“Forse Non Sei Tu” (“Maybe It’s Not You” in English) finds Italian psychedelic rock band Alice Tambourine Lover using a shuffling, overlapping structure in the guitar riffs and percussion to give the song a deep sense of reverie appropriate to its subject. The main riff mixes with a guitar lead more like the wailing and drone of one’s memories tangled with the emotions that fix them in your mind. In this case it sounds like words (albeit in Italian, easily translated into some approximation of the original into English thanks to the internet) of someone who was affected so deeply by a lover now lost the vivid emotional remembrances of which are delivered in poetic couplets of sensory memory rendered in terms of ice, fire, fantasies, sips of those memories and drowning in a whirlwind of images and experiences. And then imagining seeing that person who affected you so deeply in places you wish they could and would be but your emotions are so disordered you can’t be sure. The song is more like an sustained impressionistic experience than a song with conventional structure and logic, rather operating according to principles based more on intuition and dreams. Calling it psychedelic rock is perhaps misleading except for the aforementioned levels on which the music works. Sonically it has more in common with Mazzy Star, PJ Harvey and one of the great psychedelic rock bands of the alternative rock era, Sky Cries Mary. The use of acoustic sounds with the electric is so seamless the song consistently sounds like it could have emerged at any point across the last 50 years. Vocalist/guitarist/tambourine player Alice Albertazzi and dobro resonator guitarist Gianfranco Romanelli were once in the band ALIX together and recorded the album Good One with Steve Albini in 2009 but this newer material sounds like a fresh relaunch of the their creative instincts as musicians. Listen to “Forse Non Sei Tu” on Soundcloud and connect with Alice Tambourine Lover at the links below.
Anna Larson’s piano accents on her modern classical piece “Constant Star” give an emotional nuance and an atmospheric mood that sketches an elegant and vivid sonic image of object of the title. The background electronic drone lends an added luminous aspect to the tonal choices employed in the composition and in doing so suggests multiple meanings and interpretations to the song including an unmistakable sense of emotional intimacy with the “Constant Star” not only being a celestial object inspiring imaginative speculation but a person or a passion that seems to always be there as a beacon in challenging times. It’s certainly a musical work that suggests cinematic qualities and immediately brings to mind the classical music Ken Burns has chosen for his various documentary series and here it’s part of an EP of similarly evocative soundscapes poetically titled Returned Light. Listen to “Constant Star” on Spotify and the rest of Returned Light there as well, both linked below.
“Dream Weaver” builds in your mind images of clear lines, open spaces and unstructured time. The latter suggested by its spare rhythms and cycling melodic synth line with languid, echoing arc of luminous tones over delicate bass accents. It is the mood of a countryside train ride with hours to go to reach your destination and no demands on your attention or energy. It eases your mind into a leisurely state ready to take in whatever comes your way with a Zen-like tranquility. Its minimal techno beat is akin to more chill IDM or trance and while unobtrusive it isn’t music that fades into the background so much as actively soothes your conscious mind. Listen to “Dream Weaver” on Spotify and connect with Mokhov at the links below where you can also listen to the Solid State Dreams album in its entirety.
Carmine Appice is one of the most influential drummers in the history of rock music. He first came to the attention of a wide audience as a member of heavy psychedelic band Vanilla Fudge. His imaginative, powerful and versatile style proved to be an influence on the likes of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Roger Taylor of Queen, Ian Paice of Deep Purple and really a whole generation of hard rock and heavy metal drummers. Across his long career, Appice has played in and contributed to albums by Cactus, Rod Stewart, King Kobra, Pink Floyd, Sly Stone and now with Appice Perdomo Project, his musical partnership with guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo. The duo released its debut album Energy Overload at the end of August 2021 on Cleopatra Records. We had a chance to speak at length with Appice about when Led Zeppelin played its first North American show in Denver opening for Spirit and Vanilla Fudge, his long experience as a recording artist and performer and how laying down tracks in the early 80s paved the way for him to draw on older drum tracks to send to collaborators to recontextualize the beat by writing other music to existing rhythms in a process not unlike a remix by taking a great drum track and having it as the foundation for new music.
You can listen to the interview on the Queen City Sounds Podcast on Bandcamp below and watch the video for “Rocket To The Sun” on YouTube. For more information on Appice and his prolific and still active career spanning six decades, please visit his official website www.carmineappice.net and check out his colorful and engaging 2016 memoir Stick It!: My Life of Sex, Drums & Rock ‘n’ Roll.
