The ten best concerts in Denver this week
Cat Power at the Ogden is one of the week's ten best concerts.
Ready for another solid week of shows? Good. There's plenty to look forward to this week, a diverse batch of offerings from the jammier side of things with the Disco Biscuits, who are setting up shop in Colorado for three nights, to the long- and eagerly awaited Denver appearance of Cat Power, to a flood of local album-release shows from Rachel & the Kings, P-Nuckle, Anchorage and Tatanka. We've got all of the shows happening on the Front Range this week listed in our concert calendar, if you're feeling industrious. Otherwise, keep reading for a rundown of the ten best concerts in Denver this week.
While trombonist Steve Turre has spent three decades on the Saturday Night Live band, he's also a master of Latin jazz and straight ahead jazz and has performed with heavies like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Santana and Ray Charles. As part of this Latin Jazz All-Stars line-up, he's joined by other masters of Afro Cuban, salsa, Brazilian and Latin jazz, including Grammy-nominated pianist Larry Harlow, percussionist Chembo Corniel, bassist Junior Terry, drummer Diego Lopez and flutist Néstor Torres.
Anyone who saw Dances With Wolves probably recognizes that "Tatanka" is the Lakota word for bison. This like named Denver-based act has certainly adopted that imagery for the cover of its latest release, Cloudless Thunder. Rather than some doom rock band that names itself after the largest animal to roam the plains since the Pleistocene, Tatanka has created a true alloy out of dub, hip-hop, EDM and improvisational rock. The outfit's 2010 EP, Sounds in Technicolor, lived up to its name with languid drifts of imaginatively crafted melodies nudged along with pulses of bass and drum accents. The mixture of purely electronic and the organic is seamless in a way comparable to that of the similarly minded STS9.
Formed in 2008, Anchorage initially cultivated a metalcore sound heard on the band's first album, 2010's I Have Seen Further, and its follow-up EP, 2011's Truth In Adversity. But the limitations of that didn't fully suit singer and founding member Kevin Gentry as he developed musically. So last year, Gentry and guitarist Roy Catlin recruited their friend Scott Kelly, formerly of Kimber, as the second guitarist, and then, when drummer Brice Job decided he would make his move to South Dakota permanent, the act enlisted Joe Hittle, who learned the drum parts in the month and a half between Job's departure and the already-booked recording sessions. In another fortunate quirk of fate, the group found Derek Arrieta to play bass. The results of these additions can be heard on Patience, an album that has some of the musical trappings of melodic hardcore and metal but takes fascinatingly decisive departures from tropes of the art form.
Studio Zoo Productions
Having endured numerous lineup changes over the course of its nearly decade long career, P-Nuckle has steadily built up a devoted fanbase by gigging with an unrelenting, steadfast determination. With four albums already under its belt, the outfit, led by Chris LaPlante, is on the celebrating the release of its fifth record, The System, its most solid effort to date. While the band started out more on the rambunctious, straight up partying side of things, the group has continually progressed into something more substantive, and The System fully reflects that growth. P-Nuckle sounds more polished than ever.
In the less than a year that Rachel James has been fronting Rachel & the Kings, the band has already accomplished a great deal, both locally and nationally, from winning national contests such as Ford's Gimme the Gig, besting some 700 bands from across the country, to landing one of the top three spots in KTCL's annual Hometown for the Holidays promotion. In that one, Rachel and the Kings was named runner-up for their tune "Fall Down." All of this success has come before the official release of Tonic, the outfit's first album, which is due out this week. "We're so new," James points out with a note of disbelief. "Things have happened so fast. We haven't released an album yet, but we already feel like we have a lot of traction."
Given Alex Church's icy, understated tenor and penchant for gentle arpeggios, it's easy to label him and his revolving-band project Sea Wolf as devoted disciples of the Iron & Wine school of adult-alternative-approved folk-rock. And while Church's preference for immaculate sounds and middle-of-the-road tempos has occasionally made past Sea Wolf records feel slightly bloodless, this year's Old World Romance finds him sounding livelier than ever while operating as a one-man band. (Sea Wolf is also due at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs on Thursday, January 24.)
Ben Folds is probably most vividly remembered for his work in the '90s, when he seemed to come out of nowhere with his impassioned piano-based pop and a string of hits including "Brick." But by then, Folds was a veteran musician who had honed his skills as a multi-instrumentalist before moving from his native North Carolina to Nashville. That background could explain why his songwriting has more depth than that of many other singer-songwriters. Folds also became a well-known producer with a knack for trying crazy yet creative ideas, such as bringing Adrian Belew and Henry Rollins in to record on a William Shatner song a few years back. On last year's The Sound of the Life of the Mind, Folds sounds more charged-up than ever.
For Bloc Party, the smashing success of 2005's Silent Alarm could have sealed its fate, time-stamped it as a post-Strokes dance-rock band strapped tight to an expired decade. But the U.K. quartet pushed through, continuing to find subtle triumphs, its catchy post-punk style shining through on two more stylistically steady releases, the critic-polarizing A Weekend in the City and Intimacy. In 2009, the group went on hiatus, and lead singer Kele Okereke stepped out on his own as a solo artist. But Bloc Party returned in the summer of 2012 with the aptly titled Four, a raucous record that gave the traditional rock band a new rhythmic dynamism in which co-founder Russell Lissack's guitar work got heavier, channeling a Siamese Dream-era Billy Corgan. But perhaps the most defining aspect of the act's jagged and catchy sound was Okereke's vocals, which have undergone a makeover, as well: His token sassy sing-talking style is still there, but his range and strength have matured pleasantly.
Fresh off their Mayan Holidaze run in Mexico, the Disco Biscuits bring their Winter Inferno to Colorado for three nights of laserific goodness (the outfit is also due at 1STBANK Center on Saturday, January 26). Nearing its second decade of existence, the Philadelphia-based act has finally settled in the role as one of the most sought after jam bands still touring. When the quintet, which is known for improvised renditions of their own complex songs, steps on stage, you never know if the journey is going to find the Biscuits exploring the depths of their creativity or ambling through their seemingly endless catalog of studio gems. Adding Colorado's GRiZ and Michal Menert to the culminating third night of Winter Inferno, the Biscuits are set to kick 2013 off right with the most rabid fan base the group has ever seen.
Cat Power at the Ogden is one of the week's ten best concerts.
Between erratic behavior on stage, substance abuse, mental breakdowns and health problems on and off, the singer known as Cat Power has been making matchless records and equally searing gossip column fodder since the early '90s. But like all of the best stories rock and roll has created, the tumultuous ones often lend to the best catalogs -- and through her public drama, Chan Marshall's voice remains the most compelling talking point. Soulful, scalding and resilient, she embraces blues, punkish minimalism and Dylan all the same. Marshall's latest record, Sun, is an experiment in arrangement, vocal layering and the utilization of autotune as a method of genius manipulation, rather than a bandage. Cat Power's stop in Denver is just one of five dates she'll be performing stateside on her recently revamped tour -- one she postponed late last year due to impending bankruptcy and illness. But luckily for Cat Power fans, with dramatic showmanship comes a voice worth waiting for.
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