Thursday, October 22, 2009

Everything Absent or Distorted Comes to a Close

Sad news I learned today -
Denver act Everything Absent or Distorted is calling it quits after 5 years of some of the most original music on the local scene.

Check the Westword article here:

http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2009/07/everything_absent_or_distorted_2.php

(Apparently I'm way behind on the news here, since it's dated July.)

Their final show is this Saturday at the Bluebird - say goodbye in style!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 10.13.09

Readers, I am sick. Sick sick sick. So are these songs.

Down With The Sickness. I wonder if Disturbed also takes a nap and eats chicken broth when they are down.

Sick of Me - Green Day. My roommates certainly will be, I am so whiny.

The Chills - Peter Bjorn and John. You guessed it, I have them.

You'll Be Illin' - Run DMC. You will be if you hang out with me.

The Sickest - Biz/Silencer. I am the sickest. Especially after listening to this song, since it is terrible.


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Paean, Munsterboogie, Emily Frembgen, Mehko and Ocean Birds @ Blast-o-mat, 9/30

It's the first chilly fall night in Denver, and I find myself at 7th and Federal's Blast-o-mat. A (tiny) vinyl store by day, behind the store you find a weathered skate ramp and a sound-insulated garage, the walls covered in political stickers, artful graffiti, blown-up / insanely detailed pencil drawings, drumsticks shoved in the padding on the ceiling. It is in this quirky locale where Paean, Munsterboogie, Emily Frembgen, and Mehko and Ocean Birds, all local acts, will play tonight.

First to mount the stage was Ft. Collins-grown Paean. Playing more accessible indie rock than one typically sees from local start-up acts, the group was still far from predictable. Especially of note was the unique balance struck by "When I Was Five Years Old." In this song, Anna Maddocks' violin was actually mastered somewhat higher than the guitar, about on par with Dave Maddocks' vocals. This gave the violin a particularly human, piercing quality, effectively the driving force of the tempestuous celtic-tinged melody. Keeping both interest and entertainment high seems to be a particular skill of the band. Highlight of the set "Floyd Brown" featured rapid-fire violin chords, single-picked, echoing lead guitar, infectious keyboard drone, and chugging high-hat-centric drums. The final effect of the group on a first-time listener such as myself was that this band wasn't just here to make noise - Paean is really going somewhere. Wax Cylinders wishes them mucho luck on their U.S. tour commencing at the end of the year. Make sure to catch them at the Hi-Dive November 10th to see them off!
Overall Rating: A

Paean Lineup:
Dave Maddocks - lead vocals / guitar
Anna Maddocks - violin
Marty Alberts - guitar / drum
Jonathan Alonzo - keys
Aaron Landgraf - bass
Tim Maddocks - drum

http://www.myspace.com/paeanco


Munsterboogie followed Paean with a wholly different atmosphere. Dressed in hillbilly 19th century period costume and armed with banjos and harmonicas, it was honestly hard to tell if the group was more aspiring musical act or skilled theater group. Either case was achieved at Blast-o-Mat, with silly-yet-crowd-pleasing lyrics ("my long hair just can't cover up my red neck,") but at the same time a great amount of voice stylistically. Most songs you could imagine are snarled by a limping, growing, drunken cowboy (when you add the accordion, he becomes a Ukrainian cowboy.) "Seed in the Soil" was a definite highlight, with haunting lyrics and presence, yet its effect was somewhat diminished by its appearance late in a too-long set. Munsterboogie had the longest set of the evening, and considering its comparative lack of musical diversity, the set did feel over-long.
Overall Rating: B

Emily Frembgen shyly began her set a half-hour later. As she took her seat behind the mic with her guitar on her lap, the audience proceeded to sit on the floor in front of her, cross-legged and storytime-style. Frembgen has a high, girlish voice that lends her most of her stylistic element, which varies between pleasantly in-ornamental or unpretentious and somewhat out-of-tune or boring. While pleasant to listen to with engaging lyrics, Frembgen's guitar is repetitive and simplistic and her vocals much the same. She can next be seen at Leela's European Cafe on October 17th.
Overall Rating: B

Mehko and Ocean Birds rounded out the night, taking the stage in neon face paint and with full energy. The frequency with which the group has been playing shows has added a lot to their performance value. At their early shows this summer, it was clear that Mehko and Ocean Birds was made of a bunch of highly reactive, energetic elements, but now those elements truly combine in a controlled experiment (performed by a mad scientist, of course!) The band's growing fanbase makes it really feel like something that belongs to the Denver music community - when Mehko and Ocean Birds comes on, the crowd tends to double, and everyone is ready for some of the group's now-well-known audience inclusion. Certain elements were left wanting - the loss of the group's brass players, particularly trumpet, has had an impact on songs like "Flesh as Ghosts as Home." However, the group still commanded the energy of the venue. The particularly high-octane "Hear Today" saw Stephen breaking out into rapid uke fretwork, Chris wailing on his drum set, Micah nearly leaping over his keyboard, Allison showing the crowd what-was-what along with her fellow cello Isaac, who showed his most energy yet on this act. As always, Mehko finished with "Queen of the Night," a song driven by the audience's shaker rhythms and end-of-song sing along, performed in a circle around the garage, arm in arm with one's neighbor.
Overall Rating: A-

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 9.29.09

Lots of new releases today!