It’s probably inevitable that someone in Denver music is going to think The Velveteers appeared out of nowhere with a record produced by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys. But after more than half a decade of playing house shows, DIY venues, some touring, UMS appearances, playing more commercial venues and some solid opening gigs the trio finally celebrated the release of its 2021 debut full-length Nightmare Daydream headlining a venue the size of The Gothic Theatre, a big deal for any local band.
I got to the Gothic too late to catch the first opening act, Highlands Ranch-based dream pop trio Dry Ice, but got there in time to see Dreadnought setting up its hefty array of gear. A mainstay of the local doom scene, Dreadnought wasted no time in delivering a catharsis of low end psychedelic drone punctuated by primal riffs and ghostly atmospheric melodies. The vocals both sublimely ritualistic in tone and tenor also engaged in a explosion of pent up emotion to accent finely crafted moments of peak mood at the apex of one of the band’s glacial builds.
From the backdrop with the band’s name and figures of a moon and sun with clouds and other celestial bodies flanking each side of the stage to each member of the band dressed up to take you out of mundane life for an hour and a half or so, The Velveteers prepared us for a theatrical rock show that put the focus on the music. Lead singer and guitarist Demi Demitro came out in a sequined get-up like a cross between a 70s glam rock space alien and Stevie Nicks. Jonny Fig and Baby Pottersmith dressed up like they had walked out on stage after touring in Vanilla Fudge. There was always something special about the band even when I last saw them at the UMS at the Hi-Dive in 2016 but their presence and confidence this time out, however much of an act that might be, was palpable. This was a band that had long since refined its sound and then sought out a direction for the music and its execution, honed that to a high degree, and put it on an album and brought a raw freshness to that material on stage.
If the band didn’t play all of the new record it sure felt like it covered a lot of territory playing more than twelve songs including some older material. Live the songs of course hit harder with an emotional intensity in a way that is different from the album. The album doesn’t have Demi Demitro crowd surfing a couple of times during the set while still playing guitar. The albums doesn’t have Jonny Fig staring out into the crowd with a mix of heightened focus and sheer joy, the album doesn’t include getting to see Baby Pottersmith and Fig drumming furiously and elegantly in perfect sync with each other and Demitro. Demitro’s beguiling blend of strength, vulnerability, passion and broadly nuanced vocals while captured finely on the records struck one as exhilarating as she and her bandmates moved about caught up in the moment. That much power behind lyrics that actually have meaning and point to an astute assessment of the dubious intentions of various people in one’s life and one’s own human frailties and aspirations is uncommon enough but certainly so relatively early in a band’s career. Hopefully this Gothic show in the end was both a celebration and a graduation to more than the unjustly maligned local band status.
For over half a decade Never Kenezzard has brought its psychedelically-inflected heavy music to stages in Colorado. Fronted by guitarist Ryan Peru the trio draws a bit of inspiration from art rock and the avant-garde as well as the likes of Faith No More and Queens of the Stone Age, Never Kenezzard released its debut album Never Say… in 2016. Peru came up getting into classic rock and alternative rock like many people that grew up in the 80s and 90s but transitioned into a focus on experimental electronic music including IDM and ambient music in the late 90s going on to spend nearly two decades making music along those lines including his now concurrent project Mondo Obscura with Evan Brown. 2021 sees the band releasing The Long and Grinding Road representing the development of the group including a line-up change so that found members Peru and drummer Jason Starkey were joined by Denver underground music figure Don White on bass. The record, available online on November 20, 2021, is a thoughtfully sequenced journey of urban and cosmic myth and the rewards of perseverance. We had a chance to have an extended conversation with Peru about his youth in rural Colorado, his evolution in music, his life in the local scene including his time providing striking projections for shows in Denver’s experimental music scene as part of 75ohms and the vicissitudes of being an independent band with relatively little music and culture industry support for your style of sound-making.
Never Kenezzard celebrates the release of The Long and Grinding Road on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at The Squire Lounge with Sea of Flames and Master Ferocious. The show is at 9 p.m. and it’s free and 21+. Look for the digital release of the new album on the Never Kenezzard Bandcamp page. Listen to our interview with Peru on the Queen City Sounds Podcast Bandcamp page linked below. Over the summer Never Kenezzard released the fetching music video for harrowing single “Genie” for which we did a write-up but you can watch it below following the interview link.
Uniform is an industrial hardcore band from New York that came out of the city’s punk and extreme music scene. Its fiery and abrasive electronic onslaught articulates issues of existential confusion and frustration with the destructive forces of society and within our own minds and clawing a path to catharsis. The group’s 2020 album Shame (Sacred Bones Records) is perhaps its most accessible but also its most deeply personal and raw.
