Q&A: Alien Boy

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Alien Boy, photo by Sam Gehrke

Since 2015, Portland, Oregon’s Alien Boy has been establishing itself as one of the most intriguing guitar rock bands in the American underground. Its sound could be roughly described as a mixture of pop-punk, post-punk and shoegaze. The jangle-y riffs and melt-y, fiery tones propelled by urgent rhythms could certainly be considered to be an amalgamation of all of those styles of music. But Sonia Weber’s vocals, expressive, poignant, unafraid to go off of conventional and sanitized melodies anchors the songs in relatable human experiences which aren’t ever perfect. But that willingness to embrace flaws is its own perfection by speaking to emotional truth and it’s what makes Alien Boy more compelling than many bands that seem to write music where everything is ultimately okay. This band’s music isn’t about bravado, it’s about being real and honest with oneself and others.

In 2018 the group released its debut LP Sleeping Lessons on Tiny Engines [soon to be included on Queen City Sounds’ Best Albums of 2018 list]. Currently the group is on another iteration of touring in the wake of the release of the record including tonight February 20 at Larimer Lounge. We recently sent some questions to Alien Boy which vocalist/guitarist Sonia Weber was gracious enough to indulge.

Queen City Sounds: Since hearing about Alien Boy a few years ago I’ve thought of the band as punk even though your songs are musically not reducible to a single genre. Do you think punk as music, culture and ethos informs your own music? If so, how so? If not, why not?

Sonia Weber: Yes, absolutely. That’s the first type of music I felt really passionate about when I was younger and I think it always shows no matter what. No matter what I’m always kind of searching for that heaviness/energy and style even though I don’t listen to that kinda stuff as much anymore. Ethos too, I think punk taught me so much about how I want to interact with the world and it has a lot to do with why it’s important to me to express that this is a queer band. I think if you’re going to have any kind of platform it’s important to acknowledge it and use it for some kind of good.

When your band, or previous bands when you were younger, started out, where were you able to play? Was there a scene you were able to plug into?

Yeah! I started playing in bands when I was 16ish and played a lot of shows at Satyricon, Backspace, and Laughing Horse Books when I was a little older. We got really lucky, there were a lot of people my age starting bands at the same time and when I think back I think that time was really special.

Was there and is there an active realm of DIY or unconventional spaces where you were able to develop and where newer bands can come up?

Yeah, absolutely! I think there was and is and will always be somewhere even if you’re not plugged into it there’s always stuff you don’t know about and people doing inspiring stuff for DIY to make it happen. Laughing Horse Books was big for me when I was younger, then Anarres Infoshop, and now places like Black Water and houses in Portland are doing really great stuff for DIY.

The Ghost Ship fire had a direct connection to Denver and many other places and the aftermath of the tragedy deeply affected our underground art and music community including harassment from alt-right types. Did that event affect you and your band at home and in terms of trying to tour?

You couldn’t go somewhere without knowing someone who knew someone that was there or affected by it. It was a huge dark cloud over something that was usually a place that made us all feel so good and safe. [It] and was just so, so, so, so sad. As far as how it affected tour stuff it lead to a lot of DIY spots closing down or being harder to access but on the other side of that I think it made spaces that were able to keep going realize things they could do to make it safer for everyone and I appreciate that. Mostly it just devastated so many people including myself, I felt hard to get through and we’re all still working on it.

The 2018 KEXP article on your band mentions how being devastated was a feeling that inspired many of the songs on Sleeping Lessons. Why do you think that emotional state leads to vital songwriting?

I think music and art are at its best when you’re feeling a type of extreme emotion and can be honest about it. The stuff you’re too afraid to say yourself but then you hear it in a song and it feels important. I think that’s where a lot of connection comes from.

Your Facebook pages lists a band not many people these days cite as an influence (maybe in Portland it’s more likely) and that’s the Wipers. What is it about that band that you find inspirational and affecting?

I love the Wipers so much. We draw a lot from their guitar sound which is I think where the influence shows the most, especially on our first few EP’s. I think that band is so emotional in a way a lot of punk bands weren’t back then, I think we’re similar in that way too even if it doesn’t sound that way immediately. I really relate to the song “No One Wants An Alien” and obviously “Alien Boy” which is where the name is ripped from. It’s all about being isolated and lonely and different from other people and I think it’s done in a really beautiful way. That’s the kind of punk I hope shines through a little in our stuff.

