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:
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


Modest Mouse


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.

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.


- 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”

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”


“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


Andrew Bird


Ogden Theater


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.

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.


- 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

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”



“MX Missiles”

“Tables and Chairs”