Tag Archives: Veronica

  • 1

New Music Threads – Local heroes Veronica & The Raven & The Writing Desk offer up fun and surreal tunes, and live shows to fill your holiday nights

Tags : 

Veronica's new record brings fun and fury into some of Denver's best local rock. (Cover art by Christian Breitkreutz)

Veronica's new record brings fun and fury into some of Denver's best local rock. (Cover art by Christian Breitkreutz)

Veronica – Emerging From Troubled Days

Veronica‘s first full length “Emerging From Troubled Days” is a damned great personification of the passion and direction behind the Denver music scene, and behind the DenverThread to boot. Three veteran Denver artists, all previous members of bands that have long since passed into legendary status – and that enjoyed that status off and on during their active years as well – have pooled their talents and love of straight ahead punk/indie rock with a simple aesthetic and an indelible stripe of mischievous humor and made a record that just about everyone can fall in love with, and have loads of fun through all of its just over 30 minutes.

Ted Thacker and John Call – wicked guitarist and gigantic drummer, respectively, who both played in Baldo Rex in the ’90s – joined with Andrew Koch , formerly of Tiger Beat, on bass to finally record 12 songs, many of which have been mainstays for the trio’s sporadic shows over recent years, and have released it independently. The title is apropos, as they’ve all three been immersed in the ephemera of becoming – including a family addition for Thacker and partner LauraBell, among many other things – while the band has frequently taken a back seat. But, thanks to their dedication (and maybe a little help from the gods of awesome rock), the album has finally come together – and it’s worth every week of the time it took.

From the churning opening of “Allison & Andrew” (which you can stream below, right now) the playlist wanders from a ballad about the murderous potential in cars and hurricanes, through memories of serial killers ruining what should have been carefree pre-adolescent summers in “Summer,” wild joyrides in Tokyo in “Kawasaki Dirt Bike,” and into the bombastic “Rattle” and the sad, beguiling “What’s With Your Hair,” and ends way too soon. That third of the record may stand out, but the whole thing holds up as well.

“Summer” starts off like the best Clash songs, with a giant guitar sound and monster rock beat that leads right into the frantic mess of “I’m In Trouble” and “Kawasaki Dirt Bike.” The three coax the feeling of a whole summer out of you, primed by the desperately lovelorn “Lightbulb Girl,” also recalling the fun of Hüsker Dü in the seed of each. With “Frivolous Thing,” “Cry Baby” and “Rattle” the record begins to change tone slightly, picking up a Peter Buck guitar style (from about the time REM released “Life’s Rich Pageant”), before some of the tunes slow a little more into a perfect denouement.

One of the most brilliant touches to this record is the hilarious ease with which the music is presented. Pay attention – with headphones if possible – to the spaces between songs, where all the live action of recording takes place: snippets of conversations, a call on (I think) Thacker’s cell phone at the end of “Lightbulb Girl,” or his fingers letting go the strings of his guitar – loudly. Listen to the fun the trio is having as they belt out these fantastically quick and witted tunes – the repetition of “Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill” during “Allison and Andrew” is simply brilliant, for example. It makes sense – after all, Thacker’s songwriting prowess is an underground legend. Listen to his tune “I Cried Like A Silly Boy,” covered so sweetly by Denver’s DeVotchKa on their 2006 EP “Curse Your Little Heart.” Listen to Thacker’s version HERE, for a real treat.

“Frederick,” a ballad about the death and afterlife of The MC5s Frederick Smith rife with images of he and wife Patty Smith dancing in the streets of Manhattan as the Late Johnny Thunders seranades them, starts with Thacker wrangling a guitar in a style vaguely reminiscent of Santana. “What’s With Your Hair,”  about bad perms and adolescent love from across the classroom leaves a salty taste of young tears, as does the Koch’s wonderfully naive sounding “If You Were Me.”

Throughout the record, these boys harmonize both traditionally and experimentally, but always with solid intent and fervent results that inspire uncontrollable grins, heartfelt chortles and an excitement akin to the anticipation of a graduation party with an open bar. Deep, guttural screams like “Otamachi!” and “Joy Ridin’!” (from “Kawasaki Dirt Bike”) and the free-wheeling fun they exhude bring back a feel of the roots these heroes have in the ’90s Denver scene. But only a little – this record more than stands just fine on its own merits.

And that foundation for this trio grows out of an endlessly fun atmosphere – and one that listening to “Emerging From Troubled Days” will infect you with almost immediately. Thacker and the boys will be holding a CD release at Wax Trax on Saturday, December 4 at 3:00. Get there – and in the meantime stream these two from the record. You’ll be glad you did!

