Monthly Archives: April 2010

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Katy Taylor plays a beautiful, easy and happy folk, perfect for happy hour, or an entire evening. (Photo: MySpace)

Who’s Playin’ What, Where? This Week – Katy Taylor, Salesman, Ideal Fathers

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Katy Taylor at Trios Enoteca, Friday April 23

Katy Taylor plays a beautiful, easy and happy folk, perfect for happy hour, or an entire evening. (Photo: MySpace)

Katy Taylor plays a beautiful, easy and happy folk, perfect for happy hour, or an entire evening. (Photo: MySpace)

With a beautiful, lilting voice delivering delicate and passionate songs that recall a younger, more relaxed Suzanne Vega, local troubadour Katy Taylor will be gracing Trios Enoteca this Friday night, to accompany the restaurant’s well-made cocktails, beers, wines and foods. Taylor fits well in the smooth, low-lit atmosphere of Trios – though she would also fit impeccably in a larger venue – with her powerful, folky compositions and accomplished acoustic guitar. As delightful as her sets tend to be, she’s also quite a vision on stage. Her easy humor between songs keep the entertainment at a high level, with the right amount of laughter to hide your eyes as you wipe back a few tears, and then try to wash down the huge lump in your throat with a martini.

Local scenester Jardin Briels (special to DenverThread) provided the following review of a recent Taylor performance at Trios:

“. . .Taylor started at 6 pm [at Trios], in front of an impressive crowd that had come straight from work. A nearby fellow mentioned he was still shaking the tension from the day, which, he would find, would soon be readily accomplished. While Katy’s angelic presence glowed under the stage lights and her songs filled the room, troubles seemed to melt away as you realized your gratitude, merely from being there. Her calm, easy charm worked the crowd like soft clay, persisting in a cheery mood, overall. Taylor is a master of love songs, pulling at your heart strings, even while you laugh at her demeanor. . . .“

Salesman, with Magic Cyclops, Veronica and Juliette Mission at the Meadowlark, Saturday, April 24

Salesman, on tour through Colorado, offers a wild punky root blues mix (Photo: MySpace)

Salesman, on tour through Colorado, offers a wild punky root blues mix (Photo: MySpace)

Salesman started out as a duo in Boulder in 2007, and wowed more than a few people before relocating to Austin soon after. Core members Devin James Fry (vocals, guitar) and Clayton Guns Lillard are now joined by bassist John Houston Farmer (who also plays for  indie darlings What Made Milwaukee Famous), and about half the time by violinist Patrick Patterson, to round out the band that recorded their latest record, “Skull.” If you have yet to hear Salesman, take advantage of the MP3 below to get a taste of their Gun Club-infused, bluesy, roots-rock style. Fronted by Fry’s powerful vocals and masterful guitar, swirling with his obsessions with ghosts, UFO abduction, sex and death, the stories on the record are as powerful as they are fun and cathartic.  Bonus – while they last (and for this tour only): they’ve had the latest record cut by an antique record lathe onto the surface of 40 old school 12-inch laser discs. Collector or not, this item is reason enough in itself to come see them.

Live, the band is even more vital, and their impact comes across almost hallucinogenically. You’ll likely find yourself immersed in Fry’s world as he croons and howls about sex and bondage during “Three-Legged Stool,” or tasting old cigarettes and desert roads during “Skull,” as they easily coax you into long, out-of-body experiences.

The Meadowlark is a perfect setting for Salesman, and their coupling with a lineup that includes fantastic groups like Veronica, Juliette Mission and the inimitable Magic Cyclops makes this night absolutely necessary. If you’ve got tickets to the sold out Yeasayer at the Bluebird, skip the encore to get to see this one – it’s worth it.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/Three_Legged_Chair.mp3″ text=”Salesman – Three Legged Chair”]

Solar Bear with Ideal Fathers, St. Elias and Colors at Hi-Dive, Thursday, April 29

Ideal Fathers offers up a thick and humorous mix of Wire, Black Flag and Dead Kennedys.

Ideal Fathers offers up a thick and humorous mix of Wire, Black Flag and Dead Kennedys.

All-local lineups are often sketchy at best, turning even a small cover into an inspiration to stay home and hug the couch, awash in the blue light of free entertainment. But the Hi-Dive on south Broadway has pretty much made it a crusade to offer the best, and the best mixed, lineups – which makes a cover of a few hard-earned dollars seem like nothing. The Thursday night, April 29th lineup, featuring the noisy Solar Bear and Ideal Fathers, as well as St. Elias and Colors, is no exception. And the cover for this one is a mere $7, to boot!

