JAF 34’s Video For “Light” is an Audio-Visual Experience of Abstract Cosmic Proportions

JAF 34, image courtesy the artist

JAF 34 crafted “Light” as a multimedia experience with the music video a perfect parallel to its evolving, ambient music track. Beams and fragments of light swirl and come together the way the informal melody saturates and and develops and then gives way to open space within which contours represented by solid streams of sound sketch the entire universe in the background of the figure in the foreground of a color not out of space but in it, giving off a warm orange glow as white lines like ley lines in the architecture of the greater universe can be seen. Triangle shapes connected like something out of a the inspiration for Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes connect the various places in the video like the lattice in which material existence is overlaid. Then a cowled figure sits in this space-scape, translated to a cluster of light motes once the shimmering drone that has carried us throughout the song so far passes into silence replaced by a distant, cycling tone as though to reflect the dearth of light and imagery in the video that had been so bright and relatively dense before. The white noise in the track at that time like the fragments of the last transmissions of a craft that has passed into the event horizon of a black hole. Watch the video for “Light” on YouTube follow JAF 34 at the website linked below.


Dead Lucid’s Desolation EP Dissolves the Boundaries Between Post-Punk, Psychedelia and Proto-Punk

Dead Lucid Desolation cover (cropped)

Chicago’s Dead Lucid inject a great deal of noisy psychedelia into its post-punk on the new EP Desolation. Obvious touchstones can be heard on “Romance” like early Joy Division and that band’s own roots in the stark menace of the Stooges. The guitar operates like a droning wash over the bass and drums while the raw vocals carry the melody. “Rain” sounds like it’s going to be a dirty surf track but the tribal percussion bludgeons its way into the song and as the straight ahead guitar edges toward a warping, grinding sound. “Ambrosia” begins with a desolate introspection but blossoms into a dynamic yet melancholy ballad. “Head” brings things back into the realm of proto-punk and a charging song about coming unhinged. The title track of the EP is a sprawling fusion of minimalism and guitar solo maximalism yet one in which a sense of hitting rock bottom finds its expression when those fiery passages dissipate. Fans of Pop. 1280 and Protomartyr will appreciate how this EP doesn’t get stuck in some trendy post-punk of yesteryear worship nor does it try to scratch every itch of flavor and its own psychedelia while a nod to when Led Zeppelin went weird or something like Captain Beyond hanging out with Robin Trower and getting trippier is very much its own. Listen to Desolation on Bandcamp and follow Dead Lucid at the links provided.


Hanna Ojala Sheds Conventions of Melody, Rhythm and Meter On Her Tonal Dream Poem “Mamba Experience”

Hanna Ojala, photo courtesy the artist

The sound of water and a sound like a heartbeat, the kind you can hear while swimming, pulses through Hanna Ojala’s latest single “Mamba Experience.” The sound of a rattle sets an organic rhythm as Ojala speaks a dream poem about taking on the aspect of a mamba and its menace, its power, its primordial elegance. As the song ends the sounds of water give way to those of what sounds like an electronic emulation of a campfire by the shore, the life pulse still in your ears as though it’s the one aspect of your awareness of your body that persists in the dream state conjured with this arrangement of sounds. Listening, it’s reminiscent of some of the more out there parts of Laurie Anderson’s United States Live, in particular “Blue Lagoon,” wherein conventional song structures unravel in the wake of intuitive soundscapes that follow the mood and experience conveyed heading into one’s own dream of paradise to reach the center of consciousness. Ojala’s own journey to her mythic center is embodied in that pre-mammalian existence of the snake that symbolizes an awakening to consciousness and awareness and the unification of the dark and light, logical and emotional sides of the mind, that cosmic spiral of the labyrinth as a path toward illumination. “Mamba Experience” is technically a song but it is one that sheds being tied to conventions of melody, rhythm and meter. Listen to “Mamba Experience” on YouTube and follow Ojala at the links provided.


Hunnid Hits Hard at the Persistent Issue of Police Brutality With “Hang On”

Hunnid, photo courtesy the artist

The video for Hunnid’s latest single with Ceeno “Hang On” presents the issue of police brutality and murder of black people in a way that is vivid, hard, hitting and creative. Hunnid’s vocals are direct and commanding yet fluid as he lays out lines about how the experiences he’s had around that issue and through that issue have impacted his own psyche and that of people he knows in the way that only something like the possibility of being randomly killed by a cop who decides you might be an imminent threat purely because of your ethnicity and the neighborhood in which you might live. Or if you were in New York City while Michael Bloomberg was mayor one of over a thousand or two thousand black youths a month who were stopped and frisked for guns to with a one tenth of one percent success rate to justify a Gestapo-like policy. The more synth-y part of the beat of this song matches the heightened sense of emotional urgency of the words while the deep bass-infused middle emphasizes the heaviness of the situation that one would hope would be better with the higher level of scrutiny police brutality has received but about which not nearly enough has been done on a national level. Yet, Hunnid manages to have written this song in a way that is compelling and doesn’t downplay the subject of his song without it being a complete bummer, instead it draws attention to persistent and deadly social ill that shouldn’t be swept under the rug during election season. Watch the video for “Hang On” on YouTube and follow Hunnid at the links provided.


