daisy’s Debut single “BLEACH” is a Song About How Starting Over Sometimes Takes Extreme Measures

daisy, photo courtesy the artists

The throbbing distortion of daisy’s new single “BLEACH” is reminiscent of the era of music represented on the Amphetamine Reptile imprint at its peak from the 80s through the 90s. Its pounding beat and atonal noise hooks with just shy of tortured vocals create a disorienting haze well complemented by the music video. The plot of the latter seems to be of young women, disillusioned with the hypocrisy, abuse and warped cult-like nature of their evangelical upbringing turn to what seems the opposite in occult practices inspired by what they’ve seen in movies depicting Satanism. The video is even more low budget than Ti West’s chilling 2009 early 80s inspired horror film The House of the Devil. But that’s what gives it an unsettling authenticity. Once the women walk up a sinister looking set of poorly lit stairs to a secluded apartment the visuals are blown out in smoky orange that settles into a candlelit circle and they are welcomed to the other side as in video footage of faith healers and phone numbers to call to donate run on screen like memories being expunged from consciousness as the repeating, pins and needles guitar figure, like an amp picking up cel signal, takes us out of the song. Though perhaps not explicit the song with the video suggests that personal darkness can come from anywhere inside us as we’ve internalized what’s outside of us and that to rebuild the kind of authentic self we need maybe a little psychic bleach will help. Watch the video on YouTube and follow daisy, which includes members of Bleached and Warpaint, at the links provided.



Shore Drive’s New Single “Chaser (feat. Stella in the Clouds)” is Like Listening to a Poetic and Refreshing Dream

Shore Drive “Chaser” cover (cropped)

The finger picking on Shore Drive’s “Chaser (featuring Stella in the Clouds” creates a hypnotic loop of texture that serves as a kind of canvas for the emotional impressions and storytelling ahead, cast in impressionistic couplets. The tight vocal harmonies are just above hushed and conjure cherished sense memories tied to poignant details of the kinds of experiences that define an especially significant era of one’s life. The vivid snapshots paired with their emotional context in the song is an effective technique that makes the song stick with you long after it’s done as though you’ve been given some of your own memories back after years of neglecting them in some dusty corner of your brain maybe discarded as a painful time but Shore Drive has shone a light on what was beautiful about those chapters of your life’s story. As the song is on its way to ending, the music seems to swim through the cycling glimmer of synth drone and ethereal vocals like a pleasant dream fading out while you wake up refreshed. Listen for yourself on Soundcloud and follow Shore Drive at the links provided.


Joanna McGowan’s “Wasteland” is a Song About Conflicted Feelings About the Places that Raised You

Joanna McGowan, photo courtesy the artist

Joanna McGowan sounds like she’s walking through a fog-enshrouded setting on her new single “Wasteland.” Ethereal melodies, hazy synths and minimalistic rhythms swirl around her incandescent voice until the tempo picks up giving the impression that McGowan is running through the fog to get free of the memories of a place that has changed beyond recognition but whose influence has left an indelible impression on her mind. One hears a tone of bittersweet affection for the “wasteland” of the song and she sings of feel of comfort in being there because it reminds her of how far she has come even if she’s experiencing a setback in life. Like going back to your hometown, which many of us think of as a cultural wasteland, or the environment in which you were raised after you’ve had a taste of something that nourishes your spirit a little more than the rustic familiarity of a place you’ve outgrown but which know all too well. The line “Nothing changes in the wasteland, time moves but the stillness remains” is telling because who hasn’t felt stuck somewhere in life only to go out into the bigger world in search of the stimulation you’re not getting where you came from? McGowan, though, in the song deftly explores the conflicted feelings while choosing liberation and giving those parts of the song the dramatic up-sweep in tempo and emotional richness. Listen to “Wasteland” on Spotify. The single is the first of four songs on McGowan’s forthcoming EP.

youcancallmeoliver’s Chill Track “C+S+M” Has the Mystery and Danger Inherent in the Opening Sequence of a High Tech Spy Thriller