“Only Posers Fall In Love” has a long lost Smiths with Robert Smith guesting like he did with Siouxsie and the Banshees sound. What is it about that sort of guitar style do you find appealing and interesting to play?

It’s my absolute favorite kind of guitar playing. I’m totally obsessed with how Johnny Marr plays guitar and got that way right before I started Alien Boy. I can’t even really describe what I love about it but it was the first time since being younger that I was super excited about guitar again. I’m obsessed with chorus pedals.

Why do you think shoegaze and pop punk compliment each other so well? Your music demonstrates they definitely do.

Most of the song structures are the same! I feel like I realized most songs are similar it just depends on how you play them and that if I felt like mostly pop punk was coming out but I wanted it to feel a different way it was totally possible. I want the same thing from both genres, they’re both so emotional I think that’s the main reason why it works so well together.

Your songs fulfill a similar function to writing a journal in terms of externalizing feelings and thoughts so they don’t just, or no longer, sit in your body. What does the process of doing so look like for you?

When I was writing sleeping lessons it was really the only way the feelings were being expressed in a genuine way. They would come out in little bursts and I’d forget and re-listen and be like, “Damn that’s how I feel about that? Okay”. And then once the record was done it really felt like I had gotten it out of my body. I felt a lot lighter it was pretty unbelievable to feel it in that way.

A long time ago “pop” used to be kind of a dirty word in punk and underground music. Did you ever have to reconcile pop with the music you came to love as an adolescent and beyond? What are examples of, conventionally or unconventionally so, perfect pop songs?

When I was younger I definitely felt super ashamed liking pop music but as I got older there was a point where I was just like, “Fuck that this isn’t fun at all I’m gonna like whatever I want,” and seemingly everyone got the memo at the same time, haha. Music has been much more exciting since then. Coming back to the idea again that most music is structured the same way, I like the same things about all the different types of music I like and most of it comes down to chorus pedals and relatability.. What I can relate to changes all the time too! So it’s always changing.

Examples of perfect pop songs to me? There’s so many! “In A Big Country” by Big Country, “Celebrity Skin” by Hole, “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift, “Baba O’ Riley” by The Who, “I Wanna Be Adored” by The Stone Roses, “The Jerk” by Joyce Nanor. Conventional and not all those songs are perfect.

Best Shows in Denver 02/14/19 – 02/20/19

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Kikagaku Moyo performs at the Hi-Dive on Feb. 18 and The Fox Theatre in Boulder on Feb. 19 with Weeed. Photo by Jamie Wdziekonski

Thursday | February 14, 2019

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Midwife, photo by Tom Murphy

What: An Ambient Valentine’s Day: Benefit for Resilience Rising: School Dance, Allison Lorenzen solo, Midwife, God of Water and Bell Hoss
When: Thursday, 02.14, 8 p.m.
Where: Rosehouse
Why: This show is a benefit women’s shelter Resilience Rising and includes more sonically ethereal and low key artists such as ambient slowcore star Midwife and the like-minded but less abstract artist Bell Hoss who sounds like she fled some pocket dimension that was perpetually the early 80s but where people didn’t get why Joni Mitchell is one of the coolest, most important artists in popular music.

Who: Grivo w/DH and Madelyn Burns
When: Thursday, 02.14, 8 p.m.
Where: Surfside 7
Why: Grivo is an experimental shoegaze/psychedelic rock band from Austin with music out on Holodeck Records.

Who: The Dead & The Daylily w/Turvy Organ, Avifauna and Tiffany Christopher
When: Thursday, 02.14, 7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: This is Matthew Rossi’s first show as a guitarist in indie rock band Turvy Organ. You’ve seen him play in Tyto Alba assuming you’ve seen that underrated and great Denver dream pop band. Rossi has helped bring to that band a certain elevated emotional tonal palette and he’ll bring some of that to Turvy Organ as well.

Who: Codename: Carter w/Tonguebyte
When: Thursday, 02.14, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Spy-surf phenoms Codename: Carter don’t play so often but when they do, it’s a worthy catching because they coordinate outfits and write songs that remind you that surf rock can have chops and imagination behind it.

