“Brighter Than The Sun” by Swedish Shoegazers Boy With Apple is Awash in Transporting, Effervescent Tones

Boy With Apple, photo by Felicia Lekenstem

In the beginning of Boy With Apple’s “Brighter Than The Sun” it sounds as though you’re about to be dropped into a late 90s Britpop song but in a move similar to what we heard on “Sugar” by Beach Fossils, Boy With Apple takes a sharp left turn not so much into lush post-punk but transportingly ethereal dream pop. The percussion accents and grounds the music with its steady yet expressive drive while the vocals sound like they’re coming from somewhere deep in a luminous cave. Keyboards hold a glistening melody as guitars surge and swirl like billowing clouds of effervescent tone. It sounds a little lo-fi but that adds to the mystery of the song like footage of a lost shoegaze band of the early 90s shot on sixteen millimeter two track audio capture. There’s a rough charm to it even though the song has a softness that makes it immediately accessible. Listen to “Brighter Than The Sun” on Spotify and follow Boy With Apple at the links provided.

Boy With Apple on Facebook

Boy With Apple on Instagram

“She Spins” by Letting Up Despite Great Faults is a Song About Shedding One’s Denial of the Emotional Abuse You’ve Been Tolerating

Letting Up Despite Great Faults, photo courtesy the artists

The exquisite guitar riff that runs through most of “She Spins” by Austin, TX-based shoegaze/dream pop band Letting Up Despite Great Faults is irresistible in its stirring emotional winds. The song though gorgeous and uplifting contrasts with its themes of anxiety and resigned realization that never quite settles in one’s mind. It speaks to the kind of relationship, or a place in one, where you’re never sure of your standing with the other person and the passive-aggressive, gaslighty emotional games that take up entirely too much space in your psyche and erode one’s sense of self and having a feeling of comfort, value and acceptance in that relationship is elusive at best, seemingly impossible most of them time when you pay attention to the dynamics of your bond, such as it is, and recognize the dysfunction even if you’re not quite sure why you don’t break things off. The song in its entirely appealing, ethereal surges of contemplative mood articulates that liminal moment when you recognize abuse for what it is and that will ultimately lead to not wanting that in your life anymore no matter what the benefits of that relationship might be. It is in that sense a song of personal liberation before you take the steps to make that a reality. Listen to “She Spins” on YouTube and follow Letting Up Despite Great Faults at the links below. The band’s 2022 album IV released on March 4, 2022 and is available digitally and on physical media through the Bandcamp link. Fans of Slowdive and Beach Fossils do not sleep on this band.

Letting Up Despite Great Faults on Apple Music

Letting Up Despite Great Faults on Twitter

Letting Up Despite Great Faults on Facebook

Letting Up Despite Great Faults on Instagram

Blushing Offer a Nuanced Take on Attraction and Heartbreak on “The Fires”

Blushing, photo by Eddie Chavez

Blushing’s signature pairing of chiming guitar leads and swirling atmospheric guitars washing over and driven by strong rhythms is on full display on the single “The Fires.” The vocals start introspective and melancholy but like the rest of the song ramp up in energy until the warping, hazy, blissed out denouement. For a song seemingly about romantic ambivalence, emotional turmoil and the projections people put on each other and insist have to be the reality or the appeal is broken “The Fires” follows an emotional arc that begins in a tone of regret but ends in one of triumph and liberation from a person and a situation that benefited one person at the expense of the other’s sense of well being. This sets it apart from most songs about love and heartbreak by delving into a much more original and nuanced take on what sounds like a dramatic break-up and lets it sound like something cathartic without declaring one person the villain and the other victim. The raw, grittily ethereal soundscape and expansive dynamic of the song should have an immediate appeal to fans of bands like Beach Fossils, Slowdive and Tamaryn. Watch the video for “The Fires” on YouTube, connect with Blushing at the links below and look for the group’s new full-length Possessions out February 18, 2022 on Kanine Records.

Blushing on Twitter

Blushing on Facebook

Blushing on Instagram

Vases Makes the Fall of America’s Fake Meritocracy Seem Like a Dream Come True on “Comfort Creature”