Youcancallmeoliver, photo courtesy the artist

Youcancallmeoliver’s mysteriously named track “C+S+M” combines an understated yet urgent melodic arpeggio over textural beats and fluid, but distorted, bass accents. The layers of sound intertwine and evolve as the song progresses with the bass and the most minimal component of the percussion stay consistently voiced, dropping out mid-song for a bit of a high tone interlude and repeating figure like a passage out of a Rabies-period Skinny Puppy song modified and dropped in to add to the slightly haunted quality of the main melody. The whole piece suggests a journey and a transformation like if you could somehow be put through an assembly line process to tweak aspects of your mind and body to gently work out the ailments, injuries and neuroses that may be plaguing you for true deep relaxation to be possible—a complex but non-invasive procedure rediscovered from a past, hitherto unknown advanced civilization. The song also works as the intro music to a high tech spy movie for a sequence suggested in the previous scenario but where the lead figure undergoes a procedure to bring the mind and body in perfect sync for the mission ahead. The 007 franchise has been looking to change the starring role to be played by a woman rather than the men it’s been for around sixty years? This is a song for the opening scenes of that film. Listen to “C+S+M” on Soundcloud and follow youcancallmeoliver at the links below.


Calcou’s “Colors on Screen (feat. GRIP TIGHT)” is Like the Soundtrack to the Awakening Wonder in an Artificial Intelligence to the Phenomenon of Creativity

Calcou, “Colors on Screen” cover (cropped)

The bell tones that carry the melody on Calcou’s “Colors on Screen (featuring GRIP TIGHT)” bring a seemingly random and organic element to a steady, mathematical beat and paradoxically emotional robotic vocals. Like an A.I. contemplating the very fact of pixels on a screen and what went into making that happen and the concept of what informed the choice of those colors or, if not so chosen, the design behind making those patterns of color manifest as they do. Rather than take for granted that we can merely program a somewhat randomizing set of color sequences as in an old dynamic screensaver or use a computer to design visual art or even merely a flyer, the newly aware artificial intelligence expresses wonder at what is behind what humans might think of as calculated and mathematical on one level because to us it is but as humans sometimes wonder at what the primary forces behind existence and how it manifests and why, an intelligent being we designed by accident might wonder at similar things coming from an angle that can’t be our own. This song may not be about that but it would make a good soundtrack to a story about this happening and how artificial intelligences might not be homicidal robots destroying us for our inefficiency but beings of great empathy who share a wonder at existence and creativity in a way we could never have predicted. Listen to “Colors on Screen” on Soundcloud and follow Calcou at the links provided.


Manon’s Mysterious “Girls” Gives us a Vivid Sense Memory of an Unusual Childhood Experience

Manon, photo courtesy the artist

The texture of cello creating dynamic low end drones on “Girls,” the latest single from Iceland’s Manon, are like deep wells into which the milkily luminescent melodies on piano and vocals swirl and disappear into infinity. The song is about two girls trying to put out of their minds an experience that would leave its mark on their psyches for a lifetime the way an emotionally traumatic can haunt you with contemplating their meaning, even if there are no interpretations or answers that will ever satisfy you, seemingly endlessly. Manon sings of the romance of being curious and dangerous and a chance encounter on an adventure together. The strange and mysterious event is one worth sussing out for yourself but the classical sensibilities of Manon’s songwriting is reminiscent of the avant-garde pop stylings of Kate Bush whose own songwriting brings together musical elements in a way to craft personal myth enshrouded by evocative sounds that themselves stir the imagination. Though short, at two minutes twenty-two seconds, “Girls” feels like you’re getting a poignant sense memory of something Manon will never forget. Listen to “Girls” on Soundcloud and follow Manon at the links below.


Best Shows in Denver 09/12/19 – 09/18/19

Summer Cannibals perform at Lost Lake on September 13, photo by Jason Quigley

Thursday | September 12

Sheer Mag circa 2017, photo by Tom Murphy

What: Sheer Mag w/Tweens and The Born Readies
When: Thursday, 09.12, 7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: Sheer Mag sounds like a band that grew up listening mostly to Thin Lizzy, 70s power pop and AC/DC but invented punk rock without ever having heard it. It’s new record A Distant Call finds the band having refined some of its raw power without blunting it.

Friday | September 13

Dub Trio, photo by William Felch

What: Soulless Maneater, Sweetness Itself, Sad Bug
When: Friday, 09.13, 8 p.m.
Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: Sad Bug is sort of a neo-emo pop punk band. Sweetness Itself might come off as a bit of a fuzzy psychedelic band but sometimes Cyrena Rosati’s guitar work verves into bendy waves akin to something you might hear from My Bloody Valentine via No Joy. Which is to say gloriously loud and noisy but also tied to tight songwriting and accessible hooks. Soulless Maneater is what happens when you give doom metal more of an abrasive edge and more pointed and political lyrics aimed at where a critical eye belongs.

