Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 13: New Standards Men

New Standards Men, photo by Tom Murphy

New Standards Men make music that defies simple genre categorization. Its threading together and fusing of multiple streams of influence has produced a music that has the subversive spirit of punk, psychedelia and the avant-garde, the technical prowess of jazz and metal and all informed by a sense of humor and disregard for stylistic convention. All while creating a prolific and surprisingly coherent and strong body of work including its 2020 and 2021 companion albums I Was A Starship and Spain’s First Astronaut respectively. The group came together in late 2016 when current members Drew Bissell and Jeremy Brashaw started jamming with another friend to produce music that drew on a desire to make music through a sort of improvisational/spontaneous composition approach that continues in the writing process to this day. The aforementioned albums were written and recorded during the same session but with the music having a slightly different flavor, one more heavy, psychedelic doom jazz, the other more John Zorn-esque free jazz. Companions in mood but clearly different facets of the New Standards Men sound. With now shows happening for over a year the group couldn’t release I Was A Starship in the usual fashion with the album release show but the record managed to pretty much sell out of its first run. It was then the band approached Chuck Coffey of the Denver-based Snappy Little Numbers imprint with the thought of reissuing the album and a tape of Spain’s First Astronaut and give a second wave of energy behind promoting those recordings. We had a chance to sit down with Bradshaw and Bissell to discuss their long history in underground music in both southern Iowa, where both spent much if not all of their formative years, and Denver and their deep comprehension of the dynamics of scenes as well as the process of making and releasing their music.

On Thursday, December 9, New Standards Men will have an album release show at the Hi-Dive as a co-album release show with Alien Neighborhood, joined for the night on stage by SPELLS and Moon Pussy. Listen to the interview with the band on Bandcamp below and connect with New Standards Men and Snappy Little Numbers at the links provided.

Snappy Little Numbers

New Standards Men on Facebook

New Standards Men on Instagram

Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 12: Siv Disa

Siv Disa, photo courtesy the artist

Siv Disa aka Siv Anderson is a Reyjavik, Iceland-based songwriter who released her debut album Dreamhouse through the UK imprint Trapped Animal in November 2021. Anderson had been recording her eclective and evocative experimental dream pop and releasing singles for the past couple of years and demonstrated a knack for delivering a whole concept with her songs and accompanying music videos. From early forays into songwriting and performing while in college in the Boston area to becoming immersed in the underground music world of New York City post-grad and working as a teacher, Anderson’s style of soundscaping and storytelling is riveting in its quality of operating from a place outside standard logical though. Dreamhouse itself follows a bit of a story arc in the way Anderson spent a great deal of time figuring out an order for the songs in terms of themes both subject matter and musical. The album’s free association of ideas with psychedelia/shoegaze, jazz structures, noise, ambient and pop in a way that seems to invoke concepts of non-linear film making has resulted in a set of songs that takes you through a broad range of emotions and a gentle catharsis. We had the opportunity to speak with the songwriter at length through the benefit of speaking over the internet about her roots in becoming an artist rather than something her parents would have approved right away, her development as a musician and film maker as well as the themes of some of her music.

Listen to the interview with Siv Disa on Bandcamp linked below (where you can also order a vinyl edition of Dreamhouse), check out the video for “Whistle” (filmed in Iceland) and connect with her at the links provided.

Siv Disa on Instagram, Facebook

Queen City Sounds Podcast Episode 11: Carmine Appice

Carmine Appice, photo courtesy the artist

Carmine Appice is one of the most influential drummers in the history of rock music. He first came to the attention of a wide audience as a member of heavy psychedelic band Vanilla Fudge. His imaginative, powerful and versatile style proved to be an influence on the likes of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Roger Taylor of Queen, Ian Paice of Deep Purple and really a whole generation of hard rock and heavy metal drummers. Across his long career, Appice has played in and contributed to albums by Cactus, Rod Stewart, King Kobra, Pink Floyd, Sly Stone and now with Appice Perdomo Project, his musical partnership with guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo. The duo released its debut album Energy Overload at the end of August 2021 on Cleopatra Records. We had a chance to speak at length with Appice about when Led Zeppelin played its first North American show in Denver opening for Spirit and Vanilla Fudge, his long experience as a recording artist and performer and how laying down tracks in the early 80s paved the way for him to draw on older drum tracks to send to collaborators to recontextualize the beat by writing other music to existing rhythms in a process not unlike a remix by taking a great drum track and having it as the foundation for new music.

