Tag Archives: Ideal Fathers

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Wait for it… the UMS isn’t over yet. It’s just getting stronger. Trust us.

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Not to worry - it's just getting stronger before its inevitable demise. (Photo: Rupert Murdoch - indirectly)

Not to worry - it's just getting stronger before its inevitable demise. (Photo: Rupert Murdoch - indirectly)

The mighty UMS weekend may be drawing to a close, but it’s far from done. The last day brings some of the best of the bunch, and you won’t want to miss any of it. All three days previous have been more than spectacular  – and have shown off the Denver scene for what it is: strong, diverse and more than anything just plain good.

So you’ll want to dust off your flippy-floppies and saddle up your hangover, drench yourself in sunscreen and get out on Broadway lickety-split – before it wraps itself up and we kiss another year goodbye!

The final day has its work cut out for it, with a lineup that’s definitely up to the task. Read on to see a few of our recommendations.

Today’s UMS is proudly brought to you by:

Jesse Hunsaker's calling it quits - can't believe it's already over. (Photo: Ideal Fathers)

Jesse Hunsaker's calling it quits - can't believe it's already over. (Photo: Ideal Fathers)

Ideal Fathers – Indy Ink @6PM

Ideal Fathers has found itself finally, and just as they’re about to call it quits. Frontman Jesse Hunsaker’s gettin’ hitched, and moving to Iowa to raise a family and dream about making his kids into the next David Yow or Steve Albini. The rest of the band are all in other bands like Gangcharger, The Outfit and Sunder – fitting for a band that will go down in history as a seminal Denver music fertilizer. Guitarist Adam Rojo brings an East Bay Ray-meets-Andy Gill sound to their infectiously danceable sound, anchored by Mike King’s remarkable bass skills and Mike Perfetti’s wicked skin-thrashing. Don’t miss this one – you’ll regret it, and it’s almost their last.

 

Jen Korte defines a beautiful life lived in her music. (Photo: Jen Korte)

Jen Korte defines a beautiful life lived in her music. (Photo: Jen Korte)

Jen Korte & the Loss – South Broadway Christian Church @8PM

Don;t be fooled by the name – Jen Korte brings together the sound of a beautiful life, simply put. We can only guess the “Loss” part might refer to some sort of innocence lost – and the band’s songs sweat with enlightenment.  Korte and Jessica DeNicola share vocals, though Korte’s are strong and sensual enough to attack them solo, without a doubt. Her personality will fill up both the room and your spirit, and you’ll leave better for having taken it in – trust us.

 

 

 

Night of Joy bring the noise. (Photo: @NOJTPO)

Night of Joy bring the noise. (Photo: @NOJTPO)

Night of Joy – Club 404 @3PM

Night of Joy is all power, wrapped in a whip-smart package. Led by the bass antics of local journalist Bree Davies and  shreeking, Tom Verlaine-esque axework of Val Franz, this trio deserves top billing anywhere. Recalls the best of Television, with a minimal no wave, DIY aesthetic. Don’t miss them.

 

 

 

Denver City Saltlicks - Keepin' it salty and sweaty for years. (Photo: DCS)

Denver City Saltlicks - Keepin' it salty and sweaty for years. (Photo: DCS)

The Denver City Saltlicks – Club 404 @6PM

Ol’ ‘Bama Slim plays his hand-built 1-string 2X4 like no-one else – ‘cept maybe the eternally and beautifully damned soul of Robert Johnson – while Cate Hate literally comes close to melting her washboard and bruising herself with the spoons. In a word, this band kicks 110% of your ass, and doesn’t take any prisoners! ‘Cept you’ll probably want them to take them with you when they’re done.