Doo Crowder Deep Dives Into the Heart of Human Creativity and the Aspirations on “Doo Crowder song”

Doo Crowder One for the losers (& other pilgrims cover (cropped)

Door Crowder is probably largely unknown outside of Denver where he garnered a bit of an audience in punky indie band The Dinnermints and a bonafide cult following with his avant-folk pop group Pee Pee. As a solo artist, having long since left the Mile High City, he has explored a broad range of songwriting styles and sounds but with his latest album, One for the losers (& other pilgrims), having a full release in January 2020, Crowder is coming into his own as a composer of engrossing pop songs that plumb the depths of personal psychology in a way resonant with just about anyone. With the single “Doo Crowder song,” the songwriter uses a meta narrative about his journey as a creative person and his relationship with the motivations, temptations and supposed rewards of aspiring to be the kind of artist that can reach a wide audience by virtue of having something relatable and significant to say in a way that is also creatively rewarding. And to use that art as a vehicle to explore identity, the meaning of life, relationships and everything that helps to define and illuminate our lives. Crowder’s gently expressive voice flows through the song like a spirit and musically it taps into folk and psychedelia and employs some sly musical allusions to bring the mood of an era to various passages in the song as a tool to evoke the contextual emotional touchstones of ones memory. In a time of great confusion and disconnection in the world, here Crowder offers his own set of questions and yearnings without offering answers, but perhaps suggesting a method for all of us to untangle our own angst and get to a place of love, connection and tranquility. At the end of the song is a spoken part that connects the song to the rest of the album but the album entire is worth a solid listen as it offers more facets of this beautiful excursis into the human psyche in the modern era. Listen to “Doo Crowder song” on Spotify and follow Crowder at the links below.


Best Shows in Denver 2/13/20 – 2/18/20

The New Pornographers perform at the Gothic Theatre on February 15

Thursday | February 13

Serpentfoot circa 2018, photo by Tom Murphy

What: Serpentfoot, Plastic Daggers and Fern Roberts
When: Thursday, 2.13, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Serpentfoot is a Fort Collins-based psychedelic garage rock band kind of in the realm of boogie blues and fuzzy surf rock. Plastic Daggers could be considered a punk band because it has that arch and brass energy and attitude. But with a bass and drums with dual vocals its sound is refreshingly spare yet maximalist. This is the debut show from Fern Roberts, the new band of former Emerald Siam, Overcasters and Light Travels Faster bass player Todd Spriggs.

Friday | February 14

Chella And The Charm circa 2015, photo by Tom Murphy

What: Chella and the Charm w/Jen Korte & The Loss, White Rose Motor Oil, Jackie Zubrzycki, Erika Ryann
When: Friday, 2.14, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: This is an event called Sweethearts of the Rodeo and features some of Denver’s greatest female-led bands. Chella and the Charm may perform some of its songs more about relationships and love but it’s never simplistic, rote pop Americana platitudes. Chella’s incisive mind poetically peels apart the zeitgeist and presents the strugges and joys with a rare poetic insight. Jen Korte is one of the most versatile and hard-working musicians in Denver whose dynamic songwriting expands the genres and styles in which she chooses to operate.

What: Bianca Mikahn, R A R E B Y R D $, Pearls and Perils and Shockermom
When: Friday, 2.14, 8 p.m.
Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: A showcase for some of the best and most imaginative hip-hop artists in Denver at the moment. Bianca Mikahn’s noise experiments and soundscapes paired with her poetry is always a surprisingly compelling combination. R A R E B Y R D $ breaks hearts and heals minds with their dense beats and passionate vocals and wordplay. Pears and Perils is like if Bjork went more lushly downtempo and did hip-hop. Shockermom fuses emotionally vibrant jazz vocals with ambient hip-hop and one of the best things you’ll see all month.

What: Silversun Pickps w/Eliza & The Delusionals
When: Friday, 2.14, 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre

What: Cheap Perfume, Flora De La Luna and The Yellnats
When: Friday, 2.14, 8 p.m.
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective
Why: Colorado Springs-based political punk band Cheap Perfume puts the fun into caustic send-ups of the misogynist aspects of American culture.

Saturday | February 15

Mattiel, photo by Jason Travis

What: Lloyd Cole
When: Saturday, 2.15, 7 p.m.
Where: Swallow Hill
Why: Lloyd Cole came to prominence in the 80s as the lead singer of the great jangle pop band The Commotions. But by the turn of the decade he had gone solo but still writing thought-provoking songs though in a slightly different style suitable to his poetic imagination. In that way he followed a similar path to Robyn Hitchcock when he left The Soft Boys. One of the criminally underknown songwriting greats of our era. Currently touring following the 2019 release of his latest album Guesswork.

What: The New Pornographers w/Diane Coffee
When: Saturday, 2.15, 8 p.m.
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: There’s always been something orchestral to The New Pornographers’ spacious pop songs. Like something assembled in a studio in the late 60s with Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks but with a modern set of musical ideas and instincts. Its 2019 album In the Morse Code of Brake Lights also highlights how despite the grandeur of its creative vision its songs manage to seem like glimpses into intimate moments of vulnerable, existential contemplation.