Friday | February 15, 2019

Who: Scream Screen: Poltergeist
When: Friday, 02.15, 8 p.m.
Where: Sie FilmCenter
Why: The latest in Theresa Mercado’s Scream Screen series celebrating the life of master horror filmmaker Tobe Hooper. Tonight, 1982’s haunting classic Poltergeist.

Who: The Pollution, Perry Weissman 3 and DJ AKA Miggy
When: Friday, 02.15, 9 p.m.
Where: Goosetown Tavern
Why: The Pollution is rooted in the politically conscious but non-didactic punk of the 80s DC scene but influenced by psychedelic rock and weirdo 70s prog. Perry Weissman 3 is definitely within the experimental wing of jazz. Not necessarily free jazz but that element is in there too.

Who: Maya Jane Coles
When: Friday, 02.15, 9 p.m.
Where: The Church
Why: Maya Jane Coles is the UK DJ whose production and engineering work is noteworthy separate from her career as music maker. In the latter capacity Coles is known for her dark techno sets with a deep house and dub sensibility. Her compositions usually have a gently urgent quality amid moody synth swells and a finely crafted and separation of tones and textures as part of her layers of rhythm bumped along by expertly sculpted low end. Which is just another way of saying her music sounds like something you’d want to hear in the inevitable virtual experiential product of the future that tries to convey what it was like to go to a 2000s underground experimental dance music event in an illegal but safe warehouse in the middle of fall. Plenty of sonic allusions and nods to style can be found in one of her sets for the heads that work well whether you’re familiar with those references or not.

Saturday | February 16, 2019

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Turkuaz, photo by Dani Brandwein

Who: Turkuaz with Eminence Ensemble
When: Saturday, 02.16, 8 p.m.
Where: The Ogden Theatre
Why: Turkuaz is a nine-piece, Brooklyn-based funk band whose sound is as eclectic as it is layered and multi-cultural. Though incorporating elements of psychedelia, R&B and rock Turkuaz’s sound can be readily compared to like-minded bands more associated within the cross section of jam bands end electronic dance music. Think on the more interesting end like Lotus, STS9 and The Disco Biscuits. That kind of flow of sounds and rhythms but rooted in executing the sounds with all live instrumentation and sounding more akin to Kool and the Gang or a Bernie Worrell band than something that has much in common with the EDM realm.

Who: KGNU Quarterly Showcase: The Milk Blossoms, Lady Gang, My New Dad (members of Dandu), Joshua Trinidad and Gregg Ziemba – DJs Joel Davis aka The Vibrarian and TerraSonic
When: Saturday, 02.16, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Lion’s Lair
Why: This edition of the KGNU Quarterly Showcase is, reliably, a fantastic showcase of some of the more interesting artists in Denver. The Milk Blossoms provide a gentle yet heartfelt emotional catharsis with every show with meaningful and experimental pop music by not trying to fit in any genre and giving you the raw, delicately rendered experience. Lady Gang is Jen Korte’s one woman, loop station composition extravaganza. Joshua Trinidad and Gregg Ziemba will kick the serious space jazz science and stretch the boundaries of consciousness in the process.

Who: Le Butcherettes w/Stars at Night and Viretta
When: Saturday, 02.16, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: Le Butcherettes make weirdo prog punk within the context of what always seems like inspired performance art as Teri Genderbender channels rock and roll and mythological archetypes of her own creation at every show. Earlier this month the group released its latest album bi/MENTAL, a typically otherworldly and cathartic offering that isn’t much like anything else in rock in re-contextualizing and re-purposing tropes of the genre in creative ways.

Monday | February 18, 2019

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Sharon Van Etten, photo by Ryan Pfluger

 

Who: Kikagaku Moyo w/Weeed
When: Monday, 02.18, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Kikagaku Moyo is a Tokyo-based psychedelic rock band whose 2018 album Masana Temples demonstrated further the band’s subtly eclectic sound rooted not just in 70s prog and psychedelic rock but also Japanese traditional music and perhaps 70s Japanese folk artists like Happy End, Karuomi Hosono, Itsutsu No Akai Fusen and Nobuyasu Okabayashi. There is a very organic quality to the band’s music, especially in the live setting where layers of sound are presented in a way that is deceptively simple. Definitely not informed so much by the trendy psychedelic rock wave of recent years. This Hi-Dive show is sold out but there is another day the next night in Boulder at The Fox Theatre.

