The seven best concerts in Denver this week
Rickie Lee Jones plays the Oriental this Thursday.
We hope your long weekend was as full of smoked meats and assorted outdoor activities as ours was. And now we're back and ready to talk about Denver concerts some more.
Obviously the selections are a little lighter in this week's show round-up given that we lost a day. But there are still plenty of good options, including tUnE-yArDs touring in support of a delightfully strange new album, Rickie Lee Jones touring in support of a lifetime of unbelievably great songwriting and Colorado's greatest recent pop success story OneRepublic playing two nights at Red Rocks. Enjoy:
The goofy name and Gossip Girl associations seem to have prevented this New Zealand synth-rock outfit from being taken seriously by American indie types. But onstage the Naked and Famous come as close as anyone in reproducing the sexy-aggro rush of late-period Nine Inch Nails; they're pretty, but they're also kind of reckless, too.
Like Midlake, Cotton Jones and Sub Pop labelmates Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper was a key player a few years ago in the outpouring of poignant lo-fi rock influenced by '70s legends like CSNY, the Band and Neil Young. However, spearheaded by the quixotic lyrics and vocals of Eric Earley, Blitzen Trapper stands out among its more folk-rock-inclined peers by throwing prog rock into the mix.
It is difficult to believe that when Cher first topped the charts, LBJ was in the White House and America was taking its first steps into the quagmire of Vietnam. She is one of an elite few in the annals of pop history who aptly deserves to be called a survivor. Her recent album, Closer to the Truth, reached the higher echelons of the Billboard charts, and she performs 49 dates across North America on her current tour. The recent deluge of pop diva darlings is mere perfumed farts in the wind compared to Cher. This lady was rocking it when Lady Gaga was a dystopian nightmare no one had thought of yet. She's won an Emmy, a Grammy, three Golden Globe Awards, and an Oscar and was the first woman to show her navel on national television.
Ryan Tedder is arguably one of the most commercial successful musicians in Colorado. Aside from having a string of hits with his own band, OneRepublic, he's penned blockbusters for some heavyweights, and he made $2.5 million in 2013 on royalties alone. The lion's share of it came from songwriting credits on songs performed by Beyonce, Ellie Goulding, Maroon 5, Demi Lovato, The Fray. He's performed at the White House, he's got a Grammy, he's toured the world, he's shared stages with U2 as well as work on the act's forthcoming album.
Merrill Garbus is a bit of a musical polymath. Her songs could never be called strictly R&B, folk, post-punk, lo-fi pop or jazz. Nor does she merely sing, play guitar, execute unconventional percussion and hash together electronic sounds for something like a live sound collage. In that way, her music as tUnE-yArDs is akin to that of other tuneful experimentalists like Broadcast, St. Vincent and David Byrne. Even a casual listen to tUnE-yArDs' debut full-length, BiRd BrAiNs, reveals a time-traveling songwriter who allows ambient sounds to bleed into the recordings and who freely appropriates Carmen Miranda and the Raincoats with equal aplomb. Engaging and energetic, tUnE-yArDs takes idiosyncratic, even avant-garde, music and makes it accessible and fun.
Finding success in signing with Skrillex's OWSLA record label, Kill the Noise has grown into one of the heaviest producers currently touring. Jake Stanczak, the brains behind the whole operation, developed Kill the Noise's sound for years. His powerhouse club bangers melt with melodic pianos and tease the fringes of metal anthems. This burgeoning genre -- this heavy meets lovely blend -- blasts from the speakers, leaving you in a state of seizing bliss.
Rickie Lee Jones at the Oriental Theater: Thursday, May 29
Of all the rock stars who made their marks in the '70s, Rickie Lee Jones was one of the easiest to imagine someday settling down and shunning the public eye. Strutting more grit than glam, she swept the end of that decade with a string of Grammy nominations and edgy hits like "The Last Chance Texaco" and "Chuck E's in Love" -- not to mention a widely publicized romance with Tom Waits -- before disappearing into the hinterlands of cult acclaim. The perpetual refrains of "Chuck E," which seemed to be on endless FM play for years, probably hastened her domestic flight. But after a six-year hiatus spent tending gardens and raising her daughter, the rootsy singer-songwriter returned with 2003's celebrated The Evening of My Best Day. Both an extension of and a deviation from her jazz-oriented output of the '80s and '90s, the album was inspired by everyone from Curtis Mayfield to Woody Guthrie -- especially the protest spirit of songs like "Tell Somebody (Repeal the Patriot Act Now)." Since then, Jones released another three discs, including her most recent effort, 2012's Ben Harper-produced The Devil You Know, a stellar album of covers from acts like the Rolling Stones, the Band, Van Morrison and Neil Young.
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