Kramies’ “4:44am” is a Powerful and Radical Yet Fragile and Gentle Reassessment of Work-Life Balance

There is a fragile weariness to Kramies’ single “4:44am.” One imagines it’s the kind of song written that time of day when no one should still be up and at which time no one should be waking up unless they are working the early shift at a coffee shop or on the farm or at a hospital in some mission critical capacity. Since Kramies is a producer and songwriter by trade the coffee shop gig isn’t so difficult to imagine much less being up way too late working on music, his own or that of someone else and having a spare several minutes at the end of a long day to take stock of where his personal life has been and gotten away from him. The delicate guitar strumming and textures that accompany incredibly vulnerable and raw vocals sounds off the cuff and maybe in the initial skeleton of the song it was. Is it strictly autobiographical? Who can say but it is written and performed in a manner that suggests at least emotionally it is coming from a real place of lived experience when you reach the point in a relationship at which you must face your role in its falling into dysfunction. In America and especially in the arts it’s so easy to get into the habit of self-neglect that bleeds over into the rest of your life and get so focused on the work at hand that can stretch out and take up most of your time leaving little room for self care much less the essential activities of maintaining a healthy relationship. Kramies finds that place of regret and a will to work toward making the correction in one’s habits in order to try to make things right. But there’s a layer of nuance and realism that makes the song hit with a subtly crushing force. In singing about how he hits the ground emotionally and stays down Kramies captures that feeling of failure as a human and the sense of weakness that comes from it and in singing “While I’m gone well I’ll try not to hurt myself” and encouraging his beloved that “while you’re alone will you please enjoy yourself” then later that he’ll find his way back home but “this time I won’t lose myself, lest time gets away from me again” the songwriter acknowledges this habit that is perhaps difficult to break because of the nature of his life and bemoans the possibility while also seeking to change it but not knowing how. There’s a power in that acknowledgment that speaks volumes in a seemingly simple song. When the haze of atmospheric drones comes in mid song like how your mind can feel foggy when you’re caught up in things and swept up by the momentum of your projects it’s like an expression of the way you can get into that headspace and not be aware that’s where you’re going because it feels normal. And when that all clears out in the last fourth of the song the clarity of wanting to not be trapped in that cycle returns. It’s essentially an experimental folk song but speaks directly to how we let our lives be dictated by work and how that can warp how we relate to each other without any need for didactic political, social or psychological analysis and that’s why the song hits so hard but with a compassion and spirit of gentleness for those going through these times and definitely for those experiencing the fallout. Listen to “4:44am” on Spotify and follow the critically acclaimed songwriter and producer at the links below.

Kramies on Facebook

Kramies on Twitter

Kramies on Instagram

kramies.com

MOONBEAN Encourages Potential Lovers to Embrace Vulnerability on Exuberant and Moody Synth Pop Single “rock vs ocn”

MOONBEAN, photo by Colin Harrington

MOONBEAN taps into a strong and vivid mood on its single “rck vs ocn” as though capturing the vibe of an underground club in Berlin or its hometown of Toronto. The title suggests the immage of a rock vs. ocean per the opening line of “My heart is a wave/Your body is a rock/I splash against your skin/But you don’t let, no you don’t let/Your barrier down.” The lyrics further lay out lines that describe how people will often meet with an initial disconnect and communication challenges until they learn to be vulnerable without losing themselves and allowing their own energies to mix with that of another in a way that makes real, vibrant connection possible. The pulsing bassline and the ghostly main synth melody float over pulses of tone as the vocalist tells this story of someone trying to get past someone’s automatic emotional defenses and in these irresistible rhythms and immersive melodies one can imagine that barrier dissolving just enough. Fans of Eurhythmics, Actors and the unusual “New Wave” music at Tech Noir in the film The Terminator will appreciate the retro-futuristic techno pop style MOONBEAN puts forth in this song. It can be scary to open up to someone and let your own barrier down as embodied in this song with the mysterious tenor of the synth line but it also hints at the rewards of being willing to for the right person. Listen to “rck vs ocn” on Spotify and follow MOONBEAN at the links below.