Who: Sharon Van Etten w/Nilüfer Yanya
When: Monday, 02.18, 7 p.m.
Where: The Gothic Theatre
Why: Sharon Van Etten has been releasing worthwhile and wise records for close to a decade and a half now but her 2019 album Remind Me Tomorrow is her best work to date. The rough warble reminiscent of Marianne Faithful in her prime heard in “Seventeen” is thrillingly raw and the words imbued with a deeply painful letting go of ideas and associations once deep in one’s heart but no longer useful while the ghosts of those connections remain. But the whole record is flowing with the spirits of loves past and the album a gentle purging and reconciliation.

Tuesday | February 19, 2019

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Men I Trust circa 2018, photo by Tom Murphy

Who: Kikagaku Moyo w/Weeed and Ashley Koett
When: Tuesday, 02.19, 8:30 p.m.
Where: The Fox Theatre
Why: See above for the 2.18 Hi-Dive show entry for more information on Kikagaku Moyo.

Who: Men I Trust w/Michael Seyer
When: Tuesday, 02.19, 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Men I Trust has been described any number of ways but the live band evokes the mood of dusky nightclub R&B and soft lighting. But without evoking the early 70s Laurel Canyon pop sound so much in vogue lately. The band’s videos look like some kind of cinematic rendering of 1980s home movies and in a way reminds one of fan videos various people have made for Boards of Canada. It’s not often a band can maintain some sense of mystique these days but Men I Trust definitely has some.

Wednesday | February 20, 2019

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Alien Boy, photo by Sam Gehrke

Who: Sundressed, Awakebutstillinbed, Alien Boy and Sunsleeper
When: Wednesday, 02.20, 7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: Around the turn of the century pop punk had all but burned out any appeal to anyone but the most die hard fans because it seemed like every other band was still mining that musical territory hoping to play Warped Tour. But then that tide went out. Toward the end of the first decade of the 2000s some musicians in the punk world embraced melody in their songwriting and the relatable and emotionally resonant and urgent quality that the best pop punk and emo had. In the decade since there’s been a renaissance of that style of music but with musicians freely incorporating elements of other musical styles and ideas. This is a good showcase of that development now long since established. Alien Boy, however, has strayed the furthest from the sonics of punk canon and thus, for this writer, it is the most interesting band on the bill with its unabashed use of moody musical ideas from punk, shoegaze, post-punk and its own focus on the most poignant moments of their lives as a loci of inspiration. The band’s 2018 album Sleeping Lessons firmly established it as one of the most interesting punk bands of recent years. Awakebutstillinbed’s crackling and ragged energy also sounds promising for the performance like a less art/space rock Rainer Maria. It’s gloriously titled 2018 album what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you is the things of which modern emo legends are made.

Treefort Music Fest: 25 Great Independent Bands to See

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Mint Field performs Saturday, March 24, at 6:30 p.m. at Boise All-ages Movement. Photo by Maria Fernanda Molins

Treefort Music Fest kicks off tonight in Boise, Idaho. As usual, the festival offers a broad spectrum of indie music with a well-curated selection of headlining acts. Here are some highlights on each night, although you can’t really go wrong with where you end up for the night. Hopefully this listing can serve as a guide to what are some of the most interesting acts each night that maybe not everyone has heard of without bombarding you with too many options. Hopefully you’ll want to explore those other options as you check out various performances. We will also include a guide to the reunion shows and other must-see/legendary stuff you’ll want to catch should you be so inclined as well as a rundown of all the Colorado acts performing throughout the weekend.