Solar Bear has consistently generated a buzz about themselves around Denver over the past few years with their complex post-hardcore aural attack. The group jumps from one obscure time signature to another and on to another, and back again, even as they try to slay the audience with sheer volume. In a few words, not everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re still a strong addition to the Denver musical landscape.

Ideal Fathers will bring their Big Black meets Wire meets Dead Kennedys dance punk to the stage before Solar Bears. The four piece, which includes Adam Rojo on guitar (a virtual mind-meld between Dead Kennedys’ East Bay Ray and Gang of Four‘s Andy Gil), Mike King on bass, Mike Perfetti on drums and Jesse Hunsaker on vocals, promises to clean out not only your ears, but your arteries and cobwebbed grey matter with their set. Hunsaker’s wild antics are matched well by his David Yow on Devo scream. They’ll have your heart rate up to an anaerobic rate through their entire set.

St. Elias and Colors will fill out the rest of the bill that night.

Check out this sample of what Ideal Fathers has to offer, and then head out to Meadowlark!

[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/Unbearable_Lightness_of_Being.mp3″ text=”Ideal Fathers – The Unbearable Lightness of Being”]


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Threading the Scene with Denver City Saltlicks – The DenverThread Interview

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Denver City Saltlicks are here to rock you into delirium witht their own moonshine-fueled musical concoctions. See them Friday, April 16th at Andrews on Lincoln! (Photo: Cate Hate)

Denver City Saltlicks are here to rock you into delirium witht their own moonshine-fueled musical concoctions. See them Friday, April 16th at Andrews on Lincoln! (Photo: Patrick Owen)

If you’ve been a denizen at Denver venues over the past near-decade in search of wild, homegrown roots music, chances are you’ve run into a performance or two from Denver City Saltlicks, one of the best punkabilly/surf/blues/jugbands around.

Denver City Saltlicks – or DCS – pack a musical punch with tunes that explode out of their private backwoods still and into your face with the force of a moonshine firehose. As it finds its way down your throat, it burns with a feeling like it’s removing most of the smooth lining, and then sits inside,  warming while it generates a small nuclear reaction that powers unstoppable hips, cheeks and ankles. I defy you to avoid dancing next time you see them live, without suppressing an inevitable and overwhelming full body twitch fit.

” . . . the guys in this band are righteous people. I mean the best people I’ve ever known. I just want to hang out with them all the time.”
– Cate Hate

And their repertoire isn’t only jet fueled, actually. The four-piece, currently fronted by ‘Bama Slim and Cate Hate, a brother and sister team that covers vocals, ukelele, washboard and the “Blue Spruce” Johnson (look below for more on this fabulous home-grown piece of music history) and joined by bassist George Wilson and Bullseye Dray, the drummer, can just as easily croon any packed bar into a teary singalong with vocal stylings akin to  a duette between a young Elvis and a punkier, grittier, Supremes’ Diana Ross. And they fill in the spaces everywhere in between with solid delta blues, smoking surf guitar and frenzied, scathing punk rock – it all depends on their mood, and possibly the heat in the room at the time.

DCS has recently gone through some major lineup changes also, as longtime bandmates (and husband and wife) Fish (on standup bass and rockabilly gymnastics) and Rev. Spooner (on vocals and spoons, sticks, castanets, and just about anything else she can bang out a rhythm with) left the band in January of 2010. As close a family feeling as they exhibit onstage, it seemed it would be difficult to replace the pair and move on, but the band has done just that, and is now producing their first full length album, which should drop sometime this fall (if all goes according to plan).

The group is also set to play a wicked show THIS FRIDAY NIGHT, April 16, at Andrew’s on Lincoln, along with Marty Jones & The Great Unknowns and Denver faves The Hollyfelds.

I recently corresponded with some members of the band for DenverThread about the new record, lineup changes and the state of the Denver scene. Read on for more:

DenverThread – How goes the new album? I know it’s your first full length – congrats! After about six years, obviously plenty of material, how did you decide what to put on it, and what to leave off?

Cate Hate – The album is running smoothly. We are currently recording at Motaland Studios and it is phenomenal to work with Bart McCrory, and we hope to drop the album in early fall. It’s going be a fucking great album. I really think it’s going to bring something different to the table.

