Best Shows in Denver and Beyond November 2022

Enumclaw plays Globe Hall 11.3 and 11.4, photo by Colin Matsui
Jeffrey Lewis, photo from artist Bandcamp

Tuesday | 11.01
What: Jeffrey Lewis w/Gila Teen and Emily Frembgen
When: 7
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Jeffrey Lewis is a cartoonest best known for his long running Fuff series (formerly Guff) and one of the leading lights of what some music commentators have dubbed the “antifolk” movement of the 1990s and 2000s. What that means in practice is very lo-fi sometimes folk-punk songs that are stories from everyday life of an unvarnished honesty that fans of artists like Daniel Johnston, Wolf Colonel and Moldy Peaches will appreciate for how it makes few concessions to commercial music convention in the songwriting, the raw performances and in the released recordings. But there’s something real and emotionally resonant that feels like something that isn’t mass produced the way a lot of commercial pop and non-pop music lending the music a quality that isn’t just vital but life-giving. Similarly-minded formerly Colorado-based, experimental folk pop artist Emily Frembgen is on the bill as is the post-punk/avant-emo/heart-on-sleeve weirdo pop duo Gila Teen.

Mercyful Fate promo photo (1980s) by Ole Bang, photo from mercyfulfatecoven.com

Tuesday | 11.01
What: Mercyful Fate w/Kreator and Midnight
When: 6
Where: The Fillmore Auditorium
Why: Mercyful Fate was a band that was part of the first wave of black metal during its initial run from 1981-1985. Fronted by King Diamond, a theatrical vocalist whose operatic vocals meshed well with the progressive, melodic guitar work and with its sinister stage presence the group exerted a massive influence on thrash and death metal on the musical level and in terms of aesthetics and the subject matter of its lyrics. Its first two albums Melissa and Don’t Break the Oath are rightfully considered genre standouts. It might be said that the outfit sounded like an evil version of Judas Priest but its songwriting was markedly different with progressive rock roots more obvious. After Mercyful Fate split in 1985 King Diamond went on to a respectable and arguably equally influential career with a band under his name. But from 1993 and onward the band has spent periods reunited, releasing new material along the way. It’s just fortunate that this show is happening on the Day of the Dead with thrash legends Kreator also sharing the stage.

Polly Urethane in 2022, photo by Tom Murphy

Tuesday | 11.01
What: Sloppy Jane w/Niis and Polly Urethane
When: 7
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Sloppy Jane is a post-punk band from Los Angeles whose 2021 album Madison is an orchestral and baroque pop affair more akin to something in the realm of a 2000s chamber pop band than its earlier sound, a raw, dark punk sound. Founded by Haley Dahl at age fifteen the group’s 2015 debut EP Sure-Tuff sounds like hours of absorbing Hole, Lydia Lunch and early death rock and moving onto the realm of underrated art punk bands like Mika Miko. In the early years of the band a bassist named Phoebe Bridgers added to the mix before moving on to an acclaimed singer-songwriter career of her own and establishing Saddest Factory, the label that is home to Madison. Niis, also from Los Angeles, sounds founded on similar roots as Sloppy Jane but with a more cutting and fuzzy sound yet the same kind of emotionally stirring and ragged exuberance. Its cover of Elastica’s “Connection” from its 2020 Not Niis EP captures the unhinged spirit of the original in a more punk mode. Opening act Polly Urethane combines an elemental kind of performance art with eruptive emotional energy with the elegance of classical music sensibilities and distills it into an unforgettable live show that feels like anything could happen.

Magdalena Bay photo by Lissyelle Laricchia

Wednesday | 11.02
What: Magdalena Bay w/BAYLI
When: 7
Where: The Bluebird Theater
Why: Magdalena Bay is a synth pop duo based out of Los Angeles. Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin met while in high school as part of a music program but formed their own progressive rock band before forming the current project in 2016. With some early releases under its belt, Magalena Bay dropped its debut full length Mercurial World in October 2021 but haven’t been able to properly tour in support of the album until now. The album like the group’s website taps into some retro aesthetics and uses them in a self-aware but creative new ways. The website mercurialworld.com looks like an old Geo Cities website and all across the record one hears sampling of 8-bit sounds that give it a touch of grit while perhaps invoking the sounds of artists like Charli XCX and the original Crystal Castles. Opening act BAYLI recently released her Stories 2 EP and lead single “act up” and the attendant music video presents a complex and nuanced take on relationships and identity and the ways we interact with the world around us. Its sultry vibes and synth infused R&B sound isn’t so easily defined by narrow genre designations as its themes utilize a strong but gentle pop hook that renders it possible to accomplish in under three minutes what an entire movie can often fail to accomplish with nearly as much grace and poetry.

BAYLI, photo by Javier Luggage
Enumclaw, photo by Colin Matsui

Thursday and Friday | 11.03 and 11.04
What: Illuminati Hotties w/Enumclaw and GUPPY
When: 7 (11.03) and 8 (11.04)
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Enumclaw’s new album Save the Baby is an update on its raw and vulnerable sound somewhere on the outer fringes of an unlikely alchemy of post-punk and emo. The band has always been adept at building an inspired imperfection into its songwriting in a manner similar to what Dinosaur Jr has done since its own inception. The emotional core is what hits the hardest and the vocals are a little rough around the edges but seem to somehow fit the moment perfectly. For the new record Enumclaw has refined the raw power of Jimbo Demo and tightening the dynamics without sacrificing the unvarnished feel of the music that made it so appealing from the beginning. It’s fairly rare that someone more or less begins their music career as a recording engineer but that’s what Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties did before she got her musical project off the ground in 2017. In 2021 Illuminati Hotties released its second album Let Me Do One More and reaffirmed the project’s status as expert purveyors of punk infused pop hooks and imaginative song titles and subjects like “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism” and “Joni LA’s No. 1 Health Goth.” Fortunately, the songwriting is fully capable of embodying the implied social critique with the meta humor one would hope to hear. GUPPY from Los Angeles somehow makes delicate guitar work and twee sensibilities come off as punk and its 2022 album Big Man Says Slappydoo has enough pop culturally aware irreverent humor to seal its punk bonafides.

Cuffed Up, photo from Bandcamp

Friday | 11.04
What: Cuffed Up w/Shadow Work and Wiff
When: 6/6:30
Where: HQ
Why: Cuffed Up from Los Angeles came together in 2018 inspired in part by the post-punk coming out of Ireland and the UK in the 2010s. Acts like Fontaines DC, IDLES and Shame set a template of politically conscious rock music with a personal immediacy set to a headlong pace and imaginative, atmospheric guitar work and impassioned vocals. With two EPs under its belt including the 2020 self-titled and 2021’s Asymmetry, Cuffed Up is proving itself to coming to be worthy of its influences. This is a bit of a one-off show in Denver hinting that maybe Cuffed Up is working with a local producer or album mixer but whatever the reason for this jaunt from California it’s a rare opportunity to catch the band before it becomes the subject of much buzz.

Friday | 11.04
What: Os Mutantes w/Claude Fontaine https://www.bluebirdtheater.net/events/detail/435716
When: 7
Where: The Bluebird Theater
Why: Fitting that legendary and influential Brazilian psychedelic rock and Tropicália band Os Mutantes are touring in the wake of its home country’s recent election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva aka Lula to the presidency over his fascistic opponent former president Jair Bolsonaro. The band was associated with the dissident movement in the late 1960s during the then Brazilian dictatorship so it’s playful and otherworldly music had a subversive element and a soundtrack to a countercultural moment. Its 1968 self-titled album is a bonafide classic of world psychedelic music and Os Mutantes had a bit of an international following before splitting in 1978. The band reunited in 2006 and has been touring on and off since and having released three new albums following that reconvening operations.

Townies, photo by Mike Clark

Friday | 11.04
What: Hi-Dive Anniversary Night 1: The Spits, Zebroids, Colfax Speed Queen, Townies
When: 8
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: The Hi-Dive has been operating since early November 2003 and will celebrate the occasion with two nights of shows including this oe with the garage punk legends The Spits, punk rock tricksters Zebroids, psychedelic garage phenoms Colfax Speed Queen and Townies, a band of Denver expatriates to Trinidad who have an element of humor at the core of its identity of the band despite having serious rock songwriting chops and musicianship.

Of Feather and Bone, photo by Alvino Salcedo

Saturday | 11.05
What: Hi-Dive Anniversary: Warthog, Of Feather and Bone, Candy Apple and Spiritual Poison https://hi-dive.com/event/warthog-of-feather-and-bone-candy-apple-tba
When: 8
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: The Hi-Dive Anniversary festivities continue for a second night with veteran, NYC thrash crossover quintet Warthog, psychedelic death metal legends Of Feather and Bone, noise rock/hardcore trip Candy Apple and Ethan McCarthy’s other noise project, the more ambient and orchestrated sound environment Spiritual Poison.

Kevin Morby, photo by Johnny Eastlund

Saturday | 11.05
What: Kevin Morby w/Coco https://www.gothictheatre.com/events/detail/?event_id=427528
When: 8
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: Kevin Morby came to prominence in experimental folk group Woods when he was living in NYC in the mid-2000s and then with his band The Babies with Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls. But once he moved to Los Angeles he firmly established his solo career with the 2013 debut album under his own name, Harlem River, a record paying homage to his former home city. Morby’s creative arrangements transcend specific music styles so that when you hear his music its the songwriting that catches your attention more so than trying to frame it into a stylistic context. Maybe its his attention to rhythm and structure with texture in the flow of melody like he listened to a lot of mid-70s Sly & The Family Stone, Devendra Banhart and the breadth of Bob Dylan’s output. His latest album This Is a Photograph is his most thematically and emotionally direct album to date and its pastoral introspection doesn’t feel like a pose or pretense but rather a vehicle at illuminating honest and deeply observant personal insights. Opening act Coco released its self-titled debut album in 2021 and the project includes Maia Friedman (of Dirty Projectors, Uni-Ika Ai), Dan Moland (Lucius, Chimney) and Oliver Hill (Pavo Pavo, Dustrider). There is a great use of space in which the group casts sultry moods and soulful soundscapes to accompany gorgeously melodic and warm yet lonely vocal harmonies. It’s the kind of slowcore pop one might expect more out of Low when that band isn’t going fully into gloriously avant-garde mode. The elegant bass lines and and a willingness to let the physicality of the performance of the music to leak into the recording gives it an immediacy and grounding that matches the tenor of the way the musicians sync so perfectly with their voices.

Cloakroom, photo by Vin Romero

Sunday | 11.06
What: Cloakroom w/Seer Believer and Cherished
When: 8
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Cloakroom’s 2022 album Dissolution Wave might be seen as a Utopian concept space rock album about creating a parallel new world to process and replace the world as we know it with all its environmental degradation, political and social decay, oligarchic domination and the commodification of all levels of our lived experience. It’s like a western doom record with the core idea being a technology, the generator of the titular energy, that obliterates all existing creative work and abstract thought including all ideologies, philosophy and much of what we take for granted as the foundations of our civilization. Except there is “the Spire and Ward of Song” that filter human imaginative accomplishments so that only the best ideas and creations can get through and fuel the continuation of the world. The album also finds the band branching even further into melodic accessibility with broad vistas of dream-like pop hooks drifting in distorted haze and sheets of discordant tones. The effect is mutually complementary. It’s also among the best shoegaze albums out of the past decade and the perfect blend of dense atmospherics and transporting tonal drifts. Opening are Denver shoegaze bands Seer Believer and Cherished, the latter being a group that seems to fit in well in this realm of music as well as post-punk for its vibrantly vulnerable moods.

Patriarchy, photo courtesy the artists

Monday | 11.07
What: Patriarchy w/Street Fever and Sell Farm, Kill You Club DJs
When: 7
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Patriarchy is currently touring in support of its 2022 album The Unself and proving itself purveyors of a sound that perhaps has some roots in Gothic industrial sounds and saturated synth tones and a darker form of dance music. Fronted by Actually Huizenga, the group’s aesthetic perfectly blends the hyper real, stark visual style of 80s slasher films, Giorgio Moroder’s cinematic compositions, David Lynchian noir and both ancient and modern mythology for its performance style and the content of the music. It’s a band that embraces the theater of camp and its exploration of themes about sex and power in society and personal relationships is provocative and thought-provoking while delivering a bombastic and challenging music that is also danceable and joyous in its catharsis.

Echosmith, photo by Nightdove Studio

Tuesday | 11.08
What: Echosmith w/lostboycrow and Band Of Silver
When: 7
Where: The Marquis Theater
Why: Echosmith is a pop band that formed in 2009 in Chico, California. The former and current quartet are siblings Sydney, Noah, Graham and Jamie Sierota (Jamie having taken a break from the band from 2016-2022). Adopting the moniker when the group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 2012 (previously having performed under the name Ready Set Go!), Echosmith released its debut album Talking Dreams in 2013 which yielded the hit single “Cool Kids” about not really fitting in with the popular crowd but being comfortable with being different. Following the performance and touring cycle behind the debut album on a major label, Echosmith found itself saying yes to every opportunity to advance the band and listening to industry people in helping to further their career and that meant long term that there wasn’t enough time to write and develop new material aside from an occasional EP until the group took steps to do so in time to issue the sophomore album Lonely Generation in January 2020. With the onset of the pandemic and the enduring and continuing impacts on tour and thus supporting a new record Echosmith had time to reassess its priorities and reconnect with the ideas and inspirations that initially got the group off the ground into a serious project and during that process went with a more open approach to its songwriting as heard on new singles “Hang Around” and “Gelato” hinting at the new chapter of Echosmith’s creative development. Recently “Cool Kids” garnered some renewed interest when it was used in TikTok videos by the likes of Demi Lovato, Drew Barrymore, Lindsay Lohan, Addison Rae and Hayley Kiyoko who felt the song expressed their own feelings about looking back and seeing how far they’ve come as people. The trend of utilizing the song has garnered more than six million views to date. Echosmith in response to that did a new version of the song with a new music video with “Cool Kids (our version).”

Charles Lloyd Ocean Trio, photo by Dorothy Darr

Tuesday | 11.08
What: Charles Lloyd Ocean Trio feat. Gerald Clayton and Anthony Wilson
When: 6/7
Where: MCA Denver at the Holiday Theater 2644 W. 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211
Why: Charles Lloyd is a tenor saxophone and flute player and one of the few remaining legends of the age of jazz in which he performed with the likes of Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Eric Dolphy and other leading talents of west coast jazz. He also formed his classic quintet in 1966 with Jack DeJohnette, Keith Jarrett and Cecil McBee. Their 1966 live album Forest Flower is said to have built an audience among fans of rock, fans of jazz and the hippie counterculture that was on the ascent. Lloyd was also an early adopter of incorporating the music of various cultures beyond his own American context into his compositions. Lloyd is also one of the most prolific artists of his generation who has continued releasing albums through ECM and Blue Note including the 2022 twin albums Trio: Chapel and Trio: Ocean. His imaginative arrangements and creative performance style both elegant and forceful has kept his work vital and consistently worth a listen.

Tegan and Sara, photo by Pamela Littky

Tuesday | 11.08
What: Tegan and Sara w/Tomberlin
When: 7
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: Tegan and Sara Quin are twin sisters who formed their pop project Tegan and Sara in 1998 in Calgary. Multi-instrumentalists, the Quin sisters first started getting a name for themselves in underground music circles more widely with the release of the 2000 album The Business of Art. Warm vocal melodies, gentle yet exuberant energy and tender, declarative, observational song have been part of the Tegan and Sara sound since early on and even though they have refined their songwriting and performances and collaborated with numerous other musicians there is a comforting consistency in knowing that a new Tegan and Sara record will have some words of condolence, of emotional clarity and an articulation of struggle and finding the right tone of humor in unexpected situations. This is also true of their new album Crybaby which released a week after the October 14, 2022 premier of their TV series High School (based on their 2019 memoir of the same name) on Amazon Freevee. Of course the live show will feature the duo’s signature, highly engaging stage banter and commentary on the state of the world and sharing the bill for this night is experimental folk pop singer-songwriter Tomberlin whose 2022 album i don’t know who needs to hear this captured a relatable impulse to restlessness and personal set of songs the speak to a yearning for connection and tranquility in a particularly troubled time in human history.

Photo by Patrick Houdek

Wednesday | 11.09
What: Meat Wave w/Moon Pussy and SPELLS
When: 7
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Chicago’s Meat Wave in true tradition of that city’s underground music is difficult to define precisely. Fans of noise rock in the Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go vein will find much to like. There is a touch of the angular intensity of Shellac there and a melancholic desperation channeled into cathartic bursts of noise that dissolve and reform in raging passages. Its 2022 album Malign Hex not only has one of the best album titles of the year but imbued with a seething urgency balanced with a touch of near meditative atmospherics that break and dive off into unexpected directions. It sounds both conflicted and resigned and isn’t that one of the prevailing spirits of recent years with thwarted and then blunted frustrations waiting for release but let to hang and rot and transform into a mutant form of lingering neuroses that is still playing out in the culture. Meat Wave gives that decay and psychic poison a thrilling outlet. Denver pop punk band SPELLS may seem like the party group of every season but its own lyrics give form to an adult will to do something of significance only to find that the machine has you locked in for a mediocre fate so you decide to mock the situation and make the kind of music that rebels against being so unceremoniously shuffled off into the extra person column of modern civilization. Moon Pussy and its wiry and explosive dynamics takes the surreal absurdity of the life and world we have to contend with every day and transmutes it into an irresistible sonic release that every time makes you think maybe rock music isn’t dead after all.

Moore Kismet, photo by Brandon Densley

Wednesday | 11.09
What: Slander: Thrive on the Rocks w/Virtual Riot, Moore Kismet, Leotrix and Saka
When: 6
Where: Red Rocks Amphitheater
Why: Slander’s Thrive on the Rocks show will of course feature the well-known dubstep band. But get there early because Moore Kismet will have a set. Their 2022 album UNIVERSE is a deep dive into exploring the possibilities of modern electronic dance music production and songwriting. Where another artist might embrace a trope of the style of music, Kismet takes it somewhere else with an imaginative playfulness that draws you in with every track with its attention to every sonic detail culminating in tracks that are flowing with energy but soothing to the mind at once. Its a riveting mix that is innovative and arresting in unpredictable ways even if you’re a veteran of electronic music or don’t even really get it. With its supreme sound design and creativity UNIVERSE is worth a listen and Moore Kismet is a young artist who seems set on helping to change the world of electronic dance music for the better.

MSPaint, photo by Tom Murphy

Thursday | 11.10
What: Militarie Gun w/MSPaint, Public Opinion and Dirt Sucker
When: 7
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective
Why: Militarie Gun is set to release the deluxe edition of its 2021 album All Roads Lead To The Gun on November 18. The Los Angeles-based hardcore band has those confrontational vocals but there’s something more arty about its guitar work and rhythms more like an old DC post-hardcore band of the 80s but more rooted in modern hardcore. Regardless of its actual roots it has earned a reputation as one of the most exciting bands out of the current wave of punk and hardcore. MSPaint from Hattiesburg, Mississippi sure seems to play some hardcore shows and the intensity of its performances are in that vein in terms of energy but its own music is a fusion of that spirit and bass and synth driven post-punk with songs that capture perfectly the fractured spirit of the American culture and consciousness. Its 2020 self-titled demo is truly one of the most original sounds coming out of the milieu of hardcore and the live show is a barn burner of inspiration and enthusiasm.

Hermanos Gutiérrez, photo by Larry Nlehues

Thursday | 11.10
What: Hermanos Gutiérrez
When: 7
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Hermanos Gutiérrez is a two piece band comprised of brothers Alejandro and Estevan Gutiérrez. It’s an instrumental project that fuses the traditions and influences of their Ecuadorian mother and Swiss father and the 2022 album El Bueno Y El Malo sounds like a hybrid of Santo & Johnny, Neil Young’s soundtrack work for Dead Man (1995) and a more modern form of pasillo. The introspective pastoral quality of the music is gorgeously tranquil but suggests long journeys and a searching spirit as each song explores nuances of mood and emotion while capturing a sense of place both physically and in the mind.

Hex Cassette, photo by Tom Murphy

Friday | 11.11
What: Specter Poetics (Omaha goth pop), Jeff In Leather (Omaha techno pop), Hex Cassette, Pattern Screamers (angular new wave)
When: 7:30
Where: Jester’s Palace
Why: Denver Blood Cult presents a night of darkwave from Nebraska but also includes a performance from Denver confrontational industrial dance legend in the making Hex Cassette. His friendly cajoling of the audience from stage paired with music that is aimed at evoking a spirit of excitement in the face of a bevy of overwhelming challenges internal and external. Pattern Screamers might be described as an art punk band based purely on its 24-Hour Write-A-Record Challenge EP and the song “Grocery Store” and “Internet.” Specter Poetics bridges the worlds of synth-infused post-punk and dark New Wave revival. Jeff In Leather is more techno dream pop dance music style.

Saturday | 11.12
What: Mister Water Wet, M. Sage, snowfloer and Aspen Colorado
When: 8
Where: Glob
Why: Mister Water Wet is a Kansas City-based artist whose prepared environments and ambient drones found an especially evocative form on the 2022 album Significant Soil. M. Sage spent many years helping to keep Fort Collins weird with his experimental pop bands and his own tape collage style experiments in creating unique soundtracks to spaces of his own imagining. Aspen Colorado is a side project of performance artist/experimental modern classical/industrial darkwave artist Polly Urethane. Might be the only performance of Aspen Colorado and this is your chance to catch what will likely be an interesting showing of that. Snowfloer is Derrick Bozich’s solo project and you may know him as a guitarist in Sound of Ceres and formerly of Ancient Elk and Grease Pony among other projects more in the realm of indie rock.

Holy Fawn, photo by Matt Cardinal

Sunday | 11.13
What: Holy Fawn w/SOM and Grivo
When: 6:30
Where: The Marquis Theater
Why: Holy Fawn from Phoenix, Arizona is a four-piece that has been exploring and evolving a sound that brings together an introspective ethereal soundscape with a heaviness of mood that reflects a depth of feeling found on all of its recorded output. From its 2015 debut EP Realms to its 2022 album Dimensional Bleed one hears in the music of Holy Fawn expansive melodies and tonal brightness paired with a textural grittiness that feels like a cathartic and transcendent journey into deep emotional spaces. In that sound one hears echoes of obvious influences in realms of shoegaze, post-rock, black metal and the more atmospheric post-hardcore and emo with lush swarms of intricate guitar and intertwining rhythms. But there is also an element of musique concrète to the songwriting bringing in field recordings and tape collages to augment a sense of layered meaning and lending Dimensional Bleed in particular a cinematic quality that can create a rippling shift of sonic focus in every moment of a song. Without attachment to a specific style of music, Holy Fawn is able to deftly navigate and even embody multiple genres at once as suggested by the title of its new record. Also on the bill are two of the other current master practitioners of heavy atmospherics. SOM whose own 2022 album The Shape of Everything is brimming with uplifting and illuminating sonics and Grivo from Austin, Texas whose album Omit (also 2022) reveals a gift for shaping transporting drifts of luminously dense melodies.

Exhumed, photo courtesy the artists

Monday | 11.14
What: Exhumed w/Escuela Grind, Vitriol, Molder
When: 7
Where: HQ
Why: Deathgrind legends Exhumed bring the tour in support of its new album To The Dead to Denver. Formed in 1990 when vocalist and guitarist Matt Harvey was fifteen years old, Exhumed has gone on to carve out its place in the canon of extreme metal. Its gory lyrics have always been a metaphor for consumerism and political issues and like a good horror movie provides an outlet to explore the horrible things humans do to each other in the name of a religion, a political affiliation, out of greed or any other unsavory motivation. To The Dead is another fine visceral litany of raging dismay in Exhume’s prolific catalog.

Beth Orton, photo courtesy the artist

Monday | 11.14
What: Beth Orton w/Heather Woods Broderick
When: 7
Where: Oriental Theater
Why: Some people may know Beth Orton for her unforgettable collaborations with legendary producer and electronic music artist William Orbit in particular “She Cries Your Name” and her contributions to Orbit’s song “Water From a Vine Leaf.” But Orton’s album under her own name have been eclectic and sonically rich including her 2022 album Weather Alive. Orton’s hushed, soulful vocals and ear for deeply evocative melodies and unconventional production has garnered her a bit of a cult following over the past three decades. But Weather Alive is a bit of an unexpected entry in her catalog as its attention to detail and the crafting of atmosphere and mood in the context of masterfully crafted songs makes it perhaps her finest offering to date.

Masma Dream World, photo courtesy the artist

Tuesday | 11.15
What: DUMA w/Masma Dream World, Knife Band and Watching People Drown
When: 7
Where: The Coast
Why: Masma Dream World is the solo project of multi-disciplinary artist Devi Mambouka that incorporates elements of Butoh, drone, theta frequency and ambient music. In 2020 the debut Masma Dream World album Play at Night but likely didn’t get a proper airing to a wide public because November 2020 was in one of the depths of the ongoing pandemic. The record is a mesmerizing listen that taps into parts of your brain that feel like a direct connection to the subconscious and one’s ancient ancestors. The use of percussion and unconventional tonalities and shamanic vocals creates a real moment throughout the recording as Mambouka makes sacred psychological space with the music opening a path to a mindset that exists outside the usual and unrelenting considerations of narrow materialism and demands on time at every moment from multiple sources. The music is a journey into a headspace that is always there for you to access but which can seem blocked from your conscious mind by habits of living that prioritize the needs of a corrosive economic system rather than what fortifies your life for real and that of everyone else and the rest of the world generally. It’s a therapeutic listen that exists outside the bounds of musical convention. DUMA (“Darkness” in Kikuyu) is a band that has emerged out of the underground metal scene in Nairobi, Kenya. Martin Khanja and Sam Karugu released their2020 self-titled debut during the height of the current pandemic and thus international touring has been all but impossible now. So fans had to give its harrowing and stark and frenetic soundscapes online or through purchasing a record from Nyege Nyege Tapes. The haunting and riveting soundscapes crafted by the two musicians is unlike most anything you’re likely to hear anywhere that is undeniably rooted in grindcore but also lo-fi industrial and imbued with a political awareness and existential angst that gives it a rare and very real edge.