Wednesday | March 21, 2018

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Dick Stusso, photo by Cara Robbins

Preakedness – 7:30 p.m. – Linen Building
Bullets Are The Cure – 8:30 p.m. Grainey’s Basement 
Dick Stusso – 10:15 p.m. – The Olympic
Crosss – 11:30 p.m. – Linen Building
Big White – 12:30 – The Olympic

Thursday | March 22, 2018

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Skating Polly, photo by Angel Ceballos

Sun Blood Stories – 8 p.m. – Neurolux
Alien Boy – 8:15 p.m. – Linen Building
Love-Lace – 9 p.m. – Linen Building
Skating Polly – 10 p.m. – Boise All-Ages Movement Project
Kelly Lee Owens – 12:30 a.m. – Neurolux

Friday | March 23, 2018

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Groggy Bikini, photo by Jason Sievers

208 Ensemble – 4:30 p.m. – Boise Contemporary Theater
Twin Peaks – 5:50 p.m. – Main Stage
Groggy Bikini – 6:30 p.m. – The Shredder
Frigs – 9 p.m. – Linen Building
U.S. Girls – 11 p.m. – Linen Building

Saturday | March 24, 2018

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C.J. Boyd circa 2015, photo by Tom Murphy

Prism Bitch – 5 p.m. – Linen Building
Mint Field – 6:30 p.m. – Boise All Ages Movement Project
Moaning – 7:30 p.m. – Boise All-ages Movement Project
C.J. Boyd – 9:40 p.m. – Boise Contemporary Theater
Thunderpussy – 11:30 p.m. – Hannah’s

Sunday | March 25, 2018

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Clarke and the Himselfs, photo by Ellen Rumel

Yardsss – 4:30 p.m. – Neurolux
Spiritual Warfare and the Greasy Shadows – 5:50 p.m. – Linen Building
Clarke and the Himselfs – 7 p.m. – El Korah Shrine
Aan – 9:30 p.m. – Neurolux
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya – 10:4 p.m. – Neurolux

Best Shows in Denver 3/15/18 – 3/21/18

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Mint Field performs at Lost Lake on March 21. Photo by Maria Fernanda Molins

 

Who: Protomartyr w/Ned Garthe Explosion
When: Thursday, 03.15, 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Protomartyr apparently didn’t get the memo on what post-punk bands in the current era are supposed to sound like. The vocal delivery hits at weird angles to the fluid rhythms and jagged yet expressive and atmospheric guitar work like Nick Cave singing for a hybrid of The Fall and Sleaford Mods. Its latest record is 2017’s Relatives in Descent. It’s a bit moodier than the group’s earlier albums yet has a headlong quality as though the band is embracing the chaos and disorientation of the world now to see where the broken machine ultimately lands. Ned Garthe Explosion is more of a psychedelic rock band but one of the most gloriously ragged around the edges and one for which you never quite know where the show will go in a way we need to see more often.

Who: Alonerly, R A R E B Y R D $, Claudzilla
When: Thursday, 03.15, 10 p.m.
Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: Alonerly is the solo project of Antonia Montoya from Albuquerque. Using upright bass, soulful vocals and beats, Montoya creates the kind of spacious yet intimate music that probably gets lumped, and not unjustifiably so, with jazz and hip-hop but is in the end its own thing, a rarity in a time when many musical artists are trying to tap a little too much into an established musical genre. She won’t be alone in bringing something not quite like anything else with keytar weirdo Claudzilla and hypnotic and highly evocative hip-hop/noise crew R A R E B Y R D $.

Friday | March 16, 2018

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Bad Licks, photo by Tom Murphy

Who: Bad Licks 7 inch release w/Vic ‘n’ the Narwhals, The Corner Girls and Soulfax DJs
When: Friday, 03.16, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Bad Licks includes former members of The Blue Rider so there’s plenty of the subtle weirdness to the undertones of its psychedelic garage rock. The group is celebrating the release of its latest seven inch of its excellent Lies EP. Because people in the band are very much into genuinely experimental music, the record is worth listening to beyond obvious genre trappings. Joined this night by pastel/surf punks The Corner Girls and surf/blues punk band Vic ‘n’ the Narwhals. All around a post-garage rock genre-bending extravaganza because all of these bands put on an energetic performance.

