The best concerts to see in Denver this weekend
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 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 act'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.
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 Zack 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 tomorrow night, Saturday, October 19.)
In the thirteen years since the Bad Plus has been together, the adventurous jazz trio has included cover songs on each of its recordings. Bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer David King have deconstructed and reimagined cuts by everyone from the Pixies and Nirvana to Bowie and Blondie. For All I Care, which featured vocalist Wendy Lewis, comprised mostly covers. But while the Bad Plus guys can turn other people's songs inside out and make them their own, they're each damn fine composers and virtuosic players in their own right -- as evidenced on earlier discs like These Are the Vistas, Give and Prog, but especially on 2010's Never Stop, the acts's first album made up entirely of original compositions. While Never Stop was a bold collection of ten originals that reflect the unit's fearless playing style, last year's Made Possible (also mainly originals) was equally as absorbing.
See also: The Bad Plus makes good on Made Possible
Todd Snider is one of America's most gifted storytellers. The songwriter, who first gained notice in the mid-'90s with the song "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues," writes the kind of songs that can cut you to the bone and make you laugh at the same time. He has a knack for exploring and expressing the human condition with incisive commentary best captured on albums like 2004's East Nashville Skyline and 2012's Agnostic Hmyns & Stoner Fables, one of his finest releases to date.
SUN | ATLAS GENIUS at SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | 10/20/13
These days, many young bands are eager to play their first shows as soon as possible, and then they break up if those early efforts don't translate to early success. In contrast, Atlas Genius spent three years writing music and playing cover sets at local bars in Adelaide, Australia, before playing its first show, and in the fall of 2011, the act's song "Trojans" was discovered by Neon Gold records and became a hit single the following year. Atlas Genius released its debut full-length, When It Was Now, on Warner Bros. just over a year later. The band's sound, a well-oiled atmospheric brand of rock with R&B-inflected vocals, will immediately appeal to fans of Cut Copy.
KRS-One (aka Lawrence Parker) was the sole constant member of Boogie Down Productions, whose 1987 album, Criminal Minded, is often cited as the record that introduced gangsta rap to an unsuspecting world. But BDP's raps were always as literate as they were gritty, and the act quickly evolved beyond its street-level journalism, producing lyrics that spelled out political and social ills on a wider scale. The song "Beef," from the 1990 album Edutainment, must have seemed bizarre, championing vegetarianism at such an early date, but KRS-One has always been a bit ahead of the curve, and to this day remains a controversial figure not only for his music, but also for his outspoken public persona.
Founded in 1999, this band was started by King Khan who had been in Montreal-based garage rock groups the Spaceshits and Kukamongas. Often associated with the Atlanta, Georgia, underground rock milieu of the early 2000s, King Khan & The Shrines fit in well with that city's embrace of the eccentric and eclectic. Noted for its theatrical flair and not really seeing any necessary divide between punk, garage and soul, this band at one time also included in its line-up Ron Streeter, who had played with Bo Diddley, Curtis Mayfield, Ike and Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder. Clearly Khan didn't see a need to recognize the usual age barriers in band membership, either. King Khan and the Shrines is part punk rock show and part old soul revue showmanship -- surely a welcome change from the usual sort of punk rock.
Two Cow Garage from Columbus, Ohio, makes you forget that a ton of people have done the country-rock thing before -- mainly because the band's songwriting is smart and delivered with un-ironic conviction. Although the act's recorded output is remarkably strong on its own, on stage Two Cow always seems to kick things up a few notches, playing each show like a crucial statement on the need for rock and roll to be more than just throwaway pop and meaningless musical affectation. Fueled by the spirit of The Boss, this quintet makes a strong argument for the continued relevance of unaffected, unvarnished rock music for the current era. Far from being a group of trendy classic-rock grave-robbers, Two Cow Garage is the real thing.
The Fabulous Boogienauts came together in 1996, when founder Rocky Ramjett was finally able to realize his dream of creating a disco band. Rather than the Chili Peppers brand of funk rock that was in vogue in certain circles at the time, Ramjett, who'd been relieved of his bass-playing duties in experimental rock band Gladhand, wanted to play the kind of music no one was touching then, but he also didn't want to go the route of pure covers. And so, with the Fabulous Boogienauts, he began writing new, original disco tunes. The Boogienauts dialed things back considerably in 2008, and with the exception of one-off concerts here and there and a well-attended reunion show last year at Herman's Hideaway, the bandmembers have maintained a low profile. The band fully reconvened this and headed to Bart McCrory's Motaland Studios to record their second studio album, 12" Fully Funktional, the release of which is being celebrated tonight.
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.
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