Brothertiger, photo by Tonje Thilesen

Tuesday | 11.15
What: Brothertiger w/Neo Tokyo Philharmonic
When: 7
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Oh the 2022 self-titled Brothertiger album John Jagos demonstrates what sounds like a great deal of growth as a songwriter. Certainly he has emerged from being one of the leading lights of chillwave in the late 2000s and 2010s having grown beyond the confines of that microgenre. During the early months of the pandemic Jagos acquired vintage samplers and synths manufactured by Ensoniq employed by sophisti-pop artists of the 80s influenced by the lush and dusky sounds of Roxy Music’s 1982 album Avalon. Think ABC, Level 42, Prefab Sprout and Spandau Ballet and Everything but the Girl. There’s a soulful quality to the collection of songs that hearkens back to a time when people were coping with dire international tensions and the looming threat of authoritarian domination but needing an escape into something that released some of that tension. There is a soothing quality to the album whose lyrics also seem to look to a near future where people are able to build a life and forge one without as much of the persistent oligarchic boot to the neck where anyone can take the time out to contemplate what to do with your ample leisure time. It’s not an album that ignores the current state of things but one that recognizes that sometimes we all need an interlude out of that pressure for a bit and the ability of music to provide that emotional space.

No Age at Glob on August 28, 2013, photo by Tom Murphy

Wednesday | 11.16
What: No Age w/John Wiese and New Standards Men
When: 7
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: No Age is a noise rock/art punk duo based in Los Angeles, California. Drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and guitarist/vocalist Randy Randall had been in a band called Wives from 2001-2005 that had been a staple of the underground/DIY music world at the time. But Spunt and Randall scrapped the name and took their then musical ideas and recast their efforts as No Age with their first shows under the new moniker in early 2006 with their second show at the legendary DIY space The Smell in April of that year. From the beginning there was a refreshing lack of pretension and exuberance in the sound of No Age. Like a fusion of The Ramones at its most raw and the lo-fi experimentation and tape collage aesthetic of The Microphones. Within the often grainy and charmingly unvarnished early recordings one could hear a joyfulness and embrace of lived experiences that could contain and express a broad range of emotions and ideas in a manner often spirited and tender. There was always an element of vulnerability to No Age’s version of punk that transformed the music into something immediately accessible, like an unspoken invitation into a shared experience of thoughts and feelings it’s easy to think of going through alone and in isolation. No Age as artists and as a band have always approached its music and its operation as a band with a community spirit and that underlying ethos is something one an hear and feel in all of its albums and at its live performances. The group’s 2007 debut full length compilation of its early EPs and singles Weirdo Rippers (FatCat) is a fantastic introduction to the core No Age sound with a title that captures what you’re in for hearing, that is to say exciting music for people who embrace being different from mainstream expectation. From 2008-2013 No Age was signed to SubPop which helped to push the band to wider audiences. The most recent No Age album People Helping People (Drag City, 2022) is one of its most daring to date and bringing into the mix more fully the musique concrète element heard from its beginnings with gorgeously dream-like tape collages set alongside its signature vital rock songs. It may be the most fully realized No Age album to date and sonically among its most arresting. Opening the show are instrumental noise rock mutants New Standards Men who answer the question of what one might get if weirdos who were into Ruins, Talk Talk, Patrick Shiroishi, John Zorn and Tangerine Dream might do. Also noise legend John Wiese who has long been a part of the Southern California DIY underground.

Thursday | 11.17
What: Till The Teeth w/Pythian Whispers, Laudanum Quilt and Doc Box
When: 8
Where: Glob
Why: Till The Teeth is a Seattle based duo of Sandesh Nagaraj and Jonathan Rodriguez. Its releases thus far suggest a compositional style that employs techniques of soundscaping one most often associates with musique concrète, ambient, noise, prepared environment and ritual drone inspired in part by non-musical experiences, ideas and concepts whether cinematic, explorations of pure imagination or simply being struck by everyday occurrences and encounters. And the local openers come from a similar approach to making sound art. Laudanum Quilt whose prolific output for the last more than half a decade has put soundtracks to imagery, stories, quasi-mythologized personal experiences and the union of urban and rural environments. This author’s own project Pythian Whispers properly became a band when friends with a mutual interest in cinema, non-conventional music and other visual arts made music together and continued evolving beyond harsh ambient noise, experimental electronic music, drone and psychedelic abstract prog into whatever realms of sound came together through spontaneous improvisation.

Thursday | 11.17
What: Dead Boys w/The Briefs, Suzi Moon and Fast Eddy
When: 7
Where: Oriental Theater
Why: Dead Boys are an influential early punk band from Cleveland, Ohio whose only constant member Cheetah Chrome was also in proto-punk band Rocket From the Tombs with Peter Laughner who also contributed to the early music of post-punk legends Pere Ubu. The band’s 1977 debut Young, Loud and Snotty with its ramshackle sound and raw and abrasive style proved influential on punk and glam metal going forward. The group’s volatile energy yielded one more album We Have Come For Your Children (1978) before the band broke up for what would have been good in 1980 with lead singer Stiv Bators going on to pioneer a kind of glam death rock with Lords of the New Church. With some brief reunions since then lead guitarist Cheetah Chrome put together a line up of Dead Boys in 2017 that has been touring the classic material on a semi-regular basis.

Drab Majesty in 2019, photo by Tom Murphy

Friday | 11.18
What: AFI w/Drab Majesty
When: 7
Where: Fillmore Auditorium
Why: AFI is one of the longest running bands out of the first wave of emo and one of the genre’s most inventive and stylistically versatile. Bridging the worlds of the kind of “horror punk” one associates with the sound of the Misfits, post-hardcore and gothic rock, AFI reintroduced an unabashed visual style for its live performances early on as opposed to the usual punk street clothes style favored by many if not most bands out of punk and emo. Altogether the musical and performance ideas have long helped AFI to stand out from the music scenes with which it has been most often associated. And certainly the choice of post-punk/dream pop duo Drab Majesty as an opener for this tour is an inspired one since the group’s fans seem open to AFI’s proclivity for making music with a similar appeal and presentation. Those unfamiliar with Drab Majesty, its darkly dream pop post-punk is like a more haunting take on the kind of experimental guitar rock of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and a darker and more gritty flavor of the similarly gossamer toned and emotionally charged sound one hears in Cocteau Twins.

Yumi Zouma, photo by Nick Grennon

Friday | 11.18
What: Turnover w/Yumi Zouma and Horse Jumper of Love
When: 7
Where: The Summit Music Hall
Why: Turnover has come a long way since its more pop punk roots as heard on its 2013 debut album Magnolia. Its 2022 release Myself in the Way comes across as a hybrid of dream pop and indie R&B with some synth pop style. Yumi Zouma is the indie pop band from Christchurch, New Zealand whose 2022 album Present Tense has a paradoxically hushed enthusiasm with delicate songs buoyed by an energetic spirit. Horsejumper of Love is a post-punk band from Boston whose albums have been lumped under the designation of slowcore. But anyone that has seen the band knows there is an understated intensity and darkness to its live performances like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and the kind of brooding and visceral quality to be heard there.

The Legendary Pink Dots in 2022, photo courtesy Randall Frazier

Saturday | 11.19
What: Legendary Pink Dots w/Orbit Service and The Drood
When: 5
Where: Mercury Café
Why: The Legendary Pink Dots have left an indelible imprint on the worlds of psychedelic rock, post-punk, Gothic rock, the avant-garde, noise, ambient, industrial, synth pop and electronic music since its inception in1980. Fronted by Edward Ka-Spel, the Pink Dots have evolved through various lineups and shifting musical styles exploring musical and non-directly musical ideas for over four decades now leaving in the wake of that path of experimentation and rich a prolific body of work all worth a listen. From the late 80s through the early 90s there was a sea change in the band’s music as its membership expanded and its songwriting style shifted toward the kinds of lush atmospherics and dreamlike melodies and textures of 1990’s Crushed Velvet Apocalypse and even more fully on the 1991 album The Maria Dimension. That era of the band reached wider audiences and established The Legendary Pink Dots as a cult band with a wide international following from the alternative rock era to this day. Its enigmatic yet colorful and highly emotionally charged story songs provide a kind of parallel narrative to established cultural paradigms, sagely commenting on the prevailing culture in which we all live and which we all navigate and offering insight into civilizational themes and expressing deeply personal reactions to and thoughts on he lived human experience. The group’s highly imaginative and creative music never abstracts feelings but finds a way to make the complicated and difficult explicable. The live shows are a cathartic celebration of life and dreaming and seeking and finding deeper meaning set to sonically rich and transporting soundscapes. In 2022 the Pink Dots released its latest album The Museum of Human Happiness on Metropolis Records and following that, welcomed long time booster, publicist, tour manager and friend Randall Frazier of Denver space rock/ambient band Orbit Service into the current lineup alongside Ka-Spel, long time multi-instrumentalist Erik Drost and live engineer/producer Joep Hendrikx. Opening this show will be Frazier’s psychedelic ambient group Orbit Service and psychedelic, art rock, post-punk mystics The Drood.

Cheap Perfume performs on November 30 at Hi-Dive, photo circa 2016 by Tom Murphy

Saturday | 11.19
What: Riot Grrrl Party feat. Cheap Perfume, Tammy Shine
When: 6
Where: Mercury Café
Why: This is an event hosted by Gogo Germaine whose book Glory Guitars recently released to critical acclaim as the highly entertaining and touching memoir of a teenage punk. This event in addition to performances by the powerful, feminist punk band Cheap Perfume and the solo project of Dressy Bessy frontwoman Tammy Ealom as Tammy Shine there will be live burlesque with Becky Taha’Blu, Paloma Nectar, Siouxsie Cupcakes and Siren Sixxkiller, then readings by Gogo Germaine and Hillary Leftwich with Molina Speaks perhaps MCing the evening.

Dead Voices On Air in 2015, photo by Tom Murphy

Sunday | 11.20
What: The Legendary Pink Dots w/Edward Ka-Spel (solo) ft. Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa and Dead Voices on Air
When: 4
Where: Mercury Café
Why: See above for Legendary Pink Dots. But for this evening Ka-Spel will perform solo with contributions from Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa and ambient music legend Mark Spybey of Zoviet France and his current project Dead Voices On Air.

Sunday | 11.20
What: Primo Premier Wrestling’s Emergence w/Wrestling Fiend: Arlo White and musical guest An Hobbes
When: 5:45/6
Where: The Roxy Theatre
Why: Arlo White has been involved in various ends of Denver music and art for decades with punk and art rock/concept bands like Dead Bubbles, Sparkle Jetts, The Buckingham Squares and others. He has also curated unique shows in a house space hosting the likes of Mercury Rev and Ken Stringfellow. Now White has assembled a performance as Wrestling Fiend. A lifelong fan of the gloriously absurd and dramatic art of professional wrestling and its stories and bombastic events, White reconnected with professional wrestling during the pandemic and found in it a path out of the stasis and despair of the current era. With his production company/media outlet Hypnotic Turtle he has teamed up with Colorado’s longest running independent wrestling promotion company Primos Premier Pro Wrestling. The show will feature pro wrestling, live painting and a musical performance from philosophical nerdcore rapper An Hobbes.

TITUS, photo courtesy the artist

Sunday | 11.20
What: Arrows In Action w/TITUS and Lady Denim
When: 6:30
Where: Marquis Theater
Why: TITUS has found a way to combine hip-hop and pop punk in a way that draws upon the virtues of both forms of music to make something that might not work with another person’s songwriting. His infectious guitar hooks and emotionally raw and vulnerable lyrics that resonate with the heart on sleeve style of the best pop punk and emo bands of the turn of the century while also informed by the instinct for authenticity that is the backbone of any hip-hop worth your time. The result is a refreshingly sincere body of work thus far including his singles “Love Myself” and “SiCK ABOuT U” that seem to eschew bravado and embrace a sensitive spirit. Opening on this tour with Gainesville, Florida-based Arrows in Action and its likeminded fusion of pop rock and even more tender than usual emo seems like a solid pairing.

Black Flag in 2019, photo by Tom Murphy

Monday | 11.21
What: Black Flag, TSOL, The Dickies, Total Chaos. https://theorientaltheater.com/event/396181/So-Cal-Punk-Invasion-Tour
When: 6
Where: The Oriental Theater
Why: This tour includes some of the most influential bands out of the Southern California punk underground of the late 70s and early 80s with godfathers of hardcore, Black Flag whose current shows manage to remind one of the brilliantly creative guitar work and rhythms that long time band leader Greg Ginn helped to usher in to a punk world that was increasingly becoming more conformist. TSOL too switched up its own sounds across decades rather than stay stuck in a musical rut and at times embracing a dark, moody post-punk sound alongside its searing hardcore style. The Dickies are one of the longest continually running punk bands in existence starting in the banner year for punk of 1977 and with songs informed by a healthy and irreverent sense of humor while early on helping to establish a style of music that would become pop punk.

The Garden, photo by Ashley Clue

Monday | 11.21
What: The Garden w/Machine Girl
When: 7
Where: The Summit Music Hall
Why: The Garden is a band formed by twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears and true to its name suggesting growth and evolution the group defies easy categorization. Sure you can see one of their exuberant live shows and hear the influence of pop punk, Green Day in particular, but its visual style is reminiscent of somehow both Suicidal Tendencies and that band’s own embrace of graffiti aesthetics and the kind of theatrical glam of Slipknot or more unlikely but possible Malfunktion, particularly on the singles for its 2022 album Horseshit on Route 66. But the music seems to dip into the realm of electronic music and art rock but thread that into its punk sensibilities completely for a sound that fits in with a modern disregard for narrow genre in songwriting. Which makes opener Machine Girl and its own industrial dance/glitchcore music and borderline unhinged performances seem like a natural choice and one for which its fans have been prepared with The Garden’s own evolution in daring new directions.

Oruã, photo from Bandcamp

Tuesday | 11.22
What: Oruã, Laminate, Horse Bitch and Totem Pocket
When: 7
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Oruã is a band from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that has for more than half a decade been crafting a particularly sonically dense blend of Krautrock, free jazz and Tropicalía. Its 2021 album Íngreme made more clear an incorporation of ideas from library music and indiepop. Also on the bill are Irish noise rock group Laminate, quirky, Denver-based pop punk indie folk mutants Horse Bitch and hazily atmospheric shoegaze group Totem Pocket.

Reverb and the Verse, photo by Tom Murphy

Wednesday | 11.23
What: Reverb and the Verse
When: 6-10
Where: Bonacquisti Wine Company
Why: Reverb and the Verse has been a staple of the more experimental edge of Denver hip-hop since the late 90s with its vital mix of socially and politically astute lyrics and masterful electronic soundscapes. Its 2022 album BLACKWALL is its final intended album and a barn burner of a record that fuses industrial beats with passionate vocals and expert production that gives the record the feel of something from the future commenting poignantly about the deeply conflicted and imperiled time in which we find ourselves. Think Moby and Nine Inch Nails collaborating with Chuck D for an album to be released on Warp Records.

Secret Shame, photo courtesy the artists

Friday | 11.25
What: Secret Shame w/Verhoffst, Voight and ilind
When: 9
Where: The Crypt ($10)
Why: Secret Shame formed in Asheville, North Carolina in 2018. Its members came from the local punk scene and the music they made together was, summed up by a quote found on one or more of its online accounts, “too punk for Goth and too Goth for punk.” But however its sound might be best described its style of dark post-punk struck an immediate chord with people that got to see the fledgling band and even the debut basement demo from 2016 revealed a band that was tapping into emotional spaces resonant with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Xmal Deutschland. Its songwriting quickly developed into the songs that would comprise its energetic self-titled 2017 EP and the 2019 full-length debut album Dark Synthetics. In that vital mix of death rock and synth-infused post-punk one could hear an emotional vulnerability that told stories of struggle and abuse sometimes couched in terms of cosmic horror. And yet there was a core of honest feeling that bled through the metaphors and abstraction. For the 2022 album Autonomy, singer Lena had been working from a place of wanting to not obscure her lived experience and emotional truth and one hears that reflected directly in the music too. It’s still beautifully moody and moving but less haze and more direct tonal expression. Also in the new set of music are more conventionally accessible melodies without sacrificing the grit and darkness that has made the group’s songwriting so compelling since its inception. Autonomy is an album by a band that has come into its own while also a demonstration of an evolution from where it’s been and hinting at further exploration of where the music can go when you feel like you can craft your art from a deeply personal place without needing to couch it in the stylistic terms of anyone else or their narrow expectations. Opening is noise sculptor Verhoffs, techno DJ and avant-garde electronic music composer ilind and industrial post-punk shoegaze techno aspirers Voight. Listen to our interview with Secret Shame here.

Emerald Siam, photo by Tom Murphy

Friday | 11.25
What: Emerald Siam, Jacket of Spiders, Juliet Mission and Shadows Tranquil
When: 7
Where: Enigma Bazaar
Why: Four of Denver’s best live rock bands on one bill doesn’t often happen but the day after Thanksgiving if you choose to show up to Enigma Bazaar you can witness the dark yet triumphant and emotionally expansive music of Emerald Siam, the blues edged, gritty art rock of Jacket of Spiders, Julie Mission’s perfection of transforming brooding shoegaze sounds into expressions of pure joy and Shadows Tranquil’s synthesis of math-y emo, shoegaze inflected metal and psyche cleansing, atmospheric post-punk. Sometimes for an all local bill you have to think maybe one or two of the bands are merely okay or there’s a clear headliner. But not for this show.

beabadoobee, photo by Erika Kamano

Saturday | 11.26
What: beabadoobee w/Lowertown
When: 7
Where: Summit Music Hall
Why: Lowertown is an avant-pop duo based out of Atlanta. Olivia Osby and Avsha Weinberg met in math class in high school and bonded over a mutual and deep appreciation for jazz. Weinberg was a classical pianist with aims of going to the conservatory and Osby was a fledgling yet prolific poet. Before graduating in 2021 the two released the Honeycomb, Bedbug EP (2020) and the critically acclaimed The Gaping Mouth EP after high school in September 2021 having been picked up by the Dirty Hit imprint. Those EPs revealed a great deal of creative sophistication and development with songs that tapped into electronic music aesthetics, pop, angular post-punk, jazz and folk for a sound that feels intuitive in a way that speaks directly to the lived emotional experience in a way vulnerable and knowing and comfortable in not being so certain. The 2022 debut album I Love To Lie retains all the insightful introspection but the songwriting seems more straightforward and accessible and its content is the most clearly political and incisively observant. “Bucktooth” in particular addresses gun violence, political extremism and the seemingly everyday crisis mode that pervades not just American culture but the state of much of the world. It’s an album written from the perspective of youth and informed by an underlying hopefulness in the face of the dire possibilities and likelihoods and its catharsis of that anxiety is heartfelt and immediately striking. Filipino-British artist Beatrice Kristi Laus performs as beabdoobee and though only 22 has garnered a solid cult following for her early EPs released in 2018. Her breathy, expressive vocals are a compelling contrast with her expert crafting of lively, fuzzy guitar work and a seeming gift for delivering music with a raw spirit and a keen ear for creative melodies. Initially maybe her music seems completely beholden to 90s rock, especially on 2022 album Beatopia, but the sensibility has a touch of meta quality like Laus is soundtracking a 90s coming of age movie she has in her head infused with nosalgia, which fits in with the songwriter’s citing movie soundtracks as an influence on her own work and a desire to make music for films.

Seraphim Shock in 2017, photo by Tom Murphy

Saturday | 11.26
What: Seraphim Shock 25th Anniversary w/Dead on a Sunday, Whorticulture and DJ Celebrytie and hosted by Sid Pink
When: 7
Where: The Oriental Theater
Why: Seraphim Shock has been spinning its tales of the dark side of American society informed by themes of the occult, Satanism, hedonism and resistance to a puritanical culture that often causes the trauma and neuroses that drive dysfunction. Seraphim Shock’s music is an expression of solidarity with living with that legacy and purging it. It’s debut full length album Red Silk Vow released in 1997 to great local fanfare in the local Goth scene with shows in which lead singer Charles Edward garbed as a Victorian Vampire, top hat and all, orchestrated a stage show with bandmates in corpse paint style. Whether one was fully into the music or not the spectacle was undeniably compelling to the point where it helped to elevate the music in its Goth-industrial style. As the years went on the band’s style adopted a more glam metal sound and Edward more like a sinister yet benevolent professional wrestler look but more sculpted and more like a Goth super hero. This show celebrates the release of that first album and ushers in the next chapter of the band with its impending release of the second volume of The Fairmount Chronicles which launched in 2020. These days the stage show is back to being as theatrical as the early days with Edward exuding the undeniable charisma and commanding presence that has been a feature of the live show for decades. Also here for the proceedings is the classic Seraphim Shock MC, the sarcastic and sardonic MC Sid Pink so maybe we’ll also see a return of his irreverent game show, Think Pink.

SRSQ, photo by Nedda Afsari

Monday | 11.28
What: SRSQ w/Causer and Polly Urethane
When: 7
Where: Lost Lake
Why: SRSQ (pronounced “seer-skew”) is the solo project of former Them Are Us Too singer Kennedy Ashlyn. Her operatic vocals brought a good deal of emotional weight to the gorgeously ethereal guitar work of the late Cash Askew for a powerfully evocative combination. Her 2018 album Unreality was a tender and engulfing meditation on loss and grief cast in lush and hazy synths and soaring vocals. Her new album Ever Crashing is a statement of rediscovery of a firm sense of self with the usual elegantly evocative synth but including an expanded sound palette of guitar, string arrangements, live drums and other percussion alongside Ashlyn’s singularly expressive voice. People that got to see SRSQ during her time touring in the wake of the release of Unreality know that Ashlyn’s native charisma and emotional vibrance as a performer is undeniable.

Rosegarden Funeral Party in February 2020, photo by Tom Murphy

Tuesday | 11.29
What: Rosegarden Funeral Party w/Vio\ator and Faces Under the Mirror
When: 7
Where: HQ
Why: Rosegarden Funeral Party from Dallas, Texas has been blurring the line between shoegaze and post-punk since its inception. Frontperson/guitarist Leah Lane strikes a commanding figure while delivering impassioned vocals and atmospheric guitar wizardry while drummer Dylan Stamas triggers samples and orchestrates the sweeping rhythms with bassist Michael Doty, synthesist Michael Ortega layering the music with vividly cinematic melody. Lane helped to write and produce and perform on (as well as doing the artwork for) Vio\ator’s 2021 album Solitude and the broodily icy tones and gritty synth and bass driven music is the sound of an autumn spent in isolation. Faces Under The Mirror from Denver has been crafting some of the better EBM around since 1994 without much recognition beyond the Mile High City but whose moody yet energetic music is imbued with a sense of joy in the live setting.

To Be Continued…

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.

Kaelan Mikla i 2019, photo by Tom Murphy

Monday | 10.10
What: Kaelan Mikla w/Kanga and Midnight Marionettes
When: 7
Where: HQ
Why: Icelandic post-punk trio Kaelan Mikla returns to Denver following the release of its 2021 album Undir K​ö​ldum Nor​ð​urlj​ó​sum. Its suffusion of the otherworldly and ethereal into its primal sound gives its melodies a visceral quality that renders its signature styles in cool colors and tonal stark yet bleeding contrasts. The sublime and the feral in its vocals playing off each other gives it the flavor of a Viking epic that wouldn’t be out of place in a future show about Vikings that are versed in magic and mysticism.

Tuesday | 10.11
What: The Mars Volta w/Teri Genderbender
When: 7
Where: Mission Ballroom
Why: The Mars Volta is the influential art rock band that formed after the split of the also impactful arty post-hardcore group At the Drive-In. The Mars Volt combined the angular dynamics and raw power and energy of punk with the creative ambition and histrionics that informed Led Zeppelin and the progressive rock of King Crimson. With a new, self-titled album out that reveals an outfit that has pared back some of its inspired, sprawling workouts of politico-mystical poetry and elongated phrasings in favor of songs that cut with the intro and get into the heart of the songwriting and seem to have incorporated more straightforward pop songcraft and gentleness of textures into its soundscapes. It doesn’t sound like a group of artists that are trying to recapture previous glory but pushing forward toward musical ideas that may once again be ahead of the tastes of previous fans.

Otoboke Beaver, photo by Mayumi Hirata

Tuesday | 10.11
What: Otoboke Beaver w/Cheap Perfume
When: 7
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Otoboke Beaver from Kyoto, Japan takes cultural references, tropes and frustrations and shreds them and reassembles them in a surrealistic yet cathartic bursts of mutant punk rock fury. That this process is set to hypermanic melodies that are undeniably catchy and even infectious is a testament to their deep resonance with anyone that has had to tangle with the alienation of modern hypercapitalism and the way it warps culture and consciousness unless you make a break with it and turn it in on itself the way Otoboke Beaver has done not just with that particular brand of psychological conditioning but also with the baked in misogyny of Japanese and Western culture. But this band makes it seem fun and revolutionary by virtue of making that critique seem exciting. None more so than on its 2022 album Super Champon. It’ll be in good company with the radical yet immediately relatable subject matter and the energy of Colorado Springs punk band Cheap Perfume who mince no words in their deconstruction and dismantling of sexist tropes.

