By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
"Our philosophy? Get laid, stay wasted," says singer/guitarist Gared O'Donnell, laughing. "Seriously, though, we play this music to keep from flinging ourselves off bridges."
The group, composed of O'Donnell, Jamie Drier, Matt Bellinger and Mikey Ricketts, has had numerous releases on prominent indie labels around the country, such as Deep Elm, Dim Mak, Initial and No Idea; its newest disc, Spearheading the Sin Movement, is a three-song blitzkrieg of melody and fury that rips the heart out of emo and cauterizes the wound with a searing assault of hardcore and rock and roll.
"Some kid was posting stuff about us on an online message board," O'Donnell says. "He was like, 'I saw them play in Boston, and they've turned into total nasty cock-rock. It wasn't that cool when they got naked at the end of the show either. I don't want some heavy metal ass in my face.' Too many of these kids are so candy-ass and see-through. They just go to shows to check out each other's shoes."
Planes Mistaken for Stars has destroyed stages with everyone from Hot Water Music to Motörhead, and recently contributed to a Black Flag tribute album. Like these bands, Planes purveys epic, cathartic anthems that soar with majesty as much as they thunder with heaviness. Still, when asked where his band is headed in the future, O'Donnell responds with a healthy shot of nihilism: "Down the drain." -- Heller
NOMINATED IN DJ/DANCE/ELECTRONIC
7 P.M., THE CHURCH
When Melissa London was in high school, her parents hired a private vocal coach to help develop an already beautiful voice. A member of the choir who'd done some community theater, London was being groomed for a life on the boards. Things didn't turn out that way.
"My vocal coach had it in mind that I would go to Broadway and perform in Les Misérables," London says, laughing. "I said, 'Nah. I think I'll start a band instead.'"
It was a good choice: London, after all, is not the type to follow a script or sing someone else's songs. She's the lead vocalist, programmer and keyboardist for Project 12:01, an electronic combo she co-founded with Noel Johannes three years ago. A siren of a singer with a touch of goth romanticism, London has a stylistic and spiritual link to the Sisters of Mercy, Siouxie Sioux and the Cocteau Twins' Liz Frazier - artists she cites as influences on her vocal style as well as her songwriting. She and Johannes claim most songwriting credits, but new members (and brothers) Devin Connolly and Brendan Connolly have also made contributions to a new full-length album London hopes to release later this summer; the recording will follow Project 12:01's debut release, Time for a Taste.
"We've been progressing more into a band collaboration, and our sound is really beginning to evolve," London says of Project 12:01's ethereal pop. "We know that in order to try to make it in the industry, we've got to get a certain pop essence into our songs. We're consciously making an effort to attract labels. Otherwise, the band will just be a great, expensive hobby." -- Bond
NOMINATED IN COUNTRY/BLUEGRASS/ROOTS
7 P.M., SERENGETI
Jim Dalton turns on his TV and sees the dilemma his band faces. "Rascal Flats?" he spits, watching the latest pop-act-in-country-disguise on Country Music Television. "God, this makes me cringe. We're nothing like the country you hear on the radio today."
Indeed, if Nashville's pop-saturated slop is your idea of great music, the Railbenders are too tough, too smart and too country for you. The Johnny Cash-style wonders created by the band (stand-up bassist Tyson Murray, drummer Graham Haworth, and pedal-steel player and part-time member Glenn Taylor) are hard-driving, beer-soaked tales that recall Cash, Waylon and Willie. Dalton's own gritty sensibility plays a big role as well.
The Railbenders' no-BS sound -- and brooding good looks and outlaw appeal -- has made the band the top-drawing alternative-country act in a town warming to the genre. "It's still an underground scene here," Dalton says, "but I think it'll only get better once people realize that what Denver has to offer is good, original country music."
The Railbenders are doing their part to speed that realization. The band has laid down tracks for its second CD, a thirteen-song collection that will see a fall release on local twang label Big Bender Records. (The disc's special guests will include the Supersuckers' Eddie Spaghetti.) In the meantime, Dalton will hold his stomach in the face of the crap country he sees on his television set. Like CMT favorite Emerson Drive, for instance: "I saw them the other day; I almost puked." -- Marty Jones
NOMINATED IN ROCK
RAINVILLE'S JOHN COMMON, WITH MARY BETH ABELLA
6 P.M., DAZZLE
With a sound as gritty and soulful as a pair of tar-stained overalls, the still-evolving foursome Rainville claims a diverse set of influences that range from classic rockers such as Led Zeppelin to little-known indie outfits like Wheat or Karate, from the Jayhawks to Neil Young. And while the group has worn the tag of alt-country well, things are changing.