What: Summer Cannibals w/Mr. Atomic and Knuckle Pups
When: Friday, 09.13, 8 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Summer Cannibals have for the past seven years charted a path out of the neo-garage rock that dominated American underground rock for several years. Its own songwriting more fluid and dynamic than just the adolescent release and raw, youthful enthusiasm that was both what was exciting but ultimately limiting and tiresome about the new garage bands. Summer Cannibals didn’t just have a healthy sense of humor but the band also seemed to take seriously its songcraft but without overthinking it. Its new album, 2019’s Can’t Tell Me No is Summer Cannibals in high form with its contrast of melodic vocals, grit, attitude and confessional lyrics.

What: Dub Trio w/Incubus
When: Friday, 09.13, 7 p.m.
Where: Fillmore Auditorium
Why: It shouldn’t work and maybe for some it doesn’t, but Brooklyn’s Dub Trio took inspiration from King Tubby and applied the principles of dub to heavier music in terms of shaping sound, production and signal processing. Surface level, the group comes across like an arty doom band and it has served as part of the backing band for Mike Patton on the 2006 Peeping Tom tour and on its new album The Shape of Jazz to Come, it worked with Buzz Osborne of Melvins fame. But the bass is sculpted in a way to sync up with the sampled and manipulated sounds fed back into the mix for a disorienting yet hypnotic effect. Sure, opening for a pretty famous nü metal band but worth going to see for their set alone.

Saturday | September 14

Strand of Oaks, photo by Alysse Gafkajen

What: Dub Trio w/Incubus
When: Saturday, 09.14, 7 p.m.
Where: Fillmore Auditorium
Why: For Dub Trio see above on 9.14.

What: Day of the Green Fish: Emerald Siam, Pale Sun, No Gossip In Braille, Wild Call, Kilonova and Palehorse/Palerider
When: Saturday, 09.14, 7 p.m.
Where: Rhinoceropolis
Why: Really a showcase for some of Denver’s greatest practitioners of darkly atmospheric rock from the post-punk, shoegaze, tribal drone and psychedelic underground.

What: Test Dept w/Acidbat, eHpH and DJ Dave Vendetta
When: Saturday, 09.14, 7 p.m.
Where: Antero Hall (formerly Eck’s Saloon)
Why: Test Dept is indeed the legendary early industrial band from London touring through Denver before it performs at the Cold Waves festival in Chicago. Percussion heavy, full, mind-altering assault to the senses in the vein of those early industrial groups of the 80s. Different from but definitely for fans of Einstürzende Neubauten and Crash Worship.

What: Total Trash, Vampire Squids From Hell, Lords of Howling
When: Saturday, 09.14, 8 p.m.
Where: The People’s Building
Why: September’s Get Your Ears Swoll will include “doom surf” band Vampire Squids From Hell, avant-folk Lords of Howling and psychedelic indie rock phenoms Total Trash.

What: Strand of Oaks w/Apex Manor
When: Saturday, 09.14, 8 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: As Strand of Oaks, Timothy Showalter has had a prolific career writing delicate and thoughtful, introspective, folk-inflected pop songs. One might call it pastoral but by candlelight. There’s an intimacy to Showalter’s songwriting that sets it apart from some other songwriters exploring similar sonic territory. That and Showalter’s attention to the rhythm side of the music so that all parts compliment each other well. His new album, 2019’s Eraserland, was never supposed to happen until some friends convinced him to get back into the studio to write the record and it’s a particularly touching testament to rediscovering the strength to continue on and do what you love even if it feels to you at the time pointless and hopeless. It’s a personal reinvention with music that feels gently reinvigorating as well.

What: KGNU Quarterly Showcase, Smash it Back Edition: Sputnik Slovenia, Little Fyodor & Babushka and The Hinckleys – DJ Andy Z
When: Saturday, 09.14, 8 p.m.
Where: Lion’s Lair
Why: This edition of the KGNU Quaterly showcase features Jim Yelnick of hardcore band Pitch Invasion playing his solo material and probably treating you to some unusual humor. And of course the great, avant-garde punk band Little Fyodor & Babushka will be putting in a, these days, rare appearance and demonstrate how punk can push the boundaries of the songwriting and subject matter while writing incredibly catchy music. There is no fashion victim type stuff with Fyodor because he already looks like an accountant who burned down his office and started a cable access show about underground culture and the impending collapse of civilization.