AFI released Crash Love today, and its first single is "Medicate." Very much a return to The Art of Drowning- style aesthetic, and by that I really mean a grateful turning-away from Decemberunderground, which seemed to value dramatics over music. Epic guitar solos and truly Davey Havok-unique lyrical themes aplenty.

Ghostface Killah's Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City was definitely much-anticipated in hip-hop circles. I don't usually follow rap too closely, but there are elements in hip-hop that I really enjoy - easy, down-tempo, non-sampled backing tracks, and free-flowing rhymes... and this track has all of that. Unfortunately, the rhymes are far between long stretches of auto-tuned harmonies.

Backspacer is Pearl Jam's first release since Eddie Vedder's solo sojourn for the melancholy soundtrack to Into the Wild, and frankly, I welcomely expected the next Pearl Jam album to have the same sort of mumbley introspection so present in all its other works, or at least some of the anger of the self-titled 2006 album. Instead, we get "The Fixer," which is utterly... peppy. Lots of 'yeah yeah's' and major-keyed power chords. Not Pearl Jam-my.

Monsters of Folk is a supergroup comprised of big-hitters M. Ward, Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis and Jim James, and "The Sandman, The Breakman, and Me" is everything I hoped this collaboration to produce (and everything I had hoped Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band would have.) M. Ward on vocals, it doesn't seem like anyone really fronts the band, they are all equal in folky-awesomeness.


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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 9.22.09

Today is a quiet day. Everything is kind of muted by the rain, and everyone is too bundled up to talk much. Therefore, today's theme is instrumental groups.

Explosions in the Sky is pretty much the most relaxing group I could ever imagine. This song, "First Breath After Coma," very much lives up to its name. It starts off slow and simple, echoing guitar, single notes. As you slowly awaken from this long sleep, the exhilaration of this first breath comes to an incredible, ecstatic climax that has you riveted the remainder of the song.

The problem I've always had with metal is the screaming. I think metal players have an amazing amount of skill, I respect them a lot. But when the lead singer starts freaking out and screaming at me, I feel like running and hiding! So the real deal for me is Russian Circles. An instrumental metal group, you get the same intensity and speed of the big acts in metal, without the terrifying screaming. "Micah" is your Russian Circles dose for today.

Nujabes is a Japanese instrumental / jazz hip hop act that I'm pretty crazy for. I love listening to this group late at night, when the room is dark, yet illuminated by the moon. I think "Kumomi" is a really perfect example of this type of mood.

Tristeza is sort of the same idea as Explosions in the Sky. "Bromas" is another one with an up-tilting tempo and movement. In essence, it sounds pretty similar to the other acts on this list, but the idea of this turntable is music you can zone to.

And finally, there is Meco. Meco is silly. Meco's song on this turntable is "Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band," disco-ized. The best part of this ridiculous disco anthem? It actually reached -NUMBER ONE- on Billboard's Top 20 in 1979. Legitimately, this was the most popular song in 1979 for a time. Enjoy.

To listen to this Turntable without having to stay on Wax Cylinders, click the Pop-Out Player button below the playlist. If your pop-up blocker is reluctant to allow this, try holding the control key when you hit Pop-Out Player.

Enjoy!


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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 9.15.09

Green Day has made their 2004 radically-popular concept album American Idiot in to a stage musical. Don't believe me? I don't really blame you... but it's true.

In honor of this bizarre happening, this Turntable is dedicated to concept albums more deserving of a stage show than Green Day (as much as I love the little tykes.)

The Who's Tommy actually -was- made into a feature film. A weird one. But "Pinball Wizard," one of the enduring hits from the record, is a great song any way you spin it. The plot up to here - Tommy, the main character, is stricken deaf, dumb and blind after witnessing his father murder his mother's lover. (convoluted, much?) Turns out, though, Tommy is a total prodigy at pinball. Who knew? (HAHA pun...) "Pinball Wizard" is a really fun song, to sing along to and to appreciate for the fact that it means -exactly- what you think it means.