“. . . ‘Bama is a great song writer. I don’t hear a lot of memorable and great songs being written out there in Denver.”
– George Wilson

Bullseye Dray – With the album content we wanted to create a gumbo of Saltlick flavours, so we threw in a Surf tune, some traditional Americana, Olde Tyme Roots, 50’s R n’ B, and of course some D-Town twang!

Cate – It was hard to sift threw our songs and find which gems we wanted to polish on our first full length. Because, we’ve been together so long and with ‘Bama turning out songs like a Denver City Madman, it was hard to keep it limited to just one CD. I wish we could’ve put out a double disc. Doesn’t that sound great guys?

George Wilson – I have to say ‘Bama is a great song writer. I don’t hear a lot of memorable and great songs being written out there in Denver.

DT – Saltlicks has a strong band personality – more a family than many bands – all  united in the kick ass and take names punkabilly style. I know you and ‘Bama are sibs, but it seemed the whole band lives comfortably together. What do you attribute your closeness to (or am I way off base)? Does the new lineup feel as close so far?

Cate – Well, you hit that right on the head, we are that kick ass and take names kinda people, but we are all really laid back. And, we’ve all been friends for years. My bro I’ve known all my life, right? And, the guys in this band are righteous people. I mean the best people I’ve ever known. I just want to hang out with them all the time.

‘Bama Slim– We are all like minded assholes, so we get along well with each other.

Bullseye Dray– I’m just glad to be here.

DT – Speaking of the family – what about the lineup changes – with Fish and Rev. Spooner aloft, how are you finding the [new] aesthetic? Any progress on a new bassist?

Cate – Well, the trio lasted about a weekend. Luckily, we picked up a close friend, George Wilson, who is also Bullseye’s band mate from TARD for 15 years, so the Saltlicks still have a close family feel. We feel very fortunate that we have added a close friend with vast musical chops. He really schools it on the bass. Cooked very rare, by the way.

DT – ‘Bama – I love your 2X4 electrified lap steel, as do many of your fans. It kind of makes me think of the musical equivalent of deep fried thanksgiving turkey – simple, incongruous, but you’ve never tasted anything quite as succulent, full-bodied and sinful. What’s the history behind this instrument? Is it true it’s partially fueled by moonshine?

‘Bama Slim – My wooden friend “Blue Spruce” Johnson is patterned after old fashioned Delta blues Diddley-Bows.  Blues musicians used to play on their porches and nail a piece of bailing wire up to banisters, jam two rocks under each side and play it with a bottle neck, and then let the porch timbers resonate the sound. I always thought it would fit in with the Saltlick sound…rustic, raw and confounding. The actual recipe is two parts Alabama Moon, a spoonful of sweat and a floater of kerosene…smooth.

DT – What are your thoughts on the Denver scene of 2010? From a band’s point of view, what are its drawbacks, its plusses?

Cate – Well, most of us come from a punk background and we all spent many a time in punk bands, or still do. It’s been refreshing and exciting to be a part of a different genre, too.

George – Scene?

‘Bama – Scene? I don’t know. There’s no hometown rockers anymore that really put on a real show. All the same bands play all the same places, nothing changes show to show. We want to be that band that you can only see in Denver but bring a different and great show every time.  I mean rock in hard based right in Denver.

Cate – I agree. I don’t want it to be the same shit every show. I get bored. I like to mix it up. That’s why we have so many different sounds. We could do an all bluegrass show, or stick to surf and 50’s stuff, or bring the gritty blues. I mean, we have so many options for different types of shows. I think that’s what makes us stand out from many other bands.

Dray- We are still new to the genre we are in. But, it’s really cool to play with bands like The Velveteen Loveseat, The Hollyfelds, and Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band.

DT – Psychobilly seems to be on an upswing at the moment in Colorado – especially in Colorado Springs, or so it seems. What are some of your hopefuls from that scene, and where do you see it going?

Cate – We haven’t really played with any Psychobilly bands, I don’t think. We kind of fit more with those country punk bands around.

George – I think it’s cow punk, Cate.

Dray and Bama – But, we love zombie movies!


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Thoughts on Malcolm, with a resounding R.I.P. . . . .