Who: Clan of Xymox w/Voicecoil and Radio Scarlet w/DJ Svipal
When: Friday, 03.16, 7 p.m.
Where: Bluebird Theater
Why: Clan of Xymox formed in Amsterdam near the height of the first wave of post-punk in 1981. The band’s sound including more extensive use of synths was more in line with groups like Comsat Angels, The Sound, Killing Joke and The Chameleons. Clan of Xymox’s first three albums are considered foundational for what has come to be known as “darkwave” – the blending of early synth pop aesthetics with post-punk. Xymox and contemporaries like Anne Clark, Fad Gadget and Depeche Mode made what might have been considered weird and avant-garde accessible to a broad audience. By the early 90s, however, the band splintered and Ronnie Moorings continued in a direction inspired by the acid house music popular in dance clubs in the late 80s and early 90s. But apparently the project’s fanbase wasn’t into that sound and it didn’t translate well to the rave crowd. And yet Xymox hadn’t completely lost its darkwave cachet and throughout the 90s Moorings experimented with a return to that sort of sound while absorbing the industrial music of bands he had in part influenced. Over the past decade darkwave, industrial and gothic rock has been enjoying the most extensive genuine revival since the first time around and Xymox has enjoyed a little of its own renaissance being invited to festivals catering to the aforementioned genres and with its last eight albums, including 2017’s Days of Black, released or re-issued on Metropolis. Why did the music matter? As someone once said about Joy Division, despite and because of its sometimes gloomy, brooding, emotionally urgent and intense sounds, Xymox and its contemporaries had to come along to articulate complex and sometimes conflicting emotions with a clarity, power and poignancy that wasn’t happening with a lot of rock and roll.

Monday | March 19, 2018

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Yardsss, photo by Tom Murphy

Who: Screwtape, Wander, Young Lovers, Ridgeway, Yardsss, Brother Saturn
When: Monday, 03.19, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective
Why: One of the great things about shows at Seventh Circle is that even if it’s all supposed to be all one thing it never really is. Tonight proves that as local hardcore heroes Screwtape are performing alongside mostly post-rock/shoegaze bands. Brother Saturn’s collage of guitar sounds tracing the outsides of daydreams made up of soothingly hypnotic layers of atmosphere is a good fit with California based post-rock bands Wander, Young Lovers and Ridgeway to send them back home from SXSW in a welcoming show halfway through that journey. Yardsss from Portland, Oregon has a diverse sonic palette but broadly speaking, the band’s core sounds are rooted in droning atmospheres, noise and improvisational electronic composition. Fans of more experimental industrial music will find much to like in Yardsss’ darkly evocative aesthetic.

Who: Mimicking Birds, The Raven and the Writing Desk and Haley Heynderickx
When: Monday, 03.19, 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Indie rock band Mimicking Birds are making a stop in Denver on their way to Treefort Music Fest (we’ll be featuring some advance coverage in the next few days as well as post-fest coverage in the following weeks). The group recently released its new album, the gorgeously lush and pastoral Layers of Us. If you’re not making it out to Treefort for the 7:40 p.m. set at El Korah Shrine, catch the Portland, Oregon-based band tonight with the like-minded The Raven and the Writing Desk. The latter is one of Denver’s best kept secrets in music as a band that has really pushed itself to explore new vistas in its own sound and breaking with its own musical past in order to make something interesting and fresh. A rarity.

Tuesday | March 20, 2018

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GGOOLLDD, photo by Kelly Bolter

Who: OMD w/GGOOLLDD
When: Tuesday, 03.20, 7 p.m.
Where: The Ogden Theatre
Why: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, often referred to as OMD, were, like fellow UK artists Gary Numan and Human League as well as Berlin in the USA, instrumental in establishing what became synth pop. After seeing an mid-70s Kraftwerk concert, bassist and vocalist Andy McCluskey started OMD with some friends and from early on the band separated itself from many other bands of the era in having no guitars and but a visceral live show. OMD enjoyed its share of commercial popularity in the UK and the US at various points in its career but artistically it’s arguably greatest achievement was the 1983 album Dazzle Ships. But the mainstream audience didn’t seem to be much into the truly boundary pushing pop compositions. Today the album is considered by many fans to be its best alongside its 1981 predecessor, Architecture & Morality. Now recognized as innovators as well talented masters of pop songcraft, OMD will be headlining a show at The Ogden Theatre with the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based GGOOLLDD. The latter, fronted by the dynamic and talented Margaret Butler, recently released the TEETH EP in December 2017. Part synth pop, part theatrical glam band, GGOOLLDD has always put on a large theater show in small, even intimate venues, so catch a great, newer band opening for a group in a similar lineage of imaginative yet sincere music.

