The best concerts in Denver this week
Last year was a busy one for Justin Timberlake. For starters, the pop god released The 20/20 Experience, his first album in seven years, and despite its profusion of six-minute-plus songs and baroque flourishes, the album was a huge hit -- "Suit & Tie" even topped the Billboard charts. He then released a second album, which unfortunately sounded like a collection of B-sides best left on the cutting-room floor. His reputation remains untarnished, just the same. Timberlake guested on Jay Z's Magna Carta... Holy Grail, and then the hip-hop icon returned the favor. JT also co-starred in the new Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, and lately he's appeared on Saturday Night Live often enough to make you wonder how he has time to make music. To say the man hustles is an understatement. This week the *N Sync alum descends upon Denver to remind us that at least one good thing came out of the boy-band era.
Jamtronica pioneers the Disco Biscuits build interesting set lists: They invert portions of jams into each other, surprising audience members again and again while shining a mega-ton of lasers in their faces for an overstimulation extravaganza. The Biscuits will take over the Ogden for two nights, then expand for a big finale on Saturday night at 1STBANK Center. The Philly band always shows Colorado lots of love, even when its touring schedule winds down to allow for work on other projects.
A prolific artist and collaborator, rapper spent a dozen years grinding before scoring a major label deal for 2008's Murs for President. Since then, he's released nearly half a dozen albums, and the flurry of activity is typical of Murs (born Nick Carter), who's always been a hard worker, inspired in part by his single mother. Throughout his career, Murs has proved equally capable of grim street-level reality and heady consciousness -- without resorting to the often preachy elements of "conscious hip-hop." Often, he'll rhapsodize about the banal, like hanging on the porch with homies smoking weed, and like a chameleon, he'll adapt to any situation. He partially credits a nomadic childhood that never found him in the same place for more than a few years at a time. (Murs is also due at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs on Wednesday, January 22.)
Lady Antebellum's star has risen in an unparalleled way over the last half-decade; conquering both the country and pop-music worlds, the trio's three records have garnered Grammy, Billboard and CMA nominations and awards along the way. All three members -- Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott -- pen and contribute vocally to the group's glossy pop-country sound. Lady Antebellum channels Fleetwood Mac with genre-crossing hits like 2010's "Need You Now" and "Just a Kiss" while still carrying a sound as uniquely Southern as the architectural style the band was named after.
It's been ten years since Yellowcard (due on Tuesday, January 21, at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, and Wednesday, January 22, at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins) and released Ocean Avenue, and while jumping on the Anniversary tour train, the Florida-bred pop punkers decided to do things a little different. Instead of simply touring the album in its entirety, the act recorded a new one, Ocean Avenue Acoustic, as a way to reintroduce both itself and its fans to the thirteen-song collection that jump-started the outfit's legacy as pop-punk heavyweights.
Rob "Bucket" Hingley has a simple motto: Don't let the bastards grind you down. It's fitting for the longtime champion of ska and leader of the genre's American flagship, the Toasters. Any preconceived notions and prejudices people may harbor against ska, however justified, are thrown out the door the minute the Toasters take the stage. The group distills ska music for neophytes and aficionados who know the difference between the real deal and bouncy MTV pop-punk vomit with horns. The band's pedal-to-the-dance-floor groove, tempered with just the right amount of surly edge, should convince even the most dedicated ska hater. (The Toasters are also due at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins on Friday, January 24.)
Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg's playing conjures the duality of New York. The guy's a badass, burning up the fretboard like Jimmy Bruno, with a swaggering bravado that's pure Gotham. At the same time, there's an evenness to his attack in which every note has clear and distinct resonance, lending the material an air of sophistication. And although he's quite good in the trio setting, he's just as compelling playing solo, as evidenced on his latest effort, One.
A merger of EDM and hip-hop was inevitable, and San Francisco's K Theory has bridged the gap between the two quite well, delivering dance-heavy tracks that feature fluid lyricism. Vocalist Malcolm Anthony's smooth flow distinguishes K Theory's output from most mod-ern dance music, which simply relies on catchy hooks. The trio injects a Bay Area hyphy sound into its music, bringing rattling hi-hats, deep bass drops and crisp rhyming to the dance world. Dylan Lewman and Dustin Musser fill in the EDM side of the equation, with song structures that leave room for Anthony's crowd-commanding vocals while providing just the right amount of instrumental flair to keep the dance-party momentum going.
Jeremy Harris has been at this project since May of 1994, and he's also tried his hand at various aspects and styles of electronic music over the years, as well as having been involved in various capacities in the American underground music scene. With such a prolific discography, Harris renders it foolish to try to pin down exactly the Lazy Magnet sound. At least recently Harris's more mellow offerings sound like an abstract, electronic counterpoint to Get Lost period Magnetic Fields -- not unlike Lusine teaming up with Giorgio Moroder without trying to sound like him. Harris's latest album came out in October 2013, the self-released double cassette, Pure Psychic Zero.
Before forming (due at Glob this Friday, January 24) in 2010, Keith Curts and Tom Nelsen were best known for their work in rock bands. Curts, who is currently in Glass Hits, had been deeply immersed in the posthardcore scene of the '90s, while Nelsen drummed in Vicious Women. But the two were no strangers to the avant-garde, either, and they wanted to form a band with a rawer sound, one that was more focused on feeling than on conventional melodies and rhythms. Both menacing and cathartic, the music of Echo Beds completely blurs the lines between noise and industrial and performance art and post-punk, resulting in coherent songs that dispense with all but the most rudimentary rules of songwriting.
• BACKBEAT'S GREATEST HITS •
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.