 

 

Overcasters deserve to be at the top of the Denver heap - finally. (Photo: Overcasters)

Overcasters deserve to be at the top of the Denver heap - finally. (Photo: Overcasters)

Overcasters – 3 Kings Tavern – Sailor Jerry Stage @6PM

Overcasters seems to have lived a long, dramatic life, much like that of frontman Kurt (Ottoway) Overcaster’s, but they’ve made it through splendidly. Even better – Ottoway and company use that rich experience and their own stubborn dedication to fuel an opulent psychedelic style. Recalling a little bit of Echo & the Bunnymen (especially with guitarist John Nichols’ homage to Will Sargeant style axework), Overcasters have landed on top of the Denver scene – where they deserve to be.

 

 

 

The DenverThread UMS List – Day 4

Moon Tides – Hi-Dive – Illegal Pete’s Stage @3PM – If you can gaze at your shoes while surfing, this is what you’d be listening to.

Sauna – Indy Ink @3PM – More landlocked surf goodness (does this seem to be a trend in Denver?)

Green Typewriters – Illiterate Gallery @3:30PM – Eerie, sweet twee-dream pop, complete with theremin. How can you go wrong?

Kevin Costner Suicide Pact – Delite @4PM – Ambient, instrumental post-rock – cathartic, and it tends to get loud (ask them, it’s true!).

Thee Goochi Boiz – Club 404 @4PM – Once, there was punk. Thee Goochi Boyz found some, and are using it’s power for evil. Join in the fun!

A Shoreline Dream – Moe’s Original Bar B Que – Verizon Wireless Stage @4PM – Post-rock-drenched psychedelic reverb is their forte, and these fellas know how to dish it up.

200 Million Years – Hi-Dive – Illegal Pete’s Stage @4PM – Pure, funky beauty, somewhere around your shoes, keep looking while you listen – you’ll find it. We love these guys!

the Shady Babes – Indy Ink @4PM – These guys start where the Breeders left off – with real, straight up rock, laced up with attitude.

Tangle – TS Board Shop – Bands for Lands Stage @5PM – We just realized we don’t glamourize nearly enough DJs. Tangle’s a great place to start. Seriously.

The Bottesini Project – The Bottesini Project @5PM – If you like Coltraine, Philip Glass and John Cage, this is where you want to be at 5.

Married in Berdichev – Delite @5PM – These vocals are what they’re talking about when people mention “music of the spheres.” We love this music – it makes us appreciate weather (whatever that means).

the Down – Club 404 @5PM – Fuzzy guitars and twang – perfect for a case of Old Style and sickly-sticky BBQ. MMMMMMMM…

Radical Knitting Circle – South Broadway Christian Church @6PM – Folky treats that recall Beatles’ and Garfunkel’s mythical children.

Colfax Speed Queen – Skylark Lounge – Verizon Wireless Stage @6PM – Straight up, out-in-the-back garage rock, the best kind of horror b-movie soundtrack.

Kal Cahoone and The Dirty Pretty – South Broadway Christian Church @ 7PM – Beautiful, strong vocals that recall Siouxsie Sioux, backed by a true gothic country sound. Not to be missed.

the Outfit – Club 404 @7PM – Solid, straight up hard garage dance rock, also sort of a supergroup around these parts.

Pythian Whispers – Indy Ink @7PM – Local music journalist Tom Murphy’s experimental post-punk noise machine. Definitely worth a listen.

Fairchildren – Goodwill Parking Lot – Sailor Jerry Main Stage @7:30PM – We can’t stress this enough: You MUST SEE THIS BAND! That is all.

School Knights – Club 404 @8PM – Cool garage post-punk, with the emphasis on the punk part. Dare you not to dance!

Pacific Pride – Skylark Lounge – Verizon Wireless Stage @8PM – these guys are great punk – but we can’t help but think this is the band Alice Cooper always really wanted to be in. Oh well – maybe in his next life.

Bop Skizzum – TS Board Shop – Bands for Lands Stage @9PM – Flobots ex-gutarist’s longtime love – all funk and cool.

Fingers of the Sun – Skylark Lounge – Verizon Wireless Stage @9PM Oh my! This band is fun like a teen makeout session, and may make you almost as sweaty! We warned you!