I have written (at length) about The Decemberists' new concept album The Hazards of Love, but I still think Colin Meloy would make a phenomenal Broadway front man in the production of this fantasy. This is a really nifty movement in which the Queen is first introduced, possibly my favorite villainess ever, anywhere. And, at the beginning, there is ostensibly a fawn playing the pipe organ, in the highest room in the tallest tower, I like to think. Fantastic image, there.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the most famous concept albums ever. Not shockingly, since it's The Beatles. However, it's somewhat controversial to call it a concept album. A few ideas were there in pre-production - at first, the album was meant to explore the concept of aging, then it morphed into the story of an ex-army bandmaster (Sgt. Pepper himself.) But, just like Sgt. Pepper, the idea met some problems, and didn't really end up in the final cut, except in name. Regardless, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" is a song that could have it's own show in and of itself, being placed in the craziest circus setting in music. This especially comes through in this Eddie Izzard version, more theatrical than the Beatles version.

Most people in our generation don't take Styx very seriously. Maybe that's because their most famous song is "(Domo Arigato) Mr. Roboto." But come on, what could make a better stage show than this song?? Check out the full plot of the album, courtesy of Wikipedia:
The album's somewhat rock-operatic story tells of a future where rock music is outlawed by a fascistgovernment and the "MMM (the Majority for Musical Morality)". The story's protagonist, Kilroy, is a former rock star who has been imprisoned by MMM leader Dr. Righteous. He escapes using a disguise (according to the album's famous song "Mr. Roboto") when he becomes aware that a young musician, Jonathan Chance, is on a mission to bring rock music back.
THAT IS SO AWESOME.

Deltron 3030, who you will recognize upon listening as the rapper from Gorillaz, has made a pretty bad-ass rap concept album following Deltron Zero's dystopian fight against evil corporations, oppressive governments, and his quest to become the Galactic Rhyme Federation Champion. Think 8 Mile... IN SPAAAAAACE!

To listen to this Turntable without having to stay on Wax Cylinders, click the Pop-Out Player button below the playlist. If your pop-up blocker is reluctant to allow this, try holding the control key when you hit Pop-Out Player.

Enjoy!


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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 9.1.09

Aah! It's September!!!!

Well... you know what this means.

There is only one possible theme for this week's turntable...

That's right.

Horses vs. Unicorns.

...

Allison's recommendation. I couldn't agree more.

First... a Horse! "Judy and the Dream of Horses" by Belle and Sebastian. Really, Belle and Sebastian is one of those bands that I really want to like a lot, but for which I can usually only muster minimal excitement. This song, however, I'm always happy to hear. A very sweet and simple beginning that keeps you focused on the lyrics detailing Judy's story builds to a nice, up-tempo latter half. As for our contest, the horse in this song is stolen by some girl in Judy's dream. Not a very good start, horses. Let's see what the unicorns have in store.

The best unicorn song, ever. "I Was Born a Unicorn," by who else but The Unicorns. A charming blend of punk and 50's pop, this song is a big smile-inspirer. Weird Vincent-Price-like breakdown in the middle of the song doesn't throw anyone off, it just makes this quirky song all the more lovable. Contest judgement: Unicorns score one for having a band named after them, but these unicorns keep getting left behind by Noah's Ark and have some identity issues. They are doing much better than our next horse though...

"Wildfire" by Michael Martin Murphy. AWW! COME ON! Yes, I am giving you the famously tear-jerking 70's ballad about a young girl and her beloved pony named Wildfire. A killer Nebraska blizzard hits, Wildfire busts out of her stall and gets lost, and the girl is doomed to run through the blizzard screaming for her best friend, who has tragically perished in the storm. How freaking sad is that??? It's the saddest thing. Horses lose.

"White Unicorn" is a pretty awesome Wolfmother song. Catchy as "Woman," but with more interesting instrumentation. Definitely holds up to repeat listening, whereas a few other Wolfmother songs get kind of old pretty quick. Contest: the unicorn in this song is really only a tattoo, but it isn't stolen, left behind from an ark, or killed in a blizzard, so unicorns have scored the first point of the game.

Finally, "Is There a Ghost" by Band of Horses. Has some of my favorite Band of Horses features: deep, echoey mastering, Ben Bridwell's unique vocals, and really accessible but fascinating lyrics. True, there is no horse in this song. But it is played by a whole band made of horses. Do you know how hard it is to play guitar with hooves? Didn't think so. Horses score 1, making our contest a tie game.

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Enjoy!
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Up Close and Personal with Mehko and Ocean Birds















"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

Decemberists Get Ticket for Street Performing


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.