Sunday | September 16

Altas, photo by Evan Semoìn

What: RETIFest: Los Mocochetes, iZCALLi, Roka Hueka, El Cro, Altas, Sierra Leon, 2MX2, Modulor, Puete Libre
When: Sunday, 09.15, 10 a.m.
Where: Mile High Flea Market
Why: This is sort of an all day festival featuring some of Denver’s best bands whose membership is largely of Latinx extraction from the psychedelic funk band Los Mocochetes, hard rock group iZCALLi, experimental post-rock powerhouse Altas and hip-hop crew 2MX2.

Monday | September 16

Lower Dens, photo by Torso

What: Of Monsters and Men w/Lower Dens
When: Monday, 09.16, 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Mission Ballroom
Why: Icelandic pop band Of Monsters and Men are currently touring in support of its 2019 album Fever Dream and will provide the expansive, emotional, melodic songs made for the larger club setting. Opening the show is experimental dream pop band Lower Dens. The group’s earlier albums were in the realm of dub-inflected post-punk but its newer material, particularly on its new record The Competition, combines its lush melodies with an almost disco flavored adult contemporary sound. Like Jana Hunter and company mined 80s pop music and removed the cheese but kept the solid songwriting and production.

What: Roselit Bone, High Plains Honky and Erika Ryann
When: Monday, 09.16, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Roselit Bone is like a honky tonk, cow boy high desert Gun Club and visually reminiscent of the same. Intense live performances and riveting storytelling. Its new album Crisis Actor is a storybook of American skullduggery, misdeeds and a celebration of life.

Tuesday | September 17

GRLwood, photo by Mickie Winters

What: Man Man w/GRLwood
When: Tuesday, 09.17, 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: GRLwood from Louisville, Kentucky sound like an emotionally nuanced math-y emo band on its 2018 album Daddy. Though there is a smoldering sensibility to the vocals the band is able to reconcile powerful feelings with actually feeling its hurt and transforming that into a melancholic catharsis that bursts forth in fiery riffs and introspective passages. And it will contrast well with Man Man, the psychedelic art rock band formerly form Philadelphia who made it “indie big” in the 2000s with its ambitious albums and theatrical and bombastic live shows.

Hatchie, photo by Alex Wall

What: Hatchie w/Orchin and Slow Caves
When: Tuesday, 09.17, 7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: Hatchie’s 2019 debut full length Keepsake is the rare dream pop offering of late with a keen ear for the low end to give the music some weightiness and drive. Maybe there’s no surprise there since Harriet Pilbeam has played bass and guitar in her musical career up to now and the songwriting on Keepsake reflects an appreciation for a broad spectrum of how the music can stimulate your emotions. It’s breezy in dynamic and Pilbeam’s vocals warmly melodic but the songs always seem to be reaching forward to draw you in.

Wednesday | September 18

Torche Band
Torche, photo by Dan Almasy

What: Kælan Mikla (Iceland), No Gossip in Braille, French Kettle Station
When: Wednesday, 09.18, 8 p.m.
Where: Rhinoceropolis
Why: Kælan Mikla is an Icelandic post-punk band whose desperate vocals paired with lush, brooding bass and synth tracks are an entrancing contrast. Definitely for fans of Tollund Men.

What: Torche w/Pinkish Black and Green Druid
When: Wednesday, 09.18, 7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: Torche formed in 2004 in Miami and came out of the heavy music underground of the 90s when Steve Brooks and former member Juan Montoya were members of doom/sludge legends Floor. Torche was a different animal and as the band has developed over the years it is difficult to really call it a sludge or doom band, especially with its 2019 album Admission with its sometimes shimmery and gritty melodies, expansive vocal dynamic and sinuous rhythms. The fuzzy drones seem to have more in common with the likes of Swervedriver than what you’re likely to hear on a doom record and yet often enough Torche employs a colossally blunt riff but then sends it spiralling in different trajectories giving the songs a sound like what might happen if a psychedelic metal band left behind its limiting tropes and explored the inherent possibilities of its sound palette.

What: Man Man w/GRLwood
When: Wednesday, 09.18, 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: See above on 9/17 for Man Man and GRLwood.