Cannons – 3 Kings Tavern – Sailor Jerry Stage @ 10:30PM – Loud, droning and sweet like dark, dark, dark chocolate. No more, no less.

Il Cattivo  – 3 Kings Tavern – Sailor Jerry Stage – Superpowerd thrash metal, fueled by all the bandmembers’ communally similar drug addled and brilliant minds. DO NOT MISS.

After this, if you’re not suffering from a short case of the music DT’s, well, we don’t know what to tell you. Go home and sleep ’til next year. We think the UMS is only going to get bigger….

Follow us!!

Be sure and follow @DenverThread on Twitter to receive live updates on UMS shenanigans! Follow @RVRB – the Denver Post’s HeyReverb.com Twitter, while you’re at it! We’ll be trolling the same places as you, and would love to say hi!


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Gangcharger and Smoothbore – two Denver bands release new tunes, noise in a new direction

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Gangcharger – Free Exhaust

Gangcharger - Free Exhaust

Gangcharger's new record proves that rebuilding depends on the right parts coming together.

There aren’t too many bands that can withstand an entire personnel change and keep going. There are even less that come back stronger for it – but Gangcharger is one that has. Ethan Ward’s love child – with huge emphasis on the love – has not only rebounded after being abandoned by virtually every member of the band over the course of late 2009, he’s driven the rebuilt band beyond anyone’s expectations, maybe beyond his own – and definitely miles beyond the previous lineup’s promise – with their latest release, “Free Exhaust.”

In the past, Gangcharger has been labeled “a poor man’s Sonic Youth,” mostly in relation to Ethan’s noisy, borderline atonal and effects-laden guitar work – and in the past that description hasn’t been entirely wrong. But with the band’s new album “Free Exhaust,” that pigeon-holing has proven far too limiting. Ethan still tends to walk the same musical and noise paths as Lee Ranaldo with his guitar – and even sounds a lot like Ranaldo when he takes over vocals for half the record, but these songs contain a rough brightness not readily apparent in Sonic Youth’s work. Much of this record does sound like a departure from the “Death Valley ’69” era, but it maintains a consistency – and a distinct simplicity – that was soon lost in the Youth repertoire. Add the vocals, and static from her “noise blaster,” that Paige Peterson brings to the mix, and Gangcharger’s sound then takes a completely different interstate out of that valley.

Rounding out the lineup, Adam Rojo (also guitarist for Denver’s post-punk heroes Ideal Fathers) and Dan Barnett form an often swooping, often driving – but always essential – rhythm section, where Barnett’s drumming approaches a pipeline-surfing intensity. But the addition of Rojo’s considerable – and heavily guitar-imprinted – talent on the bass adds a slight but significant melodic quotient to the mix. That melody mirrors Ethan’s feral and calculated sound, and brings it to a depth that Gangcharger’s earlier lineup was never quite able to reach.

From the opening stick cracks of “All My Shirts Are Black,” this record takes you on a journey through alternately frantic and foggy landscapes, sometimes slipping through high speed, pitch black, steep chases (“Vapor,” “Secret Destroyer,” “The New Split”), sometimes swirling in smoke-filled bars amidst scantily and loosely dressed lounge lizards (“Filters,” “Soaking Quiet,” “Narrower”). On the latter tunes, Peterson’s lead vocals – sultry and strong, panting and forceful –  bring a minuscule tint of Portishead to the band, while the guitar wails and dirges scrape out a huge cavern to house their noise. Her “noise blaster” (basically a collection of musical pre-school toys run through some damaged sound pedals) adds the perfect amount of frantic static to keep a mosquito-at-night type of buzz prevalent. It’s just right to draw you in and keep you just frustrated enough to maintain the songs’ eros.

“Free Exhaust” is a great listen, and a triumphant evolutionary step in Ward’s music – and it’s great to see Gangcharger back alive after losing everyone. Both Ethan and Denver deserve this type of reward.