MOONBEAN website

MOONBEAN on Instagram

Queen City Sounds Podcast S2E7: TripLip

TripLip, photo by Tom Murphy

TripLip is an experimental rock band from Denver formed in 2010. The persistent duo of drummer Patrick Sutton and bassist Kevin “Enjy” Schultz have been a mainstay of the Denver underground although with few releases under its belt. Sutton and Schultz came up during formative years in the small town of Elizabeth, Colorado where they formed their earliest bands and played their earliest shows and were in the same social circles as future members of experimental rock band Facial and comedian Sam Tallent and Clay DeHaan who were part of their own bass and drum punk project Red Vs. Black. Around the time of the formation of the band Sutton and Schultz and some of their Elizabeth friends moved into a house at 29th Avenue and California and dubbed it Mouth House, one of the most active and important DIY spaces of that era that included Rhinoceropolis, Glob, Blast-O-Mat/Seventh Circle Music Collective, Unit E, GNU: Experience Galley, TeaHaus, The Wasteland, The Weather Center and Megahouse. With Mouth Bomb Records and the studio where DeHaan recorded numerous records for a few years as well as the ‘zine the group produced that included the calendars of select other DIY spaces, Mouth House was very much a community hub in the Denver and national and even international music underground. Unfortunately, Mouth House came to an end when the police busted a show on Halloween 2012. The group of people who made the space happen continued with the Mouth Bomb Records umbrella to produce events like the Festibowl music festival. During the TripLip’s early touring days Sutton and Schultz met legendary kabuki and kaiju themed surf rock band DaiKaiju from Alabama while on tour in The Yellowhammer State and became fast friends. These days when DaiKaiju tours through Colorado, TripLip has found the appropriate places for the bombastic group to thrill people that show up. Up to now TripLip has no formal released recordings outside of a live EP on Bandcamp but in 2023 the group plans on its first full length album currently in the works.

Listen to our interview with TripLip on Bandcamp and witness their hijinks this weekend with two Denver shows with DaiKaiju on Saturday (10.08) at The Squire Lounge and on Sunday (10.09) at 715 Club.

Corsicana’s “The Torchbearer” is a Poignantly Observed Character Study About Shedding Dysfunctional Habits

Corsicana, photo courtesy the artist

“The Torchbearer” eases in with its gentle melody and introspective spirit. But that’s the way Corsicana has often operated. Setting a contrasting expectation with warm atmospheres and delicate textures and lyrics that offer poignant and soul baring/exposing insights. The titular character is someone who takes on family legacy and trauma needlessly like an adopted burden as part of one’s identity. The song seems to be from the perspective of someone who sees a friend psychically self-mutilating until that friend becomes consumed with the resentment of taking on the responsibility of an unspoken habit as tradition like all of the things held up as this is how we’ve always done things in this family or this culture or this society regardless of how dysfunctional and useless it has always been. But these things can be what gives us a sense of stability and continuity in times of turmoil. But none of these structures are sustainable and the final line of the song “did you catch the light through the cracks?” really articulates how you can see someone you care about cling so stubbornly to a mindset in ways that hurt them no matter what you or anyone else has said until realizations crumble that dubious foundation. The orchestral arrangements with singer and songwriter Ben Pisano on guitar, keys, synths, bass, drums, electronics and production and Darby Cicci adding doleful trumpet are reminiscent of classic Elephant 6 style indiepop. The net effect is a lush pop song that condenses an emotionally complex and sophisticated observation and a full arc of composition in just three minutes thirteen seconds and thus a fine example of economy of style. Listen to “The Torchbearer” on Spotify and follow Corsicana at the links provided.