Superorganism, photo by Jack Bridgeland

Tuesday | 10.11
What: Superorganism w/Blood Cultures
When: 7
Where: Meow Wolf
Why: Superorganism’s 2022 album World Wide Pop is another exploration of the outer edges of where accessible pop song can occupy in its ever-expanding aesthetic. From the beginning it has a production style and pacing that feels like constant weirdo advertisement for some strange variety show with a level of sampling and manufacturing of samples nearly on par with a hip-hop record of old. To merely dub what the band does as psychedelic pop doesn’t do justice to how genuinely strangely its songs come across. Like if Elton John co-wrote an album with Cut Copy as produced by Charli XCX inspired to make an album that tapped into the cheesiest of 1980s synth pop and turned it inside out. It’s the kind of music that washes through your brain and lingers for longer than average with so many unusual song ideas it might take your brain a minute or ten to catch up and appreciate what you’ve just heard.

Why:

Tuesday | 10.11
What: Kris Baha w/Mvtant, Modern Devotion and DJs Moody and Wngdu
When: 9
Where: Glob
Why: Kris Baha got his start in the Melbourne, Australia club scene with the industrial weekly event Power Station. But these days Baha calls Berlin home but his crafting of dark, hard techno with a leg in EBM has been on a steady arc of development that these days intersects aesthetically with the likes of darkwave artists likes Kontravoid and hardware-based industrial techno like Mvtant who is also on the bill and Modern Devotion, which is the techno project of Adam Rojo from post-punk group Voight.

Alex G, photo by Chris Maggio

Wednesday | 10.12
What: Alex G w/Barrie https://www.ogdentheatre.com/events/detail/434815
When: 7
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Alexander Giannascoli aka Alex G is one of the most gifted pop songwriters of his generation with a respectable track record of orchestral indie folk that is sharply observed and widely eclectic and inventive in production and swapping and collaging styles. This unorthodox aesthetic is very much to the fore on the new Alex G record God Save the Animals where the songwriter free employs processing on all sounds and at times casts his voice in different modes including some of the only cool use of autotune in “Cross the Sea” where he also uses surreal and bizarre tones to establish a mood of resigned melancholy. But the whole record sounds like an exercise in fascinating experiments making catching him on this tour look promising in getting to see a lot of the new material live.

Clutch, photo by Dan Winters

Thursday | 10.13
What: Clutch w/Helmet, Quicksand and JD Pinkus
When: 6
Where: Fillmore Auditorium
Why: Over thirty years into its career Clutch continues to defy easy categorization in being too close to the spirited drive of punk to be strictly metal, too sludgy and groove oriented in its riffs to be punk. Too charged with momentum to truly be a “stoner rock” band and too willing to experiment with its core sound and ideas to stay stuck in the same musical rut for decades because something worked with commercial success years ago resulting in an ossified style. Its new album Sunrise on Slaughter Beach doesn’t reinvent Clutch’s aesthetic so much as show how the band still knows how to write hard rock with a clarity and economy of style without compromising its ability to stretch out and get weird, the title track being a prime example. Also on the bill are noteworthy practitioners of sludgy heaviness from the alternative rock era with Helmet and Quicksand who on their own would be worth catching live. And JD Pinkus who some may know for his tenure in Butthole Surfers on Honky.

Thursday | 10.13
What: The Peculiar Pretzelmen, Vampire Squids From Hell and Plastic Rakes
When: 8
Where: Jester’s Palace
Why: The Peculiar Pretzelmen from Los Angels is a band that took the challenge of making its own instruments sometimes parted out from other instruments or from everyday objects in order to craft music so idiosyncratic yet accessible one wonders how there hasn’t already been an eccentric documentary about the band. Musically its somewhere betwixt Bob Log III, Flat Duo Jets, a steam punk version of Dead Moon and Pere Ubu. Fitting enough that psychedelic, noisy surf rock weirdos Vampire Squids From Hell are opening as are prog pop trio Plastic Rakes.

Zombi, photo by Matt Dayak

Thursday | 10.13
What: Om w/Zombi
When: 7
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: Om might be described as ritual doom as its songs combine sonic elements you might more readily associate with devotional music. Compound time signatures that make the music resolve in ways that sink into the mind and move you in ways that feel like they’re coming from a primal place and processed drones that serve as a meditative preparation and backdrop to the direct action of each song. With the high volume of the live setting Om’s music comes off both cosmic and channeling the energies of an ancient and largely forgotten mother civilization to those we know now. Pittsburgh’s Zombi is perhaps best known for its true fusion of heavy rock with synthesizer music in crafting music that at times might remind one of the psychedelic progressive rock of Goblin who composed music not only for Dawn of the Dead (named Zombi in Italy from which this project borrows its own moniker) but multiple Dario Argento horror classics. Chances are this performance will feature that end of the group’s music. The duo’s most recent album is Zombi & Friends Vol. 1 which is a set of fairly faithful covers of songs by The Eagles, Alan Parsons Project, Dionne Warwick, Eddie Rabbit, The Doobie Brothers and more soft rock and pop artists whose work primarily emerged prominently in the 1970s. Somehow it works and the record itself includes appearances from members of The Sword, Trans Am, Pinkish Black, Zao and others. Maybe you’ll get to see some of that too.

Friday | 10.14
What: Honey Blazer vinyl release w/Body and Jasper Adkins
When: 8
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Denver’s Honey Blazer is the kind of band that seems to have unabashedly come out of that flood of indie psych and 1970s folk rock revival of the 2010s. But like many of those bands at least the songwriting is deeply attentive to craft and tight performances that give its sound great range and nuance. Its debut album Lookin’ Up has an elegance and poetry of composition that transcends any of the aforementioned considerations like if a group of guys took threads of the Dead and The Velvet Underground at their most pop and countrified and absorbed late 60s Flying Burrito Brothers along with Joni Mitchell of that same era and infused it with a touch of Bob Dylan with The Band and Fairport Convention but all translated through the lens of modern sensibility. Like what indie Americana wants to be but rarely achieves.

Maude Latour, photo courtesy the artist

Friday | 10.14
What: Maude Latour w/Charlie Hickey
When: 8
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Since 2019’s Starsick, Maude Latour has been releasing a series of inventive pop EPs including her latest, 001 from 2022. Her take on indie R&B and dream pop has an layer of complexity with thoughtful personal observations and her willingness to experiment with the composition of her beats and melodies freely borrowing from experimental electronic music and vocal processing. At times her music is reminiscent of what Alice Glass has been doing since going solo but Latour’s vocal style is very much her own and wide-ranging and inventively eclectic.

Guerilla Toss performs at Lost Lake on October 15, 2022, photo by Vanessa Castro

Saturday | 10.15
What: Guerilla Toss w/Forty Feet Tall and Hex Cassette
When: 8
Where: Lost Lake
Why: For the past decade Guerilla Toss has been pushing the envelope of the fusion of experimental electronic music and art rock. From its artwork to its music videos and stage show, Guerilla Toss has always put a personal touch to how it engages with a potential audience. In putting forth an idiosyncratic creative vision the band has in its way encouraged anyone encountering its music to forge their own path whether as fellow creatives or someone just getting through life and resisting a beige compliance with a standard issue existence. The latest Guerilla Toss album Famously Alive is somehow simultaneously its most adventurous and accessible album to date with songs that sound like they’re coming from the edges of dreams and expressive of a spirit of hopefulness and acceptance, of a will to use imagination to explore the potentials life has to offer if your existence wasn’t limited by practical considerations.

Church Fire in 2021, photo by Tom Murphy

Saturday | 10.15
What: Church Fire album release w/Xadie James Orchestra, Dragon Drop and Sell Farm
When: 8
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Wildly energetic and intense industrial dance trio Church Fire is celebrating the release of its album puppy god on Witch Cat Records with this show sharing the stage with like-minded weirdos and comrades in deconstructing popular musical styles and infusing it with a social analysis that is both inspirational and in which its easy to get swept up in the moment. The new album itself is like a science fiction novel in which one imagines a better future in spite of the time of troubles we’re experiencing at this moment. It’s an embrace of a perhaps foolish hope that the collective us can endure the onslaught of authoritarian politics and culture and outlast its momentum.

Metric, photos by Justin Broadbent

Saturday | 10.15
What: Metric w/Secret Machines
When: 7
Where: Fillmore Auditorium
Why: Keeping your band going for twenty-four years is challenging enough but even more so is to sustain a band with some artistic ambition and inventiveness across a similar period but that’s what is obvious from Metric’s 2022 album Formentera. The dream-like atmospherics and lush soulfulness of the music is still there. But this time around, perhaps more so than on previous albums, Metric takes aim at some of the serious issues that are coming crashing into human civilization that are impacting us all in a direct and personal way. The band is calling this tour the “Doomscroller Tour” after the first song on the album and how the very common habit of scrolling through social media and the news and being confronted with the horror, oppression, violence, despair, deprivation, disaster and much more that has come to be considered the norm and a generalized dissociation seems like a feature of modern life as a coping mechanism that can be psychologically paralyzing when it becomes a generalized state of mind. The album in its grand vistas of beauty and menace aims to disrupt that process with some choice commentary and music that inspires movement and challenges complacency in listeners as well as in the creation of the songs that seem to mark a new era for the long-running band.

Meet Me @ The Altar, photo by Lindsey Byrnes

Saturday | 10.15
What: Meet Me @ The Altar w/MUNA at Boulder Theater
When: 7
Where: Boulder Theater
Why: Synth pop trio MUNA could have gone a different route since two of the three members are guitarists but having met in college at the University of South California they decided on taking a different route. And the result is an electronic pop sound with great momentum in its rhythms and vocal harmonies that soulful and vital. Opening act Meet Me @ The Altar is a pop-punk group from Florida that is really combining musical styles in an exuberant mix that takes that emotionally expansive and open and self-affirming spirit of pop-punk and blends it with joyful pop production for a sound that is genuinely exciting and uplifting. Earlier in the year the group released an acoustic version of its 2021 EP Model Citizen.

Taleen Kali, photo by Scarlett Miranda

Sunday | 10.16
What: Taleen Kali w/Tuff Bluff, Galleries and Princess Dewclaw
When: 7
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Taleen Kali spent the early part of the 2010s in the experimental, exuberant garage/shoegaze outfit TÜLIPS. But for the past few years with the project under her own name, Kali has been establishing her own sound that draws on some of those early influences but might be considered in the realm of post-punk, raw psychedelic rock and dream pop in a vital fusion of elements. Her forthcoming album Flower of Life is an emotional and musical journey from a fiery and direct energy to something more contemplative and tranquil. This tour may feature a good deal of that material before you can hear it in full in early 2023 and the group has a certain forceful and charismatic quality that makes the music hit harder than one might expect. Also on the bill is s Sarah Fischer’s latest project Tuff Bluff and noisy and political post-punk group Princess Dewclaw.

Molly Nilsson, photo by Graw Böckler

Sunday | 10.16
What: Molly Nilsson w/Water on the Thirsty Ground and French Kettle Station
When: 8
Where: Glob
Why: Molly Nilsson is a Swedish born electronic pop artist now based in Berlin. Since 2007 she has been creating a rich body of work including ten albums starting with These Things Take Time (2008) which yielded her first widely recognized single “Hey Moon” and covered by experimental electronic artist John Maus on his 2011 album We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. The introspective sounds and luminous melodies with measured yet accented beats of Nilsson’s early work and her poetically illustrative lyrics brought to the songs a mystique that has endured throughout the songwriter’s career. Her embrace of a lo-fi aesthetic and organic noise in her songs also gives the music a sense of immediacy and intimacy that other artists at her level of accomplishment, development and influence might have chosen to edit out in pursuit of a kind of fictional purity. This core humanity to Nilsson’s work is one of its perhaps often unspoken appeal and it helps to ground some of the heady concepts she infuses into her lyrics. There is a political element in much of her music that explores concepts of power, our notions of identity and the foundation of what we aspire to achieve and do with our lives and how that is so often driven by the prevailing economic system controlled by the interests of elites until we learn to disentangle our dreams and psychology generally from the ongoing process of commodifying every aspect of our lives. This examination always seems to be carried out in a compassionate and imaginative way and never comes across in didactic fashion. Her 2022 album Extreme brings together Nilsson’s various impulses and instincts as a uniquely creative musician who imbues accessible pop songs with rich conceptual content that most directly yet not explicitly explores the place and role of power in the world and how it manifests in society and in our own consciousness and how we can challenge the less savory aspects of it in the world and in our own hearts. It’s a thematically deep record that works on the level of a poignant social critique and as pure pop songcraft. It is yet another chapter in Nilsson’s ever-evolving artistic journey and one worth taking in from beginning to end. This marks her first performance in Colorado.

The Wrecks, photo by Shervin Lainez

Saturday and Sunday | 10.15 and 10.16
What: The Wrecks w/CARR
When: 7 both nights
Where: The Black Sheep (10.15) and Fox Theatre (10.16)
Why: The Wrecks are a pop band from Los Angeles, California that formed in 2015 when Nick Anderson and Aaron Kelley put their pop-punk band Coastbound on hiatus in favor of a more straight ahead pop project they would call The Wrecks. Though technically more of an alternative rock band the pop sensibility of what The Wrecks have put into the world across its two albums including the 2022 offering Sonder is undeniable even though one is reminded of the better end of late 90s alternative rock with some taking of those threads further and genre bending in the modern mode of blurring genre lines to keep the sound from getting stale and aging better rather than getting pigeonholed to a particular era of music.

King Princess, photo by Collier Schorr

Monday | 10.17
What: King Princess w/Em Beihold https://www.missionballroom.com/event/428147-mission-ballroom-denver-tickets
When: 7
Where: Mission Ballroom
Why: For her sophomore album Hold On Baby, King Princess (aka Mikaela Straus) dispenses with the pretense of pretending everything is okay or going to be okay as one often hears in pop music. She also leaned into an eclectic and instrumentally rich songwriting and recording process that somehow also didn’t hamper how raw the record feels because it is artfully truthful about the struggle of dealing with the world as we have it and if you’re a touring musician that depends on live music and the industry for your livelihood the past three years and really much longer have been challenging as evidenced by Santigold’s recent statement on why she canceled her upcoming tour. Santigold, a very established and respected artist. Straus captures that moment in multiple ways on the new record and the fact that the late, great Taylor Hawkins played on the pointed social critique of “Let Us Die” is particularly poignant. Seems that song might be hard to play live but it’s such a powerful song hopefully Straus doesn’t skimp on it for this tour.

Wednesday | 10.19
What: L7 – Bricks Are Heavy 30th Anniversary tour w/FEA
When: 7
Where: Summit Music Hall
Why: L7 benefited from the alternative rock explosion of the early 90s without really sounding much like any of the more popular styles. Its mix of metal and punk with a irreverent sense of humor and ferocious energy paired with sensitive takes on subjects that might not be obvious from the band’s image as hard rocking hellions but a deep dive into its catalog reveals some choice moments of poignant character portraits and social commentary against war, sexism, abuse and psychological turmoil. Its 1992 album Bricks Are Heavy catapulted the band briefly into mainstream radio and certainly stations catering to the alternative music format at a key time when the music industry was in disarray in trying to keep up with the flood of music rock and otherwise becoming popular beyond what was already calculated to perform well in a commercial sense. Bricks Are Heavy yielded at least two stone classics of the alternative era with “Shitlist” and “Pretend We’re Dead” but you’ll get to see probably the whole album live for this show.

Brujeria in October 2016, photo by Tom Murphy

Wednesday | 10.19
What: Napalm Death w/Brujeria and Clusterfux
When: 6
Where: Bluebird Theater
Why: Napalm Death is one of the foundational bands of grindcore but its music imbued with always on point political and socially critical content. It also has to be admitted that Napalm Death doesn’t just have brutal, noisy music, it’s catchy and isn’t short on hooks and melody for one of the bands who has a reputation for pointed and electrifyingly challenging music. Brujeria is also a sort of death metal and grindcore band that has a wicked sense of humor and political commentary couched in the character of some kind of revolutionary drug gang writing songs in Spanish about illicit substances, Satanism, the occult and populist politics aimed at authoritarian impulses. Clusterfux is one of the absolute classic Denver skate punk and hardcore bands still in operation since 1995 and still putting on a spirited live show.

Pink Lady Monster in July 2022, photo by Tom Murphy

Thursday | 10.20
What: Antibroth w/Supreme Joy, Pink Lady Monster and Endless Nameless
When: 7
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Sometimes an all local bill can be a bunch of the same thing or not all excellent bands but fortunately that’s not the case for this show. Endless Nameless blurs the line completely between math rock, emo and death metal in an impressive display of musical chops with an equally impressive emotional range. Supreme Joy’s lo-fi psychedelic garage inflected post-punk sounds like something that had to have come out in Los Angeles’ weirdo art punk world of the early 80s but having landed in the 2020s absorbing the influence of decades of experimental pop. To say its music is reminiscent of Savage Republic gone psychedelic pop Americana or The Feelies having done the same might be a bit much but it gives you a sense of what you’re in for. Pink Lady Monster appears to have skipped trendy sounds of the past decade and crafted a deeply imaginative style of music that is rooted in more left field rock but comes off like an indie pop version of Broadcast and thoroughly entrancing because of that. Antibroth is definitely in the broad galaxy of post-punk but freely associating ideas from No Wave, math rock and noise rock into the mix. Like they grew up listening to a lot of Protomartyr, Pere Ubu, Palm, Lithics and the Contortions but decided to make their own mutant version of the kinds of sounds that leaked into their brain in a society in which we’re constantly bombarded by content and doing something different was one way to be free.

Saturday | 10.22
What: Juliet Mission w/Plague Garden, SORROWS and DJ Katastrophy
When: 9
Where: Broadway Roxy
Why: Juliet Mission are still a bit of a secret great modern shoegaze band and out of Denver including current and former members of jazz-inflected dream pop rock band Sympathy F. This might be the first show for SORROWS, a downtempo duo with beautifully orchestrated soundscapes and deeply emotionally expressive songs that seem like a cathartic expression of just what the name of the band suggests without wallowing overlong in the dark end of that as the music is ultimately about embracing the broad spectrum of experiences life presents us. Plague Garden bridge the gap between death rock inflected post-punk and synth infused New Wave and full disclosure the author of this piece plays second guitar in the group.

Spacey Jane, photo by Sam Hendel

Saturday | 10.22
What: Spacey Jane
When: 8
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: Spacey Jane’s 2022 sophomore album Here Comes Everybody is like the catharsis of the depression, anxiety and uncertainty everyone with any level of sensitivity has undergone in the last few years with of course the pandemic (ongoing) and really for a working musician the way things already felt precarious but were amplified by the various ways the pandemic has affected the ecosystem of the music industry from independent local artists and their own way of operating to even famous, commercially successful artists and definitely artists like Spacey Jane who are in that middle tier of renown where they can play middle sized theaters internationally but touring out of Australia to the rest of the world can be a dicey proposition. Musically its lightly psychedelic pop rock style makes that exploration of life challenges directly relatable even if you’re not a musician. Songs like “Lots of Nothing” are about self-acceptance of your flawed and what you might perceive as incomplete self and “Clean My Car” and “Haircut” point out some basic everyday things we must force ourselves to do to have a scaffold out of the emotionally paralyzing end of depression.

The Jesus and Mary Chain, photo by Steve Gullick

Sunday | 10.23
What: The Jesus and Mary Chain w/Scott Von Ryper
When: 8
Where: Paramount Theatre
Why: Indeed it’s The Jesus and Mary Chain performing in a fancier theater than usual for a Denver show. The legendary band predated and completely informed the sound of shoegaze in the 90s with its mastery of both volume and fragmented melodies that still hit a sweet spot so that it could never be saccharine nor dismissed as discordant. JAMC blurred that line completely with beautiful vocal melodies, emotionally intense yet nuanced songwriting and the ability to deconstruct musical conventions while reassembling them for the modern era in a way that reconciled a pre-classic rock 1960s pop era with the sonic possibilities open to a band from the 1980s willing to not follow prevailing trends to forge a vital sound often imitated, rarely if ever equaled. There is no A Place to Bury Strangers, no My Bloody Valentine, no modern dream pop and noise rock really without the root inspiration of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Spelling, photo by Erik Bender

Sunday | 10.23
What: Spelling w/Ramahkhandra and BODY
When: 7
Where: Bluebird Theater
Why: In a 2021 interview in Under the Radar by Jordan J. Michael, Christia “Tia” Cabral who performs as Spelling cited her favorite albums were by artists as disparate as Minnie Ripperton, Kraftwerk and Iggy Pop. That tells you a lot about the kind of music and show you’re in for if you decide to come out to this show in support of her 2021 album The Turning Wheel. It’s baroque pop with an art rock underpinning. Opening is experimental pop/performance art band BODY from Denver and the eclectic psychedelic world music inflected jazz of Denver underground greats Ramakhandra.

Sunday | 10.23
What: EXTC featuring Terry Chambers of XTC https://www.eventbrite.com/e/extc-tickets-403543699067
When: 7
Where: Soiled Dove Underground
Why: Terry Chambers was the drummer for the legendary pop/post-punk band XTC from 1972 until it stopped touring and playing live shows in 1982 though his work appeared on the 1983 XTC record Mummer. Afterward he ended up living in Australia for many years where he did session work behind the drum kit before returning to the UK and recorded an album called Great Aspirations (2017) with ex-XTC member Colin Moulding and another bandmate Steve Tilling under the project moniker TC&I. Shortly after Chambers and Tilling formed EXTC which performs classic songs by Chambers’ old band from the period in which he was an active participant. This is a rare opportunity to get to see any of this music live by one of the people who made it happen.

Monday | 10.24
What: The Chills w/Unwed Sailor
When: 7
Where: Marquis Theater
Why: The Chills are touring in support of the thirtieth anniversary of its album Soft Bomb. But regardless of the occasion it’s The Chills, the legendary New Zealand pop band whose songwriting helped to define the “Dunedin sound” branch of New Zealand rock music with jangle guitar sounds that one has to assume helped to inform what became C86 and thus indiepop as we know it. New Zealand bands rarely come through Denver much less a foundational group like The Chills whose leader Martin Phillipps has made such a deep impact on popular music his influence would make an interesting book or documentary.

Mr. Pacman in August 2022, photo by Tom Murphy

Monday | 10.24
What: Bit Brigade w/Mr. Pacman and Adam Newman
When: 8
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Bit Brigade performs on somewhat standard instrumentation very legit renditions of the music from various 8 and 16-bit video games. So who from Denver makes sense to open the show but Mr. Pacman whose own musical connection to video games is not so obvious except for the name and how its members dress up as characters from a long lost super hero team cartoon themed after Pacman but the music is like a fusion of punk, performance art and synth pop in a way that is intense and mysterious and always entertaining.

Dayglow, photo by Dana Trippe

Tuesday | 10/25
What: Dayglow w/Ritt Momney
When: 7
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Sloan Struble of Dayglow got his start recording and producing music at eleven years old with Garageband. While still a teen he had a project called Kindred that released one self-titled album in 2016 and in that music you hear his knack for crafting electronic pop with a sense of vulnerability and self-awareness. A lot of bedroom pop is fairly lacking in production chops but even that Kindred record though fairly minimal and lo-fi demonstrates a clear working within the limitations of available resources to make something that is clearly more ambitious. So when Struble began his next project called Dayglow by the time of his second release Harmony House (2021) there is of course the creative growth but also much more development in how the music is recorded. All of that evolution as an artist can be heard and pushed further in terms of songwriting and sound palette on the 2022 album People In Motion. The blend of R&B, psychedelic pop and indie rock on the album sounds like the modern equivalent of yacht rock but with a much more expansive array of sounds and an accessible immediacy. It may sound like the opposite of a focus on the conflicted energy and tragedy of the current period in human history but having a respite from that heaviness and intensity is what you need at least once in a while and Dayglow offers that aplenty for the duration of a show or an album.

Priest, photo courtesy the artists

Tuesday | 10.25
What: Minuit Machine and Priest
When: 7
Where: HQ
Why: Minuit Machine is an industrial darkwave duo based in Paris, France. Its particular brand of brooding dance music is a modern take on EBM with soulful vocals that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the 90s era of downtempo and trip-hop or on a The Crystal Method record. Priest includes former members of the Swedish heavy metal band Ghost but this project is not some campy prog metal. But the sense of theatrical presentation of the music is very much there including costumes. And the music is infused with a futuristic aesthetic akin to Nitzer Ebb if that band made industrial disco for cyborgs. Its 2022 sophomore album Body Machine fuses beautiful synth melodies with hard edged, almost martial rhythms like the equivalent of Kraftwerk having emerged in the world of The Terminator and operating in secret underground dance clubs for the discerning cyborg.