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Malcolm McLaren died last week, leading to some derisive comments online from some. (Photo:   )

Malcolm McLaren died last week, leading to some derisive comments online from some. (Photo: )

Malcom McLaren died this week, and judging by many comments on Facebook, there seem to be many folks that are much less than mournful. In fact, some seem jaded to a level at which they feel the need to express their dis-ease with being the least bit affected by this monumental swindler’s passing, in very cavalier – even snide – ways. This is funny to me – strange, and strangely typical – that “jadesters” would be so judgmental, so quickly, and with such bravado in large measure.
I have to call bullshit on their attitudes – or at least their cavalier comments – and cite the place McLaren occupies in rock history in his defense. I’ll spare you, and them, the repetition of their comments here in toto. Suffice to say that the general attitude swings from a feeling of “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” to some self-righteous comments about how misguided the man’s mourners must be. I disagree. Swindler, provocateur, unabashed capitalist manipulator, whatever Malcolm is being posthumously bashed for – I believe he deserves much more credit than he’s being given.
McLaren’s historic achievement is his role as the person who put together The Sex Pistols – arguably one of the most incendiary devices in the explosion of all latter punk rock. This group of marginally talented boys became a sort of “band zero” in the late ’70s and ’80s British music infection – at least to a widespread and under-informed audience in the US and Europe. Of course their existence was inspired by loads of American ’70s bands – specifically The Ramones, Stooges, yadda, yadda, yadda . . .  (chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re pretty well aware of this underground history, so I won’t bore you with it again. If you don’t, check out a simple timeline of punk HERE).
The significance of their back-wash introduction of  punk in the US – the British strain –  in the late ’70s is that, outside of New York  and Los Angeles, most of the States had no idea what was going on elsewhere with one of  their musical birthrights. Most were still under the stifling inoculation against innovation, creativity and provocation that is a by-product of, and a necessary anesthetic for, typical A&R music culture. Homogenized, pre-packaged, etc., etc., etc. – people were bored into a comatose state, and musically nourished by the feeding tube from the American music industry’s rock machine.
So, when The Sex Pistols came to the US for their one and only tour, they were both welcomed and deeply reviled.
Nothing surprising or really revelatory here – and most of you know all of this history, anyway. The notion I want to focus on is what McLaren, despite his ulterior commercial motives and confidence games, ended up inspiring.
Consider: any grifter knows you can’t steal something that someone ultimately doesn’t want to lose. A good confidence man or woman merely needs to convince their victim that it was their decision to willingly give away the item (or in this case, belief) in question that led the victim of the con to loss or expense. And, if you’re really, really good, you then convince them that they’re actually better off than they ever have been for having lost. Look at Bernard Madoff, if you need a reminder.
Ultimately, McLaren’s true talent was in recognizing when to put together the correct ingredients – readily available in yet another group of disenfranchised youth on the streets – to add to a mixture that was already hungry for change, and confused by their circumstances. All he had to do was present the Sex Pistols as the next salve for an ailing youth, to start a chain reaction. The public who (eventually) accepted this as a new “movement,” and spread it like wildfire for a few years, were as hungry for exploitation as Malcolm was for money.
What McLaren (most likely) didn’t intend was to become some sort of cultural figure. Nor is it at all likely that he intended to be one of the major gravitational figures around which rock ‘n roll’s trajectory changed forever. And it’s likely the anger streaming from the jaded hipster community towards any recognition for McLaren comes from the fact that he is, in fact, credited with just that.
The truth is, he is responsible for a large share of it, regardless of his motives. McLaren pushed the Sex Pistols onto a willing, starving public that was intellectually flat-lining, and sucked out what he could. It may seem unjust that he profited from “The Great Rock ‘n Roll Swindle” (in which, keep in mind, he readily and constantly admitted total complicity, both publicly and flamboyantly), but his gain was nothing in comparison to what the Sex Pistols ultimately added to the evolution of music. The weight of their presence was enough to divert the course of rock history, in the same way a black hole – even a small one – diverts the course of light, and everything else.
That change in direction led to the most explosive growth in creativity and innovation in rock – and in just about all the arts – since the Beatles. It is that change, that growth, for which we all owe McLaren a debt of simple gratitude. At least we ought to recognize where he fit in the picture, and appreciate his contribution to the timeline – however misguided initially.
My rant – for those who are so jaded as to not recognize (or not choose to appreciate) McLaren’s contribution – would be better centered around how everything that resulted from his influence, or from The Ramones’, Stooges’ or anyone else’s, has so easily been assimilated back into the machine, and is now being spoon fed to us and upcoming generations of future “jadesters,” in exactly the same way the pabulum was being fed to  people then – only now with the speed and force of a thousand firehoses.
This, in my opinion, is what the rock literati should be lamenting, rather than the dubious motives behind a master con-man’s single, greatest scheme.
Who is McLaren’s replacement? And which band is slouching toward which next megalopolis, waiting to be born?
I don’t see any contenders. Not really.
Anyone up to proving otherwise?