Catch Gangcharger at the Gathering of the Clouds event as they headline the opening night at the Overcasters’ Weather Center – 1401 Zuni – on Thursday, October 21. The locally-focused festival will feature ten Denver bands between Thursday and Saturday, and focuses on CD releases from both Gangcharger and Overcasters.

Smoothbore – Red Lines

Smoothbore - Red Lines

Smoothbore brings a heavy, measured sound to Denver with their double-bass attack.

Denver’s got plenty of experimental bands, and plenty that are great and getting better, as they feel their way through new musical terrain and depend on the curiosity of the more intrepid and deeper-digging listener for their survival. With Smoothbore, they – and we – have found a band that more than pays for the dedication with an austere, minimal – yet bulldozing, completely destructive – hard rock sound.

And all that without a single six-string guitar (much to the chagrin, I’m sure, of all the hair metal guitar hero gods).

Smoothbore is a three piece that carries some hipster weight, and promises to use that presence to add momentum to an already growing post rock/post post punk scene. Drummer Scott Lewis – formerly of the hilarious and fantastic Black Smiths (a tribute band that focused on a mixture of Black Sabbath and The Smiths tunes) – lays the groundwork from behind his massive-sounding trap set for the trio, upon which dueling bassists Sonja Decman (formerly from The Symptoms) and Matt Flanagan (of Boss 302) lay a thick weave of bass and vocals that’s unmet by any other Denver band of the moment – maybe just about anywhere.

It’s the distinct lack of guitar that starts to draw in the listener – even before putting the needle into the first groove – maybe from a place of disbelief. But soon after the first song, “I See You” begins, that guitar is not only far from missed, it turns out to be a relief. The music becomes uncluttered, and less demanding, without the (what you soon realize has become) the constant, pre-adolescent whining for attention that most guitarists seem to be crowing in virtually all other rock. Instead of feeling sold short – or even confused – by the omission of what has become such a bedrock staple of Rock, I felt clear. While Decman’s bass tends to focus on some slightly more traditional bass constructions (but only slightly), Flanagan’s bass takes on something approaching a lead guitar, but stops masterfully short, leaving the difference to speak even more ridiculously loud about the often overbearing guitar – and it’s uselessness.

Lewis’ drumming is always spot on, and even more evident without the guitar hero distraction. Playing rhythm section with dueling basses seems to suit him well, and gives Smoothbore’s sound a simultaneously stripped down and layered feel. Kind of reminiscent of secret shows played in abandoned warehouses and on closed factory or meat-packing floors – spacious, but still crowded with lack of use, feeling both old and scary, new and treacherous. Their overall sound recalls a feeling of late ’80s New York City No Wave – without the anti-structure ideal. It brings to mind Live Skull, or some of Lydia Lunch & Rowland S. Howard’s work from back then.

The one possible drawback to the bass-only constructions may be a tendency to follow a quiet-loud-quiet-loud pattern, but it feels more like a stage in the band’s growth. Melody and lead from Flanagan, along with Decman’s caustic vocals and lower end bass hold promise for some exciting and vital material.


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Live DenverThread Review: Ideal Fathers with Solar Bear, St. Elias at Hi-Dive, 04/29/10

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Ideal Fathers played a sweet, punky set for a willing crowd last Thursday night at the Hi-Dive. (Photo: Ideal Fathers)

Ideal Fathers played a sweet, punky set for a willing crowd last Thursday night at the Hi-Dive. (Photo: Ideal Fathers)

Not too long ago, we reported on a few local bands on DenverThread that continue to contribute to a rougher, heavier, more noisy sound than most of the local (and sometimes national) press seems to focus on. This part of the Denver scene continues to grow in both band members and fans, and the Hi-Dive hosted an all-local, all noisy and all fun lineup that showcased some of them last Thursday night. Including Solar Bear, Ideal Fathers, St Elias and Colors, it attracted a more than modest crowd, and kept the fans fascinated – often dancing to some metal-dipped prog-rock and post punk.