Vases, photo courtesy the artist

When “Comfort Creature” by Vases starts out with its headlong pace and introspective vocals reminiscent of Beach Fossils or the better end of The Strokes, you’d be excused for not expecting some fairly heady political commentary. The fluid traces of the main guitar riff sounds like something one might better expect out of an indie pop band influenced by The Smiths but Ty Baron comes in with very direct and poetically rendered lines critical of the fake system of inherited meritocracy that poisons all levels of American and really most of world society and convinces most people they’re more worthy than they are just because they’ve enjoyed privilege all their lives. But Baron takes this content further and points to the culture’s “fetish for the young and all their creature comforts” as if when you’re past a certain age you have nothing to contribute to the world and should just get to some place of complacency in a career doing exactly what these days? Maybe mainstream media and “moderate” politicians haven’t been paying attention but that façade crumbled for most people decades ago but now the fallout is eroding and shattering corrupt institutions, unspoken and official, and too many corners of society are resisting going to a better place and too willing to crawl over others to hold on to the splintered remnants of these rungs on which they’ve been hanging for years unexamined and crying out in disbelief when people are demanding more than crumbs, glass ceilings and diminished expectations out of a world where a very few get everything and most have to scramble for perilously little. Maybe Baron isn’t quite as dire than that and his lyrics are far more elegant and personal than all of that but this song is a taste of his forthcoming Vases album that promises to be brimming with similarly vital political content. Listen to “Comfort Creature” on Soundcloud and follow Vases on Instagram linked below.

Vases on Instagram

The Sweeping Momentum of “Far Behind” by Sub Cultures is Like a Hurried Yet Wistful Goodbye From Life in a Dead End Town

Sub Cultures “Far Behind” cover (cropped)

You can hear the echoes of the breezy, emotive melodies of the likes of Sarah Records bands or Veronica Falls and Beach Fossils in “Far Behind” by Sub Cultures. The simple yet intricate guitar lead transitions seamlessly into impressionistic rhythmic passages and back again. The captivating vocals evoke a sense of renewed hope in the wake of feeling like you might be trapped by life circumstances for the rest of your life like many of us seem to if not prodded by friends or family or events beyond our control. There is a touch of regret in the song even though it has great forward momentum like you’re taking a quick glance back at a life that felt like the whole world as you’re about to exit it for something better or at least different. Listen to “Far Behind” on Soundcloud and connect with the UK-based band on Spotify below as well.

Best Shows in Denver 04/25/19 – 05/01/19

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Interpol headlines Red Rocks on May 1.image courtesy Matador Records website

Thursday | April 25

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Starjammer, photo courtesy Squidds Madden

Who: Starjammer featuring Kuf Knotz
When: Thursday, 04.25, 4 p.m. – ?
Where: 3 Kings Tavern
Why: Starjammer, the avant-garde dub reggae one-man/device band, will be playing two sets tonight in phases like a rocket launch. The Launch Pad Prep runs from 4-7 and the Late Night Lift Off starts at 9 and runs until the musical equivalent of escape velocity is reached. Or at least until you have to leave whether you want to or not.

Who: Bowshock and El Tigr3
When: Thursday, 04.25, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Hooked On Colfax
Why: This week’s Speakeasy Series presented by Glasss Records includes Bowshock, the experimental improv psych jazz reggae band.

Who: Stop Motion EP release w/Ramakhandra, Fresh Fruit!
When: Thursday, 04.25, 7
Where: Lost Lake

Friday | April 26

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The Yawpers circa 2018, photo by Michael Passman

Who: The Yawpers release of Human Question w/In the Whale and Fast Eddie
When: Friday, 04.26, 8 p.m.
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: The Yawpers have been writing solid, rough around the edges, southern fried punk rock and roll for years. While earlier releases honestly cataloged singer Nate Cook’s headlong dive into desperation and self-destruction, Human Question, with the image of an immolating figure walking out of the fields into the forest on the cover, is more introspective and taking into consideration a subject as the title suggests—what is the purpose and significance of living in the world as a creature fully capable of being self-aware, reflective and capable of extremes of behavior and of consciously choosing a path other than the most immediate and obvious. The record is a collection of rockers but, especially with the single “Carry Me,” The Yawpers prove that they are capable of more than rocking and that even at the root of that is a raw and nuanced cauldron of emotion and now more an ability to write from a place beyond primal urges with a finely tuned discernment as articulated with fiery displays of musical and poetic catharsis.

Who: Superorganism w/Simpson
When: Friday, 04.26, 8 p.m.
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: Originating in London, Superorganism is an international, multi-ethnic indie pop band whose members met through various internet channels and mutual friends. Its sound might be described as electronic music pitched to sound like something made using unorthodox, highly tactile instruments. In some ways the group’s 2018 self-titled debut is reminiscent of Kala-period M.I.A. with its fusion of styles and sounds and strong visual element to its performances.

What: PRF BBQ Day 1
When: Friday, 04.26, 8 p.m.
Where: Black Sky Brewery
Why: This is a three day music festival featuring some of the better Denver underground bands. On this night you can catch Dead Characters, New Standards Men, Modern Goon and Clutch Plague.