What: Mattiel w/Calvin Love
When: Saturday, 2.15, 8 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Mattiel has a knack for taking surreal everyday situations and turn them into synth pop epics. Her 2019 album Satis Factory does some sonic time traveling between early 60s girl group and Connie Frances-esque melodies, late 70s New Wave pop wiry energy and a contemporary ironic tone. But her delivery doesn’t feel jaded or detached, just playing with the songwriting format to comment on culture and society in a way that uses nostalgic elements to speak of the present in the past tense.

What: Pictureplane w/ DEBR4H and Entrancer
When: Saturday, 2.15, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Former Denverite Pictureplane jokingly coined the term “witch house” around a decade ago. But his own music transcends such easy categorization as a mélange of hip-hop, glitch pop and noise.

What: Sango w/Savon and Dante ThatGuy
When: Saturday, 2.15, 8 p.m.
Where: Summit Music Hall

What: Eigengrau, Night of Dark Light, Causer and Human Consumption
When: Saturday, 2.15, 7 p.m.
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective

Sunday | February 16

Pinegrove, photo by Daniel Topete

What: Bernie Sanders Rally
When: Sunday, 2.16, 4 p.m.
Where: Colorado Convention Center
Why: For anyone what wants to go and see the current frontrunner in the primaries for the nomination to be the Democratic Party candidate for the office of President of the United States.

What: Rosegarden Funeral Party w/Lorelai K and Faces Under the Mirror
When: Sunday, 2.16, 7 p.m.
Where: 3 Kings Tavern
Why: Rosegarden Funeral Party if keeping the torch alive for darkwave in Dallas at its base of operations Funeral Home before moving to Los Angeles this fall. The band’s 2019 album MARTYR is reminiscent of a melding of Clan of Xymox, Xmal Deutschland and the more glam end of of Concrete Blonde.

What: Darpabong EP release and final show w/The Plastic Rakes and Secret Mormon
When: Sunday, 2.16, 7 p.m.
Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: Darpabong is finally releasing its debut EP leaked in 2019 at this show. The “Stoner Doom Dub” band includes members of Gort Vs. Goom so even if this final show is a bit of a goof the music will be legit.

What: Pinegrove w/Whitney Ballen
When: Sunday, 2.16, 7 p.m.
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: Pinegrove is currently touring in support of its latest album Marigold. The record is its most focused effort to date conveying a sense of space and simplicity with interlocking, textured tones lending the songs a complexity not immediately obvious. The record comes out in the wake of songwriter Evan Stephens Hall’s undergoing therapy and other work following a 2017 allegation of sexual coercion as outlined in a 2018 article on Pitchfork by Jenn Pelly. If turmoil produces better art, perhaps Hall’s efforts at becoming a better person have lead to a good deal of creative clarity as well.

Tuesday | February 18

The Jungle Giants, photo by Jesper Hede

What: The Jungle Giants w/Little Image
When: Tuesday, 2.18, 7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: The Jungle Giants from Brisbane, Australia combine an R&B and soul sensibility into its jaunty pop songs. Its music videos suggest an aesthetic informed by independent film and Kurt Vonnegut. Though the group hasn’t released an album since 2017’s Quiet Ferocity, in 2019 and 2020 it released singles “Heavy Hearted” and “Sending Me Ur Loving” respectively so on this tour expect to hear new material before it appears on the band’s next record.

“Chasing Crazy” by Rx27 is an Irreverent Diss Track For a World Where Love is Another Commodity

Rx27, photo courtesy the artists

“Chasing Crazy” finds Rx27 sneering at this era in which love is too often shallow, insipid, casual and commodified in a way that leeches all the grit, blood and essential humanity out of it. Online dating and the odd catalog/menu quality of it as echoed in so many areas of our lives seems to have warped our sense of what is vital and life-affirming. Singers Joie X Blaney and Msmaxine Murrderr trade lines like 45 Grave doing a tag team diss track. Though nearly shouted as a chorus, the refrain of “fuck forever” casts that throwaway word forever in its most colloquial and conceptual usage as the subjective experience that feels like forever but also as a rejection of the values of temporal and tepid rather than passionate, meaningful and enduring. The subtext of the song one might assume as being wanting the kind of love that’s transformative and deeply significant over transient and merely titillating. The line “Cry me a river hoping I will down, I would rather be alone than on your merry-go-round” is key as it poetically states a principle of wanting something that matters rather than be part of someone’s game in which everyone involved is disposable. “Chasing Crazy” blurs the line between punk, glam and death rock with a bombastically irreverent attitude toward the norms of this drab age and yet, in its own way, is the kind of love song that eschews the clichés by chasing after something that might seem crazy to some and that is something that is more than appearances and with someone whose flaws we accept and who accepts ours as part of the deal of being in a relationship with another actual human being. Listen to “Chasing Crazy” on Spotify and follow Rx27 at the links below.