, aka half the band, guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker walked out of Panic! over creative differences to start their own project. Jon and Ryan are gone, the exclamation point is back, and a new track is out.
Monday, August 17, 2009
This Wednesday, Denver gets a real treat.
Local artists Mehko and Ocean Birds will be playing the Larimer Lounge in Denver, just an $8. You should all be psyched for this show, and here's why.
Mehko and Ocean Birds is truly one of the gems of the Denver music scene. A dauntless experimental sound combined with the genuine talent of its members make the tracks from this band truly exciting to hear. Originality like this doesn't spin around too often, so it's up to all of you to make it down to this show to make sure it sticks around for us. If the show at the Larimer is big enough, we'll be seeing Mehko and Ocean Birds at the Bluebird, a venue worthy of this fantastic new sound.
Hear it for yourself:
My personal recommendation for best track currently on the player is "Iri." This show, though, will feature plenty of new material not on the MySpace player, so the only way to hear it is to come on down!
Here are the details:
Wednesday, August 19th at 8:00 pm
2721 Larimer St, Denver
I better see you all at the show! If you are stricken with plague Wednesday, (the only viable excuse for missing this!) expect a review up on Wax Cylinders Thursday afternoon!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
CU Balch Fieldhouse
Japanese Motors, a surf-rock California group were admittedly silly with lyrics such as ‘Ugly girls are drugs to me,’ but they turned out to be a pretty solid act, with solid bass and energetic melodies.
Mimicking Birds gave a far more finished and serious sound, coming onstage with familiar indie-folk and a vocalist quite reminiscent of Band of Horses’s leader Ben Bridwell.
This show, unusually housed in CU Boulder’s small track house off the side of the football stadium, was definitely one to reward long term fans – only four songs all night came from Modest Mouse’s newest album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank; “Dashboard” wasn’t played at all. In lieu of the new, more radio-ready material, Isaac Brock put new touches on very old, messy favorites. 1997’s The Lonesome Crowded West saw the most attention, drawing Modest Mouse’s traditional raw energy out from the entire set.
- The hot, dirty, mosh-y and frantic “Doin’ the Cockroach” that proved the worth of having two full-kit drummers onstage this tour.
- “This Devil’s Workday” gets unconventional with a trash can lid stomp routine and brass band, shows off Brock’s completely signature lyric delivery.
- The most perfect close to the show possible, “Custom Concern”, my personal favorite Modest Mouse song ever, puts everyone in a peaceful hypnotic trance at the end of the high-energy show.
- Serious punctuality issues – Modest Mouse didn’t take the stage until nearly an hour after Mimicking Birds finished, also another 20-minute break before encore.
- Really, really bad sound system. This probably has the venue to blame, but painful mike screeches and feedback both ruined basically every song from We Were Dead, especially “The View” and “We’ve Got Everything,” and also went to piss off Brock, not a fun thing to do.
Overall: 80/100 (Lots of energy / enthusiasm, yet sound quality very hard to get past.)
1. “Paper Thin Walls”
2. “Never Ending Math Equation”
3. “The View”
5. “The Good Times are Killing Me”
6. “Doin’ The Cockroach”
7. “Fire it Up”
8. “We’ve Got Everything”
9. “Satin in a Coffin”
10. “Float On”
11. “Trucker’s Atlas”
14. “Trailer Trash”
“This Devil’s Workday”
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
February 26th, 2009
Loney Dear is an up-and-coming indie group with a very honest presence and exciting yet adorable melodies. I highly recommend you find highlight number “Airport Surroundings” somewhere on the interwebs.