Corsicana on Facebook

Corsicana on Twitter

Corsicana on YouTube

Corsicana on Instagram

Queen City Sounds Podcast S2E6: Jim Ward of Sparta

Jim Ward of Sparta, photo by Tom Murphy, 9/4/2022

Jim Ward is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of art punk band Sparta which releases it’s new album, self-titled, on October 14, 2002. Ward first came to the attention of many while a member of post-hardcore legends At the Drive-In. Growing up in El Paso, Texas, Ward came up through the underground music scene and hung out in the same social circles with Foss whose membership included then future At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Beto O’Rourke who went on to be a U.S. Representative and at this writing is a candidate for the governorship of Texas. Ward had been impacted by a wide variety of underground rock bands of the 80s and 90s including, of course, Fugazi and the energy and political consciousness informed his own thinking and creativity as a musician and songwriter. When At The Drive-In split the first time in 2001, Ward formed Sparta whose music was sonically closest to the sound of his former band than other post-ATDI projects but with more of a focus on texture and melody and maintaining the sharply observed yet nuanced social critique. Sparta has undergone its own periods of hiatus and has stayed together since 2017 but whether in Sparta or with Sleepercar or his own fairly prolific solo career, Ward has consistently delivered a body of work that is both thoughtful and visceral. This interview was conducted next to the parking lot south of The Gothic Theatre within an hour before Sparta took the stage on September 4, 2022, a testament to how Ward keeps it real and down to earth.

Listen to the interview on Bandcamp and pre-order the new Sparta record at the appropriate links below. And to keep up to date on Sparta tour dates and available merch visit sparta.band

Video Premiere: Church Fire “fear my bad time”

Church Fire in December 2021, photo by Tom Murphy

Ahead of the release of its newest album puppy god, Denver industrial darkwave dance darlings Church Fire are setting forth a couple of music videos. The first is a collaboration with Tom Nelsen of Echo Beds and Sense From Nonsense and a video for the song “fear my bad time.” Nelsen’s gift for inspired, micro world building and futuristic horror filmmaking seems particularly apt for this particular Church Fire track. The video displays the band in distorted pixelated form, explorers virtually exploring a desolated alien landscape as though using avatars through early 1990s technology. The song itself is a rush of rhythm and burnished, glitched out harmonics charging and then floating over a stream of pulsing rhythm. It’s a song about deeply baked in commodification of even the very basic essentials of life and finding ways to subvert that power dynamic, a theme that Nelsen helped to express through the use of archaic aesthetics to reclaim the means of expression as a path to bypass oligarchic colonization of our creative impulses in showing Church Fire operating on the edges of the ruins of the near future like the post-apocalyptic Max Headroom rebels we can all be. Watch the video for “fear my bad time” on YouTube below and go catch the Church Fire album release show for puppy god at the Hi-Dive on October 15, 2022 where the trio will celebrate the new record and sharing the stage with Xadie James Orchestra, Dragon Drop and Sell Farm. For more information on Church Fire visit its Instagram page and to download the album on release day visit the Witch Cat Records Bandcamp also linked below.

Azarias, Nabuddah and Sudo Black Collaborate on the Striving and Aspirational Zen of Avant Polyrhythmic Hip-Hop Track “Cross Continental”

Azarias, photo courtesy the artist

The striving bravado of the lyrics of “Cross Continental” flows with confidence and profane creativity while delivering a Zen-like mantra about aspirations and the folly of attaching too much value to the financial currency of society. These are the kinds of lyrics one hears in plenty of hip-hop tracks but not often enough with the incredible musical backdrop on this track. Azarias, Nabuddah and Sudo Black worked together to have a song that utilized a palette of tropical sounding percussion on top of a more industrial aesthetic which of course in the early 80s was directly influenced by hip-hop production. The call-and-response vocal aspect syncs perfectly with the truly unconventional polyrhythms as the main vocal lines gives a focus and solidity to at beat that on its own is imaginative but together there is a dynamic that completely sets this song apart from a lot of hip-hop you run across day to day. Using more robust percussive sounds in the beat and not the predictable trap sounds immediately brings a vital quality worthy of the commanding and deft rap performance. Fans of turn of the century alternative hip-hop will appreciate how the song incorporates earthy subject matter with avant-garde arrangements in an incredibly accessible fashion. Listen to “Cross Continental” on Spotify.

