Monthly Archives: June 2010

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New Threads: New tunes from Gypsy Nomads, Mad Dog and the Smokin’ Js and Deadbubbles

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New York's Gypsy Nomads are on their way to Denver! (Photo: Frank Siciliano)

New York's Gypsy Nomads are on their way to Denver! (Photo: Frank Siciliano)

The summer music overflow has begun, and Denver looks to be deluged with a constant influx, through-flux and home-spun-flux of music for the season, both live and recorded. Here are a few bands with recent releases that must be heard, most of which you can find in performance in Denver (or elsewhere in Colorado) over the coming weeks. As always, at DenverThread we try to include a few streamers or downloads to further entice you to make it to the bands’ performances – so listen, learn, witness and fall in love with more new music!

The Gypsy Nomads – Happy Madness

Upstate New York’s Gypsy Nomads have released a new collection of twelve songs laced with oodles of magic – of both the cabaret/vaudeville and faerie ilk – that will have even the driest of cynics swaying, maybe even singing along, to the duo’s French medieval folk meets West-Mass punk instrumentation. Though “Happy Madness” is the band’s fourth full length release, in some ways it seems introductory – which should be attributed to the fact that the band are still working on attaining a larger, and well-deserved, fan base – with songs like “Yes! I’m French” and the delightfully silly “Make Out.”

And yet the sound is well-established, solid. The duo, Scott Helland (of seminal West Mass hardcore band Deep Wound fame) on brilliantly looped guitar, bass and percussion, and the multi-talented Samantha Stephenson on vocals and percussion, have pulled  ingredients from their individual roots. Unlikely yet imminently congruent, they’ve created a musical mix that leaves a sweet stain on the skin with the same staying power as evidence from a drunken adventure in a tattoo parlor. The arrangements feature strong roots in Eastern European and French folk, steam-punk imagery, post-punk, Siouxsie-style vocals and just the right sprinkling of straightforward punk rock. The result is irresistible, magically enchanting. For those of you familiar with the local Denver band Tarantella, the Nomads play in the same playground, with similar equipment.

The Gypsy Nomads are playing a live show at the Lions Lair, Thursday, June 3rd!  Get out and see this fantastic live show, in a place where you can really appreciate the intimacy!

Gypsy Nomads bring their unique blend of cabaret, folk and punk to the Lion's Lair this week! (Photo: Frank Siciliano)

Gypsy Nomads bring their unique blend of cabaret, folk and punk to the Lion's Lair this week! (Photo: Frank Siciliano)

Together since 2005, the band has been touring incessantly, nationwide. They’ve played in settings like metaphysical trade shows and bookstores, pagan and anachronistic festivals or theme-based bars and breweries, and now seem set on conquering a wider berth. With the growing popularity of similar genres, from bands such as Gogol Bordello, it seems likely they’ll get the success they deserve.

[wpaudio url=” Out.mp3″ text=”The Gypsy Nomads – Make Out”]

Mad Dog and the Smokin’ J’s – Live at 7683’

Rock will never die – that’s for sure. And neither will Rockabilly. Roots rock, old school, shockabilly, punkabilly – call it what you will. The genre seems to have an endless supply of undyingly rabid, swing-or-slam-dancing fans, often anachronistically (wait – the second time I’ve used that word in this column! Hmmm – a theme, perhaps?) dressed, but always faithful, excited and appreciative of their musical heroes. And local trio Mad Dog and the Smokin’ Js are more than willing to oblige their fans’ obsessions. They recently released a live recording of a show at the Tomichi Tavern in Gunnison, CO that captures the bands’ sonic mayhem and should whet any aficionado’s roots appetite.

Mad Dog and the boys are scheduled to play a wild night at the Skylark Lounge this Friday at the Skylark Lounge. Check them out and fill up your rock roots!

Mad Dog and the Smokin' Js tear it up live recently. (Photo:

Mad Dog and the Smokin' Js tear it up live recently. (Photo:

“Live at 7683’,” recorded in early 2009, features the rare, strong simplicity that a truly great rockabilly setup expresses onstage all the time. “Mad Dog” Mike Minnick’s stand up minimalist trap set posits a strong, consistent to the point of mechanical beat, while wild “Doghouse” bassist Jay Shewman (since replaced by bassist Markus “Johnny Congo” Stratman) and guitarist/vocalist “Smokin’” Joe Clark try to keep up, and the crowd flail wildly around the dance floor. Tunes like “Rip It Up,” “Hopped Up Ford” and “Let’s Go!” speak volumes about the bands’ ability to help you and your horn-rimmed-bespectacled date lose sight of the time, and the decade (even, in our case now, the century), as you wail around on a crowded dance floor.

[wpaudio url=” it Up.mp3″ text=”Mad Dog and the Smokin’ J’s – Rip It Up (Live)”]

Deadbubbles – 24 Hr. Nemesis: The John Carpenter EP

Arlo White’s Deadbubbles never cease to amaze me. Prolific, true to their style, maybe even Zappa-esque, they occupy a unique space in the Denver scene. It’s a space they seem to have created completely on their own, and that may or may not register just yet on many a Denverite’s radar, but it’s only a matter of time.

Deadbubbles offers a solid, protopunk feel, with a severe tongue-in-cheek personality. (Photo:

Deadbubbles offers a solid, protopunk feel, with a severe tongue-in-cheek personality. (Photo:

Among other projects – which include a tribute album to themselves (currently in the works) and hosting the legendary Hugh Cornwell (frontman of the seminal British punk band The Stranglers) in a truly exclusive show recently – the group recently produced the “24 Hr. Nemesis” EP, a collection of early recordings featuring White and current guitarist Paul Humphrey. The subtitle, “The John Carpenter EP,” couldn’t be more accurate. This record’s nine compositions form a more than fitting resume for White and the boys to move into the horror film soundtrack space with no trouble at all. As I listened to the tracks – particularly “Mercury Bath” and “James Woods’ Leather Jacket” – I found it hard to transport myself back out of the clay-walled S&M room from Videodrome (yes – I realize that’s not a John Carpenter film. But “The Thing” just doesn’t invoke the same grab – but you get the idea . . .).

Deadbubbles aren’t currently on a live docket, and are working on new material – as well as the infamous tribute album (I gotta say it: who else has the balls to release a pre-humous tribute album? In case you’re wondering, there have been plenty of covers of the bands’ material submitted by local acts . . . ). Keep your eyes open – this is one band you need to see live!

[wpaudio url=” Woods.mp3″ text=”Deadbubbles – James Woods’ Leather Jacket”]


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