Foyer Red’s “Flipper” is a song so resonant with today it takes more than one listen to take in its full impact though one listen is enough to be drawn into its bizarro pop charm. The vocals start out sing-song-y and contemplative like something you’d expect out of a good bedroom pop song but in the background the array of sounds morphs into a mutated pastiche of vacillating dynamics and rhythms and Dada-esque use of texture, drone and jazz-like folk-inflected chord progressions. It frankly shouldn’t work except it is loosely reminiscent of “My Iron Lung” by Radiohead at times before detonating that impression gently mid-song. Elana Riordan sounds paradoxically present and disengaged from the tale of tangling with hunger and turning into a “ravenous creature left to roam the earth” and later “rusted into this warzone” alone with no bones while still growing and ready to “eat your bones.” This while swirling distorted sounds carry a somehow pleasantly disorienting unconventional melody. It’s rare for a band to combine what seems like a commentary on the burgeoning spirit of widespread nihilism that is one of the only sane reactions to the state of the world where the powers that be and authority figures are detached from the lives and interests of most people, even themselves, and you’re forced to get by as best you can and sometimes that means what Prince once sang about when the hell machine of modern late stage capitalism tries to bring you down, “Go crazy” and “punch a higher floor” by feeding that angst and frustration into unexpected and creative acts of resistance including writing a strange, colorful and creative art pop song like this. Listen to “Flipper” on YouTube and follow Foyer Red on Bandcamp.
Dale Bozzio is one of the New Wave style icons of the 1980s as the lead singer of Missing Persons. Her unique singing style and compelling stage presence coupled with her daring fashion sense for an aesthetic that was a bit futuristic the way David Bowie was in the mid-70s made Bozzio a fascinating figure in popular music. Hits like “Destination Unknown,” “Words,” “Mental Hopscotch,” “Walking in L.A.” and “Windows” took the fairly experimental art rock band into the mainstream. Its members had all been a part of Frank Zappa’s band in the late 70s and brought those technical chops and conceptual creativity to the more pop-oriented Missing Persons and having hits has cemented the band as a fixture of 80s pop, as their body of work deserves, but its craft and experimentation can often be missed in the larger cultural context. Nonetheless, Spring Session M, the group’s 1982 full-length debut, has aged well from its original era but the 1984 follow-up Rhyme & Reason, dismissed as an “art” album at the time of its release, is now starting to get some appreciation for its more forward-thinking material. But by 1986 due to interpersonal dynamics the band split with some brief reunions in 2001 and 2009 before Dale Bozzio relaunched the project as an ongoing concern in 2011 with strong live shows.
In December 2021 Dale Bozzio released her rather candid and poignant memoir Life Is So Strange: Missing Persons, Frank Zappa, Prince & Beyond. In the book Bozzio reveals to us aspects of her early life and the unorthodox ways in which she met Zappa climbing through a bathroom window at a music venue he was playing in Massachusetts as well as the ups and downs of life and her career and the extraordinary people with whom Bozzio worked and some of whom in with which she had a love affair including Prince. It’s a quick read and informed by Bozzio’s humor, warmth, personal insight with the unmistakable sensibility of someone who was and is creatively ambitious and wanted to do something with that spark that she cultivated from a young age. You can order the book directly from Bozzio on her Facebook page (linked below) which comes with a pink seven inch vinyl of “Destination Unknown” b/w “Mental Hopscotch” as remixed by Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus/Love and Rockets fame.
We had chance to speak with Bozzio by phone about some of the stories she details in the book and aspects of her life that perhaps aren’t included so hopefully you enjoy listening to the conversation and get a sample of what a sharp and, well, cool and thoughtful a person Bozzio really is. Listen to the interview on Bandcamp below. Also, catch Missing Persons on tour with that Lost 80s Live! tour running through summer 2022.
