Critic's Choice

Denver's Czars, who appear Tuesday, July 2, at the Gothic Theatre with Lift to Experience and the Devics, have been compared to Radiohead, probably because of the atmospheric, swirling, textural quality of some of their songs. But the band also recorded "Song to Siren" for a Tim Buckley tribute album and toured with 16 Horsepower, so...what the hell? The Czars were signed to the Bella Union label by the Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde, and they aren't afraid to experiment with electronic soundscapes worthy of their mentors. The band also plays with tremendous emotion. Throughout 2001's The Ugly People Vs. the Beautiful People, singer John Grant's rich voice bounces from melancholy to darkly angry, even sounding almost happy on "Killjoy," a heavily reverbed, retro-1963 song that would fit perfectly on a David Lynch soundtrack. Maybe the non-definition of the Czars that would make the most sense is blue velvet cool.


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