Who: Lotus
When: Friday, 04.26, 8 p.m.
Where: Summit Music Hall
Why: Certainly Lotus’ fan base is largely comprised of those with a love of all things jam band. And Lotus’ free flowing groove and sprawling improvisations fit in that pocket as well. But there’s something more experimental to the band’s music slightly beneath the surface. Its 2018 album Frames Per Second showcases this well with unusual jazz structures and dynamics, moody bass lines, vocal processing, playful and colorful synth work. Like the inevitable musical offspring of Steely Dan and Jean-Michel Jarre, Lotus sounds like a band with chops playing fairly straightforward yet intricate grooves but there is a layer of subversiveness to keep it interesting beyond technical flourishes.

Who: Murs w/DJ Eps, Locksmith, Cojo and AstroGrizz
When: Friday, 04.26, 8 p.m.
Where: Cervantes’ Other Side

Who: Cactus Blossoms w/Jack Klatt
When: Friday, 04.26, 8 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall

What: Outrun presents Final Wave
When: Friday, 04.26, 7 p.m.
Where: Hyperspace Arcade

Saturday | April 27

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Moon Pussy, photo by Tom Murphy

What: Lotus w/Ghostland Observatory, Jade Cicada and Magic Beans
When: Saturday, 04.27, 5 p.m.
Where: Red Rocks
Why: If Lotus wasn’t responsible for this line-up directly, someone somewhere put together a great bill of bands who share a similar sensibility in adventurous electronic music suited to a large stage format.
What: DMX w/DJ Chonz
When: Saturday, 04.27, 7 p.m.
Where: Summit Music Hall

What: Weird Touch
When: Saturday, 04.27, 9 p.m.
Where: Syntax Physic Opera
Why: It’s one of many hip DJ nights probably more focused on indie releases than average that we’re fortunate to have in Denver.

What: The North Ensemble
When: Saturday, 04.27, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Trident
Why: An avant-garde improvisational show in the back room/outdoors area in the back of Trident. Boulder likes to act like it’s weird but stuff like this is the rare occasion when it is in a productive way.

What: PRF BBQ Day 2
When: Saturday, 04.27, 4:30 p.m.
Where: The Bakery
Why: Simulators will rip your face off with their angular noise rock and when Moon Pussy finishes the process with its cybernetic psychedelic post-punk you will be glad you went unless you’re into safe, boring music. The other bands are probably worth it too. Schedule below.

430 – 500 – Simulators
515 – 545 – The Oxford Coma
600 – 630 – Moon Pussy
645 – 715 – Laurium
Food break
815 – 845 – Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends
9 – 930 – Hooper
945 – 1015 Sewingneedle
1030 – Future Scars

Sunday | April 28

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La Dispute, photo by Pooneh Ghana

Who: La Dispute w/Gouge Away and Slow Mass
When: Sunday, 04.28, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Summit Music Hall
Why: Maybe it’s because Jordan Dreyer was a writer before ever making music. Maybe it’s because La Dispute’s take on post-hardcore and emo isn’t tied to the usual sounds and progressions. Sure you can hear bits of the influence of At The Drive-In and Refused but on another level the band’s music sounds like a heavier Bright Eyes or even Slint—that sense of desolation and desperation. Also on this bill/tour are two other bands within the realm of punk that are a bit different yet share some of the same sensibilities with Gouge Away, a band that combines an atmospheric heaviness with eruptive energy and an unexpectedly forceful frontperson in Christina Michelle. Slow Mass is one of the better bands out there that has fused emotionally taut math rock with fluid post-hardcore.

What: Shibui Denver #2 – Victoria Lundy and Blank Human
When: Sunday, 04.28, 7 p.m.
Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: Denver avant-garde veteran Victoria Lundy may play some of her classical material on Theremin or some of her spookier faire with the same as well as synth. Blank Human is a drone/ambient project from Dan Coleman also of Luxury Hearse.

What: PRF BBQ Day 3
When: Sunday, 04.28, 4 p.m.
Where: The Bakery
Why: Final evening of PRF BBQ including a performance from glam/psych post-punk stars Teacup Gorilla.

400 – 430 – Flowlines
445 – 515 – 50 Miles of Elbow Room
530 – 600 – Little Beards
615 – 645 – Falsetto Boy
Food break
745 -815 – Church Van
830 – 900 – Teacup Gorilla
915 – 945 – Purple Honey
1000 – The Gary

What: Sabroso Taco Fest: The Offspring, Bad Religion, The Vandals, Black Flag, Strung Out, Dwarves
When: Sunday, 04.28, 12 p.m.
Where: Fiddler’s Green
Why: Kind of a craft beer and taco event with some of the more well-known names in punk. One of the few chances to see Greg Ginn perform with the new version of Black Flag. No matter one’s opinion on that matter, Ginn is always startlingly impressive with the material.