[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/Allison_And_Andrew.m4a” text=”Veronica – Allison & Andrew”]                  [wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/Summer.m4a” text=” Veronica – Summer”]

“Summer” starts off like the best Clash songs, with a giant guitar sound and monster rock beat that leads right into the frantic mess of “I’m In Trouble” and “Kawasaki Dirt Bike.”The three coax the feeling of a whole summer out of you, primed by the desperately lovelorn “Lightbulb Girl,” also recalling the fun of Hüsker Dü in the seed of each. With “Frivolous Thing,” “Cry Baby” and “Rattle” the record begins to change tone slightly, picking up a Peter Buck guitar style (from about the time REM released “Life’s Rich Pageant”), before some of the tunes slow a little more into a perfect denouement.

The Raven & the Writing Desk at the 2010 UMS (Photo: R&WD)

The Raven & the Writing Desk at the 2010 UMS (Photo: R&WD)

Recidivist – The Raven and the Writing Desk

The debut from Denver band The Raven and The Writing Desk, “Recidivist,” took time to grow on me – but I’m glad I let it. On first listen I thought the record’s 8 songs would have some trouble floating out of a typical too-folky, hip and indie vibe – something Denver has plenty of, and too much of it is depressingly average. After setting the collection aside for a while, though, I found myself haunted by some of the music’s undercurrents, and succumbed to further exploration. Good thing, because the record has grown on me after delving further in and, though it still suffers at times in the way most freshman efforts do, I’m intrigued, more satisfied, and look forward to watching them grow in Denver.

From the opening piano of the appropriately surrealistic “Somnambulist,” coursing and swirling through complex as it leads to Julia LiBassi’s throaty callout to the murder ballad’s main character, to the pleading, whisper-like wail at the close of “I Will Make You Mine,” this six-piece leads listeners through a just-off-kilter journey across LiBassi’s marginally twisted lyrics and eldritch musical concoctions. Guitarist  Scott Conroy plays distorted, psychedelic melodies and backing leads almost too quietly – yet loud enough to invoke the deep surrealism the entire record exhudes. The accompaniment to Adrienne Short’s confident violin is perfect, but shouldn’t work – which creates a tension that pulls out Ryan Self’s solid bass melodies. Drummer Danny Slavec and percussionist/toy master Neil Mitchell fill up the band’s sound with an added eeriness and resplendent puzzling while they pound out complex rhythms.

But it’s the defining force behind this music, LiBassi’s vocals, that deserve constant attention. Her voice, powerful, hauntingly smokey and sometimes panting, sensual, occasionally recalls Kate Bush and Sinéad O’Connor (from the siren’s early “Heroine” days) and sometimes invokes a decidedly Edie Brickell tone as she unfolds ballad after ballad. There are times when her stories give off a warm, moist creepiness that approaches some of the damage and paranoia that flows through Lisa Germano’s work as well – though LiBassi never quite lets herself spill over entirely into the fantasies.

Standouts include “Firefly,” one that in my book is likely to gain more airplay than others by its simple accessibility and anthemic harmonies, and “Walk in the Water,” which starts drawing you in with a Procol Harum organ, only to pull you down with the “Join us . . .” chorus, and then follows with throbbing, cathartic howls bookended with Cure-like chords. In “The Haunting” (check it out by streaming it below) the band hits a stride that will likely power them through loads of success – if they keep up the weight and beauty of their style. The soft, passionate descent comes with the musing “I Will Make You Mine,” when LiBassi breathes colorful poetry over an alternately gothic and pastoral piano line. It feels like she’s in the room with you, talking to you, but not moving her mouth.

According to the band, “Recidivist,” recounts stories of souls in various levels of evolution, all traveling around karmic wheels and repeating, revisiting and relearning lives. In the same way, R&WD are in an early stage in their evolution as a band, but have already achieved a promising start. Though there are a few times on the record when they seem to withhold their innovative attitude in favor of an often too-heavy pop sensibility, “Marionette, “Space Grenade” and “Wooden Lover” for example, everything else on the record bodes well for a solid, ingenious future.

R&WD will be holding a CD release show at The Walnut Room on Friday, December 10. Do yourself two favors and stream “The Haunting” below, and make it to the show to see what you’re missing.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/The_Haunting.m4a” text=”Raven & the Writing Desk – The Haunting”]


  • 2
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

Tags : 

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.


InstaThreads

TweetThreads

Subscribe via RSS!

Receive the latest news and reviews from DenverThread via RSS.

Subscribe to DenverThread Emails!

Looking for the best music site in Denver? A place you can follow threads through music, specifically in and around Denver, DenverThread is dedicated to identifying and exposing threads in music to satisfy your need. Subscribe to receive periodical emails, announcements, specials and more! Don't worry - we'll never share your email information in any form, with anyone, ever. you can trust us.
* = required field