The best concerts to see in Denver this week
Formed in 1998, Junip fuses an acoustic folk sensibility with a meditative psychedelia driven by synthesizers. Before the Swedish outfit took off, guitarist and singer José González had a bit of a successful solo career with songs that were used in television shows such as The O.C., Friday Night Lights and House, and the group essentially went on hiatus, which explains why Junip's debut album, the gently stirring Fields, wasn't released until 2010. The melding of González's signature classical guitar with Tobias Winterkorn's subtle and transporting synth work creates a soft yet energetic dynamic has always given the collaboration a delicate, refined power. Earlier this year, the band released Junip, its second album, and the single "Line of Fire" appeared in the trailer for the series finale of Breaking Bad.
Alaska-bred Portugal. The Man may be the weirdest band to spring from last decade's post-hardcore scene. Formed by singer/guitarist John Gourley and bassist Zach Carothers after the demise of Anatomy of a Ghost, Portugal quickly became the oddest band on the screamo package tours -- thanks to Gourley's slinky vocals and quirky atmospheric songwriting style, a hybrid of everything from indie pop to psychedelic rock to smooth '70s soul. (Portugal. The Man is also due at the Ogden Theatre on Saturday, October 19.)
Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith formed this pop outfit in 2008 and recorded two EPs with future keyboard player Aaron Short when the three were students at the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand (MAINZ) in Auckland. Taking its name from Tricky's "Tricky Kid," the Naked and Famous isn't exactly what you'd call trip-hop. The group's effervescent melodies and breezy, upbeat dynamics are more akin to the likes of M83 and Cut Copy. Although Short wasn't originally a member of the live band, he served as an integral part of its sound in the role of producer. The Naked's debut album, 2010's Passive Me, Aggressive You, garnered critical praise for its expansive energy and diverse songwriting. This year's followup, In Rolling Waves, was a more sonically dense and coherent batch of songs that actualized the promise of the act's debut effort.
Passion Pit began as a solo project of lead singer and keyboard player Michael Angelakos in 2007. The project quickly fleshed out into a full band that combined a keen sense for upbeat pop melodies with lyrics that didn't exactly try to sugarcoat the complex emotional life and experiences of adulthood. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based act's debut full-length, 2009's Manners, yielded a handful of songs that garnered exposure on shows like Gossip Girl and Big Love, setting the stage for its follow-up. Last year, saw the release of that album, Gossamer, which gained positive notices and eventually resulted in an invitation for the group to perform on Saturday Night Live.
Inspired by early art-rock bands like Genesis and King Crimson, Goblin started out in 1972 as Cherry Five. But when the group was recruited to help score the 1975 Dario Argento film Profondo Rosso, it changed its name to Goblin before releasing an album of the music it wrote for the movie. From then on, Goblin's name became synonymous with the great Italian horror films of the 1970s and 1980s, including Argento's 1977 masterpiece, Suspiria. American director George A. Romero also hired both Argento and Goblin to write the soundtrack for his 1978 zombie opus, Dawn of the Dead. Although successful and influential, Goblin split in 1982, but since 2000, the band has done one-off concerts, even doing a short European tour in 2009. This appearance is part of Goblin's first North American foray.
One of the up and coming rappers to earn his stripes on the new mixtape scene, Kid Ink first gained the attention of DJ Ill Will in 2011. Just a year later, he had made enough noise to earn a spot in XXL's 2012 Freshman class, alongside more well known rappers such as Macklemore, Danny Brown and Machine Gun Kelly. Soon after, he released his debut album, Up & Away, which, despite a strong first week, was a relative disappointment. He's looking to up his profile with My Own Lane, expected in December.
STRFKR has had an interesting trip up the pop-culture ladder. In a perfect world, the group's catchy hook-producing capabilities would make it a Top 40 shoo-in. But perhaps there's something too deliberate in the act's chosen moniker. A handful of earlier name changes proved fruitless, and STRFKR stuck, along with a desire to create a delightfully synth-heavy alternative to the regular radio grind. Starting off as the self-recorded one-man band of Josh Hodges, the project grew into a full-fledged four-piece that brings a dance party to every live show. Hodges is still the mastermind behind the band's rock and pop compositions, and this year's Reptilians sounds like the perfect extension of 2008's self-titled release, carrying STRFKR's glitchy happiness to what could be the next level: mass appeal.
Doug Martsch has developed an instantly recognizable sound with Built to Spill -- soaring, layered guitars, pounding rhythm section, quirky lyrics -- that often builds into a psychedelic frenzy. For the band's last two albums, Martsch used Built to Spill's riff-heavy post-punk sound to create something that clearly was future-facing. Gone were the swirling, lifting, hypnotic tracks and in their place were tighter, more concise songs that managed to retain the band's distinctive essence. The psychedelia remained, but the intensity had been toned down in favor of string sections and less musical rambling. There Is No Enemy was released in 2009, and, at the time, Martsch indicated it might be the final Built to Spill album. Such sentiments are not surprising, however. Martsch is known for pouring his entire soul into each record, practically living in the studio as he ceaselessly searches for that perfect tone and feel.
This Seattle two-piece met in 2009 when the two members were helping a friend move a stereo. Though in more than one sense a garage rock band, Pony Time definitely bucks convention. Luke Beetham plays bass and baritone guitar, giving the group's energizing sound a rich, melodic low end, while Stacy Peck's drumming is on the brighter more spiky end of the sonic spectrum, lending the music its irresistible momentum. Yes, there's a bit of that Great Northwest sound in the band's music, but the songs are also rooted in the primal beats of riot grrrl punk and the cathartic release of Thee Milkshakes.
This marks the 20th edition of the now long-running showcase/residency of experimental electronic music often held at Rhinoceropolis or some other off-the-beaten path venue. Think of it as being like a '90s rave without the volume of people and even more underground. Featuring breakcore artists like the U.K.'s Microphyst and the Parliamentalist, alongside Spanish breakcore collage artists Santisima Virgen Maria and techno-breakcore wunderkind, the Portland-based Foxdye, Grave Ravers #20 promises to be a night of aggressive, beautifully disorienting music.
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.