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The Lumineers play in Denver now, straight outta Brooklyn. (Photo: MySpace/The Lumineers)

DenverThread New Music Reviews – The Lumineers, Salesman

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The Lumineers play in Denver now, straight outta Brooklyn. (Photo: MySpace/The Lumineers)

The Lumineers play in Denver now, straight outta Brooklyn. (Photo: MySpace/The Lumineers)

The Lumineers – EP

The Lumineers just moved here from the insanely creative hotbed of Brooklyn, NY about 5 months ago, and we’re ecstatic to have them. After all, the flow of musicians and great music has seemed to be going in the opposite direction of late. Getting as strong a duo as this in Denver feels like we’ve stolen another team’s top line to help out in a close playoff stretch (the sport in my analogy doesn’t really matter, but I was talking old-school Avs hockey, for the record). And, similarly, this pair’s play off one another promises to let loose some solid music in our scene into the coming months – and their latest eponymous EP more than proves it.

Musically, their seven-song, self-titled EP often approaches Radiohead’s signature quiet, tied-up desperation, then moves towards the Avett Brothers’ brilliance in composition and lyricism, and channels that through rhythms that often recall civil war marches. Wesley Kieth’s vocals summon Thom Yorke’s passion, often channel Devendra Banhart (minus the annoying warbling, thank you) in tone, and layer on top of alternately soft and vehement, anthemic guitaring.  Meanwhile, Jeremiah Fraites fills out the compositions with lighthearted trounces on floor toms, snares and cymbals, or flirtatious and serious  hands beating out rhythms on black and ivory keys. “Gun Song,” with its irrepressible, rolling and driving rhythms, juxtaposed by heartbroken, exhaled wails, exemplifies what the Lumineers bring.

Two other shining examples are the complex and inciting “Scotland” (which you can download or stream from Denver Post Reverb) and the heart-wrenching “Darlene,” available to stream below. As beautiful as these sound on record, they beg to be heard and seen live, and Denver is lucky enough to have the duo in our own backyard, full time.

You can catch The Lumineers this Saturday, April 3rd, at The Meadowlark (27th & Larimer – TONIGHT!!),  part of a local lineup including Science Partner, Sandusky and Rowboat. Don’t miss it.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/06 Darlene.mp3″ text=”The Lumineers – Darlene”]

Salesman's "Skull EP" recalls the music of The Gun Club, and so much more. . .

Salesman's "Skull EP" recalls the music of The Gun Club, and so much more. . .

Salesman – Skull EP

A big, flailing guitar sound, strong vocals and soft, driven rhythms – these are the basic elements of Salesman, based in Austin-by-way-of Cañon City. This four-piece answers the question: “What would’ve happened if Jeffrey Lee Pierce hadn’t died, and instead invested in a little voice coaching?” Or – maybe a lot of voice coaching. On their “Skull” EP, Salesman recalls Pierce’s Gun Club in the sparse and powerful compositions based around Devin James Fry’s wailing guitar and caterwaul, Clayton Guns Lillard’s alternately soft and explosive drumming, and the melodic bass and violin pairings of John Houston Farmer and Patrick Patterson (respectively).

But their sound doesn’t stop there – Fry also seems to channel vocals from somewhere between Rev. Horton Heat and Chris Cornell at times – and the tunes come across as desolate driving accompaniment. I can’t help but imagine this EP on regular rotation in many an ice road trucker’s cab, pushing them over the next horizon and onto another floe.

The title song grabs you and throttles with the pitch and yaw of his big guitar, and when he laments that “New Mexico is an ashtray,” I’m inclined to roll up imaginary windows. From there into the lulling “Great White,” “Three Legged Chair”and out with the pleading and beautiful “Lightly Row,” the band sells images of surreal isolation, weeks between customers at some far-flung convenience store. Plenty of time to entertain some of Fry’s UFO, ghost and sex-obsessed lyrical meanderings (another similarity he shares with Pierce).

Salesman is currently on a tour through Colorado on their way back to home base in Austin, starting in Fry’s hometown of Cañon City on April 15th, with two Denver dates: April 19th at 3 Kings Tavern (along with Panties at the Bar/Ooh La La Burlesque) and at the Meadowlark on April 24th.

Check out “Skull,” available for streaming below, and then go see this band live. This is one you’ll regret having missed soon enough.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/02 SKULL.mp3″ text=”Salesman – Skull”]


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