Monday | April 29

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Beach Fossils, photo by Evan Tetreault

Who: Beach Fossils w/George Clanton
When: Monday, 04.29, 7 p.m.
Where: Oriental Theater
Why: Beach Fossils is from Brooklyn but capture a more West Coast breeziness in its melancholic surf pop confections. Unlike artists mining similar territory, Beach Fossils’ songwriting in its emotional colorings. That Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell contributed to the group’s 2017 album Somersault gives the direction Beach Fossils have been going some cachet by lending some of her low key yet evocatively powerful vocals to the record. George Clanton brings his lush, IDM-esque, deeply atmospheric electronic pop along for this leg of the tour as well.

Tuesday | April 30

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Bayonne, photo by Jackie Lee Young

Who: Bayonne and Palm Daze
When: Tuesday, 04.30, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Roger Sellers as Bayonne uses minimalist layers of texture-as-percussion and simple melodies to craft atmospheric pop that recalls late 2000s chillwave and its capacity to seemingly dispel anxiety and angst. His latest record, 2019’s Drastic Measures, should be on anyone’s short list for summer listening and to save for the winter months when it seems like warmer times are a distant memory.

What: Ambigere (WA), Causer, Paranoid Preacher and Emotional Calcification
When: Tuesday, 04.30, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Thought//Forms
Why: The noise show for the week.

What: Sage Francis & B. Dolan: Epic Beard Men and Vockah Redu and Wheelchair Sports Camp
When: Tuesday, 04.30, 7 p.m.
Where: Cervantes’ Other Side
Why: Sage Francis and B. Dolan, two giants alternative hip-hop and superb lyricists, are touring in their collaborative alternate personas Epic Beard Men. The masterful phrasing won’t be in short supply tonight with Denver’s Wheelchair Sports Camp and its jazz and beats rooted offerings.

What: Santigold w/Naeem 
When: Tuesday, 04.30, 7 p.m.
Where: Fillmore Auditorium

What: The 1975, Pale Waves and No Rome — canceled
When: Tuesday, 04.30, 6 p.m.
Where: Red Rocks

Wednesday | May 1

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Lil Pump, photo by Gabe Shaddow

Who: Interpol w/Car Seat Headrest, Japanese Breakfast and Sunflower Bean
When: Wednesday, 05.01, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Red Rocks
Why: Interpol could just tour on the strength of its fan base and pick some weird music industry management openers (and maybe that is part of this booking) but instead the post-punk stars are having three of the best indie rock bands opening the show. Between Car Seat Headrest’s lo-fi, emotionally raw math rock, Sunflower Bean’s driving, brooding post-punk and Japanese Breakfast’s highly imaginative and powerful guitar rock soundscaping the opening sets alone are worth the price of admission but then you get to see Interpol whose back catalog has held up better than that of many of its peers from the late 90s and early 2000s.

What: Lil Pump w/Lil Skies
When: Wednesday, 05.01, 6 p.m.
Where: Fillmore Auditorium
Why: Lil Pump turned 18 last August so expecting wisdom and thoughtfulness even on his 2019 album Haverd Dropout might be a bit much. He’s got a long way to go before his mumble trap is in the same league as Migos or his raps and performance in the same realm as Vince Staples or anyone in the A$AP crew or Odd Future. But it’s obvious he’s borrowed a lot from all of them. Nevertheless, Lil Pump is likeable enough despite his deficits and as he grows as an artist and as a human hopefully he’ll grow in more interesting and original directions so that the implicit faith that collaborators like Kanye West, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz put in his sophomore album. It’s clear Pump is a weirdo so with any luck he’ll embrace that side of himself and give us a third album on which he truly lets his freak flag fly.

What: Weird Wednesday: Orbiting Olympia, Elk Minister, Tears to Light
When: Wednesday, 05.01, 9 p.m.
Where: 3 Kings Tavern
Why: Weird Wednesday this month features Orbiting Olympia which is a grand alchemy of Eve Orenstein’s opera training and Sean Faling’s mastery of synthesizers both analog and otherwise. Elk Minister is a multi-instrumentalist, self-styled mystic and songwriter who has been sitting on his material for years. His visual presentation on his social media accounts look like he’s come back from some junkyard holy site with the appropriate twenty-third century raiment.

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Lizzo, photo by Luke Gilford

What: Lizzo w/Tayla Parx
When: Wednesday, 05.01, 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: The show is sold out but if you can get in you can catch rising hip-hop/pop star Lizzo before she starts playing much larger venues (like her October date in Denver at the Fillmore) from now on. Her 2019 album Cuz I Love You has the kind of frisson that sounds, at times and certainly the “Juice” single, like something that might have come out of a late 70s-period Studio 54 playlist. Except not dated. And across the record Lizzo shows off her chops as a vocalist of great emotional power and a songwriter with a keen ear for dynamics. Fans of Prince are well-advised to give Lizzo’s new album a deep listen because it’s worth it.

What: Ben Kweller w/Mainman and Modern Love Child
When: Wednesday, 05.01, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake