More Local Color

Catching up with local releases, our music writers review local albums to the letter.


Various Artists
Imposters: A Warlock Pinchers Tribute
With all the hype and nostalgia surrounding this release, one detail may have been overlooked: The CD stands alone as a kickass album. Disaffected Colorado youth will undoubtedly still be buying hooded Warlock Pinchers sweatshirts well into the 22nd century, and the band itself has already cemented its position as a true Denver legend. These cover versions of Pinchers' classics -- performed by everyone from the Melvins to Nerdtallica and Scott Baio Army -- operate on two levels, as cultlike worship and schizoid deconstruction. Which is kind of what the Pinchers were all about in the first place. (Released on BraceFace, www.warlockpinchers.com.) -- Heller


Various Artists
Noise Tent 2002 Spring Sampler
D.U. Records
Fusing urban flash with therapeutic brain damage, the third and best compilation from Denver's Mike Jourgensen boasts 21 solid cuts from the area's best metal-happy acts -- everything from the blistering Dumbass Brothers and the Speeks to the maniacally harsh Crimson Haybailer and Los Luchadores. Power, velocity and blazing guitars flood this longplayer, which also includes solid contributions from the Geds, the Speedholes, Jet Black Joy, IZ, Abdomen, DeNunzio, Cockfight, Derailed, Wisteria, the LaDonnas, Otterpops, the Maybellines and more. Hook 'em horns! (Contact P.O. Box 18677 Denver, CO 80218, www.noisetent.com.) -- John La Briola


Various Artists
Our Colorado
Though not an album proper, this video serves as a great compilation of Colorado punk bands, past and present: Deadlock Frequency, Pinhead Circus, Crestfallen, the Gamits, Stupid Humin Tricks and Qualm. Between all the beer-and-sweat-soaked performances are truly retarded clips of drunken partygoers puking, getting naked and riding bikes inside K-Mart while dressed in chipmunk suits. Don't miss the film's world premiere at the Ogden on Saturday, August 24. (See www.qualmonline.com.) -- Heller


VU
Electric Birds
Slated for early-September release on Ohio's Action Driver Records, Electric Birds is an absolute stunner of an EP from VU, aka Voices Underwater. It's a quick blast of electronic entropy and traditionally instrumented ass-blowing -- a trippy, apocalyptic, lovely exploration of the territory between electro-looping bossa nova and low-frequency light radiation. Recalling Braniac, the Flaming Lips and even the original owners of the V.U. tag -- Lou, et al -- this Denver trio invites you to feast on its richly textured collection. Go get your headphones and enjoy the VU. (Action Driver Records; contact 1249 Grape Street, Denver, CO 80220; www.voicesunderwater.com.) -- Bond


Pete Wernick's Live Five
Up All Night
Niwot Records
As banjoist for the late, great Hot Rize, Pete Wernick -- "Dr. Banjo" -- successfully straddled the fine line between traditional bluegrass and contemporary newgrass. That same tension is evident on Up All Night, the third effort from Pete Wernick's Live Five, an eclectic combo that answers the question, "What if Benny Goodman and Earl Scruggs had produced a love-child?" The answer is jazzy bluegrass, or bluegrassy jazz, depending on your point of view. By combining banjo, clarinet, vibes, drums and bass, and playing an eclectic mix of tunes like "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Sweet Georgia Brown," Live Five proves that musical rules exist solely to be broken. (Contact www.drbanjo.com.) -- David Hill


The Wind-Up Merchants
Sprain Pkwy
The Wind-Up Merchants peddle an eclectic bill of goods on Sprain Pkwy, their debut full-length. The trio moves from bombastic, '60s-era blasts ("I Won't Go") to jazzy ballads ("Better Fuel") and plain old oddities: The opening song is a quizzical tribute to Rick James ("Every day I fight demon stuff/Gotta keep my hands uncuffed"). Wind-Up Merchants are at their most intriguing when they chuck a lot of things into the fire -- trumpets, violins -- and fuse elements that don't normally wind up together. "Unfulfilled," for example, features a psychedelic guitar alongside a bubbly banjo and a from-the-other-room-sounding piano noise. Elsewhere, simplicity suits the band just fine: "Let It Fall" is a pretty, straightforward, strummy number that most recalls guitarist/vocalist Josh Schachterle's semi-acoustic solo side project. This ambitious and creative attempt often hits its mark. (Released on Spirit of 1848 Records; contact info@windupmerchants.net, www.windupmerchants.net.) -- Bond


Lisa Witty
Color Me In
A former ski instructor turned self-taught guitarist, Lisa Witty has a lot working in her favor: She writes coherent lyrics, she knows her way around a hook and -- as a blonde beauty in a cowboy hat -- she looks the part of the fashionably rugged female songsmith. On her first CD, an impressively produced ten-song collection recorded in Los Angeles, Witty sometimes steers down the same gravelly road traversed by Lucinda Williams and other twang-tinged women artists. More often, though, her melodic music and athletic, baby-doll voice dwell in pleasant, contemplative pop territory. Color is a bright beginning. (See www.lisawitty.com.) -- Bond


Woven Hand
Woven Hand
If his solo debut as Woven Hand is any indication, David Eugene Edwards is an environmentalist. The 16 Horsepower frontman is one musician who clearly believes in recycling. Granted, greatness bears repeating. Haunting minor-chord melancholy and the lyrical exorcisms of a spiritually tortured soul have served Edwards's band well, but what was once fascinating is slowly becoming formulaic. With Woven Hand, one of Uncle Sam's most riveting songwriters sounds like a horse that has been to the creative well one too many times, transforming a Thoroughbred into a pony in need of a new trick. -- Patrick Casey

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