Peel Dream Magazine, photo by Samira Winter

Wednesday | 10.26
What: Peel Dream Magazine w/Calamity and Duck Turnstone
When: 7
Where: The Skylark Lounge Bobcat Room
Why: Joseph Stevens has released three fine full length albums over the past few years under the moniker of Peel Dream Magazine including the 2022 record Pad. The 2018 debut album Modern Meta Physic presented a sound that had obvious musical touchstones in My Bloody Valentine, Velvet Underground and Stereolab as well as their own sources of inspiration. The hypnotic drones and fuzzy melodies over steady beats an obvious ear for crafting textural aesthetics that helped to shape the structures in the music. 2020’s Agitprop Alterna cemented Stevens’ reputation as a songwriter and artist who could combine heady atmospherics and widely dynamic music with poetic and insightful personal and cultural commentary. With Pad Stevens broke his own mold by swapping in a different sound palette including banjo, chimes, vibraphone and more extensive use of keyboards to create a softer sound that is more reminiscent of Harry Nilsson’s early 70s psychedelic pop albums and like those records there is a creative concept that runs through the album which is a journey in which Stevens is ejected from his own band, which is in most ways a solo project, and undertakes a journey to find a way back in. Though the soothingly dreamlike melodies and free weaving in elements of Bossa Nova and ambient folk gives the album an immediately palatable quality it is about the disconnect and anxieties that have careened into the general culture while taking a chance in finding ways to make connections again and to process the anxiety and trauma in a way that lands us in a better place. It reflects Stevens’ own journey from being a bit of a New York-based outsider to a member of the Los Angeles creative community. The album is worth a deep dive and allow its retro-futuristic sounds and style to sink into your brain with its therapeutic frequencies.

Eliza & The Delusionals, photo by Luke Henery

Wednesday | 10.26
What: Eliza & The Delusionals w/BODY
When: 6:30
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Australian pop band Eliza & The Delusionals release its debut full length album Now And Then in May 2022. The album came along as many have in the wake of the recent and ongoing global pandemic. The songwriting had begun in various stages of development prior to the pandemic and some prior to the group having embarked on the first leg of a big tour of North America in January and February 2020 with The Silversun Pickups. But the period of lockdown and then the prolonged time of not being able to tour with anything resembling reliability left the band with time to hone the songs and create an album that is brimming with a sense of nostalgia and reconnecting with a time in life and a time period in the early 2000s when perhaps if you were a kid in Australia or the USA, depending on life circumstances, you had the time and the ability to allow your imagination and your heart to take in experiences that stimulated both. Connecting with that headspace lending your current self the tools to navigate bringing a bit of that mindset into life today. In the fuzzy and chiming guitar work and singer Eliza Klatt’s melodious and exuberant vocals one hears an introspective articulation of a desire to liberate one self from one’s own limitations and of those imposed on you by circumstance. Opening the show is experimental psychedelic pop band BODY from Denver which includes former members of Ned Garthe Explosion but in a band that is fully embraces its chops and songwriting craft as well as its idiosyncratic sensibilities.

Snail Mail in 2022, photo by Tom Murphy

Thursday | 10.27
What: Turnstile w/JPEGMAFIA and Snail Mail
When: 6
Where: Mission Ballroom
Why: This is a very eclectic bill of all bands from Baltimore. Lindsey Jordan as Snail Mail has been writing some of the most heartfelt and vulnerable, even raw and honest pop songs of recent years as heard perhaps most powerfully on her 2021 album Valentine. Jordan takes painful experiences and transforms them into the kind of songwriting that normalizes the struggle and the will to persevere. JPEGMAFIA is one of the most boundary pushing artists operating today whose work can generally be described as hip-hop but in his beats there is a spirit of experimentalism so that it can weave in the elements you might expect but also industrial music and noise. Turnstile manages to blend what might be described as nü metal and hardcore in a way that is incredibly accessible and subverts the tropes of those genres. Sure there’s the electronic component and aesthetic in its beats and angular guitar riffing and vocals that are melodic even in the shouting. But Turnstile delivers it with more imagination and genuine excitement than most bands coming out of those realms of music in many years.

Thursday | 10.27
What: The Chameleons w/Shadows Tranquil and Emerald Siam
When: 7
Where: HQ
Why: The Chameleons are the post-punk band that emerged out of the 1980s with a unique and atmospheric guitar sound that one assumes plugged more directly into the sound of groups like Slowdive and Kitchens of Distinction and other shoegaze bands than other groups of the era. For years a version of the band that included only singer Mark Burgess from the original lineup. But this time out brilliant guitarist Reg Smithies is back in the mix so expect some of those classic Chameleons dreamlike guitar wizardry.

Dubble Trouble in 2022, photo by Tom Murphy

Thursday | 10.27
What: Free Music (Minneapolis), Dubble Trouble (cassette release), Yenan Form (debut performance), Goo Age (Orange Milk Records)
When: 9
Where: Glob
Why: This is going to be the kind of experimental electronic show that is part glitchcore and part that Orange Milk weirdo ambient and New Age strangeness. But it’s also the cassette release of dub and free jazz/glitch/ambient duo Dubble Trouble.

Friday | 10.28
What: Wngdu, Ray Diess, Church Fire and special guest
When: 8
Where: Jester’s Palace
Why: Denver Blood Cult is presenting this Halloween show featuring charismatic industrial dance group Church Fire who recently put out their powerful new album puppy god. Ray Diess will deliver his sincere and thought-provoking synth pop. DJ Wngdu will officiate the music outside the live music sets proper and likely a surprise guest. All at one of the weirdest newer venues in Downtown Denver.

King Bee, photo by Kenzi Everitt

Friday | 10.28
What: King Bee’s METAMORPHOSIS w/The Milk Blossoms (duo) and DJ Camp Love
When: 7
Where: Mercury Café
Why: King Bee is the latest project of Fox Linnea Drickey from high concept art pop band Chimney Choir. This current performance is the fifth installment of a multi-episode semi-autobiographical allegory called “Tugboat vs. Tidal Wave” and involves Greek chorus-style theater, performance art, costumes and DJ dance party afterward. Includes David and Carl from Chimney Choir and Cassidy Bacon from The Whimsy of Things/Ghost Tapes and Ben Weinrich of Dandu/Retrofette. Expect inspired and insightful storytelling and a theatrical performance unlike most things most other bands have to offer. Opening is the duo version of experimental pop band The Milk Blossoms whose music makes a true virtue of vulnerability when channeled through richly imagined songwriting.

Captured! By Robots, photo by Raymond Ahner

Friday | 10.28
What: Captured! By Robots w/Axeslasher and Valiomierda
When: 8
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Captured! By Robots is a grindcore band unlike any other in that the vocalist is human (JBOT) but the musicians in the band are all robots built by JBOT after other human musicians failed him in putting together a reliable project.

Friday through Sunday | 10.28-10.30
What: Front Range Noise Fest
When: 6 p.m. each day
Where: Glob
Why: This is the closest Denver is going to get to one of the noise and experimental electronic festivals that used to happen in the Mile High City regularly. It would be too much of an undertaking to write a blurb on every artist performing but below are the dates with the artist lineups each date.
Friday Oct 28th @ Glob
Caged Grave
Mumble
Foans
A Light Among Many
Solypsis (AZ)
New Aged Karen
Night Grinder
Granular Breath (IA)
Lore
Saturday Oct 29th @ Glob
Boar (IA)
Compactor (NY)
Demonsleeper (CA)
Fleeting Breath (KY)
Ghost Dance (MI)
Man.Moth (MI)
Scuzz Nun (WA)
Fresh Bait
Maltreatment
Many Blessings
MPW
Sunday Oct 30th @ Glob
Rush Falknor (IL)
Magical Mind (IL)
0rgan
Sounding
Gate Fog
May Leitz
Bunny Showstopper
Staff of Loss
Herpes Hideaway

CO2 Ensemble, photo b Tom Murphy

Saturday | 10.29
What: Scream Screen with Carbon Dioxide Orchestra
When: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Sie Film Center
Why: Carbon Dioxide Ensemble (CO2 Ensemble) is an avant-garde trio from Denver composed of the electronic music composer and the Mile High City’s premier Theremin player Victoria Lundy, her husband and mathematician Thomas Lundy and fellow practitioner of the electronic music arts Mark Mosher whose work in electronic music technology and visual synthesis has been a part of local music and art culture for over a decade. The three met through Mosher’s Rocky Mountain Synth Meet-Up events around 2012 where enthusiasts of that technology and methods for utilizing it in making music would meet up to network and share their passion for synthesizers generally. Shortly into their friendship the Lundys helped to organize an event called Concrete Mixer that has happened a handful of times over the past eight or nine years and a showcase for musique concrète, a type of music composition pioneered by French composer Pierre Schaeffer in the early 1940s with that term coined by Schaeffer in 1948. Those theoretical principles Schaeffer put into practice attracted the interest of composers Pierre Henry, Edgard Varèse, Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen and others including a popularizer of the art form with one of Schaeffer’s students, Jean-Michel Jarre. The technique of manipulating recorded sound can be heard in looping techniques and the use of samples. CO2 Ensemble hearken back to the earlier method but utilize unconventional sound sources including a large, copper heart that Thomas Lundy rubs with pieces of dry ice to generate frequencies that Mosher processes to enhance and render into different musical forms. Victoria Lundy playing Theremin utilizes one of the oldest electronic music technologies having been patented by Leon Theremin in 1928 with a device that is controlled without physical contact by the performer. Everyone has heard one if they’ve watched any 1950s science fiction film with a spooky soundtrack. Working in tandem the CO2 Ensemble generate highly evocative compositions that suggest textures and primal emotional experiences. Victoria Lundy co-founded what was called the Carbon Dioxide Orchestra in the mid-90s employing similar methods but with less emphasis on the electronic production end and in the 2000s and 2010s she was the Theremin player in experimental pop band The Inactivists who are currently, what else, inactive. The Carbon Dioxide Orchestra concept she revived when Concrete Mixer started up. Mosher was the keyboard player for New Wave cover band Head Full of Zombies based in Colorado Springs from 1989-2003 before branching out into making his own music. The group’s current performance will be the live musical portion of Noche de Terror, a double feature of Rubén Galindo Jr’s Cemetery of Terror (1985) and Don’t Panic (1987) presented by Scream Screen creator and host Theresa Mercado. The trio has a shared affection for B science fiction and horror and cult movies as well as the musical avant-garde and their piece prior to the film screening suits well the Halloween season and the films at hand.

Voight, photo by Tom Murphy

Saturday | 10.29
What: Julian Street Nightmare, The Savage Blush and Voight
When: 8 p.m.
Where: The Skylark Lounge
Why: Julian Street Nightmare is a post-punk band from Denver whose sound draws not just on recent darkwave but surf rock and psychedelia. But its songwriting has developed into its own flavor that has a freshness and intensity colored by a moodiness and energy that lends it an edge of unpredictability. The Savage Blush is a local psychedelic garage rock band. Voight bridges the gap between dark, industrial post-punk and techno with a pointed yet self-effacing sense of humor.

Pinkshift, photo by Leigh Ann Rodgers

Saturday | 10.29
What: Pinkshift w/Jigsaw Youth and Yasmin Nur
When: 8
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Baltimore’s Pinkshift recently released its debut full-length album Love Me Forever. The record sounds like a lifetime of frustration and processing trauma and oppression put into songs that sound like something Sleater-Kinney might have put out had its members come up a couple of decades later and influenced by the riot grrrl bands that existed prior to and in parallel with S-K as well as early 2000s post-hardcore and emo. There is an irresistible emotional vitality and joy of release of pent up feeling on the record and a directly relatable yearning for a life in a world where you can live free of the yoke of a pervasive authoritarian patriarchal culture. Also on the bill is NYC’s Jigsaw Youth who last came through Denver as an opener for art noise metal group SASAMI. It felt like seeing a band that absorbed the irreverent humor and scorching guitar anthemics of L7 and Betty Blowtorch in finding a true fusion of punk and metal that isn’t rooted in crossover or metalcore. Feral and electrifying stuff.

White Rose Motor Oil, photo courtesy the artists

Sunday | 10.30
What: Smokestack Relics w/White Rose Motor Oil
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Wax Trax
Why: Smokestack Relics are a bluesy Americana duo whose vagabond honky tonk aesthetic that seems obviously influenced by Tom Waits, likely a bit of Hasil Adkins is in there and Scott H. Biram. But the presentation is so eccentric and energetic its definitely not mere imitation. White Rose Motor Oil somehow makes a kind of Americana that isn’t tied to any particular strain of the Colorado variety and for that alone always worth a lisen. But its shows have a warm energy and its music is more akin to country punk-esque bands like Lone Justice and The Beat Farmers. Its beautifully atmospheric 2021 album Oh Lucretia was recently re-released and on cassette.

Vision Video, photo by Scarlet Lewis

Monday | 10.31
What: Vision Video w/Radio Scarlet, Redwing Blackbird and Witchhands
When: 8
Where: HQ
Why: Vision Video is a post-punk band based out of Athens, Georgia whose self-styled Goth pop is infused with gorgeous melodic hooks and emotionally raw and honest lyrics. Visually the band looks like what you might imagine a Goth band from a movie might look like with the appropriate make-up and sartorial flair. But there is something darker and different yet also welcoming about that appearance and in performance, reflecting the ethos of the members of Video Vision who recognize the band and fan dynamic as being one of community. There is disarming earnestness in the songwriting coupled with a clear sense of humor and self-awareness in how Video Vision conduct themselves as people that signals an approachable quality that doesn’t undermine the serious and meaningful content in what the band is putting into its art. In recent years frontman Dusty Gannon has been releasing videos on the Video Vision TikTok in which he adopts the persona of “Goth Dad” who presents information about the Goth subculture in which he came up as well as real life issues with a sense of humor, affection and sincerity in a way that comes across as wholesome, a quality one doesn’t always associate with Goths. In 2022 Vision Video released its second album Haunted Hours, the much anticipated follow-up to its 2021 debut Inked in Red. Fans of The Cult and The Cure will find much to like about the flavor of both records as will anyone looking for modern post-punk with solid production, urgent dance rhythms and songs that really tell it like it is with the state of the world and the importance of embracing your own humanity and that of those around you even and especially as the world seems to be crumbling.

To Be Continued…

Best Shows in Denver April 2022

IDLES, photo courtesy the artists
Baroness, photo courtesy the artists

What: Baroness
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Savannah, Georgia’s Baroness never got to tour behind its 2019 album Gold & Grey for the reasons most bands didn’t do a lot of touring in 2020 and a good chunk of 2021. But now the group with new guitarist Gina Gleason will get a chance to perform older favorites as well as material from the aforementioned album showcasing a seemingly different approach to songwriting different from the brash, bombastic and playful style of previous records. John Baizley’s vocals still soar with great expressive control but the music seems more tied in with the rhythms and beautiful minor chord progressions so that when the songs engage into expansive choruses they always seem to resolve in ways that feel like the group decided to push themselves to say something different and worthwhile with each song. It’s frankly their best album and it would be simply lazy and clumsy to merely refer to this era of Baroness as sludge metal.

Friday | 04.01
What: Brandon Wald (owner of Black Ring Ritual Records out of ND), Viator, Many Blessings, Maltreatment, Tripp Nasty and MPW
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: There aren’t too many noise shows or places to see noise in Denver these days meaning a form of music/sound art is hard to come by in the live setting where it is best experienced. But this show will include local stars like Many Blessings aka Ethan McCarthy of Primitive Man doing his harsh industrial noise project and Tripp Nasty whose body of work is so diverse and broad that some of it is in the realm of noise so who knows how that will manifest for this show so just best to go if you’re so inclined. Brandon Wald runs Black Ring Ritual Records, home to some of the more prime noise records and tapes of the last several years and his own noise is part power electronics, abstract industrial, harsh ambient and musique concrète.

Friday | 04.01
What: The Blue Rider w/Cleaner and Wes Watkins
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Psychedelic garage rock band The Blue Rider hasn’t been playing much in recent years since Mark Shusterman has been busy playing in Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. So catch the always surprisingly powerful and brain expanding show with Wes Watkins who has been involved in a variety of projects over the years like Wheel Chair Sports Camp and the aforementioned Night Sweats. But his own music betwixt jazz, R&B and funk is worthwhile in its own right.

Friday and Saturday | 04.01 and 04.02
What: The Goddamn Gallows & Scott H. Biram w/JD Pinkus
When: 8 p.m. both nights
Where: Larimer Lounge (04.01) and Swing Station (Laporte, CO on 04.02)
Why: The Goddamn Gallows sound like something you’d get if you mixed a scuzzy punk band, some murder ballad honky tonk and Black Sabbath. Scott H. Biram plays solo and while many men of his ethnic persuasion have abused the blues and country in ways largely boring and unforgiveable, Biram’s songwriting is so strong, diverse and sincere yet poetic he’ll make you forget those other guys that served as a blight in blues clubs for decades. JD Pinkus is indeed the bass player of Butthole Surfers and member of Honky. But this tour showcases his fragmented, haunted psychedelic country material. His 2021 album Fungus Shui is the peak of that aesthetic as crafted by Pinkus thus far.

Monday | 04.04
What: Spiritualized
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: With the 2022 album Everything Was Beautiful expected out on April 22, 2022, Jason Pierce finds yet another way to blend freaky, spooky yet warmly engaging folk with space rock in ways transporting and transcendent. The roller coaster dynamic of late 90s music has long since given way to lush orchestral builds that flow in unpredictable yet satisfying directions so that listening to the album gets your brain to go down a different path than previous records from Pierce. With any luck the live show will reflect this bright aspects of this album without losing the dark cool that has made the songwriter’s material so fascinating since his early days with Spacemen 3.

SASAMI, photo by Alice Baxley

Tuesday | 04.05
What: SASAMI w/Jigsaw Youth
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: Squeeze, the 2022 album from SASAMI, is definitely a departure from the songwriter’s 2019 self-titled debut. Whereas there was a deeply chill energy to the downtempo aspect of that album, there is a more distorted and visceral quality to Squeeze that seems like a mirror image of the wonderfully ethereal quality of that first record. This might seem like too wide a stylistic swing, Sasami Ashworth has had a very eclectic career playing in Cherry Glazerr and contributing to albums by artists as widely different as Vagabon and Wild Nothing. Ashworth explores metallic sounds and much more aggressive song dynamics this time around while pushing the boundaries of her knack for pop songcraft with songs that sound sometimes metal, sometimes industrial, sometimes grunge and all made accessible. Fans of the broad spectrum of St. Vincent’s catalog would appreciate what SASAMI has been doing the past few years and beyond.

girl in red, photo by Jonathan Kise

Tuesday | 04.05
What: girl in red w/Holly Humberstone
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: girl in red is the performance moniker of Marie Ulven Ringheim whose guitar pop has garnered critical acclaim beyond her home country of Norway. Her 2021 debut album if i could make it go quiet found the songwriter expanding beyond the bedroom pop compositions and recordings that brought her to prominence and it charts her struggles with the various ways in which one’s mind can sabotage your life. In addressing these personal demons in such a direct, honest and relatable way with such luminously warm melodies Ringheim doesn’t insult herself or the listener by suggesting something as trite as it’s all going to work out. Her depictions of the head spaces in which you can get stuck seem so vivid and immediate that they seem like something you can overcome or at least survive and dare to want more for yourself and reach for it than you seem to think is possible when you’re in the depths of your own personal hell.

Tuesday | 04.05
What: Hiatus Kaiyote
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Melbourne, Australia’s Hiatus Kaiyote is refreshingly difficult to pin down without sounding like they’re trying too many things. Their unique style of soul and R&B is so idiosyncratic it sounds like the kind of band J. Dilla would have wanted to have started or at least produced because the avant-garde jazz flourishes in the songwriting almost sound like well-produced samples. Its 2021 album Mood Valient is the group’s most coherent offering to date and its organic and evolving rhythms so fresh and unusual it sounds like an improv session developed until the rhythms are tight but never stale.

Baby Tate, photo by Scrill Davis

Wednesday | 04.06
What: Charli XCX w/Baby Tate
When: 06:30 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: This show should probably be at a bigger venue but hey you get a chance to see Baby Tate before word gets out that her sex positive songs aren’t all production in the studio and in music videos. Sure, her mom is Dionne Farris who hopefully most people remember from her time in Arrested Development before branching out into a popular music career under her own name. But Baby Tate’s confidence isn’t just swagger, regardless of subject matter and word choice there is a deft and creative wordplay that syncs her words with the always imaginative beats with a fine ear for the use of bass that one doesn’t hear in enough hip-hop these days. Fans of Kari Faux should probably give Baby Tate a listen. And of course headlining is Charli XCX who is touring in support of her 2022 album Crash. Whether the record is the end of a chapter in the pop star’s career or hinting at a more experimental future direction, the singer sounds as confident as ever and the eclectic influences are on display so that beyond the typically strong vocals the driving bass of post-punk and the expert electronic dance music production allows for all elements to flow freely together in a way divergent from the hyperpop aesthetic of earlier offerings. Of all the pop songwriters in the mainstream, Charli XCX has long been one of the more consistently inventive and fascinating whose lyrics also hit as poignant and poetic.

Thursday | 04.07
What: CELE Presents: Chihei Hatakeyama w/Carl Ritger and Wind Tide
When: 7-11 p.m.
Where: 860 Vallejo St. (Denver)
Why: Chihei Katakeyama is an ambient/experimental electronic/drone artist from Tokyo, Japan whose work has found a home on Kranky but lately largely out of his own White Paddy Mountain imprint which showcases other artists that operate in similar realms of composition and sound design. Carl Ritger has been producing prepared environmental sound experiences under his own name and as Radere and a fixture of Denver’s ambient music scene for more than a decade. Wind Tide is presumably the musique concrète/ambient artist from Littlefield, Texas whose use of field recordings and processed noise captures the essence of the background sounds of civilization that often go ignored unless brought explicitly to your attention though not often as creatively as Wind Tide has done in an extensive Bandcamp catalog.

Jawbreaker, photo by John Dunne

Thursday and Friday | 04.07 and 04.08
What: Jawbreaker w/Descendents, Face To Face and Samiam
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Fillmore Auditorium
Why: Between 1986 and its break-up in 1996, Jawbreaker helped to shape the aesthetics and sound of what became pop punk and emo during that time and going forward. With albums like 1994’s influential 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and Dear You from 1995, which the group celebrates with this tour, Jawbreaker brought an existential self-examination to the lyrics and a creativity to the dynamics and textures of its songs that transcended the genres it helped to define. The trio has been back together since 2017 with a documentary about the band Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker releasing that same year. Listening back to its old albums the fingerprints of that music is clearly evident on a large swath of punk-oriented music of the past 25 years. Also on this bill are pioneering pop punk band The Descendents whose own anthemic songs likely proved an inspiration for Jawbreaker and both Face to Face and Samiam also sharing the stage this night.

Sarah Shook & The Disamers, photo by Harvey Robinson

Saturday | 04.09
What: Sarah Shook & The Disarmers w/Lillian
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Sarah Shook could have had a perfectly fine and successful career sticking to the modern country sound of their excellent first two records Sidelong and Years. Shook’s expressive vocals and finely crafted songs have always been informed by a thoughtful sensitivity with some grit underlying the delivery. The new album, 2022’s Nightroamer, produced by Dwight Yoakam collaborator Peter Anderson, has touches of effects on Shook’s voice which might strike some longtime fans as odd but overall those sonic details and a more expansive quality to the sound in general on the album feels like it opened up the singer’s songwriting a bit and lends it a quality that sounds more full and the musical equivalent of a color photo versus a black and white. Both have their appeal but more hues in emotion are emphasized. Lillian is a Denver-based singer-songwriter whose luminous songs in an Americana vein are difficult to pigeonhole. Her new album Chasing Shadows will be released at a show at The Skylark Lounge Bobcat Club on April 21.

Hex Cassette at Hi-Dive 2021, photo by Tom Murphy

Saturday | 04.09
What: Lose Your Head II: Ponce (Swampy Erotic Punk Blues), Julian St. Nightmare (Goth Rock), Ray Diess (Goth Pop), Savant Tarde (Post Wave), Hex Cassette (SynthGoth For Satan), Painted City (Synth Pop)
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Jester’s Palace
Why: Lose Your Head is an event that highlights some of Denver’s better underground bands in a more dawkwave, post-punk and experimental pop vein. The genres listed above in parentheses work as a vague idea of what you’re in for. Julian St. Nightmare are a visceral yet atmospheric post-punk band. Hex Cassette is industrial darkwave pop with a confrontational and wildly energetic live show. Painted City is for sure synth pop but in that art rock sense one might have seen more in the early 80s but with a sensibility that speaks to having coming up post-Radiohead. Ray Diess is definitely “Goth Pop” but also with a theatrical live show that fans of classic EBM will appreciate.

Saturday | 04.09
What: Abandons, Brother Saturn, Equine and Denizens of the Deep
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective
Why: Brother Saturn will celebrate the release of his latest album Dreams of Sand at this show. As per usual, ethereal soundscapes that are both subtle and transporting and fans of the Hearts of Space program will find a lot to like with his material in general. Abandons is a heavier post-rock band. Denizens of the Deep also produces ambient/noise/modern classical music in a variety of modes but the latest album End Times is a good deal of distorted synth drone over mournful, melancholic compositions and moody piano. Equine is avant-garde prog informed by modal jazz and cosmic mathematics.

Saturday | 04.09
What: Fern Roberts, Vampire Squids From Hell and Mossgatherers
When: 8-11 p.m.
Where: Enigma Bazaar
Why: Fern Roberts is a band that isn’t easy to classify and its latest album I’ll Do It Again Tomorrow occupies a musical space between late 80s Talk Talk, Animal Collective and Beach Fossils. Vampire Squids From Hell are an instrumental, psychedelic surf rock band.

Melvins, photo by Bob Hannam

Sunday | 04.10
What: Ministry w/Melvins and Corrosion of Conformity
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Mission Ballroom
Why: For this tour Ministry is mainly tapping into its songs from Psalm 69 and earlier and even playing”Supernaut” which leader Al Jourgensen covered for an EP by his side project 1000 Homo DJs. So maybe some other early material is in store for the rest of the tour as well. Corrosion of Conformity wasn’t explicitly a crossover band but one whose hardcore bridged the worlds of punk and thrash almost from the beginning. And of course Melvins are always a reliably entertaining live act that has pushed its own envelope since its early days in the 80s when it inspired a great swath of the grunge scene including guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osbourne teaching Kurt Cobain to play guitar and drummer Dale Crover having been a member of Nirvana for a time in the early days. The trio’s impact on modern rock music is often underrated but indelible. In 2021 Melvins released two albums, Working with God, a record more in line with its always compelling noise rock, and Five Legged Dog, an acoustic album. You never have to worry about a rote Melvins show so get there early and see one of the truly great bands of the last 40 years in a place that sounds as great as Mission Ballroom.