Solar Bear and St. Elias bookended  Ideal Fathers’ set with a somewhat similar vibe based in different sub genres of prog, which actually made the latter band’s style stand out. Not that the two are clones – to the contrary. St Elias played some well- executed instrumental constructions chock full of thick, syrupy chords that often recalled “Hemispheres” era Rush enveloped in some strong hardcore, while Solar Bear assaulted the room with a faster, wilder sound. Where St. Elias laid out jazzy and off-the-beaten fretboard progressions, Solar Bear (or, as their attractively simple t-shirts called them, Solar Mother Fucking Bear) looped stringwork around fuzz and screaming that approximated Mudhoney in an experimental mood, influenced by Glenn Branca as much as Ian MacKaye, and a little by the psychotically perfect meanderings of Greg Ginn.

Solar Bear infused the Hi-Dive with their own brand of strong, noisy metal that night. (Photo: MySpace)

Solar Bear infused the Hi-Dive with their own brand of strong, noisy metal that night. (Photo: MySpace)

For my money, it was Ideal Fathers’ set that anchored the night with a hotwired set of quick, smart post punk with just a dusting of metal and grindcore, and plenty of screaming humor to boot. Guitarist Adam Rojo’s performance was typically strong, fast and fun, as he continued the process of solidifying his space in the guitar god pantheon with his Andy Gil meets East Bay Ray style, steeped in reverb and pedal mastery. Bassist Mike King machine-gunned bass lines like clockwork, matching Mike Perfetti’s frenetic drumming perfectly. All the while, frontman Jesse Hunsaker belted out his signature howling yelp – just about unmatched in Denver right now – screaming pop-culture-soaked stream of consciousness, just barely weighing down maniacal laughter. It seeped through a few times, and endeared his audience.

These bands represent a strong, fun, loud future for Denver music, and there are plenty more of them on the same path – or at least similar trails.


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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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Ideal Fathers plays a smart, thrilling, fast-paced style that lends itself to high-intensity slasher films, especially if they're made in Japan. (Photo: MySpace/Ideal Fathers)

The “Denver Sound,” long dead, makes room for lighter, noisier, funner genres in the scene

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Ideal Fathers plays a smart, thrilling, fast-paced style that lends itself to high-intensity slasher films, especially if they're made in Japan. (Photo: Jerry Goff)

Ideal Fathers plays a smart, thrilling, fast-paced style that lends itself to high-intensity slasher films, especially if they're made in Japan. (Photo: Jerry Goff)

The world-famous “Denver Sound” has petered out.

Which is not to say that the beautiful, often over-the-top and heavy handed gothic alt-country sound isn’t significant anymore – not at all. That sound helped put Denver back on the musical globe in the ’80s and ‘90s, and still attracts its fair share of fans. It’s still appreciated world-wide, and many remain ravenous for it – especially  in Europe.

But it exists currently in a type of atrophy in Denver – it’s taken a back seat that has allowed an insurgence of more than a few different genres to begin to flourish, or re-flourish, as the case may be. Denver has a strong music scene – perhaps the strongest in the US (at the moment) – and part of its strength comes from its wide variety. So if the sometimes overbearing popularity of the “Denver Sound”  – indeed the often overweighted nature of the sound itself – is waning, it can only be good news for the lighter, the more pop-y, the innovative and indie, or the more aggressive and punkier genres.

And that’s exactly what’s happening in the bar, dive, club, backyard and warehouse scene right now.

From straight up power-pop, to country, to arty prog-rock, to freak folk, metal, noise,  thrash and punk, there are red hot and lukewarm representatives of just about every genre filling up the glut of venues our city currently enjoys. Out of those genres, the punk/metal/noise/thrash scene currently seems to be surging.