Andrew Bird is a unique performer, by all respects. Trained on the Suzuki method (much like your humble author!) on violin starting at age 4 and graduating Northwestern University with a degree in violin performance, Bird is clearly going to be in the upper echelons of musical ability. This he proves during the show, not only evidencing his unbelievable talent at violin, but also on instruments as diverse as the glockenspiel, mandolin, guitar and even whistling. The multi-layered tracks of violin or Bird’s whistling heard on the albums are not sacrificed in the show. They aren’t even pre-recorded. Bird uses a live sampling pedal system, so that every layer of sound is unique to this show alone. Every song in this set seemed to be the one that truly showcased his ability, yet I was consistently impressed by new tricks or insane violin riffs. Andrew Bird is most certainly a live performer worth his salt.
- The layered and complex rhythm achieved on “Effigy.” As each was added by the sampling pedal, the resulting backtrack was something you could really get lost in musically.
- “Plasticities” was so intricate that every member of the band was completely in the zone, a focus that translated into the crowd. Every instrument on stage was used, including a Theremin that played off the feedback of the electric guitar.
- The absolute highlight of the night was “Why,” an accomplishment in Bird’s blues ability and in gettin the whole crowd spontaneously cheering at key moments, especially in the violin part, that totally blew us away.
- “Imitosis” saw Bird a little off his game. After having to restart the song due to what he apparently considered faulty tuning, Bird never really seemed confident with the number, and unfortunately he would not seem to regain full confidence until the encore numbers.
90/100 (More musical ability than is typical to see in a mainstream group, loss of focus in end of main set was only deduction.)
1. A 19th century spiritual folk song, name unknown
3. “Opposite Day”
4. “Fitz and Dizzyspells”
5. “Natural Disaster”
7. “Oh No.”
9. “Not a Robot” (by Martin Dosh)
10. “Armchair Apocalypse”
14. “Fake Palindromes”
“Tables and Chairs”
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
For us here in Denver, it's not kicking too much. We are on our 6th straight day of weary dreary rain and grey skies, definitely not typical for a state that gets 300 days of sunshine a year. To celebrate (or, if it's your style, mourn) the rainy days, both literal and figurative, our turntable this week is slow, sad and stormy. Here follow my most favorite songs to be sad to :-(
"Exit Music (For a Film)" is off Radiohead's multi-platinum OK Computer, and gained even more attention for appearing in Baz Luhrman's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. In fact, the ponderous ode was written specifically for the end credits, as you can see from the title. Thom Yorke wrote the song to take place the morning after Romeo and Juliet consumated their love; Yorke said regarding "Exit Music," "I couldn't understand why, the morning after they shagged, they didn't just run away. The song is written for two people who should run away before all the bad stuff starts. A personal song."
"Something in the Way" is next, from Nirvana's Nevermind. It can be said to close Nirvana's master work with the same simplicity and cynicism that made the band famous. There is only one verse and a one-line chorus, and the feeling that Kurt Cobain might have fallen asleep while singing this song is an aestethic pretty unique to Nirvana.
"The Ice is Getting Thinner" is one of the best tracks on Death Cab for Cutie's Narrow Stairs. It might just be me, but this song, even from the first time I heard it, has always made me self-reflective, listening to the hollow guitar echos and searching its lyrics for relevance in my own life. Even though the literal meaning of the song is pretty clear, just the sound of it can mean anything the listener needs it to, and goodness knows I've needed this song a couple times since I discovered it.
Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" is the most famous cover of Leonard Cohen's original. Sadly, Buckley's track was not released until after his death. This tragedy has, however, made certain the song hasn't lost any of its well-earned acclaim and adds deeper meaning to the beauty Buckley accomplishes on this, his last hit.
"Nude" comes from In Rainbows, Radiohead's newest album. Some great features of this track are the dramatically palm-muted guitar chords, echoing production, and, my absolute favorite part of the song, Thom Yorke's voice as the rest of the band drops out at 2:59, his voice soars over the track in the breathless climax. Seriously, shivers every time.
Don't let these songs make you sad, instead, let them envelop you in to a nice stormy cocoon as you front the literal storms outside.
Friday, May 22, 2009
It’s late May, and the powers that be at the University of Denver have insisted on holding its students through the beginning of next month. This seems like torture when the rest of the Colorado schools let out 2-4 weeks before and when you are walking between classes in 80-degree weather and immaculate sunshine.
Every year, then, as a token of good will to its students, DU arranges a week-long May Days event, culminating in the May Days Music Fest, seven hours of local music on the campus-central Driscoll Green.
This year’s event doesn’t boast the warm weather and summery sunshine invoked by the event’s colorful posters; instead, it’s about 50 degrees and cloudy. However, that hasn’t stopped about 200 DU students from congregating on the lawn for free food and tunes.
Heading to a free music festival on my campus, I must say I didn’t have the highest expectations for the actual quality of the music. Turns out, though, the lineup chosen for the festival featured some pretty promising acts, especially as the afternoon progressed.
Student band Bokonon pulled off a 45-minute set of ambitious instrumental experimental rock, instrumentation including an extra percussionist, sax and trumpet in addition to the typical guitar/bass/drums setup. Bokonon’s set was convincing, professing a level of skill and credibility that is epidemically lacking in the amateur prog-rock genre. They announced an upcoming show at the Mercury Café June 4th with fellow openers Petals of Spain. http://www.myspace.com/denverbokonon
The Foot is the most active, or at least most promoted band on campus. Sounding something like Lenny Kravitz, on the first song of their set their sound isn’t terribly original, but it is an accessible and crowd-pleasing one. A cover of Muse’s (I’m breaking down) Supermassive Black Hole draws more to the crowd, at this point numbering around two hundred people. Once the crowd was sufficiently bolstered, The Foot brought out new track “Whiskey and Water,” definitely the favorite of the crowd. The three are graduating DU in June, and plan to release an album in fall and start touring plenty of local venues. http://www.myspace.com/findthefoot
The Epilogues followed up The Foot, with a sound that would be popular with fans of either hardcore or electronic rock a la Shiny Toy Guns. Their set worked well with the rain that was unfortunately starting to thin the crowd, playing an alternating set between slower, more introspective tracks like “Caroline” and their more sinister, mysterious material, like “Adieu.” Their set ended somewhat abruptly, but not without impressing the crowd with an extended guitar jam at the end of their last song. http://www.myspace.com/epiloguemusic
The Photo Atlas probably suffered the most from the sketchy quality of sound that is achieved on outdoor stages; the vocals too faint, the guitars overpowering. However, their set had the highest energy that had yet performed, and they drew eyes as well as ears from the surrounding festival. The last of the rock acts for the night, The Photo Atlas did the finishing work of gathering the crowd for the dance party that supposedly followed. http://www.myspace.com/danceatlasdance
I say ‘supposedly’ because, much to my current dismay, I didn’t stick around to see Savoy or Clipse. Hey, it was raining and I was freezing in my sodden sundress! I’m sure that a great time was had by all, but sadly I had to venture away from the festival to return feeling to my outer limbs
Browsing today's Pitchfork reviews, I noticed that it had awarded a single the score of 10.
Pitchfork gave something a 10. This must be investigated diligently.
So the track is called "While You Wait for the Others" by Grizzly Bear. Pitchfork praises it as one of those "resolute and austere break-up songs" we all have such a weakness for, and cites how well it fits into Grizzly Bear's discography. Not being super familiar with Grizzly Bear myself, I was judging this track on the 4 minutes it gave me, without the discographical context.
What it gave me was, honestly, pretty deserving of a 10, even a Pitchfork 10. The track has that aura of deepness, not referring to the philosophical kind of deepness but the audio kind. The use of hollowed bass drum and guitar effects plus the lone vocalist in the intro suck you into a vacuum that I was only too happy to occupy. The minimalism is stripped away verse by verse until the track reaches its cathartic chorus, invoking Beatles-y vocal harmony and an incredibly well-put-together band dynamic, not to mention heartwrenchingly honest lyrics.
Don't take my word for it, check it out here. I hope you all like it as much as I do!