The 9 best concerts in Denver this weekend
Slim Cessna's Auto Club plays tonight at the Bluebird
It is Texas time in Denver. All we'd need is the Geto Boys and Gary Clark Jr. to hit the spectrum of Lone Star exports: St. Vincent brings her shock of white hair to town tomorrow, the Toadies' Rubberneck victory lap hits Englewood and songwriting genius Joy Ely makes the Soiled Dove the perfect place to end up Sunday night.
There's more: the always worthwhile Slim Cessna's Auto Club, roots hero Charlie Parr and even another Texan. Learn all about 'em.
Seattle based singer-songwriter Damien Jurado is reluctantly moving into the digital realm after a storied love affair with the analog world. Jurado, who once ran a cassette-only label during the '90s called Casa Recordings that brought him to the attention of Sub Pop, released a track a day from Saint Bartlett on MySpace. That's a pretty big step for a guy whose fascination with cassette tapes once led him to release Postcards and Audio Letters, a project from 2000 that was culled entirely from audio samples taken from old answering-machine tapes he'd found at thrift stores. Despite how his music is delivered these days, however, Jurado's vocal style remains firmly rooted in the past, with a voice that combines the mystique of Neil Young and the vibrato of X's John Doe.
It's not a stretch to imagine Robert Earl Keen as a wannabe journalist. With an eye for detail and an ear for a great story, he writes songs that almost betray the fact that he studied journalism at Texas A&M before hooking up with a young nobody in the early '80s named Lyle Lovett. While his buddy went on to fame and a movie-star marriage, Keen has always hit a little closer to home, gravitating in the '90s to the sparse honesty and purity extolled by the alt-country scene without ever fully becoming part of any trend.
Ryan Crosson exemplifies techno at its finest, whether your measuring stick is based on the heyday of Detroit techno or on the sub-genre's modern-day residency in Berlin. Crosson made a name for himself in both cities; after sharpening his needles alongside artists like Richie Hawtin and Kevin Saunderson, he helped found the seminal Visionquest label with colleagues Shaun Reeves, Seth Troxler and Lee Curtiss. And although he can be counted on to lay down some of the very latest techno floor-pounders in his sets, Crosson is also a master of selecting blasts from the past to stitch into his latest sound, whether it's a jazzy, brassy sample from a vintage record or a righteous techno track you haven't heard for twenty years.
While Slim Cessna's Auto Club got its start in these parts just over two decades ago, the band usually only plays here a few times a year. Slim hasn't lived in Denver since moving to Rhode Island in 2000 (and later to Pittsburgh), and guitarist Dwight Pentacost lives in Boston. But when the Auto Club comes through, it has no trouble kicking up the dust with its gripping live shows. On its most recent effort, 2011's Unentitled, the band doesn't steer too far from its tried-and-true combo of dark country and gothic Americana. As a collec-tion, the album stands out not just as one of the Auto Club's finest efforts, but as perhaps its most accessible release to date.
In the past two decades or so, increasing numbers of people have tried their hand at re-creating the sounds of traditional American music, to mostly mixed results. So when someone as talented and proficient as Charlie Parr does Americana so convincingly, you can't help but stand up and take note. Blending traditional folk and blues numbers with his own material, which sounds every bit as authentic, his music has a resonant, pastoral sound. Parr plays Piedmont-style blues, weaving deceptively simple tapestries of melody and atmosphere with resonator and twelve-string guitars and a banjo. Fans of Ry Cooder's work from the film Paris, TX will take a shine to it.
Jason Corder and Carl Ritger will perform as Offthesky & Radere this Saturday at the Sidewinder Tavern. Each has been an extremely prolific composer of entrancing sounds for more than a decade. Chances are you haven't heard their work in a club, but they've per-formed at the Communikey Festival in Boulder. Corder showed his prowess for visual art as well when he created videos to accompany his music during an opening set for synthesizer pioneer Morton Subotnick in 2012. That same year, Ritger's gritty, transporting and blurred guitar-tone drones prepared the audience for a performance by Tim Hecker. This year, the two joined forces for a collaborative project called The Season of Lost Buttons. The album's sculpted and processed noises evoke the feeling of flying in your dreams.
Performing as St. Vincent, Annie Clark is a writer of lush, adventurous pop music. As a teenager she was the tour manager for her uncle's band, Tuck & Patti, where she learned not only a great deal about the music business but also a bit about musicianship and effective performance. In her early twenties, Clark became a member of the Polyphonic Spree and later on joined Sufjan Stevens' band for his 2006 tour. The following year, Clark released her first solo album, Marry Me, a promising debut filled with effervescent melodies and experimental flourishes throughout. The follow-up, Actor, appeared two years later and garnered a great deal of acclaim for Clark. Actor is a sonically and artistically mature work that reveals an uncommon depth of artistic imagination and ambition in songwriting and musical conceptualization.
With 1994's Rubberneck, the Toadies became radio mainstays across the country and hard-rock icons at home in North Texas. But somehow they couldn't keep the attention of label Interscope Records. As was the plan, the band went into the studio, but the Interscope higher-ups didn't approve of Feeler, the disc the Toadies recorded and hoped to release in 1998 as the followup to Rubberneck. Not surprisingly, Feeler remained a bug in the Toadies' collective ear. And thirteen years after the fact, with Interscope's ownership of Feeler's songs expired (the Toadies retained rights to the songs, but Interscope remains in control of the recordings), the band, which reunited in 2008 to release No Deliverance on Dallas-based indie label Kirtland Records, returned to the studio to give the songs another whirl. In 2010, the band finally released the disc, first as a digital download and later in standard compact-disc form. Now, two decades after Rubberneck was released, the outfit will perform the album from front to back to celebrate its twentieth anniversary.
Joe Ely came to the fore in 1970 with the Flatlanders, a combo that sported two other excellent tunesmiths, Butch Hancock and Jimmy Dale Gilmore. He would draw on compositions from both during a solo career that infused country with rock and vice versa; this combination, heard on terrific platters such as 1978's Honky Tonk Masquerade, attracted fans such as the Clash, whose members invited him to tour with them, but it baffled industry types, who couldn't figure out how to market his work. After releasing a number of discs over the last three decades, Ely hit the studio in 2010 to record songs for Satisfied at Last, his first record of new material in four years.
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