Even the Meadowlark, the basement/backyard venue that recently had been known for favoring more acoustic, indie and folk sets, has begun booking louder and more aggressive acts in the past few months. Git Some, probably Denver’s loudest band (with a sound akin to a cement mixer barreling out of control down I-70, and rapidly filling up your rearview) played for the first time at Meadowlark in January, to a nearly over-filled house. Titwrench, a local  group that holds an annual lady-centered rock festival of local acts, also books a regular show at Meadowlark that features brand new and emerging artists and bands called “Surfacing.” Thanks to the new Punk/Techno promoters in 43rd St. Zoo, the Lions Lair is booking Sunday nights with new acts with a punk feel, or high BPM techno roots. Other dives like Bar Bar and Old Curtis St. are thriving (musically, at least) on a steady diet of metal, thrash and noise bands – almost all of which are strictly local – adding to the already flush, loud and often metal schedules of bars like the Larimer Lounge and 3 Kings Tavern.

What follows is a few glimpses of some of the better punk, noise and thrash bands that have graced Denver venues over the past few weeks. Try and get out to see these bands, and start to wash the stale flavor of the old Denver scene out of your mouth. They’re perfect pallet cleansers, and promise to be main courses sooner than you might think:

Ideal Fathers, Makeout Point, Cadillacula, GlassHits at the Meadowlark,
Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jesse Hunsaker of Ideal Fathers (Photo: Jerry Goff)

Jesse Hunsaker of Ideal Fathers (Photo: Jerry Goff)

Almost as if to prove our point, Meadowlark booked a show on Saturday, February 6th that exemplified a span of punky genres including metal/grunge with Glass Hits, roots-punk with Cadillacula, power-pop with Makeout Point and aggressively provocative postpunk noise with Ideal Fathers. The mixture of local bands proved volatile, fun and sometimes pretty explosive. It also tested the venue pretty ferociously. Glass Hits started the night with a set of sweeping grunge-core, mixing a noise reminiscent of Big Black mixed with Bleach-era Nirvana, and just a touch of PIL – particularly in the vocals. This band enjoyed one of the larger audiences of the night, showing that currently their popularity is on the rise. Next, Cadillacula  tore up a set of Cramps-meets-Danzig punk, in refreshingly sloppy style, for about 30 minutes, before Makeout Point entered and played sparkling power pop reminiscent of Throwing Muses or Breeders.

Headliners Ideal Fathers ended the late night with some brilliant slasher-movie metal that could be personified by a fictional youngster raised by Devo and driven to and from school by David Yow, with Shellac constantly on the eight-track. These boys – Jesse Hunsaker on vocals, Adam Rojo on guitar, Mike King on bass and Mike Perfetti on drums – know where their roots are, and show it. Rojo channeled  a lot of Andy Gill and more than a little East Bay Ray in his frenetic noodling, when he wasn’t crushing chords at hardcore speed, and was equally matched by King’s funk-punk bass lines and Perfetti’s chaotically synchronous drumming. Hunsaker tied it all together nicely with a scream that visibly thrust blood vessels out of both his throat and forehead, and encompassed the Japanese gore film ethos in many of the songs’ lyrics. Together, they played a tight, ultra-fun and danceable set that had a full house jumping, laughing and screaming for more.

Hunsaker and Adam Rojo onstage at a recent show (Photo: Jerry Goff)

Hunsaker and Adam Rojo onstage at a recent show (Photo: Jerry Goff)

If shows like these are a hint at where Meadowlark is heading in their overall booking, I’m excited, as we should all be – though I’m sure they’ll still feature plenty of Denver’s more traditional tunesmiths, without a doubt . The venue continuously shows a savvy familiarity with what’s about to be hot in Denver, and there are plenty of bands to fill the bill.

Smoothbore at Old Curtis St. Bar, Thursday, February 11, 2010
Leaning more into the noise side of Denver’s local scene, Smoothbore played a raucous set at Old Curtis St. Bar last Thursday night and showed off a penchant for  vital noise that recalled the “No-Wave” scene from New York in the early ’80s mixed with a touch of Runaways-ers Joan Jett.