DARLING.’s Poignantly Falling Out of Love Shoegaze Song “Midnight” Has a Sound Like the Inversion of Nostalgia

DARLING., photo by Laing Goostrey

DARLING. seems to let all the tones linger into a hazy horizon on its single “Midnight.” The song feels like it was conceived of as echoing in a large space with shadowy ceilings and walls too distant to immediately discern. This has the effect of being melancholically reflective and feeling cut off from familiar people and places and left to process complicated emotions around a relationship that appears to be dissolving with nothing to fill that eroding place in your heart. What makes the song especially poignant is how how the lyrics aren’t angry, they don’t point in any directions, they just describe the sensations and the feelings of uncertainty and confusion when things don’t seem to be working the way they once were. The creative use of piano and then an emphasis on synth and rapidly shimmering, pitch shifted guitar swells and the dual vocals give a depth of expression to the song that lingers with you long after its over such is cumulative expression of sliding into a resigned loneliness that isn’t painful in a way that has an easily processed immediacy but something more common in adulthood and that is the unexpected drift that can happen in relationships that have gone on for some time and there is an inertia that has kept them going but the spirit to maintain it just isn’t there and there may not even be good, logical reasons why. Mood-wise it’s reminiscent of early Beach House but cold and sorrowful rather than warm and affectionate, like an inversion of nostalgia. Listen to “Midnight” on Spotify and follow DARLING. at the links below.

DARLING. on Facebook

DARLING. on Instagram

DARLING. on 4000 Records Website

Best Shows in Denver and Beyond October 2022

black midi performs at The Fox on 10.3.22 and The Ogden on 10.4.22, photo by Atiba Jefferson
Amyl and The Sniffers, photo by Jamie Wdziekonski

Saturday | 10.01
What: Amyl and The Sniffers w/Boby Vylan and Cleaner
When: 7
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Amyl and The Sniffers may be named after amyl nitrate aka poppers as well as a humorous nod to singer Amy Taylor’s name but its own buzz has lasted much longer than thirty seconds. The group’s early EPs Giddy Up (2016) and Big Attraction (2017) garnered the group an avid cult following in its hometown of Melbourne, Australia as well as abroad where its fuzz-infused proto-punk sound felt like a stripping back of even punk to its essentials. The band’s 2019 self-titled album and fiery live shows cemented its reputation as one of the most exciting live bands of recent years. In 2021 Taylor guested on the song “Nudge It” by influential UK duo Sleaford Mods and Amyl and The Sniffers released the sophomore album Comfort to Me. As noteworthy as the earlier records were, Comfort to Me has the group sounding as massive as the furious energy that seems to be fueling its performances this year thus far.

Abrams, photo by Kim Denver

Saturday | 10.01
What: Abrams album release w/Lost Relics, Vexing and Lord Velvet, poster art by Mhyk Monroe
When: 8
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Calling Denver metal band Abrams doom has never quite fit the group even though that’s roughly where maybe its music has landed in terms of framing. Its new album In The Dark has such an expansive spirit and deep atmospherics that its surging melodies and weighty hooks might be compared with those of Baroness, especially the newer offerings from that band. But this new record also has a touch of psychedelia on its fringes. The vocal harmonies sound and the incandescent guitar riffs somehow complement each other perfectly guided by elegantly interlocking rhythms. Live the band’s raw power feels almost as much punk as it does metal with turns of musical phrase that take the music into sonic realms beyond both making Abrams one of the most interesting bands in heavy music out of Denver right now.

Saturday | 10.01
What: Daniel Avery
When: 9
Where: 1134 Warehouse
Why: Daniel Avery is poducer from Bournemouth, UK whose work with the likes of synth pop artist Little Boots and nu disco project Hercules and Love Affair garnered him no small amount of cache in the world of electronic music. His latest solo album Ultra Truth is reminiscent of late 90s Underworld but more ambient, more progressive/ethereal deep house.

The Afghan Whigs in 2017, photo by Chris Cuffaro, courtesy subpop.com

Saturday | 10.01
What: The Afghan Whigs
When: 8
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: Afghan Whigs have long fused R&B and rock in powerful, poetic ways since the late 80s. Early comparisons to the Replacements seem a bit obvious because of the group’s passionate performances even decades later. But there is also in its music a soulful core that offers great distillations of universal human experiences and an evocation of emotion that especially live is irresistible. The group’s 1993 album Gentlemen put it on the map nationally and internationally and even now it sounds like something fairly timeless when a lot of 90s music sounds of the period. The 2022 album How Do You Burn? feels more dark and electronic than previous records but in being so like its expanding on its core sound in a bold way that it began on 2017’s In Spades.