Girl Talk, photo by Joey Kennedy

Monday | 04.11
What: Girl Talk w/Hugh Augustine
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Gregg Gillis as Girl Talk took the mashup to new levels in the 2000s as a DJ who, inspired by 90s IDM, alternative artists and noise, created surprisingly unique blends of sounds, rhythms and musical concepts. In 2022 Girl Talk released a collaborative album with Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T. And Smoke DZA called Full Court Press in which Gillis was able to use his production expertise to weave together the contributions of three hip-hop artists not short on personality and idiosyncratic styles. The album represents Gillis’ first full record since 2010’s All Day but also one of the higher points of an already interesting and genre bending career.

Bootblacks, photo by Katrin Albert Photography

Tuesday | 04.12
What: Bootblacks w/Plague Garden and DJ Kilgore
When: 7 p.m.
Where: HQ
Why: Bootblacks started in New York City in 2010 around the early stage of the current wave of darkwave and post-punk. Its intricate rhythms and brooding atmospherics sync well with what feels like a visceral intensity, especially live, that brings an urgency and forcefulness to the music that is missing from the music of some later bands tapping into similar sources of inspiration. Bootblacks didn’t get to tour on its 2020 album Thin Skies for reasons with which we’re all too entirely familiar so this tour will find the band able to give the material its proper presentation. Fans of Chameleons will appreciate Bootblacks dusky take on dreamlike, observational nightlife anthems. Plague Garden is a similarly-minded post-punk band from Denver with roots in punk and EBM.

Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre, photo by Thomas Girard

Tuesday | 04.12
What: Brian Jonestown Massacre w/Mercury Rev
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Brian Jonestown Massacre and Mercury Rev started around the same time around the beginning of the 90s on opposite sides of the country. But both incorporated elements of folk, psychedelic rock and experimental soundscaping into their respective mix of sounds. BJM became an influential band in the American and international underground with a fiercely DIY spirit that went from making records to touring and promoting its music. Singer Anton Newcombe’s thoughtful and poetic lyrics and ever evolving songwriting injected the expansive and imaginative spirit of late 60s psychedelic rock and art rock into a the zeitgeist of the often anemic late-90s post-alternative rock musical landscape and culture with ample personality and unpredictable live shows, some going sideways, mostly striking a chord with disaffected creative people wherever the band toured. Since that time Newcombe has tried his hand at a variety of musical styles while maintaining a subversive and forward thinking creative vision channeled into prolific output. In late spring we can expect to see the release of the new BJM record Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees and its the result of Newcombe’s active experiments in composition and production over the past few years in his Berlin studio. Of course live the group is reliably vital. Mercury Rev from upstate New York was started by former Flaming Lips guitarist Jonathan Donohue and with longtime guitarist Grasshopper, Mercury Rev too has been on a creative arc that has taken them to fascinating places from early, warped psychedelia and space rock to the deeply affecting dream pop of breakthrough album Deserter’s Songs (1998) and explorations of personal mythology and the ways our inner lives manifest in how we make sense of the world on every album since. Live, Mercury Rev is transcendent, inspirational and just the thing you need to fill up after a long time being hollowed out by the less fun aspects of life.

Tuesday | 04.12
What: Bill Frisell Trio
When: 6 p.m.
Where: MCA Denver’s Holiday Theater
Why: Bill Frisell is one of the great living jazz guitarists. From Baltimore, Frisell spent many of his formative years in Denver and Colorado as a graduate of East High School. Going to Berklee took him back to the east coast and he was a studio musician for the prestigious jazz label ECM and when he was living in Hoboken, New Jersey he became a fixture in the NYC jazz scene where he came to collaborate with multiple luminaries of the era including John Zorn, going on to become a member of Naked City, the wildly experimental jazz band. By the late 80s Frisell had relocated to Seattle and continued his already noteworthy solo career but also continuing to collaborate with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto and on film and television scores. Frisell maintains his connections to the Denver avant-garde and occasionally plays locally including this rare chance to see his trio at the MCA Denver’s Holiday Theater.

The Velveteers, photo by David Mermilliod

Friday | 04.15
What: The Velveteers w/Dry Ice and Rose Variety
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Fox Theatre
Why: The Velveteers released its most recent album Nightmare Daydream in 2021 and demonstrated a great leap forward in terms of songwriting for anyone that hadn’t been keeping up with the band in its live performances. Produced by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame, Nightmare Daydream is a blues rock record informed by imaginative songwriting with lyrics that reveal an astute assessment of relationships, the social scene around the world of music and the nuances of human psychology but channeled into bombastic songs that in the live setting have proven to be forceful and captivating. Anyone that saw the Gothic Theatre album release show got to witness a band in full command of its powers with a fiery performance that felt like you were getting to see a famous rock band on the verge of reaching a far wider audience. With upcoming dates with Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet it’s likely the trio’s star will be rising so catch The Velveteers for a hometown show at The Fox Theatre before it breaks through to a mainstream audience.

Friday | 04.15
What: Mogwai w/Nina Nastasia
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: Scottish post-rock band Mogwai has consistently delivered cinematic guitar music across the breadth of its career going back nearly three decades. But even at that its 2021 album As the Love Continues comes as a bit of a surprise as it includes even more evocative vocals in no way buried in the mix as well as those more processed and a finely nuanced soundscaping with electronic elements and rock instrumentation working in perfect sync to at times remind one of a Wendy Carlos composition (i.e. “Fuck Off Money”). There are no mediocre Mogwai albums but it is one that goes to wider vistas musical vistas than to which the band has traveled in some time.

Saturday | 04.16
What: Actors w/Scifidelic, Weathered Statues and DJ Sin
When: 7 p.m.
Where: HQ
Why: Canadian post-punk band Actors have been crafting New Wave-inflected darkwave for around a decade now and its 2021 album Acts of Worship sounds like a dance club soundtrack from a forgotten, 1980’s transcendental science fiction movie. Like maybe if the club Tech Noir from The Terminator got its own movie after being re-opened in 2020. The album’s echoing guitar riffs, melodically brooding vocals, hazy synth lines accented with crystalline tones are reminiscent of early 80s Human League had the league fully incorporated guitars and taken some inspiration from Fad Gadget. And the warping, upbeat, melancholic melodies of songs like “Killing Time (Is Over)” is thoroughly captivating with its unconventional dynamics like something you’d hear on an early Brian Eno “solo” album.

Saturday | 04.16
What: Calm./Time w/Wilt to Live and Lucy Freedom at Mutiny Information Café 8 p.m.
When: 7 p.m.
Where: HQ
Why: Calm./Time is one of the great hip-hop projects of Denver music with sharp, political lyrics infused with an incisive and playful sense of humor. With some of the most creative beats steeped in not only classic alternative hip-hop but experimental music and art pop, Calm. (comprised of rapper Time and producer Awareness) always seems to make high concept social commentary accessible and engaging.

Saturday | 04.16
What: Pile (Rick Maguire solo)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective
Why: From the Facebook event page because I can’t do better: “While the band is known for its dynamic and bombastic live performances, Maguire recontextualizes the material by performing on his own, something he has continued to do throughout the project’s history. 2021 saw documentation of this aspect of Pile in Songs Known Together, Alone, a solo re-imagining of 15 songs across Pile’s catalog.”

Snail Mail, photo by Tina Tyrell

Sunday | 04.17
What: Snail Mail w/Joy Again
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Lindsey Jordan seems to have packed more than a lifetime of heartbreak and pain into her 2021 Snail Mail album Valentine. The title track alone so vividly captures what it feels like to be in the worst throes of a bad breakup and is kind of an inverted Valentine expressing feelings of love and affection that have no direction because of the split and how that can churn inside you leaving you in agonized confusion. Which is a tricky feeling to get across. “Ben Franklin” is apparently about Jordan’s time in a rehab facility, a place for which there all sorts of reasons to end up in for a time, and in the music video for the song she moves about with an energetic playfulness the way many people do with words and actions until they’re ready to have the breakthroughs that are necessary to move on. But the whole record is a brilliantly poetic pop exploration of the various phases of being in some of life’s lowest places set to lush arrangements and inventive guitar compositions that are reminiscent of the more interesting late 90s emo bands that blurred genre lines like Rainer Maria and Milemarker except that Jordan’s sounds reflect the gentleness better suited to expressing wounded feelings and lingering hurt. And yet there is a sense that these songs helped Jordan to crawl through the most vivid memories of their inspirations.

Sunday | 04.17
What: Radolescents w/The Haji, Noogy and Egoista – canceled
When: 7 p.m.
Where: HQ
Why: Radolescents is Rikk Agnew and Casey Royer of the Adolescents along with original Adolescents guitarist Frank Agnew’s son Frank Agnew Jr on vocals, Dan O’Donovan on guitar and Dan Colburn on bass performing the Adolescents’ 1981 self-titled record aka The Blue Album in its entirety. Rikk Agnew has been responsible for some of the most inventive and memorable guitar tones out of punk rock including his performance on the 1982 deathrock classic Only Theatre of Pain while a member of Christian Death. Live performance video out there for this lineup has been pretty solid so here’s a chance to see one of the most iconic bands out of punk of the last 40+ years.

Sunday | 04.17
What: mssv aka Main Steam Stop Valve (Mike Bagg, Stephen Hodges and Mike Watt)
When: 9 p.m.
Where: Lion’s Lair
Why: mssv has quite a pedigree including obvious master bass player Mike Watt of Minutemen, fIREHOSE and Stooges fame but also Stephen Hodges who played drums on Tom Waits records like Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Mule Variations. He also played on various soundtracks including those for Until the end of the World and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. No big deal. But with Mike Bagg whose own performance resume is respective for his work with distinguished jazz artists and avant-garde musicians like Nels Cline. Together they make what might be described as a mutant type of free jazz and surf rock.

Monday | 04.18
What: Sleep w/Superwolves (Matthew Sweeney and Bonnie Prince Billy)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Mission Ballroom
Why: The right people are going to appreciate this strange folk and blues band Superwolves comprised of Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Chavez guitarist/singer Matthew Sweeney opening for psychedelic sludgerocks’s heaviest of the heavy, Sleep. Some people are going to be so put off and angry that will be amusing on its own. Too bad for those people though because two great bands on one bill with this stylistic swing should happen more often. Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy) has influenced a generation of musician though his various bands over the years and his solo records as well for inventive and intricate guitar work and heartfelt, tender, poetic and witty lyrics and Sleep has perhaps more than any other single band outside of Black Sabbath spawned the doom metal genre as we know it but few have equaled their sonic grandeur and imaginative songwriting.

Mondo Cozmo, photo by Travis Shinn

Monday and Tuesday | 04.18 and 04.19
What: The Airborne Toxic Event w/Mondo CozmoRescheduled, date TBD
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Joshua Ostrander aka Mondo Cozmo made a name for himself as the frontman for Laguardia in the the first half of the 2000s and then for a decade as the lead singer for Eastern Conference Champions. But since 2015 he has been recording and performing under the Mondo Cozmo moniker and crafting heartfelt and genre eclectic music. His new album, 2022’s This Is For The Barbarians takes Ostrander deep into his roots in rebellious folk artists like Bob Dylan and his more experimental electronic interests at the same time. The album is like a Radiohead album but more informed by folk and more overtly pop but with the appropriately rough around the edges quality to suit the times that surrounded the process of writing the songs with Ostrander commenting on the highs and very low depths of the world in the past half decade and his insight into personal psychology and the American zeitgeist is as cathartic as it is inspirational. And yes, opening for Toxic Airborne Event whose own long career of luminously gritty alternative rock has garnered a bit of a cult following. Its 2020 album Hollywood Park, sharing the title with singer Mikel Jollett’s memoir of the same name from the same year, was unsurprisingly as literarily as musically as poignant album as any in the group’s career to date and certainly seemingly its most personal.

IDLES, photo by Tom Ham

Tuesday | 04.19
What: IDLES w/Automatic
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Mission Ballroom
Why: IDLES first came to the attention of a wider international audience with the 2017 release of its debut full length album Brutalism. Its exhilaratingly spirited live shows and the poetic intensity and social consciousness and deep self-examination reflected in the lyrics had an immediately appeal that seemed another high point in the then relatively recent resurgence of punk and post-punk that made that style of music seem relevant and exciting again. The 2018 second album Joy As An Act of Resistance in title alone sounded like a call to action for putting energy and will into the world around you that engages people in a positive and compassionate yet passionate manner. Since then 2020’s Ultra Mono took some knocks by various critics as a creative plateau if not a dip in the exciting potential of the band’s previous work but Crawler (2021) proved IDLES is not out of ideas and certainly not out of the incredible energy that is clearly behind its live performances. When IDLES performed at Larimer Lounge 2018 it was unlike most club shows of late with lead singer Joe Talbot ranging far into the crowd to break down the performer and audience barrier the way the songs often do, like they’re speaking directly from your life. Opener Automatic is a trio from Los Angeles whose own flavor of rhythm-and-synth-driven post-punk is reminiscent of early OMD. Its forthcoming and second album Excess releases on June 24, 2022 with retrofuturist music videos that compliment its aesthetic so well. In commenting on the song “New Beginning” the band references the Swedish science fiction film Aniara which is one of the better neo-dystopian films of recent years.

Tuesday | 04.19
What: Soft Kill w/Alien Boy, Topographies, Candy Apple and Destiny Bond
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Soft Kill was one of the earliest of the current wave of darkwave/post-punk bands with a decent string of releases with its 2020 album Dead Kids R.I.P. City being its finest and a poignant commentary on the confluence of the growth of Portland, Oregon both organically and through the poisonously mutant manner that the tech industry and other moneyed interests have initiated globally and the ways in which underground music scenes and cultures have been all but washed out of larger and perceivedly hip cities. The music was a little predictable in that obviously influenced by The Cure and The Chameleons way early on but that latest record has some more inventive songwriting and what comes across as a sincere and tender, melancholic observational lament on people lost and a way of life for creative people and others involved in vital subcultures essentially made a thing of the past or at least a shadow of its former self. Alien Boy is also from Portland and its own melancholic blend of punk, emo and atmospheric guitar rock is imbued with its own melancholic spirit inspired by the struggle with the usual everyday stuff that can be a drag if you’re at all sensitive and thoughtful but also with a culture that in too many quarters is hostile to the very existence of certain sectors of society. Candy Apple from Denver perfectly combines spirited hardcore and Hüsker Dü and The Jesus And Mary Chain-esque noise rock. Destiny Bond also from Denver comes from a similar realm of music but one closer to emo but more aggressive in its expression of vulnerability.

Black Map, photo from Bandcamp

Tuesday | 04.19
What: 10 Years w/Black Map and VRSTY
Where: The Oriental Theater
Why: Black Map is a post-hardcore band from San Francisco comprised of members of Far, Dredg and Trophy Fire. Though supporting alternative metal band 10 Years on this tour its 2022 album Melodoria is the kind of melodic heavy music that bends toward emo and definitely in your wheelhouse if you’re a fan of Circa Survive as its not on the screamo or pop punk end of post-hardcore.

Tuesday | 04.19
What: Jon Spencer & The HITmakers w/Quasi
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Jon Spencer has been giving us gloriously demented and exciting psychedelic blues and garage rock since at least his time in Pussy Galore. But with his new band he collides together all of the stuff you might expect with industrial music production and willingness to introduce non-musical sounds and concepts into the mix. The group’s new album Spencer Gets It Lit is like a retrofuturist science fiction movie as imagined through the lens of an unlikely Suicide and the Cramps team-up and then turned into wonderfully strange and sometimes unsettling songs, which has been Spencer’s modus operandi through various projects for decades. Anything to weird out the squares and honestly the world has been in desperate need for such creative gestures in increasing amounts over the last several years. On the record you can hear the synth and vocal stylings of Sam Coomes of opening band Quasi which is no experimental rock slouch project either with drummer Janet Weiss who in rock and roll right now has to be considered one of the top tier talents. Most people probably know her from her long stint in Sleater-Kinney but anyone lucky enough to have seen her with Quasi or Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks has seen a different facet of her considerable talent.

Letting Up Despite Great Faults, photo courtesy the artists

Wednesday | 04.20
What: Blushing, Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Old Soul Dies Young and Moodlighting
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: This is pretty much the shoegaze or shoegaze adjacent show of the year with Blushing touring in support of its new album Possessions. Its hazy and urgent melodies are enveloping and hypnotic. Letting Up Despite Great Faults also based in Austin weaves in a bit more twee pop stylings into its gorgeous soundscapes. Its own new album, IV, is back to back entrancing material about the more subtle sides of life and daily struggles and in “She Spins” one of the great melodic guitar progressions of the past two decades. Old Soul Dies Young from Denver mixes expansive guitar atmospheres with an almost black metal grit and lo-fi aesthetic seemingly inspired in part by anime and manga, or so its releases on the group’s Bandcamp suggests. Moodlighting like Letting Up Despite Great Faults puts the pop songcraft at the center of its own amalgam of indiepop and dream pop.

Wednesday | 04.20
What: Parquet Courts w/Tim Kinsella and Jenny Pulse
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: If you were to name the top ten post-punk bands now that are pushing that form of music forward with creativity and ambitious songwriting while putting out some of the most sharp critiques of modern politics and society, Parquet Courts would be near the top of that list. Its 2021 album Sympathy For Life has an almost mystical album art design and its songs combine the use of mythical storytelling with stories of the folly of human civilization, especially late stage capitalism, and our often flawed ways of coping in the face of a deeply uncertain future.

Waxahatchee, photo by Molly Matalon

Friday | 04.22
What: Waxahatchee w/Madi Diaz
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Katie Crutchfield has been releasing deeply personal and insightful folk pop albums as Waxahatchee since her 2012 solo debut album American Weekend. Crutchfield’s gift for articulating existential uncertainty, personal devastation and yearning has imbued her recorded output with a underlying but always present spirit of compassion for self and others. Her 2021 album Saint Cloud expands her sound palette further with synths and programming serving as a backdrop, a context for songs that speak directly to a world of accelerating sources of anxiety and by grounding her songs in directly relatable experiences rather than contemplative theoreticals. The songs come off like a great country record informed by imaginative songwriting that pairs grit with poetic observations as ingredients in keeping present when so many things drive us to dissociate.

Friday | 04.22
What: Emerald Siam, Weathered Statues and We Are Not a Glum Lot
Where: Enigma Bazaar
Why: Emerald Siam has long been fusing a dark and melancholic sound with a brightness of spirit that rises through the psychological murk that can bog everyone down so easily these days. Its membership includes former members of bands like Twice Wilted, Tarmints, The Bedsit Infamy and Wild Call and its alchemical use of rhythm tied to dynamic rhythms plus frontman Kurt Ottaway’s passionate vocals is hard to beat. Weathered Statues is a post-punk band from Denver whose sound is rooted in the classics of that subgenre but there is something so upbeat and spirited about its sound and performance that associating the music with something gloomy seems inaccurate as its moody atmospherics have an expansive energy. We Are Not A Glum Lot all but suggests it’s going to be a an emo band of some kind and that wouldn’t be too far off the mark as its intricate guitar melodies and wiry rhythms have a leg in 2000s emo but also one in shoegaze and gritty post-punk. Think something like Sunny Day Real Estate mixed with Jawbox and you have some idea of what you’re in for.

Saturday | 04.23
What: Ho99o9 w/N8NOFACE
When: 7 p.m.
Where: The Marquis Theater
Why: Ho99o9 from Newark, NJ have somehow managed to completely fold together industrial music, hip-hop, hyperpop, hardcore and noise for one of the most immediately riveting sounds around. The live show is as visceral and as confrontational as you might imagine but also brimming with a sense of joy at shattering the conventions of established genre music-making.

Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, photo by Chris Phelps

Saturday and Sunday | 04.23 and 04.24
What: Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs w/Sammy Brue
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Fox Theatre and Bluebird Theater
Why: Mike Campbell is indeed the influential guitarist who was once a member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and a co-writer of many of the band’s hit songs across decades. This is his new band and they’re touring small venues in support of the band’s lively new album External Combustion. So go expecting an arena rock level show at these small theaters. Less polished than the Heartbreakers, this project from Campbell showcases the musician consistently cutting loose a little more than he has in his long and storied career.

PUP, photo by Jess Baumung

Sunday and Monday | 04.24 and 04.25
What: PUP w/Sheer Mag, Pink Shift
When: 7 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre and Boulder Theater
Why: PUP is one great bands to have emerged out of the 2010s as purveyors of the kind of heartfelt pop punk that seemed to revitalize that style of music and bring to it a healthy sense of self-deprecation and introspection expressed in spirited, anthemic songs that feel less like refurbished angst and more like catharsis in camaraderie. Its new album The Unraveling of PUPTheBand has more than its fair share of tasty hooks but also of lyrics that vividly capture the frustrations of the average person trying to navigate the vicissitudes of life in the modern world seemingly on the brink of some kind of disaster. Sheer Mag is the punk band that sounds like it grew up listening to a ton of AC/DC and Slade but ended up discovering working class punk and decided not to see why those sounds and ideas should be separate. Its 2019 album A Distant Call has the visual aesthetics of a Judas Priest record but lyrics that were a sharp critique of plain old American greed and political corruption and the immediate and deleterious impacts on every aspect of life.

Particle Kid, photo by Randi Malkin Steinberger

Monday | 04.25
What: The Flaming Lips w/Particle Kid
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Mission Ballroom
Why: The Flaming Lips will forever be to some people the scrappy weirdo band from Oklahoma that made strange, psychedelic music with vivid lyrics about life’s challenging and colorful moments before and after a brief flirtation with mainstream popularity in the mid-90s before circumstances within the band and a crisis of creativity sent the group back to the drawing boards. After the parking lot experiments in performance, the perhaps ill-considered yet brilliant Zaireeka released on four CDs meant to be played simultaneously for the full effect of the music and then deep diving into alternative methods of recording with its creative high point then thus far with 1999’s The Soft Bulletin. In the 2000s the band’s star ascended further than most people might have expected with its various stylistic experiments and becoming the kind of band that seemed to be playing every festival and embraced by fans of unusual rock music and jam band types. And then the Lips would put out some of its most daring and deeply introspective and insightful albums like 2013’s The Terror and American Head from 2020. If history seems correct for the Lips, this would be a tour to see. Opening the show is Particle Kid and his eclectic, countrified, psychedelic new record TIME CAPSULE includes collaborations with J Mascis and Willie Nelson. Which sounds like it could be a trainwreck but instead it’s an unusually touching set of contemplative, observational songs on American culture and our trying to make sense of it all. It is somehow both nostalgic and imbued with a paradoxically chill immediacy.

Yumi Zouma, photo by Nick Grennon

Monday | 04.25
What: Yumi Zouma w/Mini Trees
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Bluebird Theater
Why: Yumi Zouma from Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand have spent the last eight years or so crafting tender dream pop imbued with a buoyant energy tempered by hazy, introspective tones. It’s 2022 album Present Tense explores the nuances of love and romance in the current period with a poetic sensibility and music that flows with a smoothly cinematic quality lending each song feel like a short film with all the drama of the story coming together poignantly in under four minutes. Jazz-like structures and strings throughout the album renders it like a new take on chamber pop without any of the pretentiousness.

Deftones, photo by Tamar Levine

Monday | 04.25
What: Deftones w/Gojira and VOWWS
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Ball Arena
Why: Deftones are arguably the most influential of the newer style of metal band that came to prominence in the 1990s. The ability of the band to not just tap into a hybrid metal aesthetic but to weave in an always interesting and evolving atmospheric element that has been a part of its songwriting since early on. 2000’s White Pony was like a dream pop album written with the sound palette of a brooding metal group in search of a sound that better expressed the breadth and depth of emotions of its content with the tonal nuance to hit the ears with something more creative and interesting than the usual bludgeoning edginess of much of 90s metal. The combination gave the anger and pain in the album a raw accessibility than it might have had otherwise. The group’s 2020 album Ohms pushed the songwriting further into a more soundscape-y mode that had more in common with the likes of Failure and at times Swervedriver than metal. But that record came out in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic and of course the veteran band didn’t have a way to tour in support of what might be its finest set of songs until this run of shows with support from French death metal band Gojira and prominent darkwave duo VOWWS.

Deserta, image from Bandcamp

Tuesday | 04.26
What: Deserta w/Little Trips and Mon Cher
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Deserta is a Los Angeles-based shoegaze band whose songs sound like a more benevolent side of a Nicolas Winding Refn movie. The project’s new album Every Moment, Everything You Need has whispery vocals that fit right in with the languid builds and grainy melodies and insular mood. Its previous album 2020’s Black Aura My Sun was reminiscent of a more summery Slowdive if influenced by bedroom pop and the new record like a modern take on 80s New Wave but with sultry guitar atmospherics that trail off into the middle distance. Little Trips is a lo-fi dream pop outfit from Denver with a knack for subtle synth melodies that integrate well with chill beats and Mon Cher, also from the Mile High City, is a synth and piano-driven dream pop trio whose melancholic spaciousness is refreshingly not in some trendy mold of that style of music broadly speaking.