Sonya Decman of Smoothbore plays one of two basses in the guitarless band (Photo: MySpace/Smoothbore)

Sonya Decman of Smoothbore plays one of two basses in the guitarless band (Photo: MySpace/Smoothbore)

The trio provided a varied set of truly innovative songwriting, as well as a solid grasp of noise, featuring no guitar, and instead relying on Matt Flanagan’s (formerly from Black Smiths and Boss 302) “lead” bass, Scott Lewis’s (also formerly from Black Smiths, as well as Derailed) drumming and Sonya Decman’s (formerly from Symptoms and Tar Mints – an old-school personal fave –  among other local bands) “bass” bass. Throw in Decman’s wild and powerful vocals, and the result is something close to ‘80s New York No Wave band Live Skull and early “Death Valley ’69” Sonic Youth, with Runaways’ Joan Jett tinted vocals. In a word, stunning. When Decman raises her voice from the typically smooth, forceful threat to it’s highest pitch, you almost find yourself cringing in fear of her wrath. Their lyrics were smart, sexy and provocative, and the delivery was perfect. This trio shows quite a bit of promise, poised to take top seating in the local scene – if they can keep up with themselves.

Smoothbore at a recent Lions Lair gig (Photo: MySpace)

Smoothbore at a recent Lions Lair gig (Photo: MySpace)

Murder Ranks and Veronica at Meadowlark, Saturday, February 19, 2010

Again, Meadowlark comes through with a few of Denver’s most exciting bands – though these two largely feature some pretty popular names from Denver’s punk past. Nonetheless, they’re playing some of the more innovative and truly fun rock you’re going to find on the club scene.

Veronica is the musical brainchild of Ted Thacker and John Call, both formerly of the legendary Denver punk troupe Baldo Rex, along with Andrew Kotch, formerly of Tiger Beat. They flooded the Meadowlark that Saturday night with an exciting, sloppy-yet-ultra-tight sound that mixed faster Television with he instrumentation of Meat Puppets – though that only approximates the total experience slightly.

Veronica plays some of the smartest, raucous rock in the Denver scene - and has for a while (Photo: MySpace)

Veronica plays some of the smartest, raucous rock in the Denver scene - and has for a while (Photo: MySpace)

Thacker’s wild gesticulations entertained a small crowd – complete with at least three drunken college newbies (I’d be tempted to claim they belonged to a frat, but heard no Greek callouts – although plenty of happily spooned out derision amongst the three) – while he masterfully manhandled an old style acoustic with a simple attached pickup. Meanwhile Kotch fingered through some complex rhythmic melodies on the bass and Call flailed characteristically on the drums. The mix had the entire bar hooting, laughing, bouncing – you name it – all in an air thick with adrenalized euphoria.

After Veronica, Murder Ranks took over the Meadowlark. Dan Wanush’s (aka King Scratchie from the immortal Warlock Pinchers) vision that draws on Sandinista-era Clash dub, punk and dancehall, proved both intoxicating and addictive. Joined by typically echo-drenched reggae guitar played by Mike Buckley (from Nightshark), super dub bass played by Ben Williams (from Ghost Buffalo) and thick reggae drumming from Nate Weaver, Wanush took that Brit-Caribbean musical zygote and formed a clone of something even more powerful, more fun, and imminently danceable. The four piece all bounced in unison through an hour-long set, in which Wanush rapped, dribbled, spat and warbled often hilarious lyrics, occasionally run through an echo pedal for the perfect added flair.

Murder Ranks is re-igniting a fire for the fun of hard dub and dancehall, full of humor, fun and style. (Photo: MySpace/Murder Ranks)

Murder Ranks is re-igniting a fire for the fun of hard dub and dancehall, full of humor, fun and style. (Photo: MySpace/Murder Ranks)

These shows are just a few examples of the type of entertainment the Denver scene is offering, as it continues to transform itself yet again. The elasticity of this scene,  its adaptability and the level of general talent in town is what makes this scene the strongest in the country. While it keeps getting bigger, better and more exciting, it’s us in the audience that truly get to enjoy it.

So get out and see these bands. They deserve it, and will probably change your mind about the music you’ve come to know Denver for – for the better.


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