Forget the images the name Sell Farm might bring to mind. Pressure might be described as an industrial darkwave dub album but it also has as much in common with ambient music and the avant-garde pop music Phil Elverum has been making for over 20 years including his time with Old Time Relijun, Microphones and Mount Eerie. There is no attempt to stick to genre convention or instrumentation. Imagine an album made by later 90s era Swans through the lens of indie pop. “Fools” introduces us with lush and lo-fi soundscapes produced by distorted white noise and repeating motifs of stringed instruments and processed drones giving a sense of grittiness like an old and decaying film print of a stranger’s 8 millimeter reel of a family holiday celebration. Though there is a mysterious accessibility here the whole album sounds like a long lost cassette culture industrial product out of the 80s underground. The vocals even when they’re at their most melancholic reveal some roots in the influence of R&B via Prince and D’Angelo. But you could also hear this on the soundtrack of a future David Lynch film, especially the brooding and foggy “Ideas and Missiles.” The album ends with the propulsive title track that hits like a dub-infused EBM song akin to an older Nitzer Ebb track circa That Total Age. Live all of these songs have such a startling power, particularly “Pressure,” but even on these recordings you have to wonder when these songs were written and recorded which is a testament to Sell Farm’s ability to free associate styles across decades. Listen to Pressure on Bandcamp and pick up one of the limited edition cassettes if you’re so inclined.
Joseph Lamar has dispensed with genre limitations from early on his career and SIN. [act I], his 2020 album, is a panoramic display of his creative instincts. The album is a story arc and exploration of the nature of sin and how the concept and its place in the personal mythology of many people can exert both a deleterious influence on the psyche while also inducing a tension that produces unintended consequences as those forbidden things become points of obsession, secret and otherwise in the mind. Lamar’s casting these contemplations in the form of experimental R&B songs lends to his songwriting palette textures, tones and rhythms that bring great nuance of expression to every track. The electronic percussion deconstructs and uses trap beat making in a creative way that is in its own way psychedelic as Lamar brings you on the existential journey of the album with him for a trip through conflicting emotions and personal evolution along the way. The song “paradise 1” is a theme and part of a story within a story that questions in both music and lyrics what really is paradise and how much of it can you really take before you want to move on to other experiences and other types of paradise than those that initially occur to you in life. The following track, “x_tears_in_paradise,” has the line about “no tears in paradise” as though in a perfect world you are expected to adhere to the same artificial rules of emotional expression that you do in an everyday emotionally repressive culture.
Lamar really does push against psychic straight jackets across the album and figures out a way out of the internalized psychological and social pressures and works through rejecting them. In the end with the song “TEENAGE ANGST” Lamar rests in a realm of ethereal sounds and self-acceptance of the normal emotions we all have with an embrace of “imperfect” human existence as the only one we can ever really know. Fans of Kaytranada will appreciate the album’s genre bursting and inventive and eclectic production, at times it’s reminiscent of something Prince might have done had he come up in the 90s and 2000s making music and seeking to establish a unique musical identity and concept for his albums in the shadow of overexposure and overstimulation and transcending the limitations of thinking you need to adhere to someone else’s scene or style or the legacy of another artist. Lamar aims to reach such a creative state of grace with SIN. [act I] and seems to have succeeded. Listen to the album on Bandcamp and follow Joseph Lamar at his website and on YouTube.
Ivar Wigan took One Eleven’s song “American” and made a video with some choice visual references one might infer like The Wicker Man, John Boorman’s hazy, surreal atmospheres and The Blair Witch Project. Like a supernatural horror film invoking ancient religions and dream visions. It suits the song with its rich soundscapes and breathy, Toni Halliday-esque vocals and brooding dynamics. Guitarist Ollie had been playing with Roxy Music for some time when he met singer Fyah who was working for Bryan Ferry and helping with recording sessions with Prince. So the sophistication of the songwriting and the production should come as no surprise. That the song also courses through your imagination with its transporting melody is not something everyone with a similar background and chops manages to accomplish. The duo will perform Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at The Bermondsey Social Club in London.
Thursday | February 7, 2019
Who: Hockey Dad w/Hunny
When: Thursday, 02.07, 7 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Australia is not the first place one thinks of when it comes to hockey but New South Wales has ski resorts so maybe the name of the band Hockey Dad, from Windang, isn’t as cheeky as seems but it’s a surf rock band so kudos. But Hockey Dad grew up surfing and skating so it’s sound reflects the spirit of that lifestyle more so than simply falling into trendy sound. With Hockey Dad think more like The Saints gone power pop.
Who: A Light Among Many, Kenaima, URN. and Giardia
When: Thursday, 02.07, 8 p.m.
