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