Singer Michael Berdan grew up getting into punk and edgier metal and Singer Michael Berdan grew up getting into punk and edgier metal and eventually helped found Drunkdriver. But in 2011 when stories of drummer Jeremy Villalobos’ rape allegations started coming to light, Berdan left the band citing the aforementioned acts and, with the help of people who wouldn’t coddle him, set about trying to confront any mindsets and behaviors in himself that might have a chance of leading to abusive behavior of any kind.
Uniform got together in 2013 when friend and former bandmate in other projects, Ben Greenberg moved in down the street from Berdan and the two Uniform got together in 2013 when friend and former bandmate in other projects, Ben Greenberg moved in down the street from Berdan .The two shared an interest in industrial music, noise and punk that they used those sounds and textures as a vehicle to express feelings of alienation and comment on that state of the culture and the world. With confrontational performances has connected with fans and other bands leading to multiple collaborations with noise rock duo The Body resulting in an expansion of the scope of its themes and its expanding soundscaping palette.
We recently spoke with Berdan about his early days in music, his handling of the breakup of Drunkdriver and the ever evolving songcraft of Uniform. You can listen to that interview on Bandcamp linked below and you can catch Uniform with Portrayal of Guilt and Body Void at HQ on Monday, November 8, 2021.
Starlight Girls’ “Teenage Crime” deftly combines emotional urgency with a languid pace and melancholic undertones. Angsty guitar work bursting over a minimalistic keyboard melody washing underneath Christina Bernard’s focused vocals tracing the ebb and flow of mood give the song an unconventional rhythm. Without overcomplicating the soundscape the band uses a wide-ranging and expressive dynamic in the percussion and low end that syncs with the other elements of the song operating in their own dynamics and unifies it all toward a goal of making a song that feels expansive, contemplative and emotionally vibrant. It’s a bit like if Air and modern, noisy, psychedelic band collaborated to create a song that is cool yet fiery that washes the nervous energy in your brain away. Listen to “Teenage Crime” on Soundcloud, connect with Starlight Girls at the links below and look out for the band’s new EP Entitled which was released on June 9, 2020 and available on the group’s Bandcamp page.
“Mummycore” band I, Doris returns with a song and video called “Wonderwomen,” which is a DIY live action comic book treatment everyday challenges women all over the world face. You know, the mundane tasks that too often aren’t expected to be fulfilled by men like getting the kids to school after keeping after them to get all the little things done like basic hygiene and homework, then putting up with heaps of nonsense from power tripping bosses who are essentially useless middle management types who would crack under the pressure they put upon others. But if you’re a woman you’ve been conditioned to take on the blame for maybe not taking on all this work and completing it in some imaginary perfect fashion. I, Doris say a big p’shaw to that and not internalize a narrative of failure because “You’re doing fine.” That the band performs the song in a sort of camp, new wave punk version of the theme song to the American TV series Wonder Woman that ran from 1975-1979 and starring Lynda Carter is just a fantastically irreverent bonus. That the members of the band appear in the video as women who could be someone you run into walking down the street, in the school, in your crap job that everyone hates, at the grocery store or anywhere but wearing super hero costumes really turns the idea of women needing to give themselves more of a hassle or accept such from anyone else than necessary on its head. So many things in life don’t require your full attention and effort and this song is about cutting yourself a break for not giving it your all with everything all the time because that’s the path to self-destruction. If that messaging isn’t a form of radical feminism that anyone can get behind, it’s difficult to say what is.
Pulsing low end rumble pushes Buggie’s song “Westend” along as Gretchen King almost reads the story of the current dissolution of the world order as we knew it and the desperate attempts to save it. Whether that be with “corporate saviors” or clinging to the utterly discredited neoliberal order with its distractions in entertainment, social media and dead end jobs held out as our only options as a way to perpetuate an economic model that hasn’t been sustainable in even the most powerful countries for four decades. Buggie points out that it seems like the last legs of resisting the inevitable. The almost industrial percussion wedded with King’s pondering but cautionary vocals convey the hard reality before us but inject it with a hint of whimsical flavor as if to suggest that maybe this end of things as we know it is a positive because it’s already been crashing in on itself since the turn of the century and maybe we’re already ready for something new even if it seems scary. Fans of Holly Herndon and Hiro Kone will greatly appreciate the production and soundscaping and the conceptual nature as well as the social critique of the song. Listen to “Westend” on Soundcloud, watch a short clip of the stop motion music video on Instagram and connect with Buggie at the links provided.