Tuesday | 04.26
What: Bloody Knives w/Twin Image and Juliet Mission
When: 9 p.m.
Where: Lion’s Lair
Why: Austin’s Bloody Knives sound like what might be called an industrial shoegaze band with fairly strong electronic and electric musical components in its sound and seeming inspiration from 90s experimental electronic pop. Twin Image is the latest project from former Fell frontman and songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Josh Wambeke and this time it’s more like a shoegaze/slowcore hybrid which is roughly the lane in which Fell existed but Twin Image is even more introspective and somehow more brash. Juliet Mission includes former members of alternative rock/shoegaze band Sympathy F and this long-running project truly captures and expresses the dark, moody vibe of Denver from back when downtown at night was both a perilous and magical place, evoking the specific melancholic flavor that is one of the hallmarks of the city no matter how much shine Nü Denver projects try to gloss over the top.

Knocked Loose, photo by Perri Leigh

Wednesday | 04.27
What: Knocked Loose w/Movements, Kublai Khan and Koyo
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: While metalcore battered itself into self-parody as a movement sometime in the 2000s its leading lights and adjacent artists of note like Poison the Well, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge and others have endured as an influence on hardcore and heavy music for their ability to express a furious kind of outrage through cathartic live performances and having a more imaginative take on that hybrid musical style that can seem monolithic. Since the 2010s metalcore has experienced a kind of renaissance with Knocked Loose from Oldham County, Kentucky being one of the most prominent bands out of that new wave. In 2021 Knocked Loose released its latest EP A Tear In The Fabric of Life with an full animation of the EP by Swedish filmmaker Magnus Jonsson from a story by Knocked Loose frontman Bryan Garris. This time out the band seems to be drawing out its grindcore influence a bit while expanding its dynamic range.

Thursday | 04.28
What: MONO w/Bing & Ruth
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Bluebird Theater
Why: Japanese post-rock band MONO has been quite prolific in its 23 years of existence releasing creatively ambitious, mostly instrumental rock albums that speak more eloquently to emotions and ideas in a nuanced and eloquent way than many standard issue rock bands that spell out what they have to say more explicitly. This has mean the group’s music takes on rendering its meaning beyond specific cultural context. The music is rock but also extends to a modern version of classical music with elegant structure and formal composition tempered by an organic spontaneity. Live this quality translates perhaps most directly.

Vahco Before Horses circa 2018, photo by Tom Murphy

Thursday | 04.28
What: Vahco Before Horses, Polly Urethane, Pearls and Perils, Blank Human, Esu the Illest, Space Pirate, Morpgorp and Joohs Uhp
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Vahco Before Horses is moving to the Netherlands soon and this is going to be his last show as a resident of Denver. The producer/singer/musician has run a local record label called Glasss and now Glass Melts which focused on more experimental music in the local underground and beyond. Vahco spent some time on both coasts in the music industry at various levels and brought some of that sensibility to his work in music in Denver. His own music is a surprisingly soulful form of electronic pop music with powerful vocals and vivid emotional portraits of life. Also on this bill is experimental downtempo artist Pearls and Perils, the weirdo techno of Blank Human, avant-garde mashup hip-hop hooligans Joohs Uhp, transcendent industrial pop soundscaper Polly Urethane, forward thinking rapper-producer Esu the Illest and others. Though kind of a farewell show to Vahco it’s also a fairly solid showcase of one important branch of left field underground music from the Mile High City.

VR Sex, photo courtesy the artists

Friday | 04.29
What: VR Sex w/Lunacy
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: VR Sex is the more punk alias of Andrew Clinco of Drab Majesty fame. This project is more gritty in tone, noisier and more brash. Adopting the performance moniker of Noel Skum (an irreverent anagram of Elon Musk which is pretty on point), Clinco’s songwriting for VR Sex is ordered around clashing dynamics that sound like the kinds of songs a futuristic biker gang might listen to when getting up to some crimes aimed at yet another attempt at authoritarian control of all things in an asymmetrical warfare approach to taking down the man. The new record Rough Dimension with its cover clearly a nod to The Blair Witch Project all too poignantly encapsulates in sound the static, urgency and chaos that we face every day but blasting it apart with buzz saw riffs and attitude. Lunacy from Pennsylvania recently released Echo In The Memory is a bracing, ghostly industrial post-punk record that sounds like life after humans per the History Channel series but for real—gorgeously stark soundscapes with firm rhythm lines and washes of ethereally caustic atmospheres.

Big Thief, photo by Alexa Viscius

Friday | 04.29
What: Big Thief w/Kara-Lis Coverdale
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Mission Ballroom
Why: Big Thief became so popular so quickly you might be excused for dismissing it out of hand as a buzz band of the moment. But its particular brand of indie folk rock strikes deep chords, comes off as deeply honest and personal and its use of space expertly rendered so that it feels like Adrianne Lenker is singing directly to you about your own life. Its 2022 album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You seems so developed and practiced yet also unvarnished and vulnerable. If there is a popular style of indie folk that has been plaguing playlists and the airwaves and watering down the impact of the music, Big Thief here is the opposite of that by embracing what might be considered flaws as simply an essential aspect of our analog humanity and the way we live and exist in a world where not everything is streamlined for easy consumption and the band takes many sonic chances on the record that many artists on a similar level of popularity would not and that makes what Big Thief is doing now seem incredibly refreshing.

Tempers, photo by Julia Khoroshilov

Saturday | 04.30
What: Tempers w/Lesser Care, Julian St. Nightmare and Kill You Club DJs
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Tempers from NYC has been developing its dusky darkwave synth pop for the last several years with albums that seem to draw on a hazy 80s post-punk aesthetic for inspiration but also rooted in modern techno. Its 2022 album New Meaning is arguably its most coherent effort yet with songs about coming to terms with living in a time of great uncertainty and needing to create meaning where it might be eroding in meaningful ways in various areas of life and in the world around you. The cover image of the staircase to nowhere that is a part of contemporary creepy pasta culture as manifested so powerfully in Butcher’s Block, the third season of prematurely canceled horror anthology series Channel Zero. As a symbol for the album it works too as an enigmatic image that requires us to imagine where we might make the staircase take us and the peril of not building something beyond the great unknown that seems to be paralyzing the psyches of so many and otherwise sowing insecurity and desperation in a social environment that wasn’t already short on such things.

Saturday | 04.30
What: LEAF w/Negativland and SUE-C
When: 7 p.m.
Where: The Arts Hub
Why: Lafayette Electronic Arts Festvial returns with a set from legendary performance art/avant-garde electronic/sound collage project Negativland and live cinema artist SUE-C collaborating on a performance that comments on the dystopian tech environment that is plaguing so much of life in the 21st century thus far.

Best Shows in Denver October 2021

The Milk Blossoms perform at Titwrench on Sunday 10.03, photo by Cory Palencia
Muscle Beach circa 2018, photo by Tom Murphy

Friday | 10.01
What: Muscle Beach, Cheap Perfume and Mainland Break
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: This is a now rare opportunity to see Denver post-hardcore band Muscle Beach. Fitting somewhere in between noise rock, the aforementioned subgenre of punk and extreme metal, Muscle Beach also somehow manages to create an inviting rather than forbidding energy. Cheap Perfume’s strident and thrilling feminist punk anthems challenge tropes of punk and social convention equally with great energy and sass. Mainland Break’s jangle-y power pop is absolutely for fans of Franz Ferdinand and Nick Lowe with a perfect balance of homespun storytelling and burning off everyday frustration with fuzz-tinged melodies.

Saturday | 10.02
What: Franksgiving 2021: Ralph Gean, Little Fyodor & Babushka Band and The Pollution, DJ Don Bess
When: 9 p.m.
Where: Lion’s Lair
Why: The late Franklin Bell was a local character whose eccentric DJ nights were a hit with the local weirdo music cognoscenti. For several years he held an event called Franksgiving as a fundraiser for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. With the relatively recent passing of Bell, his friend Little Fyodor has taken up the cause in Bell’s name and merch sales as well as proceeds from the evening will be donated to the aforementioned charity. If you show up you’ll get to see Denver rock and roll legend Ralph Gean, the über punk of Little Fyodor & Babushka Band (don’t go expecting another Ramones or Black Flag clone, this is weird, smart, eccentric stuff and as filled with attitude and as informed by existential anxiety as the best of the genre), the psychedelic punk of The Pollution and DJ Don Bess whose own bizarre choice of cuts for the evening will be decidedly different. Some of the city’s finest all on one bill and for a good cause.

Sol Vida Worldwide performs at Titwrench, image courtesy the artist

Sunday | 10.03
What: Titwrench 2021: Nacha Mendez (Santa Fe), The Milk Blossoms, Machete Mouth, My Name is Harriett (Colorado Springs) and Sol Vida Worldwide
When: 4-10 p.m.
Where: City Park Pavilion 2001 Steele St,
Why: The Titwrench Festival launched in 2009 as a means of shining a light on the creative efforts of marginalized groups beginning with the musical and art works of female identified folks and expanded to other groups including the 2SLBGTQIAP+ community at large and people of color and so on. While the curation has been thusly focused, the festival has always been all ages and inclusive and open to everyone to get to experience creative performances in a safe environment from people whose work isn’t always featured in the usual venues and rooms where you generally get to see live music. The current edition of the festival takes place on Sunday, October 3, 2021 from 4-10 p.m. at the Denver City Park Pavilion. The event will include educational workshops, dance parties, food from Maiz food truck (selling homemade Mexican cuisine) and a market featuring Witch Collective, a group of local artisans and herbalists. Also, this year Suzi Q. Smith will be the MC. Our recent podcast includes interviews with the event organizers (Sarah Slater, Michaela Perez and Katie Rothery) and members of all the performing artists including My Name is Harriet, Machete Mouth, Nacha Mendez, April (Axé) Charmane of Sol Vida Worldwide and Harmony Rose of The Milkblossoms which you can listen to on Bandcamp. For more information on the festival please visit titwrenchcollective.org.

Nacha Mendez performs at Titwrench, photo by M. Cordero
My Name Is Harriett performs at Titwrench, image courtesy the artist
Machete Mouth performs at Titwrench, photo by Tom Murphy circa 2021
The Shivas at the Gothic Theatre in 2013, photo by Tom Murphy

Monday | 10.04
What: The Shivas w/Rootbeer Richie & The Reveille and Honey Blazer
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Since forming in 2006, Portland, Oregon’s The Shivas has developed a sound that incorporates elements of 60s psychedelic garage rock and pop but out of step with obvious trends. Its idiosyncratic songwriting style has always seemed to have more in common with the 90s indie pop and its emphasis on raw expressiveness and tapping into classic sounds and aesthetics as a vehicle for expressing timeless themes and universal human emotions with an intensity and artistry that feels vital and of the moment and not trying to recreate a previous era of music and culture. The band started making a name for itself in the American underground in the late 2000s but its breakthrough to a wider audience might be traced in the wake of the release of its 2013 album Whiteout! On the respected and influential label K Records. Heavy touring every year and a string of solid albums garnered the band a bit of a cult following when, in 2020, The Shivas, like many touring entities, had to effectively stop operations. The foursome had already written its next album and had to put plans on hold for any kind of release until the following year. During the first part of the pandemic and a de facto blackout of live shows happening, three fourths of the band worked with the unhouse population of Portland through a non-profit and took time to rethink and rework how the band would operate going into the future. In early 2021 the group released its latest album Feels So Good // Feels So Bad through Tender Loving Empire, a record that evokes the sense of urgency and uncertainty that all of us felt during the bleakest times of the 2020-2021 pandemic but which many of us poignantly felt prior to that global, and ongoing, health crisis. It is both a cathartic and comforting listen. Check out our interview with The Shivas on Bandcamp.

Indigo De Souza, photo by Charlie Boss

Monday | 10.04
What: Indigo De Souza w/The Slaps
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: North Carolina-based singer and songwriter Indigo De Souza recently released her latest album Any Shape You Take on Saddle Creek in August 2021. Though its neo-soul and pop sound is somewhat stylistically different from her fantastic 2018 debut album I Love My Mom with its introspective, guitar pop songs it goes further into an approach of radical vulnerability in plumbing the depths of emotional trauma, self-doubt and the use of creativity as a path out of the darkest places of the mind. The gentle touch of the songs have an unconventional power through honoring wounded feelings with a compassionate honesty that informs the songwriting in general.

Tuesday | 10.05
What: Arlo Parks w/Michelle
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Arlo Parks’ debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams was one of the more anticipated releases of the past year. Her early EPs showcased a unique and soulful voice from an artist with a deft and easy wordplay that gave an added dimension to her jazz-inflected downtempo pop songwriting. Her performance video for Seattle’s KEXP recorded during the pandemic verified Parks’ self-possession as a performer capable of commanding attention within the coolly dynamic flow of the music.

Japanese Breakfast, photo by Peter Ash Lee

Friday | 10.08
What: Japanese Breakfast w/Luna Li
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: With every album Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast has seemed to take on powerful emotional challenges as almost an engine for her creativity. Psychopomp was written while her mother went through treatment for cancer, Soft Sounds From Another Planet was written in the wake of her mother’s death and seemed like a personalized science fiction story as an attempt to make a meaning of events for anyone listening in to her heartfelt sentiments and poetic exploration of inner space channeled into expansive and inventive art rock. Her latest album, Jubilee, is a departure from those first two records in being more overtly pop in the sense that writing a pop song with resonance and poignancy is a challenge and a way to remain focused on something that distills joy for at least a few moments of time with observations that express essential truths. The record has much in common with the great indie pop bands of the 90s and 2000s and how that music was ambitious and experimental in utilizing sounds and song dynamics that were out of step with what was popular but which has gone on to age well. 2021 has been a bit of a banner year for Zauner as it also marks the release of her powerful memoir Crying in H Mart. If you’re lucky enough to have an H Mart in or around your city and, perchance, have spent time in one the book has a special, tactile, cultural resonance that is difficult to fully appreciate without experiencing that gloriously pan-Asian market for yourself.

Friday – Saturday | 10.08 and 10.09
What: Convulse Records 3 Year Anniversary
When: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Aztlan Theater
Why: Hardcore label Convulse Records celebrates its three year anniversary with a two day festival at the historic Aztlan Theater where many a punk and underground music show took place in the decades leading up to the 21st century. The scheduled performers include Goon, Spine, Militarie Gun, Ingrown, Raw Breed, Discreet, The Consequence, Spy, Urban Sprawl, Faim, Entry, Big Laugh, Video Prick, Punitive Damage, Gel, Scowl, Closed In, Sweat, Cyst, Battlesex, Public Opinion, Direct Threat, MSPaint, Drill Sergeant, Yambag, Rash, Candy Apple, L.I.B., Blood Loss, Reality Complex and Asbestos. See set times below and keep in mind that with all festivals set times can be a little loose around the edges.

Saturday | 10.09
What: Grief Ritual album release w/Church Fire, Lost Relics and Dulled Arrows
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Grief Ritual celebrates the release of its debut album The Gallows Laugh. The band’s blend of post-hardcore and extreme metal is threaded through with surprisingly uplifting melodies as contrasted with distorted vocals and fluidly heavy riffs. Also on the bill are sludge metal greats Lost Relics whose own 2021 album Now We’re Even dropped in April. Dulled Arrows is a bit of a departure from the heavy with its blend of math rock and Americana. Even more of a departure for this show is Church Fire and its revolutionary industrial dance synth pop.

Nation of Language, photo by Robin Laananen

Saturday | 10.09
What: Nation of Language w/Oko Tygra
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: For its new album, A Way Forward due out on November 5, 2021 on PIAS, Nation of Language reached back to the roots of its sound to early pioneers of electronic pop and rock like Kraftwerk, Popol Vuh, Suicide and OMD. It also has the transformative sense of wonder mixed with nostalgia heard in the music of Tor Lundvall in the 90s as released on the 2019 compilation A Strangeness In Motion. So called minimal synth from the early 2010s was very much part of the emergent modern darkwave movement and Nation of Language has refined those sounds and impulses in a way that should also appeal to fans of Perfume Genius and Future Islands. Opening the show is the great, soulful dream pop band Oko Tygra who though clearly inspired in part by Cocteau Twins also bring an R&B sensibility to its lush and affecting guitar rock.

Saturday | 10.09
What: Supersuckers w/Reno Divorce and Luke Schmaltz
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Oriental Theater
Why: Supersuckers were part of that whole mess of the Seattle music scene explosion of the early 90s and benefited from that association but somehow survived the fallout of that collapse to become a beloved underground touring act for some 30 years now. Reno Divorce may be a roots punk band but its stories of everyday struggle hit deep and its spirited performances help drive that content home. Luke Schmaltz was and is the frontman for long running Denver punk legends King Rat and he brings a literary flair to his punk songwriting though for this show he’s going solo.

cleopatrick, photo by Tanner Pare

Monday | 10.11
What: cleopatrick w/Zig Mentality and Ready The Prince
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Bluebird Theater
Why: cleopatrick’s 2021 debut album BUMMER seethes with irresistible intensity. Like a hop-hop album written by guys who make music that sounds like they had to listen to Soundgarden and Sleaford Mods through blown out speakers growing up. The vocal cadence has that kind of flow and the burning, distorted, pulsing guitar work is almost like a sample in the way it is employed in the mix of sounds.

Cellista, image by Yellow Bubbles Photography

Friday | 10.15
What: Cellista PARIAH tour w/Zero Collective (LA) and Herpes Hideaway
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: Cellista returns with her latest album PARIAH which is a fairytale concept album of a sort. But it’s a fairytale about confronting injustice by daring to speak the truth even though rejection by one’s community is often inevitable with a long and uncertain road to vindication for refusing to accept the official version of events. In live performance Freya Cellista aims to break down the barrier of performer and audience with a collective experience of the music. The combination of classical music, pop and opera makes the type of creative work one often has to go to a fancy theater or art gallery to see accessible in a smaller setting like Mutiny.

Friday | 10.15
What: The Final Sound (Brooklyn) w/eHpH and Weathered Statues
When: 8 p.m.
Where: HQ
Why: New York’s The Final Sound brings its moody post-punk flavored dream pop to Denver in the wake of the release of its 2021 album Automata Theory. Fans of The Chamleons and Pink Turns blue will appreciate what The Final Sound have to offer. Weathered Statues is a post-punk band from Denver with a touch of punk brashness that gives the music an expansive momentum and pop flavoring. EhpH is one of Denver’s most interesting EBM/industrial bands even though its latest album, 2020’s Infrared, revealed a bit more than a passing gift for making brooding and deeply atmospheric post-punk.

Valley Maker, photo by Bree Burchfield

Friday | 10.15
What: Valley Maker w/Patrick Dethlefs
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Austin Crane was already writing thoughtful, delicately textured folk style songs on the 2010 self-titled debut Valley Maker album. But with the 2021 release of When The Day Leaves it’s like you’re getting to see those modest though sophisticated creative beginnings attain a full bloom with subtle layers of dynamics interlocking and resolving around rhythm of the poetic imagery of the lyrics. It’s a mastery of songcraft in this loose realm of songwriting that one hears in the work of Sam Beam where storytelling, elegant turns of phrase and delicacy of feeling work together with a nuanced evocation of life’s poignant moments strike you with power of gentle epiphany.

Saturday | 10.16
What: 100 Gecs
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: 100 Gecs is, loosely and perhaps imprecisely speaking, an experimental pop duo from St. Louis whose sound combines noise, trap, industrial pop, EDM and video game music. The auto-tuned vocals and hyperkinetic yet chill production is the kind of thing that will alienate and outrage more conventionally-minded tastes which is why it’s interesting in the first place in flouting outdated notions of good taste. It is unabashedly its own thing which is why the group has garnered a cult following not just for the music but its non-gendered presentation as performers. If you thought people hated Riff Raff, this is weirder with stage personae that really do push the envelope in a creative way and thus culturally significant for that as well as pushing into hybrid musical territories in making something new and undeniably accessible and interesting if you’re open to the unfamiliar.

Monday | 10.18
What: Erykah Badu
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Mission Ballroom
Why: Erykah Badu is one of the pioneers of psychedelic neo-soul whose emotionally vibrant and deep songs have rightfully caught the attention of a wide audience since the late 90s after the release of her 1997 debut album Baduizm. Her gift for jazz idiom and poetry in the context of hip-hop and soul is second to none and her commanding live performances are always moving and worth witnessing.

Cradle of Filth, image courtesy the artists

Monday | 10.18
What: Cradle of Filth w/3TEETH and Once Human
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Ogden Theatre
Why: Cradle of Filth is currently touring and performing its 1998 album Cruelty and the Beast in its entirety. The concept album centered around the story of the 16th/17th century Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory. So go expecting the band’s usual theatrical, extreme metal bombast with some older fan favorites and perhaps some cuts from the group’s forthcoming album Existence is Futile.

Thursday | 10.21
What: Juliet Mission, Jacket of Spiders, Amalgam Effect
When: 7 p.m.
Where: HQ
Why: Juliet Mission is a trio that includes former and current members of classic Denver alternative rock band Sympathy F. Juliet Mission has less jazz elements than the latter and its music is more in vein with the great, gloomy, dark vibe of old Denver. Jacket of Spiders includes former members of Twice Wilted and Tarmints doing a more shoegaze-y and post-punk thing.

Kal Marks, photo by Greg Scranton

Sunday | 10.24
What: Kal Marks w/Moon Pussy and Tender Object
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Kal Marks from Boston has been making some of the most scorchingly abrasive yet accessible noise rock this side of Big Black for over a decade all while mixing in haunting atmospherics and irreverent storytelling. The title of the group’s 2019 EP Let The Shit House Burn Down about summed up widespread frustration with the direction of American society and government. Did this band woodshed songwriting while listening only to releases on Amphetamine Reptile, Touch and Go and Siltbreeze before putting out any releases? Probably not but thankfully they sound like that was part of the creative process to shield musical instincts from the temptation to aim for appealing to tastes dullened by having become used to music that sounds tame and having gone through focus group meetings before being marketed as exciting when it’s anything but. Moon Pussy from Denver are a similar type of band with its own eruptive dynamics and emotional intensity coupled with scorching soundscapes.

Tuesday | 10.26
What: Lords of Acid w/Aesthetic Perfection, Praga Khan and MXMS
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Oriental Theater
Why: Lords of Acid is the Belgian industrial dance band whose overtly sexually themed songs are a hedonistic celebration of life and a repudiation of puritanical sensibilities and a-human hypocrisy. But even if that’s not completely your thing the songs are fun especially in the live setting when you don’t always know what frontman Praga Khan will get up to on stage all in the spirit of a good time. MXMS is the excellent dream pop/downtempo group from Los Angeles whose lush, sultry sound is reminiscent of MIA by way of Crystal Castles and Goldfrapp.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids, photo by Brendan Meadows

Wednesday | 10.27
What: Snotty Nose Rez Kids w/Lex Leosis
When: 8:30 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Snotty Nose Red Kids is a Canadian First Nations hip-hop duo whose production seems as dark as it is playful. Their songs suss out the corners of depression and alienation with sharp couplets that flow with a jagged yet sinuous flow. Currently the group is touring for its fourth full length album Life After.

Thursday | 10.28
What: Mr. Atomic w/Trash and Gila Teen
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Denver’s Gila Teen is what happens when punk and emo kids discover post-punk and manage not to go Goth yet embrace that emotional intensity as a vehicle for making honest art. Mr. Atomic from Fort Collins could be dismissed as yet another 2010s/2020s band that really hopped back on that retro 90s alternative rock revival bandwagon. But its energetic shows and strong songwriting makes such considerations irrelevant because if you band can bring it live that’s all that matters in making it something to recommend.

Tokyo Police Club, photo by Taylor Ohryn

Saturday | 10.30
What: Tokyo Police Club w/Pkew Pkew Pkew https://www.bluebirdtheater.net/events/detail/405233
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Bluebird Theater
Why: Tokyo Police Club got going in 2005 and benefited directly from the peak years of the music blog phenomenon from roughly 2006-2016. The band hit the sweet spot of a mix of influences that sounded like 90s indie rock like Cursive and Modest Mouse and the then still strong post-punk revival. What set the band apart from a steady stream of cookie cutter indie rock was its strong songwriting and thoughtful, insightful lyrics. This was perhaps best embodied in its first half decade by the 2010 album Champ which the 10th anniversary edition of which TPC announced at the end of 2020 and released in 2021. Opening the show are fellow Canadians Pkew Pkew Pkew and their brand of anthemic pop punk.

Saturday | 10.30
What: itchy-O Hallowmass w/J.G. Thirlwell
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Summit Music Hall
Why: itchy-O is the experimental, maximalist electronics and rhythm mobile orchestra that has graced Denver, Colorado and worldwide stages for over around a decade. It’s performance art as much as music though both can be enjoyed independently, which is why itchy-O is still interesting and not an inspired gimmick, as the collective has evolved all aspects of its show and recordings from launch. It’s a bombastic and unforgettable spectacle everyone should get to see. Opening the show is legendary producer and influential industrial artist J.G. Thirlwell whose project Foetus helped to pioneer and develop the industrial and noise genres at the beginning of the 1980s. He has been involved in other people’s records for decades including a fascinating collaboration with Zola Jesus for her 2013 remix album Versions.

Queen City Sounds and Art Best Albums of 2020

Sex Swing | Type II | Rocket Recordings

This sprawling best of list was intended for publication in January 2021 but other priorities got in the way and I had written about many of these in brief in my year end best column for the December 2020 print edition of Birdy magazine in December. Others I wrote up for Birdy throughout the year. All of that text is here hopefully not in a form with my errors edited back in. At any rate it begins with what I’m going to call the album of the year, Type II by UK post-punk experimentalists Sex Swing. It not only stretched post-punk beyond the usual boundaries these days and it articulated the conflict, the outage and confusion of a world coming to terms with the great shortcomings of modern, international capitalism, the inadequacy of the conservative/far right and neoliberal government to address the needs of people across decades and most painfully and poignantly in the moment. That agony and anomie can be heard throughout the album but even separate from that context it’s just a great, experimental rock album. The original verbiage for the Birdy piece reads “An uncomromisingly mind-altering psychedelic noise rock ride through 2020 hell.” With any luck we’ll see the band in North America sooner than later and see for ourselves if the live show delivers. What follows is the rest of the best of list for 2020.