You can listen to the interview on the Queen City Sounds Podcast on Bandcamp below and watch the video for “Rocket To The Sun” on YouTube. For more information on Appice and his prolific and still active career spanning six decades, please visit his official website www.carmineappice.net and check out his colorful and engaging 2016 memoir Stick It!: My Life of Sex, Drums & Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Queen City Sounds Podcast Episode 6: Aaron Warren of Black Dice

Black Dice, photo by Dan Hougland

Black Dice was an integral part of New York City underground music in the late 90s and 2000s. Its members had come up through punk but took the spirit of open possibilities suggested by that music to do whatever the wanted to. Anything could be an instrument, any rhythmic idea could be made to work. Even ideas about how structure and patterns would emerge through a kind of sound collage cut-up technique that one might compare favorably with the work of Autechre and Aphex Twin. Key to the band’s creative approach and aesthetic was visual art concepts and its various album covers have been designed by members of the band in a style that hits you like graffiti by way of the Situationist International. The band’s methods of composition and expression proved influential to peers like Animal Collective, a band that on the surface makes an updated form of 90s indie pop but like that music truly experiments with the form and musical substance of the songwriting with forays into noise and sampling that enriched the palette of sounds and dynamics available in crafting songs.

In 2012 Black Dice released its then most recent album Mr. Impossible after which its members took time to pursue other projects, Eric Copeland releasing several solo works as well. With the pandemic thus far time seems to have stretched and compressed for most people and what may feel like a handful of years in the living it can stretch to several and in 2021 Black Dice released its latest record Mod Prog Sic. It is classic Black Dice as a free flowing parade of ideas, textures, rhythm and playful tone and signal processing like some futuristic hip-hop/EBM fusion psychedelic beatmaking. We recently had a chance to speak with longtime member Aaron Warren about his early musical days growing up in California and his formative years as an active member of the punk scene in Boulder and Denver in the 90s before ending up in NYC in pursuit of furthering his education and ending up in the city at a time of great creative ferment.

Black Dice performs at the Hi-Dive this Thursday, November 4, 2021, with cindygod and H-Lite (doors 8 p.m., show 9 p.m., $15 presale, $20 day of show) but until then, please give our wide-ranging and in-depth interview (linked to Bandcamp below) with the insightful and engaging Aaron Warren a listen as it is another tale of the American underground music scene from the 1990s to the present.

Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 5: Ian Vanek on the The Rewards of Authenticity and Being Present in an Age of Toxic Nostalgia

Howardian, image courtesy Ian Vanek

Ian Vanek is perhaps best known for his time in the band Japanther. From 2001 to 2014 Japanther brought together the interest of Vanek and bandmate Matt Reilly in hip-hop, punk, art, graffiti and a spirit of experimenting with a mode of creative expression that would be difficult to pigeonhole. Depending on who you might have asked at any point people might have lumped Japanther in with punk, garage rock, indie rock or art rock. The group befriended a broad spectrum of like-minded artists in the realm of music and fine art and pursued whatever opportunities presented themselves in that rich milieu of Brooklyn in the 2000s and early 2010s and the American and international art and music underground. In the spring of 2021 Vanek released his memoir Puppy Dog Ice Cream about his time in Japanther. His candid and thoughtful account of his life during those years is a vibrant and encompassing narrative that truly captures the spirit of that time and those various places that certainly intersected similar scenes throughout the country and the wider world before various political, social and economic forces made the cultural infrastructure that made aspects of DIY touring and the art galleries and venues increasingly unsustainable certainly by the end of the decade.

These days Vanek’s perhaps main musical project is Howardian and he’s playing a show at 1010 Workshop in Denver, Colorado on Monday, October 18, 2001 at 10:30 p.m. with Knuckle Pups which includes Oliver Holloway formerly of the great folk punk band The Fainting Fansies. Vanek also publishes his long running zine 99mm, the current issue of which includes an interview with hip-hop legend Boots Riley of The Coup whose film Sorry To Bother You garnered rave critical reviews upon its release in 2018 and with whom Vanek has toured and collaborated. We recently got to talk with Vanek extensively about his time in music going back to his youth in Olympia, Washington in the 90s when he was involved in underground music and culture from a very young age. In the extended discussion we talked about aspects of how underground music has changed and how that evolution was inevitable as well as the perils of nostalgia and a looking forward to a future of inspirational music and art that one has not yet encountered. For more information on Vanek, his various projects and goings on, please visit ianvanek.com where you can also find links to his social media accounts related to his varied creative projects. For now, you can listen to the interview on Bandcamp for episode 5 of the Queen City Sounds Podcast below.

Queen City Sounds Episode 2: Uncertainty and Urgency with The Shivas on Feels So Good // Feels So Bad

The Shivas at The Gothic Theatre, June 2013

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. Now the group is in the beginning part of its first tour since the winter of 2019-2020 and you can catch them at Treefort Music Fest this weekend (Friday, 9/24 at The Hideout at 4 p.m. and Saturday 9/25 (really 9/26 but who’s counting) at the Olympic at 12:40 a.m.) and in Denver at the Hi-Dive on Monday, 10/4 with as yet announced dates between and following the Denver date. Visit theshivas.org for more information and other dates for the tour. We recently got to speak with guitarist and vocalist Jared Molyneux about the new record its origins and the impact of not being able to tour for a year and a half on the band and its priorities for the future. Below is the link to Queen City Sounds Podcast episode including that conversation as well as the fetching video for “Feels So Bad.”