black midi, photo by Atiba Jefferson

Monday and Tuesday | 10.03 and 10.04
What: black midi w/Quelle Chris
When: 7:30 (10.03), 8 (10.04)
Where: Fox Theatre (10.03) and Ogden Theatre (10.04)
Why: For connoisseurs of highly imaginative art rock, London’s black midi has been a go to for finding some of the most wild dynamics and musical ideas this side of Frank Zappa for many years. Its much more than its truly creative and unique guitar and bass compositions and performances its like these guys tap into various sounds in orchestrating a musical experience that exists outside normal time. Its new album Hellfire (2022) feels like a lounge jazz variety show as curated by Anthony Braxton, Zappa or Zach Hill. The group uses its hyperkinetic maximalist approach to songwriting in ways that clearly aim at producing compelling songwriting and not just as an exercise in superior musicianship. Like a Can having come up after being influenced by Women and Hella.

Iceage, photo by Fryd Frydendahl

Monday and Tuesday | 10.03 and 10.04
What: Iceage and Earth
When: 7 (10.03) and 8:30 (10.04)
Where: The Marquis Theater (10.03) and Fox Theatre (10.04)
Why: Danish band Iceage had an immediate cult following with the release of its 2011 album New Brigade and its tour of small clubs DIY spaces including Rhinoceropolis in Denver, Colorado that year revealed a band that sat at the nexus of hardcore and moodier yet cathartic post-punk. But as the band developed its sound it grew into a brilliantly decadent art rock that might have had more sonic kinship with 80s Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and with its most recent studio offering Seek Shelter it reconciled its various creative instincts for music that had both the forcefulness of its early music and the sophistication of what came after. In September 2022 Iceage released Shake The Feeling: Outtakes & Rarities 2015-2021 including songs that could have easily have been on the records of that time period but which didn’t quite fit in and showcased how Iceage had absorbed power pop and the noise rock of the likes of Dinosaur Jr. Also on this tour are doom legends Earth whose visionary heavy blues psychedelia has been an influence on most doom bands since its own 1989 inception whether they know it or not. Its soundscapes and use of drone has an almost ritualistic, mystical quality that utilizes slow, hypnotic progressions to build dramatic tension and release in a way that draws you further into emotional spaces maybe you had shuffled to the side in the headlong pace of everyday life but are better off experiencing and processing in the ways Earth seems so adept at facilitating with its gorgeous layers of psychedelic heaviness.

Ceremony, photo by Rick Rodney

Wednesday | 10.05
What: Ceremony w/Spy, Restraining Order and Candy Apple
When: 7
Where: HQ
Why: Ceremony was considered one of the great bands of 2000s hardcore with its 2008 album Still Nothing Moves You standing as one of the most potent examples of that music of that decade. But its own musical ideas were progressing rapidly out of hardcore and 2010’s Rohnert Park contained experiments in sound and songwriting that were well out of the hardcore frame. Zoo (2012), though, had Ceremony well into post-punk territory and though its tour for the album had the band in high, ferocious form it was a fascinating contrast with music that seemed to be more in tune with its atmospheric potential rather than merely the visceral. Since then the group has gone straight into arty almost glam rock territory with its most recent album In the Spirit World Now (2019) making Ceremony a band that is forging a creative path that is yielding fascinating results with every release.

Broken Social Scene, photo by Richmond Lam

Wednesday | 10.05
What: Broken Social Scene w/Jasmyn
When: 7
Where: Summit Music Hall
Why: Broken Social Scene is a bit of a supergroup making glorious and epic art pop whose membership has included musicians from Do Make Say Think, Metric, Feist, Stars and other notable Canadian musical projects. For this tour the group is celebrating the twenty year anniversary of the release of its monumental 2002 album You Forgot It In People. While orchestral in its arrangements the album’s lush sound felt like an intimate exploration of personal aspirations, identity and culture through an eclectic run of songs that could be awash in nostalgic ambient pop haze and urgent rock songs that harnessed an exuberant energy that seemed to drive the whole album underneath its inspired moments of reverie. The original record featured eleven members and its tour at that time delivered on the seemingly daunting promise of the recorded album and this is a chance to catch that moment in the group’s development one more time.

