The best DIY shows in Denver in January
Back in 2011 and 2012, Pete Bell was the guy with the camera whom you'd always see shooting footage of shows at Rhinoceropolis. Bell was in high school then, and making a documentary about the long-running DIY venue for one of his classes. Titled Neon Savant & the Silent Trajectory, the film captured the scene and the acts playing at the time. The whole time, Bell was making music on his own as Kid Mask. Part avant-garde electronic music, part noise and part dark psychedelia, Kid Mask is a consistently interesting hybrid experimental project with several worthy releases under its belt. Bell, himself a fan of challenging film, has created a body of musical work that would be a perfect companion for the likes of a Takashi Miike cinematic nightmare.
Not since Einsturzende Neubauten or Author and Punisher were last in town has anyone seen a band that uses unconventional percussion and sounds that imitate the percussive quality of heavy machinery as extensively as Echo Beds. The duo, which comprises Glass Hits vocalist Keith Curts and Vicious Women drummer Tom Nelsen, makes electrifying, punishing sounds reminiscent of the more menacing end of Cabaret Voltaire. Nelsen's harrowing, animalistic screaming, alongside Curts's thundering bass lines, are both unsettling and inspiring. The group is releasing a split record with genius performance artist Tripp Nasty, and sharing this date with the immersive, atmospheric, environment phenom Sterile Garden, which is also releasing its latest album at this show. Rarely is an all avant-garde bill also incredibly accessible.
This Las Vegas, Nevada, quartet calls itself alternately "shoegaze punk" and "post punk," which makes sense, as the group's fuzzed-out, aggressive pop punk has more in common with the likes of Dinosaur Jr and Sunny Day Real Estate, only with vocals out of the gritty post-hardcore school. What sets this band apart from many of its putative peers, however, is that the music isn't just three power chords and attitude. Touring in support of its excellent 2013 EP, Thick Skull, Narrowed seems to be one of those bands many will be glad to say they saw way back when.
When hardcore spawned an even more militant straight edge contingent of the movement with bands like SS Decontrol, 7 Seconds, and "youth crew" acts like Youth Brigade and Slapshot, it wasn't too difficult to predict that the sub-genre would burn itself out quickly. But in the last decade, that sort of sound, that purist hardcore aesthetic and its attendant ideologies, came back in pockets throughout America and beyond. Hounds of Hate from Brooklyn fortunately sounds far more rhythmically dynamic than its forebears. The band's 2012 cassette sounds like the guys absorbed bits of grindcore and power violence into its sonic DNA.
Elk Grove, California's the Speed of Sound in Seawater formed in 2009. The outfit's delicate, math-rock sensibilities are reminiscent of early Deathcab For Cutie, except that the sonic details seem even more finely textured and playing even more precise. But the vibe, the sense of melancholic reflection and the sheltering of tender emotions from the depredations of vulgarians, has a sound like snowbound winter mornings spend in isolation, shearing away all the inessential pieces of song to create pristine compositions, while maintaining an honest clarity of emotion. Although clearly the product of musical ability, this band's songs convey a compelling simplicity.
FRI | SYPHILIS SAUNA at DEER PILE | 1/17/14
Patrick Urn spends a good deal of his day providing sound to various corporate functions and other professional environments. But his passion is experimental electronic music, and as a member of industrial band In Ether, he helped to create imaginative, dark soundscapes. Since the dissolution of that band, Urn hasn't stopped making music. Herpes Hideaway is his ambient project, and Syphilis Sauna is where Urn sculpts massive breakcore compositions that provide a distinct outlet for any angst he may accumulate in his other line of work. Urn recently released the latest Syphilis Sauna tape, a reminder that even the veterans of the underground experimental scene can surprise us by challenging themselves.
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.
Caleb Holmes grew up in different parts of the front range in Colorado and is currently based in Edgewater. Writing hip-hop under the moniker Justified Logic, Holmes writes his lyrics in a stream-of-consciousness style, not unlike some of his clear influences, acts like Aesop Rock, Eyedea and Abilities and Sole. Describing his music as "abstract hip-hop," Holmes pens songs that are existential impressionistic sketches and essays, giving the impression he spends a lot of time processing his emotions and finding nuggets of knowledge.
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