What: Faster Than Light Fest: Obtuse (1st), Blue Lane Frontier, Old Sport, Granddad (AK/MN), Closer is a Band (Brooklyn), Alien Boy (Portland), Runaway Brother (Cleveland)
When: Tuesday, 03.20, 5 p.m.
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective
Why: This is a festival put together for bands on their way from SXSW or going through and happening to converge in Denver for one date. It’s also a good cross section of the modern punk/emo/math rock underground in America and naturally it’s at Seventh Circle where a lot of touring if that stripe often plays in Denver these days. Locals Obtuse, Old Sport and Blue Lane Frontier represent a rebirth for the kind of punk that both embraces pop punk, screamo, indie rock and math rock but also advances where that music could have gone had it converged and evolved. Portland’s Alien Boy gets points for naming itself after a Wipers song but also for embodying the kind of moody punk with thoughtful, sometimes wryly humorous, lyrics and the kind of darkness and intensity, not to say anger, that a lot of punk frankly lacks.

Wednesday | March 21, 2018

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Kelly Lee Owens, photo by Kim Hiorthøy

Who: Kelly Lee Owens
When: Wednesday, 03.21, 9 p.m.
Where: Bar Standard
Why: With her 2017 self-titled full-length, Kelly Lee Owens displayed a keen ear for electronic composition and a knack for translating that into accessible dance tracks. Her mastery of mixing hypnotic and deep low end with melodic drones interweaving with her ethereal vocals across the record was stunning. Fans of IDM, dub techno and deep house, do yourself a favor and at a minimum pick up the album. Also, fans of dream pop/shoegaze acts unafraid of jumping straight into abstract atmospheres such as Slowdive, Seefeel and Sound of Ceres will find much to like with Owens’ output as well. Owens performs tonight at Bar Standard before setting off for Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho where she performs Thursday night 3.22 at 12:30 a.m. at Neurolux

Who: Mint Field w/Neighbor Lady and American Grandma
When: Wednesday, 03.21, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Mint Field’s 2018 debut album Pasar De Las Luces is being touted as a great modern shoegaze album. And it is, but it is one that isn’t particularly beholden to an older sound. The minimalist aesthetic of the music bears a stronger resemblance to ambient and downtempo dance music than to rock. At its most “rock” the band comes off as more post-punk and Krautrock like Neu! or Faust than worshippers of Lush or My Bloody Valentine. Although the band is from Tijuana its gauzy layers and swirling melodies are a far cry from that city’s reputation as one of the party capitals of the world. Mint Field also performs at Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho on Saturday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Boise All Ages Movement.

Who: U.S. Girls w/Rubedo and Michael Rault
When: Wednesday, 03.21, 7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: Meghan Remy’s U.S. Girls has thankfully been pretty much impossible to chalk up to a single genre of music since the project’s inception. It’s always pop songs whether those have a leg in noise, punk, garage rock or whatever. Her latest album, 2018’s In a Poem Unlimited, sounds, interestingly enough, like a reinvention of 90s hip-hop as a funk and soul record. It has that lush production with grit and a melancholic undertone. “Pearly Gates” in particular is reminiscent of Warren G’s 1994 hit “Regulate.” Which, considering the themes of the album, is an interesting allusion. But whatever ideas and sounds informed the record, it is a literate and insightful exploration the various manifestations of toxic masculinity, its effects throughout culture and society and what life might be like without it’s wearying, destructive influence.

Who: Ed Schrader’s Music Beat w/Naked Giants and Hairclub
When: Wednesday, 03.21, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: If you listened to Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s albums and other recorded releases prior to 2018 and didn’t see live, the appeal can be a bit of a head scratcher. A floor tom, scream-ish vocals and bass? Live it all made sense and the records relatable. But the band put out its most accessible album to date with Riddles. Having worked with Dan Deacon didn’t hurt and as the band’s producer, Deacon helped to shape a sound that took the duo’s avant-garde urban tribal contradictions and into the level of recorded coherence the project has always warranted. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat also performs at Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho at 10:30 p.m. at Boise All-ages Movement Project.