Night Moves, photo by Shawn Brackbill

Thursday | 10.06
What: Night Moves w/Free Music
When: 7
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Night Moves is a rock band from Minneapolis that has been honing its blend of power pop, psychedelia and Americana since forming in 2010. Across three albums and now two EPs Night Moves’ eclectic style with one leg in modern American indie rock and the other in soul and R&B has evolved and refined to produce the expansive and bright yet introspective moods you hear in its 2022 EP The Redacted. Its its flow of melodic layers and sonic detail one might hear the touch of the more cosmic end of Gram Parsons and Spirit as well as some resonance with what more modern artists like Whitney and Foxygen have done in melding a classic songwriting sensibility and modern use of electronic production in achieving a depth of atmosphere but accomplished with more tangible instrumentation.

Thursday | 10.06
What: Pusha T w/IDK
When: 7
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: On his fourth studio album It’s Almost Dry, rapper Pusha T puts his usual commanding string of bars over beats that are a mixture of inspired sampling and deeply evocative and atmospheric melodies. The title of the album he said in an interview with Rolling Stone references the making of a painting and thus an album as it’s being finalized. But also drug culture when you have to wait on the product to dry before it can be distributed. And the album walks those boundaries in terms of them and metaphors brought to bear. Once again, like Pusha T’s 2018 masterpiece Daytona, this new record sounds like a journey through the labyrinth of aspirations and personal ghosts that require creativity and boldness to navigate without getting sunk by the trappings of the former and the enervating power of the latter.

Shame, photo by Sam Gregg

Friday and Saturday | 10.7 and 10.8
What: Viagra Boys w/Shame and Kills Birds
When: 7:30 (10.7) and 7 (10.8)
Where: The Fox Theatre (10.7) and The Gothic Theatre (10.8)
Why: Viagra Boys are a Swedish rock band that has defied easy categorization going back to its audacious 2018 debut album Street Worms. Like if a post-punk band embraced the more glam and art rock roots of that music while giving it a raw edge. With the release of 2022’s Cave World the group seems to have let go of any stylistic restraints that have guided it in established directions. The brash and irrepressible energy heard on the record has garnered comparisons by critics to Iggy Pop and one would presume to IDLES. But Viagra Boys more than dabble in electronics and “Troglodyte” sounds like Devo pushed through a garage rock lens. And live Viagra Boys have earned the Iggy-esque reputation with exuberant performances that sound and feel like they could collapse or go off in unexpected directions at any moment. Co-headliners Shame from South London have had a similar creative trajectory as Viagra Boys. Its own first album, Songs of Praise, also dropped in 2018 to great acclaim. But its much-anticipated sophomore album Drunk Tank Pink more than delivered when it was available in mid-January 2021 during a period when live music was basically at a standstill due to the pandemic but anyone that pre-ordered the record got to see a stream of an intimate and emotionally stirring performance of the songs not only revealing how Drunk Tank Pink was a leap into new directions for Shame but how it was able to take its own raw energy and channel that into sensitive and nuanced yet powerful takes on the sense of desperation and and pent up frustration with nowhere to go but plug those feelings into a rare depth of personal reflection, in particular the track “Human, For a Minute” and its perfect and poetic encapsulation of a kind of emotional solidarity based in universal human experiences that anyone can identify even beyond the circumstances of the enforced life limitations of the pandemic and the emergent sense of personal dignity discovered by most people that had been covered over by the headlong momentum of the fraud that was “normal life.” And if two of the best bands out of the wide realm of post-punk wasn’t enough Kills Birds from Los Angeles is a noise rock trio whose own scorching and unrelenting songwriting has garnered great critical acclaim and fans like Kim Gordon and Dave Grohl. Its 2021 album Married is obviously informed by music from the grunge era but also oddly reminds one of the youthful energetic outburst of Minor Threat combined with the elegant and gritty moodiness of Live Skull.

Friday | 10.7
What: Suzanne Vega
When: 7
Where: Boulder Theater
Why: The a capella recording of “Tom’s Diner” was used as a test track during the development of the MP3 digital audio format. The track was at the end of Suzanne Vega’s 1987 breakthrough album Solitude Standing, bookending one of the most sensitive and knowing and clever records of the 1980s with “Luka,” a song about child abuse, an unlikely mainstream radio hit. But Vega’s idiosyncratic, folk rock songs had already made waves in college radio and would continue to do so long after the mainstream no longer seemed to shine its light on the talented songwriter’s career. Vega perhaps became known to a wide audience with her song “Left of Center” as it appeared on the soundtrack to the 1986, John Hughes penned coming of age film Pretty In Pink.