Tuesday Turntable 8.18.09

Summer is over. Well, pretty much. Anyone who hasn't headed back to the hallowed halls is probably packing up to do so, surely with a grimace.

But fear not, we all have a few more weeks of sun and summer left to us, and these songs are here to remind you of the last months in music.

All these tracks were released, brand spanking new, this summer, all from blockbuster bands, at that. Let's take a look-see at these Next Big Things!

"Guilty Cocker Spaniels" is a track off of Modest Mouse's new EP, released August 4th, No One's First, and You're Next!. The album is famously composed of rejected tracks from Good News for People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, and considering these two albums earned Modest Mouse the bulk of their huge fan base, "Guilty Cocker Spaniels" has enough elements from both records to act as a catch-all track for everything likable from the previous two albums.

"These Are My Twisted Words" has the most Radiohead-ishly bizarre backstory ever. The track surreptitiously floated onto a message board of Radiohead fan site At Ease, with absolutely no explanation or commentary from the band. This sent the blogosphere into a frenzy since Wednesday... "well, is it Radiohead or not??" Thom Yorke's entrance at 2:38 on the track had most people convinced it was at least a Yorke single, but nothing was confirmed until Monday, when the band acknowledged it on their site, adding, "We've been recording for a while, and this was one of the first we finished. We're pretty proud of it." Oh yeah, and did I mention it's a free download?

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.
Panic! at the Disco released "New Perspective" on July 27th, first as a MySpace exclusive. (What's left of) the band announces the video is already shooting for the new single.

Weezer has named their upcoming album, featuring this track, "(If You're Wondering if I Want You To) I Want You To," Raditude. That pretty much sums up my opinion of Weezer, right there. Still, new track, I'll be seeing them open for Blink-182, and new track becomes official August 25th.


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Monday, August 17, 2009

Upcoming Event - Mehko and Ocean Birds



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:
http://www.myspace.com/warmumbrellas
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
Larimer Lounge
2721 Larimer St, Denver
Cover- $8

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

Spring Season - Modest Mouse @ Balch Fieldhouse, 2/28

Show:

Modest Mouse

Venue:

CU Balch Fieldhouse

Date:

2/28/09

Openers:

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.

The Show:

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.

Highlights:

- 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.

Lowlights:

- 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.)

Setlist:

1. “Paper Thin Walls”

2. “Never Ending Math Equation”

3. “The View”

4. “Dramamine”

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”

12. “Ohio”

13. “Broke”

14. “Trailer Trash”

15. “Education”

Encore:

“Satellite Skin”

“Black Cadillacs”

“This Devil’s Workday”

“Custom Concern”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Heath Ledger Directed Video for "King Rat" - Modest Mouse

There has been a big buzz ever since the actor's death that The Dark Knight star Heath Ledger was directing a music video for Modest Mouse's new EP No One's First and You're Next.

That video turns out to be for "King Rat," a track originally meant for 2007's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. The video follows Dead's oceanic theme, combining Issac Brock's menacing vocals and arrangement with Ledger's very grim, very creepy anti-whaling message.

In keeping with the actor's activism, proceeds from iTunes sales of the video will be donated to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and organization devoted to ocean preservation.

Spring Season - Andrew Bird @ Ogden, 2/26


Show:

Andrew Bird

Venue:

Ogden Theater

Date:

February 26th, 2009

Openers:

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.

The Show:

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.

Highlights:

- 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.

Lowlights:

- “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.

Overall:

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.)

Setlist:

1. A 19th century spiritual folk song, name unknown

2. “Masterswarm”

3. “Opposite Day”

4. “Fitz and Dizzyspells”

5. “Natural Disaster”

6. “Effigy”

7. “Oh No.”

8. “Plasticities”

9. “Not a Robot” (by Martin Dosh)

10. “Armchair Apocalypse”

11. “Anonanimal”

12. “Tenuousness”

13. “Imitosis”

14. “Fake Palindromes”

Encore

“Why”

“MX Missiles”

“Tables and Chairs”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spring Season Concert Reviews

Commencing today, Wax Cylinders is off hiatus, and to kick things off again I'm posting reviews of the spring season of concerts in Denver. The shows are from February to May, and feature some of the best acts to swing through the Mile High City, ranging from Andrew Bird to Modest Mouse and No Doubt - stay tuned all this week!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday Turntable 5.26.09

How's it kickin'?
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.



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Friday, May 22, 2009

DU May Days Music Fest 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 CafĂ© 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

Grizzly Bear - "While You Wait for the Others"

Okay, so it isn't usually my style to feed something on this site directly off another, but something happened this morning that was so shocking, I feel compelled to share.
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!

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