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Denver's ten best side projects

Catch Dragondeer tomorrow night at the Larimer Lounge.
Catch Dragondeer tomorrow night at the Larimer Lounge.
Zale Hassler

The Swayback is obviously Eric Halborg's main gig. But lately he's been moonlighting in Dragondeer, a side project he helms with Swayback drummer Carl Sorensen and Cole Rudy of Varlet on mandolin and lap steel. With Dragondeer, Halborg and company delve into some swampy blues and reverb-drenched psych folk that's a bit different from his main gig. That's the best part of side projects and kind of the point: They allow musicians to spread their wings a little and explore a different side of the artistic inclinations. At any given moment, there's no shortage of side projects going in Denver. Keep reading to see Dragondeer in action, along with our picks for Denver's ten best side projects.

See also: - Dragondeer at Larimer Lounge, 8/30/12 - The Swayback reflects on a decade of going for the musical nectar - After Idol, Lilly Scott now has to "turn those forty-something moms" into Varlet fans

Dragondeer (due tomorrow night at the Larimer Lounge) Above is a three-song set from the UMS featuring Eric Halborg and the other members of Dragondeer, Cole Rudy and Carl Sorensen, doing "Deep Elem Blues," "Messin' with the Kid" and "Down to the Tracks."

 

10. The Eye & the Arrow Paper Bird is a marquee act that excels at indie folk. The band has spawned a few different projects, including this one, which features members Mark Anderson and Paul DeHaven both on vocals and playing guitar, as well bassist Jason Haas-Hecker. While the act shares an affinity for indie folk, the trio also opts for an electric lo-fi route.

9. Denver Broncos (UK) About as far away from jock rock as you're ever going to get, the Denver Broncos (UK), which counts Slim Cessna and his Auto Club mates Munly and Dwight Pentecost among its members, is, as expected, a bit dark, but not quite as country as the Auto Club. The band says its music is unclassifiable, and "the songs are best described as dynamic, suspenseful, painful and beautiful."

8. Princess Music* Since Tyler Ludwick and Jeremy Averitt have all played with Laura Goldhamer & the Silvernail (which isn't actively playing out anymore), it's not too surprising that Princess Music shares some similar folk tendencies. Cellist Psyche Dunkhase and violinist Rachel Sliker, who also both play with the Orelia String Quartet, add a lovely chamber element to the five-piece while Ludwick's vocals are akin to that of Andrew Bird.

* The members of Princess Music have informed us that this group can't really be pegged as a side-project, as it serves as everyone's main gig now.

 

7. Miss America While bassist Julie Davis and guitarist Joseph Pope III both lend their talents to backing Nathaniel Rateliff in Fairchildren, the two make beautiful music together on the side with Miss America; Pope is the singer and keyboardist while Davis plays drums, and the two harmonize just beautifully. It's pretty much guaranteed that any project these two are in is bound to be quite good.

6. Men in Burka With Modern Witch, Kamran Khan and his mates, Mario Zoots and Kristy Fenton, delved into electronic minimalism, dub and dark house. But with Men in Burka, Khan, Zoots and Josh Powers take things a bit further, offering up as Tom Murphy put it, "a mélange of experimental electronic music akin to that of a less warped Muslimgauze repurposed for a dance club or Big Freedia, if she took a trip to Cairo and clued the locals in on bounce."

5. Brim Liski Featuring members of locals acts A Shoreline Dream and CacheFlowe, as well as Netherlands-based Jap Jap, the members of Brim Liski have been recording what they call "electrogaze dreamhop" in each other's studios for the last five years. The new Brim Liski sound "describes vast intergalactic travel, distant astronomical events, and the universal connection to the human spirit," as the group puts it. Sounds about right.

 

4. Yo Soy Sauce Featuring electronic wiz CacheFlowe and Flobots MC Brer Rabbit (aka Stephen Brackett), Yo Soy Sauce was in the works for two years before the act released the video for "Juke Box," which also features some vocals from Paper Bird's Esme Patterson. Per CacheFlowe, "We've been experimenting with lots of different styles and making up new genres, like Afrobit, Baroquen Beat, Southern Soul Hop and Opera Hop."

3. Serious Moonlight A diehard David Bowie fan might see the band name Serious Moonlight and automatically think of the line from his song "Let's Dance." Locally, that name refers to a great side project that includes Alan Andrews and William Threlkeld III of Photo Atlas, Adam Halferty of American Tomahawk, Donny Rosentrater of Attic Attack and Dave Pinto, who plays with Chella Negro. Rooted in a folkier, almost country sound, Serious Moonlight is a mellower, polar opposite of the Photo Atlas's angular, guitar-driven sound.

2. Sweet Tooth Meat Tooth While Monofog had a hell of a lot of promise, the group eventually ran its course, and it wasn't long before frontwoman Hayley Helmericks and guitarist Doug Spencer formed Snake Rattle Rattle Snake with members of Hawks of Paradise and Bad Luck City. With the acoustic Sweet Tooth Meat Tooth project, Helmericks and Spencer delve into more of a stripped down affair than the dance-centric Snake Rattle Rattle Snake.

 

1. Harpoontang Harpoontang started as a total joke with the gals from Paper Bird, Laura Goldhamer and Maria Kohler (also known as Kitty Crimes), singing about some fairly raunchy stuff. It's since turned into a force of its own with shows that are pretty damn funny -- a surprising and invigorating contrast in comparison to the members' main group.





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