Verhoffst in 2021, photo by Tom Murphy

Saturday | 10.8
What: Verhoffst, KNEIFFII, Laudanum_quilt, ET Mac & the Alien, DJ URSA and No More Cheering
When: 6, $10 cover
Where: Glob
Why: This is fundraiser for Puerto Rican mutual aid group Brigada Solidaria del Oeste featuring some of Denver’s finest industrial noise and experimental sound sculptors.

Kid Bloom, photo by Diego Andradei

Saturday | 10.8
What: Kid Bloom w/Wizthemc and All Things Blue
When: 8
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Kid Bloom’s style of indie pop seems to be inspired by the sort of chillwave and hip-hop production that The Weeknd has perfected up to this point. But his new album Highway sounds like an introspective journey (street sounds included) through a mood that feels like he’s trying to leech out a malaise and spiritual exhaustion that sits deep inside through a radically self honest look at his own ways of conducting himself and his life from often subconscious and almost always else unexamined motivations as tied with life experiences that can tumble by you into a dark place in your head left neglected in the headlong pace in modern life. In the song “Cowboy” alone when Kid Bloom sings “when desperation pulls me closer” its obvious that he’s become very familiar with a deep place in his own psychology and took the opportunity to explore that territory in his music with an aim to soothing and letting those personal demons go. It’s just that the lush synth work and production like an even more luminous early Twin Shadow makes these feelings seem possible to process with success.

DaiKaiju, photo courtesy the artists

Saturday and Sunday | 10.08 and 10.09
What: DaiKaiju w/TripLip
When: 7
Where: The Squire Lounge (10.08) and 715 Club (10.09)
Why: DaiKaiju is the legendary surf and psychedelic kabuki theater and kaiju themed rock band from Alabama. Its shows involve fire and wildly energetic performances and a transformation of the venue into a ritual space of fun and rock and roll myth come to life. Opening the show as usual is Denver dup TripLip whose fusion of experimental prog, weirdo jazz, funk and punk with elements of performance art is the perfect complement to the strangeness that is a DaiKaiju show.

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, phot by Matt Puccinelli

Saturday and Sunday | 10.08 and 10.09
What: Psychedelic Porn Crumpets w/Acid Dad
When: 8 (10.08) and 7 (10.09)
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Psychedelic Porn Crumpets from Perth, Australia have certainly chosen a surrealistic and absurd name for the band but it’s one that you don’t forget despite its three words and multiple syllables. It makes no sense and therefore doesn’t automatically suggest an aesthetic or a sound other than something colorful and certainly its brand of fuzzed out guitar atmospherics and sublime vocal melodies swimming in a wavy, expansive dynamic embodies what modern psychedelia should be more like. Its 2022 album Night Gnomes has song titles worthy of Black Moth Super Rainbow and an unabashed playful trippiness in its tonal choices and the visual representation of the music akin to early Mercury Rev. Also on the bill is the surprisingly original and not at all style victim psychedelic rock band Acid Dad whose elegant compositions are enveloping and hypnotic with irresistible whorls of transporting soundscaping.

Sunday | 10.09
What: Cyclo-Sonic w/The Valve
When: 1
Where: Wax Trax
Why: Cyclo-Sonic is an always forceful post-grunge punk band comprised of members of local punk legends like Rok Tots, The Choosey Mothers, Fluid and Frantix. The quartet recently released its most recent album Everything Went Stupid on Big Neck Records and may be available at the show ahead of the official October 21, 2022 release date.

Melt-Banana in 2011, photo by Tom Murphy

Sunday | 10.09
What: Melt-Banana w/Quits and Wiff
When: 7
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: Melt-Banana is a ferocious ball of sounds and ideas that seem to erupt in multiple directions at the same time live on stage so that its manic energy and dazzling array of noises fits nicely in the realm of noise rock, grindcore, glitchcore, math-y hardcore and really like no other band even from the very rich world of Japanese experimental rock. That the group was inspired by the raw originality of the bands on the No New York compilation as the baseline starting point in being able to carve out its own sound should come as no surprise. Quits from Denver might be simply described as noise rock as well but there is something also primal in its angular and unpredictable musical and emotional trajectories that makes it sound dangerous from the beginning of a song to the end.