Why: A Light Among Many is heavy drone drenched in the primal spirits of the local landscape. URN includes former members of Skully Mammoth and thus doom with a sense of humor yet somehow still gritty and epic. Kenaima sounds a collision of Converge-esque post-hardcore and thrash. Giardia is pushing the envelope of heavy music by finding the sweet spot where drone-y bass, saturated synth work, jazz-inflected drums and weirdo prog intersect.
Friday | February 8, 2019
Who: Marcus Church EP release w/Kali Krone, Artless Bravado and Sweetness Itself
When: Friday, 02.08, 9 p.m.
Where: The Skylark Lounge
Why: Dustin Habel has been grinding away writing songs since at least the mid-2000s. Under the moniker Marcus Church he’s done solo work, playing all the instruments and recording the songs, as well as in collaboration with a small circle of bandmates. The prolific songwriter has perhaps not garnered the recognition he deserves for his lo-fi, Dinosaur Jr/Yo La Tengo-esque compositions, but the project’s latest effort, the Marcus F. Church EP, has a touch of jangle like something Mitch Easter might take an interest in producing—introspective and warm but upbeat. The band has been a trio for a bit now and tonight you can catch the new set of songs, as well as choice cuts from Habel’s catalog, live.
Who: Gun Street Ghost with The Regular, The Threadbarons and Paul Kimbiris & The Dark Side of Pearl
When: Friday, 02.08, 8 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Mike Perfetti has been involved in many of Denver’s most interesting bands for going on two decades in his capacity as a bassist, drummer and guitarist. But with Gun Street Ghost Perfetti gets to share his gift for storytelling. Perfetti orchestrates the details of the story and the essence of the people in them with a masterful hand with the help of his talented bandmates. It’s been some time since Gun Street Ghost has put out a record but in the live setting you’ll likely get a taste of the new material and with any luck 2019 will see the release of the group’s full-length.
Who: Sonorous: Gregg Ziemba, Alex Trujillo, Joshua Trinidad
When: Friday, 02.08, 6 p.m.
Where: Syntax Physic Opera
Why: This is a dinnertime show from some of Denver’s most talented practitioners of jazz and experimental music including Gregg Ziemba and Alex Trujillo of Rubedo and Joshua Trinidad whose free jazz band Cougar Legs and psychedelic fusion project GoStar have showcased his prodigious talent. Trinidad and Ziemba also perform in Wheelchair Sports Camp. Heavy hitters.
Who: Bud Bronson & The Good Timers, Muscle Beach, SPELLS
When: Friday, 02.08, 8 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Bud Bronson & The Good Timers are one of the few reliably great and spirited straight forward rock and roll bands anywhere. A touch of punk but BBTGT aren’t trying to be limited by subgenre. Muscle Beach is impossible to simply call post-hardcore or post-metal or even noise rock but are an inspired distillation of all three. SPELLS is a C+ party punk band but they really work for that C+ and are more fun than many B+ punk acts. They’re no Refused but who is?
Saturday | February 9, 2019
Who: Don Chicharrón album release w/Los Mocochetes, High Plains Honky and DJ A-Train
When: Saturday, 02.09, 8 p.m.
Why: Don Chicharrón is a band whose blend of chicha (Peruvian cumbia with roots in popular music of the 1960s and 1970s that incorporated psychedelic rock and Andean folk music), metal, spaghetti Western and other musical forms is lively and fluid for a group of nine people who come from disparate musical backgrounds. Anyone that has been able to catch the group live knows it’s musicianship is expertly integrated so it never feels like anyone is doing too much at once. The group’s debut, self-titled full-length will be available at this show and its expansive compositions sound like the soundtrack to the Love and Rockets comic series in its multi-cultural aesthetic and ineffable sense of the futuristic.
Who: An Evening With Nels Cline 4
When: Saturday, 02.09, 9 p.m.
Why: Nels Cline has been involved in more noteworthy music than any modern human has any right to claim including turns with Geraldine Fibbers, Wilco and John Zorn. This is one of his experimental jazz groups so expect plenty of left field improv.
Who: Esmé Patterson and band play the Songs of Prince from Sign O’ The Times w/Acuna Black and CRL CRRL
When: Saturday, 02.09, 8 p.m.