A.M. Pleasure Assassins | Careless Laughter | Self-released
This latest EP from Fort Collins-based, math-y post-punk band A.M. Pleasure Assassins sounds like it  was written after a long period of contemplation and self-imposed exile from one’s usual social activities. “Said Yer Outta Gas” is imbued with a rush of exuberance reflected in its words about emerging from winter into a period of new beginnings. “Get It Right” finds the band waxing into the warped garage punk territory like something one would expect out of Memphis, Tennessee the past two decades — raw and ragged yet bracing. “Cain Was Killing Abel” strikes a more contemplative tone and the sprawling “Pretty Dead Beat” creates a beautifully hypnotic pulse of sounds with bell tones processed through reverb and distorted drones for an effect like a late 90s Yo La Tengo track. The four songs give the impression of nostalgic reflection, but one where you see and feel deeply the joys and pains of a good time in your life  that you are wise enough now to know to enjoy in its full measure rather than through the lens of selective romanticism.

Abrams | Modern Ways | Sailor Records

Adulkt Life | Book of Curses | What’s Your Rupture?

ADULT. | Perception Is/As/Of Deception | Dais Records
Darkly urgent industrial dance anthems to purge today’s desperation, confusion and chaos.

Angel Olsen | Whole New Mess | Secretly Group
A tender yet bracingly fragile portrait of the realization that you can never adequately prepare for everything life might throw your way.

Anna von Hausswolff | Sacro Bosco | Southern Lord

A Shoreline Dream | Melting | Late Night Weeknight
With its first release since 2018’s Waitout EP, A Shoreline Dream presents a set of songs that seems less  ethereal than their previous output. From opening track “Turned Too Slow” to closing song “Atheris  Hispida” the progressive shoegaze duo has seemingly focused its attention on the texture and  physicality of the music. One is tempted to say the guitars are more like hard rock, but only if your idea of  hard rock is more in the vein of Swervedriver. But “Downstairs Sundays” has more in common with folk  music in its intricate guitar interplay though threading through an uplifting, introspective drone. A  Shoreline Dream still gives us its usual transporting melodies, but this time its astral realms are  more focused and vivid as though coming out of its musical dreamstate into a phase of making those  dreams real. 

Autechre | Sign | Warp Records
Cleanses the mind with textural tones and hypnotically immersive, abstract rhythms.

Bambara | Stray | Wharf Cat Records

Bestial Mouths | RESURRECTEDINBLACK | RUNE & RUIN

Bison Bone | Find Your Way Out | self-released

Black Wing | No Moon | The Flenser

blackcell | Burn the Ashes | self-released
Denver-based EBM/IDM band Blackcell returns with its first full- length album since 2013’s In the Key of  Black. Matt Jones’ processed, distorted vocals sound as ever like a dispossessed human resisting an ever increasing mechanization of life. These dark dance songs articulate so well the struggles of the human  condition and seem so resonant for today as meaningful choices and control over your own life are  leeched away into increasing labor defined by a gig economy, subscription and streaming services in the  modern equivalent of pay-per-view, and a failing political and economic system that has channeled all the  world’s wealth into fewer and fewer hands, nickeled and dimed to death and expected to take it like it is or  not to streamline the technocratic wealth pipeline. Blackcell offers no answers but this time, its Gary  Numan-esque end of the world techno feels particularly cathartic right now.  

BleakHeart | Dream Griever | Sailor Records

Body Double | Milk Fed | Zum
Vignettes of personal psychological horror expressed as seething, angular post-punk pop.

Body Negative | Fragments | Track Number Records

Bootblacks | Thin Skies | Artoffact Records
Soaring synths and guitar sketch a vivid image of a deep yearning for personal transcendence and rebirth.

Boris and Merzbow | 2R012P0 | Relapse Records
Alien soundscapes of stunning immediacy that challenge preconceptions of all artists involved.

Botanist | Photosynthesis | The Flenser

Cabaret Voltaire | Shadow of Fear | Mute

Camila Fuchs | Kids Talk Sun | Felte Records
Avant-garde, psychedelic synth pop for tropical vacations in parallel dimensions.

Causer | Hellebore: Demos | self-released

Chicano Batman | Invisible People | ATO Records
Un-ironic, un-corny psych Tropicalia love songs for an inclusive future of unified humanity.

Choir Boy | Gathering Swans | Dais Records
Every song is an introspective Goth R&B ode to radical self care.

Church Fire | Some Lonely Wip | self-released
This collection of “unfinished/unmixed/unmastered/instrumentals” bridges the gap between Nine Inch  Nails and Crystal Castles with their raw, lo-fi, maximalist glitch. Without the highly emotive and cathartic  vocals that have been part of Church Fire’s signature sound we are invited to visit the soundscapes that  give those vocals a powerful musical context. What is obvious here is the band’s playfulness and gift for  pairing dark tonal choices and buoyant rhythms anchored by spare textural elements. On “pixie death  tickle” there are wisps of voices but they serve as more a musical aside from the strong, bright, urgent  main passages. The “wip” in the title may refer to “works-in-progress” but these songs would work as  mood pieces in a soundtrack to the inevitable English language Inio Asano manga film in mirroring that  artist’s talent for simultaneously expressing melancholia and joy.  

cindygod | EP 2 | Fire Talk

Clipping. | Visions of Bodies Being Burned | Sub Pop
Brooding, seething, menacing industrial hip-hop horror stories from an all too near future.

Cyclo Sonic | Pile of Bones EP | self-released

Damn Selene | Nobody By That Name Lives Here Anymore | self-released

Dan Deacon | Mystic Familiar | Domino Records

Dead Voices On Air | Stone Cross Shuttle Worn | self-released

Deafbrick (Deafkids + Pet Brick) | s/t | Rocket Recordings

Death Bells | New Signs Of Life | Dais Records
Atmospheric post-punk brimming with an infectious sense of hope after a time of struggle.

Death Valley Girls | Under the Spell of Joy | Suicide Squeeze
Acid jazz flavored garage psych with an ear for emotionally rich infinite horizons.

Deerhoof | Teenage Cave Artists | Joyful Noise
Reliably Beefheartian, lo-fi No Wave-esque, boundary-breaking avant-pop.

Down Time | Hurts Being Alive | self-released

Drew Danburry | Icarus Phoenix A Sides and B Sides 2020 | Telos

Drew McDowell | Angalma | Dais Records

Dyad | Dormant | self-released
Charles Ballas and Jeremy Averitt are perhaps better known for their participation in acts like  Howling Hex and Esmé Patterson’s live band respectively as well as their production work for  Echo Beds. But DORMANT from their long-running collaborative project DYAD showcases  their mutual knack for genre-bending IDM-esque soundscapes. DYAD freely blends elements of  non-Western polyrhythms, intricate and textured instrumentation, luminous jazz keyboard  progressions and tasteful electronic arrangements that convey an eclectic and international flavor.  Imagine music equally influenced by Herbie Hancock, 80s Ethiopian synth pop, Daft Punk,  Warp Records artists and informed by a deep sense of play, and you will have some idea of the  soothing and imagination stirring quality of this music and its brilliantly new age downtempo  future jazz sounds. 

eHpH | Infrared | self-released
This Denver-based electro-industrial duo minces no words on the opening track “Idiot” in its  introductory sample “I’m gonna say one thing, fuck Trump.” And then on to choice  sampling of 45s words and those of journalists cataloging some of his offenses against humanity.  The menacing descending synth bass progression and minimalistic percussion puts the focus on  the words. The rest of the album is less explicitly and specifically topical but it is the band’s most  fully realized and focused effort yet. The pulsing pace and Fernando Altonaga’s distorted vocals  draw you into meditations on the perils of creeping authoritarianism on “Tarnished.” The  pastoral pace and deep melancholy of “Forever Haunted” resonates with the artfully despairing  tones of the Closer period of Joy Division the way its circular guitar line and synth melody rides  a wave of personal revelation and the contemplation of an unrelievedly bleak future. EhpH  has long been one of the more interesting modern EBM bands but Infrared demonstrates that the  group of Altonaga and Angelo Atencio have fully integrated those roots with a more  contemporary post-punk and darkwave sensibility, thus never sounding stuck in the  past. 

Emerald Siam | Inventions of Ascension | self-released

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou | May Our Chambers Be Full | Sacred Bones Records

Emmy The Great | April / 月音 | Bella Union

Entrancer | Decline Vol. 4 | Multidim
In constructing this latest installment in Entrancer’s Decline series Ryan McRyhew utilized Rob  Hordijik’s DIY synth, the Benjolin, as well as the Make Noise Shared System. Though both are modular  synthesis devices and visually look complex, McRyhew, in naming the equipment on the Bandcamp  page, takes some of the technological mystery out of music making with synths  and puts the emphasis on the creativity end. For twenty-seven minutes forty-four seconds of the single  track of this album, “Decline XVI,” we travel with McRyhew through the sonic analog of the distorted  ebb and flow of civilizational decay that we seem to be experiencing right now. Yet at the  heart of the piece we hear a separation of more industrial sounds and those more organic like the  inevitability of nature reasserting its primacy in our own consciousnesses and in the entire world.

Equine | Light Wa/orship | Noise Pelican

Eve Maret | Stars Aligned | White Supulchre Records

Eyebeams | It Means Trouble | Hot Congress

Eyedress | Let’s Skip to the Wedding | Lex Records

Eye of Nix | Ligeia | Scry Recordings
Uplifting, psychedelic, blackened noise doom journey to a pagan underworld and back.

Facs | Void Moments | Trouble In Mind
The post-punk equivalent of crime jazz’s subterranean menace.

Faim | Hollow Hope | Deathwish

Fearing | Shadow | Funeral Party

Fire-Toolz | Rainbow Bridge | Hausu Mountain Records

Flaming Lips | American Head | Warner Records
Overflowing with compassion and musical salves for the pain and despair of the fractured American psyche.

French Kettle Station | Spirit Mode | Slagwerk

Future Islands | As Long As You Are | 4AD
A soulfully soothing and transporting examination of the roots of one’s melancholic impulses.

Galleries | Resolve | self-released

Ganser | Just Look at That Sky | Felte Records
Incandescent yet contemplative post-punk dense with conceptual content and poignant social commentary.

Gold Cage | Social Crutch | Felte Records

Hard to Be a Killer: A Tribute to Ralph Gean
In an alternate universe Ralph Gean is a beloved rock and roll hero widely known for his  brilliantly unique and off-beat songwriting. But the British Invasion derailed that trajectory and  Gean instead has since become a bit of a legendary figure with a cult following in Denver music  who has periodically played shows and championed by figures as politically disparate as Boyd  Rice (who compiled a collection of Gean’s work in 2007) and Jello Biafra. That fandom is  reflected on this sprawling tribute album assembled by Arlo White of Hypnotic Turtle Radio and  bands like Deadbubbles and The Buckingham Squares. Every interpretation of Gean’s songs is a  worthy listen and a fine showcase for his sheer breadth as an artist. Contributions from local,  experimental eccentrics like Little Fyodor & Babushka, Claudzilla and The Babysitters lovingly  capture Gean’s essential appeal as an artist with an unvarnished charm and humor. Eric Allen of  The Apples in Stereo fame highlights the science fiction cowboy persona that Gean could convey while White’s band Diablo Montalban with the late, great eccentric DJ and Denver cultural figure  Frank Bell give “Switzerland” a real dark exotica treatment reminiscent of weirder moments in  Tom Waits’ catalog. A fascinating portrait of an important yet often overlooked artist.

H Lite | Green Youth Heattech | self-released
Anton Kruger has been known for his inventive, hyperkinetic electronic and experimental music. But for  this new EP he took a deep dive into contemplative realms of sound. Elegant, heavenly strings, luminous  swells of tone and crystalline percussion embody the title of the song “Light Language.” The spacious  sound design aspect of all the song’s on the album are reminiscent of Plaid in the enigmatic playfulness  and the stretching consciousness to find inspiration through creative work. Every song brings forth a  singular and imaginative portrait of tone, texture and rhythm that takes you on a journey to alien spaces  that strike one as familiar and ultimately comforting like a dream. It is post-glitchcore IDM that dispenses  with the anxiety in favor of a soothing spirit.

Houses of Heaven | Silent Places | Felte Records
Gloomy street tribal dance anthems fortified with dark, minor chord melodies.

Human Impact | s/t | Ipecac Recordings

In The Company Of Serpents | Lux | self-released
In the Company of Serpents has long been a band that has aimed to infuse its music with its  interest in cinema, esoteric knowledge, literature, and with all of those come out of directi human experience, emotion and an attempt to make sense of life and imbue it with  meaning. Lux is the fullest manifestation of those aims written into its most sonically dynamic  set of songs to date. The crushing yet fluid heaviness of its sound is paired perfectly with  elements of song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Spaghetti Western soundtrack. “The  Fool’s Journey” opens the record as a sort of map for the path set before us ending with the  enigmatic “Prima Materia.” It’s a musically diverse and rich album that places In the Company  of Serpents apart from a mere doom band and more in the realm of Swans’ and Neurosis’ own  heavy explorations of the human psyche. 

IDLES | Ultra Mono | Partisan
Pointed yet loving politi-punk built on a hip-hop framework.

Insect Ark | The Vanishing | Profound Lore Records
A seething and entrancing hybrid of a Junji Ito manga and industrial psychedelic doom.

Jarv Is | Beyond the Pale | Rough Trade Records

jOoHS UhP | Big Glasss | Records
This record is so irreverent and self-deprecating it uses the swagger language of much of hip-hop to make  statements that are the opposite of anything some other artists would brag about. The irony runs so deep  even the elements of the music sounds like swagger. There is a song called  
“NoWeDon’tWannaMakeGoodMusic.WeTriedAndIt’sBoring.” The glitchy, industrial beats are so  unconventional and eccentric you would never confuse this duo with anything resembling traditional hip-hop. It all has more in common with Renaldo & The Loaf and The Residents  than even a weirdo like Kanye. Though often confrontational and obnoxious there’s no denying the  relentless creativity of the production and glorious seeming lack of regard for how a song is supposed to  sound. 

Juliet Mission | Surren | self-released
Surren is the third EP from Denver-based post-punk band Juliet Mission. As with previous releases the  trio’s command of blending layers of atmosphere with strong rhythms and a contemplative melancholy is  impressive. The short title track actually has three movements that flow from existential introspection to  passages of dark realization to a mood of uneasy acceptance. All four songs in their brooding beauty  demonstrate, as have the most recent albums from The Church, that you can write vital and engrossing  rock songs from an adult point of view with elegance and grace, and without defaulting to an adolescent,  and thus thematically limited, perspective. 

Jupiter Sprites| Holographic | Jupiter Sprites Records

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith | The Mosaic of Transformation | Ghostly International

Killd By | Neotropical (tape reissue) | Noumenal Loom

King Krule | Man Alive! | Matador
Like The Fall gone hip-hop chillout lounge post-bad trip horror movie dreaming.

Klara Lewis | Ingrid | Editions Mego
Distorted melancholic cello drones like the glitched image memories of past life regression.

KoKo La | Curriculum Vitae | self-released
Koko La has long already established herself as an artist of note as one of the MCs and producers in the  hip-hop group R A R E B Y R D $. Her soulful voice and presence often draws out subconscious  emotions and gives them form in the music and performance. Curriculum Vitae finds Koko La exploring  the experiences that have shaped her. Aided by Machete Mouth and Kitty Opinion$ on a couple of tracks,  Koko La excels here with shining a light on those experiences that challenge you in various ways, while  at the same time, giving you a better sense of self and the boundaries you must draw the border for people who might seek to dismiss you as a human or otherwise put you in your place. The trap beats and  hushed atmospheres provide a fascinating listening experience, like you’re honoring the subconscious  thoughts and feelings that affect your waking life by giving them an identifiable form that also allows you  to comprehend, embrace and reconcile the wounded sides of yourself. 

Lazarus Horse | Oh the Guilt! | self-released

Lithics | Tower of Age | Trouble In Mind
Surreal, minimalist post-punk funk disintegrating into disorder like American democracy.

Lone Dancer | Temporal Smearing | Multidim

Mamaleek | Come and See | The Flenser

Many Blessings | Emanation Body | Translation Loss Records
Ethan McCarthy of Primitive Man renown returns to his ongoing noise soundscapes with the enigmatic  and forbidding Many Blessings. In typical fashion this set of five pieces stretches beyond what McCarthy  has done with the project in the past. Throughout this album there is not the harsh noise and deconstructed  drones of some earlier work. Rather, it is layered collages of sound that give voice to the raw angst and  anxieties that sit as a background hum of modern civilization eating away at our collective  unconsciousness. The concluding track “Harm Signal” is like a symbol for the whole effort — a flow of  sounds, a frequency, that we usually ignore but which causes untold destruction to our existence.  These songs identify and give expression to energies and forces we’ve bypassed our whole lives but which  are now impossible to ignore, like a sound art metaphor for the social and political forces that have come  home to roost of late. 

Marissa Nadler | Moons | self-released

Melkbelly | PITH | Carpark Records/Wax Nine

Memory Bell | Solace | self-released

Metz | Atlas Vending | Sub Pop

Midwife | Forever | The Flenser
Madeline Johnston wrote Forever during one of the darkest times of the Denver DIY music  and art community. Her community was scattered and challenged in the wake of the Ghost Ship fire with  so many lives seeming to be on hold with no hint about when thatdespairing period would end. And  the 2018 death of Colin Ward hit everyone whose lives he touched so deeply that it seems like the kind of  hurt that will never fully heal. Johnston’s almost ghostly, delicate and vulnerable vocals and distorted,  ethereal guitar seem to drift together in an effort to make some sense of those feelings with a nuance and  sensitivity that always comes across as emerging directly from those places of acute pain and ache  and loss, and honoring the need to just feel all of that whenever the need strikes and for however long into  your life it lasts even if that is, indeed, forever. An especially touching and evocative tribute to a uniquely  restless and creative yet sensitive and emotionally refined person in Colin Ward, Forever is a tender and  heartbreaking, healing catharsis in the listen. 

Mild Wild | Mild Wild, Vol. 1 | self-released
Intensely personal, imaginatively lo-fi aural snapshots of daydreams and poetic observations.

Mint Field | Sentimiento Mundial | Felte Records
Dream pop slow burner illuminating and warming the inner regions of the melancholic heart.

Moby | All Visible Objects | Mute Records
Retro rave and chillout lounge songs mourning our collective loss, yearning for a hopeful future.

Molchat Doma | Monument | Sacred Bones Records
Introspective, elegantly minimalistic, lo-fi, Belarusian gloom pop.

Mong Tong | Mystery | Guruguru Brain

Moodie Black | FUZZ | Fake Four

Moon Pussy | Hurt Wrist | The Ghost Is Clear Records
Guitar riffs like swarms of angry insects sweeping through. Syncopated percussion like start- and- stop  jackhammers. Bass lines like a half- ton coil being struck and emitting a menacing fluidity. Tortured  vocals erupt with Brutalist, post-hardcore poetry. All of this helps to make this latest Moon Pussy record  the perfect companion and reaction to a radically uncertain world seemingly in perpetual crisis mode and  on the verge of we know not what. Fans of bands on the Amphetamine Reptile imprint or Touch and Go  will be thrilled with the band’s seemingly endless supply of inspired, aggressive and savage noise rock  riffs and the ability to articulate directly from a place of desperation and outrage. “Fail Better” should be  the theme song of these United States.  

Mr. Bungle | The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo | Ipecac

Mr. Gnome | The Day You Flew Away | El Marko Records

Mrs. Piss | Self-Surgery | Sargent House

Napalm Death | Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism | Century Media

New Standards Men | I Was A Spaceship | self-released

Night of the Living Shred | Return of the Night of the Living Shred | self-released
The name of this album of course invokes the title of the 1985 horror comedy Return of the Living Dead.  And the Colorado Springs-based metal group has taken the opportunity to give us an unusual and eclectic  record that not only reflects its members’ broad taste in music but a deeply healthy sense of humor about  the world and themselves. “Shred Shoppe Quartert” is an a cappella song in the style of a barbershop  quartet. There are rap, punks, death metal, doom and grindcore songs. All of it performed with  a charming exuberance even though the entire track list reads like something out of a heavy metal version  of Mad Magazine. “We Get it, Mike Patton Is a Musical Genius” with screaming like a cover of  something by Naked City with lyrics mocking that? That’s genius. Even though the record is largely a put  on in one way or another, the fact that it has so much variety makes it eminently listenable.  

No Age | Goons Be Gone | Drag City

Of Feather And Bone | Sulfuric Disintegration | Profound Lore Records

Oneohtrix Point Never | Magic Oneohtrix Point Never | Warp Records

Otzi | Storm | Artoffact Records
Emotionally intense post-punk at the intersection of Sleater-Kinney and The Cure.

Perry Weissman 3 | Backlog | self-released

Plack Blague | Wear Your Body Out | self-released

Plague Garden | LEFT IN THE GRAVE | self-released

Pod Blotz | Transdimensional System | Dais Records

Pole | Fading | Mute Records

Primitive Man | Immersion | Relapse Records

Princess Dewclaw | Wild Sugar | Glasss Records
On the Wild Sugar EP Princess Dewclaw has reinvented itself as a gritty, industrial darkwave band. That  element was there on its 2017 album Walk of Shame (in fact the songs “Walk of Shame” and “Into the  Words” have carried over in a significantly different form), but there seems more of an edge here. The  vocals come more directly from channeling anxiety and pain into catharsis. Rather than acoustic  drums the electronic and programmed drums sync more closely with the cutting synth work. The effect is  like a caustic and politically charged take on a pop song with mainstream appeal. In that way it has an  appeal similar to that of Alice Glass’s emotionally raw solo offerings.

Protomartyr | Ultimate Success Today | Domino Records
Burning poems songs evoking a Jim Thompson-esque modern America in slashing/clashing post-punk.

Public Memory | Ripped Apparition | Felte Records
If Tarkovksy and Jarmusch could team up to make a cyberpunk movie this would be the soundtrack.

Rafael Anton Irisarri | Peripeteia | Dais Records

Raspberry Bulbs | Before the Age of Mirrors | Relapse Records

Reverb And The Verse | RESONATE | self-released
Since 1999 Reverb & The Verse has been developing and writing some of the most imaginative hip-hop  out of Denver. The groupput their songwriting on this ninth record through  a rigorous process of experimentation and weeding out the material deemed not quite  there. Though steeped in classic MC wordplay, the beats and expertly crafted synth work and rhythms  seem as informed by the likes of Minneapolis alternative hip-hop that came out of the 90s as it does 80s  and 90s synth pop. All of these elements make for a sonically rich and diverse listen a bit like a cross  between Clipse and Meat Beat Manifesto. 

Riki | s/t | Dais Records
Goth synth pop for skate rink parties in abandoned malls.

Run The Jewels | RTJ4 | Jewel Runners

Shabazz Palaces | The Don of Diamond Dreams | Sub Pop

Shitkid | 20/20 | PNKSLM
An unlikely and fascinating hybrid of garage rock and soulful synth pop.

Shocker Mom | The Mediocre Depression | self-released

Sightless Pit | Grave of a Dog | Thrill Jockey
Sublime and caustic, often claustrophobic, soundscapes of terrifying and transcendent beauty.

SNAD/Jackson Lee| Jargon/Syntax Error 12” EP | Deep Club Records

SPELLS | Stimulants & Sedatives | Snappy Little Numbers
This record is raw even by SPELLS standards. But it’s perfect for 11 songs about the messiness of  adulthood with lyrics that frankly go for the jugular. This isn’t new for this pop punk band and its  anthemic choruses, but it’s always interesting to hear the contrast between the primal pop of the  songwriting and incisive portraits of American life that dispense with the soul-destroying niceties. “We  Can’t Relate” is a pointed declaration of the disconnect between the culture of the wealthy and the  working class. “I’m Sorry I’m Not Sorry” is something of an apology song for being how you have to be  in a world that demands essentially unacceptable compromises. Imagine an amalgam of Blatz, Stiff Little  Fingers and The Replacements and you have an idea of the sound, the vibe and the sentiments expressed  throughout. 

Spice | s/t | Dais Records

Sprain | As Lost Through Collision | The Flenser
Colossal, sprawling, slowcore deep dives into the catharsis of anxiety and rootlessness.

Spunsugar | Drive-Through Chapel | Adrian Recordings

Squarepusher | Be Up a Hello | Warner Records

Stay Tuned | Remote Control | self-released
Brilliantly sampling from American media and entertainment culture, both musically and thematically,  Stay Tuned has produced not just a signature song with this arc of eleven tracks but a signature album.  Dense with content each song uses the format of autobiography to comment on aspects of society like the  shallowness of celebrity culture and the way we formulate our dreams and aspirations in terms and  frameworks taken from preexisting constructs like television shows, movies, video games and other  media — of course expressed through the corporate controlled channels we most often use to  communicate with one another. But in free associating musical and other media references in a collage of  sounds in the beat, Stay Tuned uses media tropes and collective myths and imagery to showcase how we  can subvert the prevailing power relationships and the monopolistic paradigms of our time.  