MAITA, photo by Tristan Paiige

Sunday | 10.09
What: MAITA w/Allison Lorenzen and Moodlighting
When: 7
Where: The Skylark Lounge Bobcat Club
Why: MAITA released one of the most poignant and astute set of songs on the deleterious effects of overstimulation through the bombardment of information and the demands of that constant flow on psyche with I Just Want To Be Wild For You (2022). But the songs hit deeply personal notes with a gentleness of spirit that also conveys a coherence of creative vision that comes from serial realizations about the world around you. MAITA’s pairing of exquisite vocal melodies and evocative counter melodies in the music lend the music an intimacy of tone that feels like MAITA has given voice to some of your own anxieties and discovered a way to make them explicable and easier to untangle. Allison Lorenzen has created some of the most compellingly and emotionally stirring ambient and experimental folk of recent years out of Denver. Moodlighting’s blend of shoegaze and dream pop is delicate and vulnerable and in being so draws you into its poetic commentary on life in this tentative and confusing era.

Front 242 in 2019, photo by Tom Murphy

Sunday | 10.09
What: Front 242 and The Revolting Corpse
When: 7
Where: The Oriental Theater
Why: This is the final North American tour for the foundational, influential and legendary EBM band Front 242 who despite some of their martial sounds and hard industrial visual aesthetic have made songs about the human condition with humor and insight. The Revolting Corpse is a bit of an industrial music super group that for this iteration, the last of its kind, will include founding Revolting Cocks members Paul Barker and Chris Connelly.

To Be Continued…

Queen City Sounds Podcast S2E5: Sleepyhead

Sleepyhead, photo by Rachael McNally

Sleepyhead is a rock band that formed in New York City in 1989 at a time when the underground rock of the 1980s in the USA and the UK flowed into what became alternative music by the 90s. But for a brief period Sleepyhead began in the golden age of the indiepop that that one heard in the music of the C86 bands and on Sarah Records. One might have heard echos of the Paisley Underground in the music and of criminally underrated groups like Game Theory and Let’s Active. But Sleepyhead had firmly established its own vibrant musical identity by the time of its 1993 debut album Punk Rock City USA on the even now respected forward thinking pop imprint Slumberland, home to the likes of Black Tambourine, Peel Dream Magazine, Weekend, Papercuts and The Reds, Pinks and Purples. Musical history may remember Sleepyhead in the same company as Chicago’s Material Issue whose own legacy of great pop songwriting and great energy and intelligence and warmth informing the songwriting was critically acclaimed at the time but largely neglected since. With a bit of an extended hiatus following the 1996 album Communist Love Song, Sleepyhead returned with 2014’s Wild Sometimes and a strong reminder of how Sleepyhead’s sharply observed lyrics and creative songwriting concepts remained intact. In 2022 the group, a trio of Rachael McNally, Chris O’Rourke and Derek Van Beever, released New Alchemy, named for the New Alchemy Institute, a research center that did work in organic agriculture, aquaculture and bioshelter design and operated between 1969 and 1991. It was the sort of very pragmatic, sustainability research steeped in the ideas of thinkers like R. Buckminster Fuller that the world could honestly use more of in the face of the multitude of challenges we face with the climate and adapting economic thinking toward something more rational and nurturing not just of the planet but of our own civilization and individual lives. The music is graced with that great shiny jangle guitar work and exquisite vocal harmonies that have made Sleepyhead’s music standout from the beginning and with it a freshness and exuberance that hits the ear as something wholesome and nurturing yet subversive in weaving in heady ideas and focusing on songcraft over adhering to a trendy style. Every song makes great use of space while also brimming with a fortifying denseness of detail and musical ideas. Classic Sleepyhead and a welcome entry in the catalog of one of the great bands of the alternative era.

We had a chance to speak with the band and you can listen to that interview on Bandcamp and to connect with Sleepyhead visit its website where you can find links to listen to their music including New Alchemy. Before the interview you can check out the music video for the single “Pam and Eddie” on YouTube.

sleepyheadrockband.com