Where: The Oriental Theater
Why: Esmé Patterson brings together a group of ace players and collaborators to perform songs from Prince’s 1987 masterpiece Sign O’ The Times, which is entire apropos for the times we’re in now.
Who: Alphabet Soup #40: Felix Fast4ward, Furbie Cakes, MYTHirst, Yung Lurch and Dashwoo
When: Saturday, 02.09, 8 p.m.
Why: This is the latest edition of Alphabet Soup, a showcase for some of the most forward thinking and innovative producers and soundscapers in Denver. The event used to take place mostly at Deerpile but with the demise of that performance space the event has been moved to other venues including tonight at Thought//Forms gallery.
Sunday | February 10, 2019
Who: Pedro the Lion w/Tomberlin
When: Sunday, 02.10, 8 p.m.
Where: The Bluebird Theater
Why: Phoenix is more than just a clever title for the first Pedro the Lion record in fifteen years. David Bazan spent years touring as a more or less solo act and releasing a series of acclaimed records. But like most artists he hit a wall at some point and in 2016 he got to the place of a low point crossroads. Two years later he was writing and recording songs that made sense for Pedro the Lion with words of reinvention, rediscovery, reclamation and embrace of the spirit of one’s past self and past creations that helped to define the person you are now. While personal to Bazan and his bandmates, one thing Bazan has been able to do as a songwriter is to write material that transcends the personal, transcends any faith or philosophical orientation that informs it and to articulate with sensitivity and kindness the struggles and pain everyone seems to experience.
Monday | February 11, 2019
Who: Gang of Four w/Plume Varia
When: Monday, 02.11, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Globe Hall
Why: Gang of Four is the influential post-punk band that perfectly combined punk with disco and a sharp cultural critique that took aim at more universal issues in Western and global culture of the 1970s onward. After all, the band named itself after a Chinese political cabal involved in the Cultural Revolution. The first three Gang of Four albums (1979’s Entertainment!, Solid Gold from 1981 and Songs of the Free released in 1982) were a blueprint for 90s and 2000s dance punk as well as a direct influence on Red Hot Chili Peppers from the beginning (GOF guitarist, and sole original member, Andy Gill produced the 1984 self-titled debut from RHCP). But few of the band’s descendants could match Gang of Four in its intensity, sonic inventiveness much less socio-critical acumen. The band’s latest album, with its current line up, is HAPPY NOW released in 2019 via PledgeMusic. A little more topical than usual, naming, presumably, Ivanka Trump in a song, Gang of Four hasn’t exactly taken the gloves off. Opening the show is Denver-based downtempo dream pop duo Plume Varia performing one of its now rare shows.
Wednesday | February 13, 2019
Who: SMRT, Big J. Beats, Glissline, Escapism
When: Wednesday, 02.13, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Glissline is Tommy Metz who has been releasing gorgeously lush, brightly melodic, beat-driven IDM for more than a decade. As Glissline, Metz has been melding visual elements with his musical compositions for a multi-sensory experience including a well-crafted low end. It’s dance music for dreaming. Big J. Beats is a producer whose work is most often, and justifiably so, associated with hip-hop but his imaginative soundscaping transcends genre completely which is why he is one of the Mile High City’s greatest beat makers.
Who: Richard Thompson Electric Trio w/Ryley Walker
When: Wednesday, 02.13, 7 p.m.
Where: Boulder Theater
Why: Richard Thompson was one of the leading lights of influential folk project Fairport Convention. He also played guitar on the first two Nick Drake albums. From the 1970s onward, Thompson has created a body of work that should be more well-known outside folk circles with brilliant rock and pop songs. There is also his prodigious work as a collaborator and contributor to other people’s recordings. His final album as the duo of Richard and Linda Thompson, 1982’s Shoot Out the Lights is a masterpiece of folk rock. Following the tour for that record the Thompsons split and Richard went on to a critically acclaimed and prolific solo career as well. As the name of the group suggests, this will be a showcase of Thompson’s electric music rather than the acoustic songs, though you never know, maybe Thompson will bring in some of his classic material written originally for acoustic but reconfigured for the electric trio. In 2018 Thompson released the dark and moody 13 Rivers.