Stephen Malkmus | Traditional Techniques | Matador

Studded Left | Sidewalk Vitamins | Girlgang Music

Stūrī Zēvele | Labvakar | self-released
An endearing indie pop manifestation of the essence of close and warm friendships.

Sumac | May You Be Held | Thrill Jockey

Suo and Data Rainbow | s/t | Multidim

SUUNS | FICTION EP | Joyful Noise

Syko Friend | Fontanelle | Post Present Medium

The Drood | Totally Comfortable | self-released

The High Water Marks | Ecstasy Rhymes | Minty Fresh

The Microphones | The Microphones In 2020 | P.W. Elverum & Sun

The Paranoyds | Pet Cemetery EP | Suicide Squeeze

The White Swan | Nocturnal Transmission | CockThermos

Through Flames | Through Flames | self-released
Riveting, radical experiments in political poetry and sound design.

TI-83 | Demo | self-released

Time | These Songs Kill Fascists | Dirty Laboratory
Hip-hop artist Chris “Time” Steele displays a true gift for fusing autobiography and lived experience with  historical context and knowledge of political theory on this album. He’s always been a brilliant lyricist  whose expert wordplay has seemingly effortlessly combined his sharp sense of humor with a wide ranging curiosity about the world and a growing body of knowledge of history, culture and politics. On  These Songs Kill Fascists, Steele works with Daiba, Mick Jenkins, long time producer AwareNess,  Giuseppe, Ron Miles, JXSHYB, Cat Soup and Psalm One to create a jazz-inflected story cycle  commenting astutely on social issues now getting some focus. While a riveting listen purely as a well crafted album, These Songs Kill Fascists does not function as merely socially conscious entertainment, it  seems to have been crafted as a form of praxis that challenges artist and listener in a dialectic of critical  pedagogy that mutually encourages ongoing personal growth and social transformation.

Tobacco | Hot, Wet & Sassy | Ghostly International
Bright, bombastic, noisy synths paired with darkly humorous musings disrupt the album’s aesthetic of nostalgic comfort sounds.

Torres | Silver Tongue | Merge Records

Uniform | Shame | Sacred Bones Records
Scorching and thrillingly diverse industrial hardcore inspired by noir literature.

Usaisamonster | Amikwag | Yeggs Records

Vivian | The Warped Glimmer | self-released

Voight | s/t | self-released
Maybe it’s Chase Dobson’s treatments and mixing and mastering after Adam Rojo and Nick Salmon wrote  and recorded this album, but the self-titled Voight album is the closest the duo has come to sounding like  it’s blurring the line between its rock and electronic aesthetics. Guitar chords burn and shimmer out,  percussion flurries and traces out a minimalist beat and Salmon’s vocals float through the songs like a  person who was once lost but is now rediscovering his ability to feel and to express those emotions with a  coherent self-awareness. Every song has an expansive quality reminiscent of Clan of Xymox and The Twilight Sad. The tone of the album perfectly walks the line between urgency and introspection without  ever compromising an underlying delicacy of spirit and emotional refinement.

Wayfarer | A Romance With Violence | Profound Lore Records

Wetware | Flail | Dais Recordings

White Rose Motor Oil | You Can’t Kill Ghosts | self-released

Windy & Carl | Allegiance and Conviction | Kranky

WL | ADHD | Beacon Sound

Wolf Parade | Thin Mind | Sub Pop

Yves Tumor | Heaven To A Tortured Mind | Warp Records
Futuristic, effervescent, downtempo, synth pop-inflected, R&B informed non-binary funk.

Best Shows in Denver 2/7/20 – 2/12/20

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Wolf Parade performs at The Gothic Theatre on February 8 with Land of Talk, photo by Pamela Evelyn and Joseph Yarmush

Friday | February 6

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Mainland Break, photo by Tom Murphy

What: Day of Jubilee: Sliver and Marcus Church
When: Friday, 2.07, 5-9 p.m.
Where: The People’s Building
Why: Marcus Church is a Denver-based power pop trio. Its gently jangle-y and fuzzy melodies sound like singer/guitarist Dustin Habel spent a whole lot of time obsessively listening to only records produced by Mitch Easter and the complete discographies of Teenage Fanclub and Big Star. That also means there’s a tender earnestness to the songwriting imbued with an uncommon tenderness and humanity. Sliver bypassed the 90s grunge nostalgia wave of recent years by making no bones about its musical roots in its hard driving, explosively emotional guitar rock. Mudhoney influence aside, its aesthetic is most informed by both the self-effacing, sensitive, introspective side of Pacific Northwest noise punk and the wiry, politically conscious end of DC hardcore.

What: Mainland Break w/Panther Martin, Mystic Wool and The New Creep
When: Friday, 2.07, 9 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Denver power pop band Mainland Break is releasing its video for “Gun Without Hire” at this show. The five piece band sounds like it listened to a whole lot of bands on the Flying Nun imprint in the 80s, some Swell Maps and The Feelies while forming and distilled that influence into upbeat pop songs.

What: Neal Cassady Birthday bash
When: Friday, 2.07, 8 p.m.
Where: The Mercury Café

What: Juliet Mission
When: Friday, 2.07, 9 p.m.
Where: Denver Art Society

What: Disposed, Toxic Wife, Colfax Spank and Caustic Soda
When: Friday, 2.07, 9 p.m.
Where: Englewood Tavern

Saturday | February 8

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Courtney Barnett, photo by Lili Waters

What: Wolf Parade w/Land of Talk gothictheatre.com/events/detail/386833
When: Saturday, 2.08, 8 p.m.
Where: Gothic Theatre
Why: CanadianWolf Parade returns touring in support of its new record Thin Mind. Its blend of post-punk and power pop has helped define the aesthetic of modern indie rock as sonically eclectic with thoughtful lyrics.

What: Courtney Barnett
When: Saturday, 2.08, 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Stanley Hotel
Why: Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has written some of the most personally insightful lyrics of the past two decades paired with emotionally vibrant guitar work and songwriting. She will perform solo for this rare, intimate show at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

What: Lupe Fiasco w/Old Man Saxon, OTIS and HYP3
When: Saturday, 2.08, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Summit Music Hall

What: Shake the Baby Til the Love Comes Out (NYC), Simulators, Turvy Organ and Birdhouse View
When: Saturday, 2.08, 8 p.m.
Where: Glitter City

What: Dr. Montgomery Maxwell, Juniordeer, HXCMIDI, Human Consumption and Savage Bass Goat
When: Saturday, 2.08, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective

What: Street Cats Making Love w/Grayson County Burn Ban
When: Saturday, 2.08, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive

Sunday | February 9

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Miniature Tigers circa 2009, photo by Tom Murphy

What: Miniature Tigers w/Katzú Oso
When: Sunday, 2.09, 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Miniature Tigers’ 2019 album Vampires of Daylight is an exploration of singer/songwriter Charlie Brand’s painful breakup and his return to writing and performing music after going through agonizing experiences that had him over the edge and art therapy through painting instead of music. The result is a raw yet tender album of deeply emotional songs about loss and the confused and tortured feelings that run you through the wringer.

What: Joseph w/Deep Sea Diver
When: Sunday, 2.09, 7 p.m.
Where: Bluebird Theater

Wednesday | February 12

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The Paranoyds, photo by Tony Accosta

What: The Paranoyds w/Spendtime Palace and Princess Dewclaw
When: Wednesday, 2.12, 7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge
Why: The Paranoyds’ psychedelic fuzz pop is a spirited and surreal take on noisy post-punk. Like The Raincoats having come up in Southern California on pop punk and American pop music with a similarly splintery aesthetic and exuberant live performances. Currently touring again in support of its excellent 2019 album Carnage Bargain.

What: Vale of Pnath w/Gorod and Saeva
When: Wednesday, 2.12, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake

Best Shows in Denver 12/26/19 – 12/31/19

Thursday | December 26

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Sliver, photo by Tom Murphy

What: Sliver w/Sad Bug, The Slacks, Forla De La Luna, Black & White Motion Picture
When: Thursday, 12.26, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Lately Sliver frontperson Chris Mercer has been taking vocal lessons from Ed Sheerhan so that they could stop “sounding like I’m totally ripping off Eddie Vedder.” While their songwriting reveals a deep affection for the Everclear catalog the band tries to steer Mercer away from their dreams of having “basically a Silverchair tribute band.” See for yourself if any of this is true tonight.

What: Nektromantic w/Juliet Mission and Plague Garden
When: Thursday, 12.26, 9 p.m.
Where: Shag Lounge
Why: Nekromantic is the bi-monthly post-punk and darkwave night at the Shag Lounge but in the new year those nights will be the second and third Thursday and another night at the Skylark to be announced soon. This evening’s schedule includes a rare live band showcase with Juliet Mission, a post-punk band with roots in the late 80s and early 90s Denver underground scene as all three members were in an early line-up of jazz-inflected shoegaze band Sympathy F. Plague Garden is the post-punk side project of the members of eHpH and Paul Baker of Red Wing Black Bird.

What: Homegrown
When: Thursday, 12.26, 8 p.m.
Where: Grafenberg Sketch Comedy And Improv Theater
Why: This is a live performance from Homegrown, a comedy troupe consisting of contributors of some of the best current comedy television series running with Anne Lane (Rick and Morty), Betsy Sodaro (Disjoined and Bob’s Burgers) and Haley Mancini (Shameless and Powerpuff Girls). Opening the night are Justin Franzen, Nick Ross and Max Schwarz opening

What: Slynger w/Vic N’ The Narwhals and George Cessna
When: Thursday, 12.26,7 p.m.
Where: Larimer Lounge

Friday | December 27

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Green Druid (older), photo by Tom Murphy

What: Green Druid w/Scepter of Eligos and Tricoma
When: Friday, 12.27, 8 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Sludge metal night at Lost Lake. Green Druid is more on the psych end of doom and Tricoma on the black metal end of the same.

Saturday | December 28

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DeVotchKa, photo by Jen Rosenstein

What: DeVotchKa w/The Copper Children
When: Saturday, 12.28, 7 p.m.
Where: Bluebird Theater
Why: First of two year end shows for Denver-based, dark cabaret band DeVotchKa who have recently come back from a several years of hiatus in releasing new music with 2018’s excellent This Night Falls Forever. The band has been through several permutations of its development as a creative group from the “gypsy punk” phase early on to its now more orchestral, grand melodrama and broad emotional expression.

What: Velnias w/Gruesome Relics, Fell Harvest
When: Saturday, 12.28, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive

What: The Born Readies, Elektric Animals and The Ghoulies
When: Saturday, 12.28, 8 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake

Monday | December 30

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Kid Congo Powers & Pink Monkey Birds circa 2014, photo by Tom Murphy

What: Slim Cessna’s Auto Club w/Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds and Hang Rounders
When: Monday, 12.30, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is continuing its tradition of New Year’s Eve shows across two nights starting on this date with the same bill both nights. The Denver-based band is part Vaudeville act and dramatic, countrified post-punk with its stylized and compelling live show. Also on the bill is Kid Congo Powers’ classic Chicano rock band. Powers was once a member of Gun Club, The Cramps and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds but with the Pink Monkey Birds he’s able to shape that into his own musical vision steeped in the aforementioned and glam rock. Hang Rounders is an unabashedly classic country band with a modern flavor.

What: Fuzzy J w/Chris Shrift and Kali Krone
When: Monday, 12.30, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake

Tuesday | December 31

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Chimney Choir, photo courtesy the artists

What: Chimney Choir (light shadow) album release party
When: Tuesday, 12.31, 9 p.m.
Where: Mercury Café
Why: Avant-garde pop group Chimney Choir is releasing its latest album (light shadow) tonight and as per usual, you’re in for the kind of show that pretty much no one else is doing and which will involve multi-media, physical props, costumes and more than likely some inspired audience participation aspect just for this show, probably never to be repeated again.

What: Slim Cessna’s Auto Club w/Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds and Hang Rounders
When: Tuesday, 12.31, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive

What: Devotchka w/Banshee Tree and Kiltro
When: Saturday, 12.28, 7 p.m.
Where: Bluebird Theater

Best Shows in Denver 9/6/18 to 9/12/18

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Killing Joke performs Friday, September 7, 2018, at The Oriental Theater. Photo courtesy artist

Thursday | September 6, 2018

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Midge Ure, photo courtesy the artist

Who: Midge Ure and Paul Young w/Kayla Marque
When: Thursday, 09.6, 7 p.m.
Where: The Oriental Theater
Why: Midge Ure is perhaps know to most for his bright and ethereal vocals and guitar work for new wave/synth pop pioneers Ultravox. With hits like “Vienna” and “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes,” Ultravox was one of the defining bands of the era. But Ure’s career has been broad, varied, lengthy and distinguished as a participant in a particularly creative era of music with stints in Rich Kids with former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and with influential but not oft-cited early synth pop band Visage. Ure was a touring guitarist and keyboard player with Thin Lizzy during its Black Rose era and his solo career has been quite respectable with collaborations with, among others, Kate Bush and Mick Ronson. For this tour, Ure is playing from across his discography including classic Ultravox cuts.

Friday | September 7, 2018

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with Sasha Grey, photo by Allan Amato and Lawrence McCarthy

Who: Killing Joke and <PIG>
When: Friday, 09.7, 8 p.m.
Where: The Oriental Theater
Why: Killing Joke’s stark apocalyptic death disco was basically the template for industrial rock. Its fervid and unblinking depiction of an international industrialized economy destroying the planet and our humanity in the process had a great deal of appeal when the band started in 1978 and seems even more relevant forty years hence when the proof of the destructive nature of late capitalism on the entire planet, including human society, is manifest. Depending on the era of the band in which you checked in or will check in, its live act is a tribal experience with frontman Jaz Coleman a figure channeling the fears and anxieties of the moment and transforming them into inspiration through a shamanic performance. The last time Killing Joke came to Denver in November 2003, Coleman took stage dressed in an outfit that looked like he’d crafted it after ekeing out a living on a remote tundra hunting wild bison with wooden spears, two large pieces of leather sewn together with thick thread made from sinew. He carried a wooden staff like some Celtic mystic, face smeared with dark ash to emphasize the whites of his eyes. When the music started it was like primeval human experiences and those borne of industrial civilization came together. Most bands can’t pull that off. This tour is likely to be just as gloriously weird and inspired.

Also on the bill is <PIG>, the project fronted by Raymond Watts. The latter’s résumé reads like a who’s who of industrial music history. Sure, he’s been an essential member/collaborator of KMFDM since that band’s easliest days. For example, he also worked with Psychic TV in the 80s, he was a touring soundman for Einstürzende Neubauten in the 80s, and he’s worked with Foetus. Watrs’ own music has explored realms of industrial music that expands what it is and what it can sound like. Watts somehow makes music that contains elements of ambient, noise, industrial beats and guitar without sounding like he’s trying to fit in with a trend or “genre” industrial music of any kind. As an artist he’s consistently explored different avenues of sound including Japanese experimental rock band Schwein. In recent years, Watts composed music for the fashion world, perhaps most notably for Alexander McQueen. In 2018 <PIG> released the “That’s The Way (I Like It)” EP which is a small collection of remixes and the cover of the K.C. And the Sunshine Band classic in collaboration with Sasha Grey who has been making a bit of a name for herself as a maker of music and an actress beyond the adult film world. Because of the latter, the song’s video debuted on Pornhub, a first for Watts.

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The Juan Maclean, photo by Tonje Thielsen

Who: Option4 and Friends w/The Juan Maclean
When: Friday, 09.7, 9 p.m.
Where: Bar Standard
Why: Brennen Bryarly became one of the biggest independent promoters of electronic dance music in the country in the past decade. But when he’s had time to indulge making music of his own under the Option4 moniker it’s always been worth a listen. This night he shares the stage with associates as well as The Juan Maclean, the influential neo acid house/nü disco project started by John Maclean, the former guitarist for noise rock legends Six Finger Satellite. These days Maclean does his sets with collaborators Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem fame and Nicholas Millhiser of synth pop band Holy Ghost!

Who: Dead Kennedys w/T.S.O.L., The Dwarves, Runaway Kids and Reno Divorce
When: Friday, 09.7, 7 p.m.
Where: The Ogden Theatre
Why: Don’t go expecting Jello Biafra fronting Dead Kennedys. Ron “Skip” Greer, formerly of East Bay punk and Wynona Riders, has been in the frontman role since 2008. Do go expecting to hear plenty Dead Kennedys classics performed by the classic lineup minus Biafra. Also on the bill are other punk greats like T.S.O.L., the band that refused to just stick with punk musical and sartorial orthodoxy when it dropped the usual hardcore imagery and sound and adopted glam and drag and moody post-punk. And whatever T.S.O.L. wanted, which is pretty punk.

The Dwarves spent a lot of years on the intentionally offensive tip in the vein of G.G. Allin minus the more unsanitary performance stunts. In 1993 the band announced that its guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed had been stabbed to death with a hoax that went so far as to list the HWCBN as The Dwarves’ “late” guitarist on the 1993 release of Sugarfix. That stunt lost the band its label signing with Sub Pop. Four years later the group reconvened and proved it was always more than a campaign to alienate everyone with pushing the extreme stunts envelope and has produced a solid body of garage punk including its 2018 album Take Back The Night on Burger Records. Not for everyone but if you have a wicked and irreverent sense of humor you have to appreciate a band willing to call its 1999 compilation Free Cocaine.

Who: Venus Cruz & Friends
When: Friday, 09.7, 9:30 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Venus Cruz is a multifaceted talent and multi-instrumentalist who on her own or in collaboration with other musicians or in an ensemble finds the sweet spot at the intersection of soulfulness, innovation and accessibility. As the host of Jazz Odyssey on KVUO on Wednesday nights 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., Cruz champions the most forward thinking artists under a broad umbrella of what jazz can be conceived of being.

Saturday | September 8, 2018

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The Verve Pipe, photo by Derek Ketchum

Who: The Verve Pipe w/The Hollow and Citra
When: Saturday, 09.8, 6 p.m.
Where: Levitt Pavilion
Why: The Verve Pipe is most well-known for a handful of singles in the mid-90s with “Photograph” and “The Freshmen” and in 2001 with “Colorful,” which introduced them to an even wider audience on the soundtrack of Rock Star. Even though the band’s songs were uncommonly thoughtful and discussed topics like addiction, suicide, sexual abuse and issues of social justice in a sensitive way one might not expect from a rock band then with radio hits. But when The Verve Pipe didn’t score a big hit its excellent self-titled 1999 album and when its 2001 album Underneath, despite its having a hit song, didn’t move millions of units either the major label world lost interest. Fortunately, fan interest remained and when the possibility of crowdsourcing became an option for a band that had ably managed its own business affairs and marketing before ever signing to a big label, The Verve Pipe returned to having a viable music career again by simply picking up where it left off when the label was taking care of everything. The result has been a fruitful second, or even third, chapter for the band including its 2017 album Parachute, which is a fine example of how a band can reconcile the idealism of its early career with evolution into adulthood without getting boring.

Who: Wovenhand w/Echo Beds
When: Saturday, 09.8, 8 p.m.
Where: The Bluebird Theater
Why: Wovenhand was a reincarnation of David Eugene Edwards as a songwriter from 16 Horsepower into originally more familiar, Gothic folk territory but in increasingly divergent directions including the adoption of Middle Eastern musical ideas with 2008’s Ten Stones and more immersion in Eastern European and Balkan musical forms. With 2012’s The Laughing Stalk, though, Wovenhand sound was harder, darker and more in the realm of fiery post-punk. Was it his new bandmates including former Planes Mistaken For Stars and current Git Some guitarist/vocalist Charles French bringing in that sensibility or a natural evolution of Edwards’s songwriting? Likely a combination as Edwards even covered the likes of Joy Division and The Gun Club while in 16 Horsepower. Whatever the catalyst for the change in sound, Wovenhand remains a haunting and powerful live band.

Denver’s Echo Beds came together out of the local punk and experimental music scene with principals Keith Curts and Tom Nelsen having put in their time make more conventional music and crafting music on the outer edge of accessibility. As Echo Beds the duo has worked with other collaborators over the years but the core of the band has been one to explore the possibilities of unconventional percussion (organic and electronic), harrowing textural noises as compositional elements and a charged emotional delivery it metes out in small, incredibly intense doses. This past summer the group released the nightmarishly beautiful full-length Buried Language through The Flenser.

Who: 1476 w/Alterity, Oblivion Her Majesty, Feigning, No Roses
When: Saturday, 09.8, 7 p.m.
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective
Why: 1476 from Salem, Massachusetts is fairly impossible to pin down to any narrow genre as its body of work encompasses neo-folk, post-punk and black metal without its music sounding like a song-to-song exercise in either. Fans of Neurosis, Coliseum and Wipers will find something to like about 1476, especially its 2017 album Our Season Draws Near.

Monday | September 10, 2018

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Mac Demarco, photo by Coley Brown

Who: Mac DeMarco w/Noname, Free Nationals, DJ Jonathan Toubin
When: Monday, 09.10, 6 p.m.
Where: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Why: Mac DeMarco is a modern guitar hero to some, a retro indie punchline to others. What’s missed in the overblown fandom and uninspired dismissal of an artist one hasn’t taken the time to delve into is the fact that DeMarco has evolved significantly since his time in Makeout Videotape a decade ago. His songwriting has also been more than any easy genre designation, more sonically and emotionally rich than any movement with which he might be lumped. The songwriter has described his own music as “jizz jazz,” whatever that’s really supposed to men, but jazz is the underlying aesthetic and structure to his songwriting.

Demarco’s new album This Old Dog sounds like he spent some years brushing up on his Steely Dan-isms without ripping off the band. There is an introspective lushness to several of the songs not to mention the chutzpah of a twenty-six-year old (at the time of the songwriting anyway) writing a record filled with songs written from the perspective of looking back on what feels like a long life. And to be fair, with as much touring, songwriting, life experience and hustling that DeMarco had to have packed into his life thus far it probably does feel warranted to take stock through one’s art. This Old Dog bears that out and it’s often languid pace feels like he’s felt that in a way that only someone who is a bit world weary would know. Not that DeMarco’s been beaten up by the hammer blows that life deals you as you get toward double his age now but he’s managed to articulate the feelings of wondering what this is all signifies, the self-doubt, the realization of mortality and trying to cope with the loss of key people in your life as well as someone with a decade or more hence on him. Will this translate to a large format performance? One can hope and that Red Rocks is a place where people can take in some of this material with the thoughtfulness that went into its making.

Tuesday | September 11, 2018

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Juliet Mission circa 2009, photo by Tom Murphy

Who: Dark Tuesdays: Juliet Mission with DJs St. Evil and Fernando
When: Tuesday, 09.11, 9 p.m.
Where: Blue Ice
Why: Juliet Mission was born out of the early days of Denver post-punk/alternative rock band Sympathy F when Andre Lucero, Anthony Morales and Doug Seaman were weaving threads of inspiration from the pall of gloom over Denver’s sprawl of urban decay and post oil industry bust decades into darkly beautiful melodies. In the 2000s the band finally released a collection of songs but has more or less remained dormant, playing occasional shows, for the past decade. Now on the cusp of releasing its latest albums, Juliet Mission has been playing live including this rare appearance at Blue Ice for the Dark Tuesdays event that brings together some of Denver’s better darkwave, industrial, Goth and post-punk DJs.

Who: Acid King w/Love Gang and Keef Duster
When: Tuesday, 09.11, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Acid King emerged from San Francisco in the early 90s when its amalgam of heavy metal and psychedelic rock wasn’t exactly in vogue. That just meant the band could develop its sound and aesthetic without that being co-opted by any mainstream movement or corporate record labels looking to cash in on a then potentially commercial trend. The group, still fronted by guitarist Lori S., took its moniker from the nickname of a serial killer and its songs are not short on themes of the occult, and evil after the manner of a horror writer, of course, resulting in a body of work that would be a great companion to the comic art of Richard Corben and Erol Otus or a movie based on the story by Laird Barron. Long before “stoner rock” became a thing, Acid King was in there doing their own pioneering work in that realm alongside the likes of Sleep, Kyuss and St. Vitus. Yeah, all the creative descendents of Black Sabbath but also some of the best.

Wednesday | September 12, 2018

Who: Mike Krol (Merge) w/Shiii Whaaa and Super Bummer
When: Wednesday, 09.12, 8 p.m.
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Mike Krol’s new seven inch “An Ambulance” / “Never Know” out on Merge Records is an immediate no-brainer-love-it for fans of late 2000s lo-fi noise punk/pop stars like Times New Viking, The Reatards, No Age, Psychedelic Horseshit, Eat Skull and Pink Reason. The shitgazers, the bands that celebrated exuberance and coloring outside established lines even for punk and more consciously experimental rock with garbage distortion and pegging the needles on the recording console, the bands that found homes on forward thinking labels like, yes, Merge, and Siltbreeze. Mike Krol is from that lineage of sonics but charting his own flavor. More contemporaneously, if you’re a fan of Clarke & The Himselfs don’t sleep on Mike Krol.

Who: Warm Thoughts, Obtuse, Candy Apple, Old Haunts, Incontinuity
When: Wednesday, 09.12, 7 p.m.
Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective
Why: Warm Thoughts from Los Angeles used to be called Dad Punchers and who doesn’t love a name like that? But Warm Thoughts is probably a better long term name for a band you want to take places where “Dad Punchers” might not read too well. Or, you know, you find yourself being a dad and you’re in the band. At any rate, the emo-inflected pop punk band recently released its latest album I Went Swimming Alone and is making a stop in Denver playing with like-minded bands including Obtuse whose anthemic lo-fi pop punk might be described as defiantly self-loathing underlined with a spirit of accepting that for many of us life isn’t exactly overflowing with glamour and validation.