The best concerts in Denver this weekend
The Sugarcubes and Bjork garnered tremendous exposure for Iceland as a source of significant and innovative pop music, but it was Sigur Ros that gave the island nation's music a bit of mystery. It is too simplistic to call this music post-rock, because it's also ambient, symphonic and accessibly avant-garde. The 1999 breakthrough album Ágætis byrjun quickly established the members of Sigur Ros as creators of music that both stirs and soothes the spirit. The moody yet uplifting layers of sound and ocean-wave-like rhythms the band creates lends the songs a larger-than-life expansiveness that many aim for but never quite achieve.
Although he left Denver as a mere mortal eight years ago, Mitch Pond returned with a human-insect-hybrid alter ego that produces futuristic, hip-hop-influenced instrumental music and beats: Man Mantis. Since returning, he's stayed busy with projects like "Hear the Noise," a crowd-sourced tune composed from sounds submitted online by fans and strangers. He also composed three beats on Sole's new album, A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing, including the epic, post-apocalyptic-Kanye sound of "Non Workers of the World" and the lush, synth-driven backdrop for "The Untouchables." Man Mantis is one of three supporting acts along with Mirror Fears, Gila Monsta on a bill headlined by Doctype.
Bart McCrorey is probably best known for his skate-punk outfit Frontside Five. Throttlebomb isn't a quantum leap from that, but it's more a synthesis of speed metal and glam. It's a bit like Motörhead, but with more of a focus on melody: A backbone of boogie and blues rock informs the songwriting, which is nonetheless splintery and aggressive. With Low Gravity's Adam Mullins on drums and Jenn Rad, formerly of the Blackouts, on bass, there's a solid groove that gives McCrorey and guitarist Justin Delz a foundation from which to indulge in tasty guitar solos. Throttlebomb's debut album recalls the glory days of the 15th St. Tavern, where hard rock and punk were always on tap. (Throttlebomb is part of the bill for the second annual Girl Wreck Fest, which also features the Heroine, The Blackouts, the Front, 9 Volt Fatale, Salt, Crash, the Cutthroat Drifters, the West, Number Station, Dead Orchids, Paris By Sea, Chella Negro & the Charm, the Lollygags and more.)
Cicely O'Kain is a magnetic singer with incredible vocal chops. Her first album, Ms. Understood, which came out last October, is filled with feelings of infatuation, joy, pleasure and pain. Every note O'Kain sings is delivered with such conviction that she turns what would normally be a standard R&B jam into a remarkable gem. It's no wonder she has been tapped to open up for Johnny Gill this weekend at the Crowne Plaza. When it comes to representing R&B in the Mile High City, it really doesn't get much better than O'Kain.
Shady Elders started as a two-piece fronted by Britt Rodemich in 2011. Rodemich found a kindred spirit in guitarist Miles Eichner; the former Tulip Wars guitarist shared her love of dreamy, pop-oriented post-punk, as well as blues and jazz singers. When the Don'ts and Be Carefuls started winding down, Casey Banker filled the bass slot, and the trio then recruited drummer Marlon Chance of Spires.
As a teenager, Matt Skellenger was a fan of Twin Peaks, David Lynch's short-lived television series. He loved the contrast of darkness and light in the show, as well as the conflict and resolution. From a textural standpoint, both of those elements play a part in Skellenger's new album, The Owls Are Not What They Seem; some of the song titles are nods to the show as well. Skellenger says the disc's theme rests on the notion that things are not what they seem, and he explores the idea of duality within them. Many of the songs are exercises on the number two, such as two instruments playing the main melody in unison instead of harmonizing. At times, for example, trumpeter Ron Miles or Skellenger himself will double the melody with pedal-steel player Glenn Taylor. (Continue reading full profile)
For the better part of two decades, the Midwest two-piece known as Local H has steadily improved upon its distinctive, no-frills brand of gritty rock over the course of seven albums. The band's introduction came like a slap in the mid '90s with the thundering, antagonistic "High-Fiving MF," which boasted the lines "You're just a walking billboard for all the latest brands/You've got no taste in music, and you really love our band/Your haircut is atrocious, been the same since '83/Your glory days are over and so's your stonewashed jeans," and the two-piece has consistently delivered a sound bigger than its parts ever since. Frontman Scott Lucas was recently sidelined by damage to vocal cords from a mugging in Russia a few months ago, but he now appears to be on the mend.
It's easy to dismiss Fu Manchu as the living embodiment of That 70's Show, since the music they make is a sound seemingly designed to fire up a zillion bongs. Brand them "stoner rock" if you must, but they're really just a great, honest, blue-collar metal band -- graduates of the Sabbath school of eardrum bleeding, with songs about pool skating, surfing, El Caminos, Mongoose BMX bikes, the beach, driving around, Dogtown, UFOs and vans (both the Chevy and slip-on shoe variety). This year, the band announced that they've begun work on a new album -- looks like these guys are firing one up for another round.
"This ain't hookah. You hit this shit a few times, you might see the future," Ab-Soul says of DMT in "Pineal Gland," his dark, mystic ode to the drug. The same thing can be said of the MC's rhymes; moments like this one induce chills as Ab-Soul seems to crack the corners of the universe by venturing deep into himself. Rarely have psychedelia and hip-hop been crossed so well. His style can be abrasive at times -- though in the best way possible -- but Ab is a sensitive soul, as he shows in the long-overdue "Double Standards," about gender roles and sexuality. Control System was one of the very best albums of last year, and though its release was overshadowed by friend and label-mate Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, m.A.A.d City, don't make the mistake of missing the train on this Top Dawg.
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