The ten best concerts in Denver this week
Purity Ring came together when Megan James and Corin Roddick started writing electronic songs together after having served as touring members of experimental pop band Born Gold. Rather than rushing to put out material, this duo has spent the last couple of years meticulously crafting R&B-inflected, electro pop songs with layers of rhythm and atmosphere. After periodic releases of singles and a string of live performances, Purity Ring released its debut album, Shrines, last fall on the 4AD imprint. The band's live shows have an air of the ritualistic due to its unique lighting rig and ethereal sound anchored by masterfully-composed low end and percussion.
As Band of Horses has evolved, its sound has become more grandiose and cosmic, like gauzy, gently trippy clouds floating over Ben Bridwell's naked-soul lyrics. It's the kind of introspective but dreamily textured and expansive stuff that seems tailor-made for soundtracks and cameo appearances. And indeed, the band's tracks have appeared regularly in emotional montages on high-profile TV shows, including Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and 90210, as well as films such as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Zombieland. Despite the ever-encroaching threat of a Death Cab-style mainstreaming, Bridwell and company come across as earnest rather than opportunistic. Meanwhile, they seem to boast an endless supply of lovely chords and hopelessly romantic lyrics.
Born in Leeds, England as Christopher Mercer, Rusko has become one of the most sought-after dubstep producers in recent years. He inherited a love of music from his mother, a folk and country singer who performed in a band called Ventura Highway. She stopped being an active musician when he was still an infant, but being around guitars his entire life left a mark on Rusko, who learned how to play at a young age and who used two small tape recorders to record songs, radio shows and other sounds to fuel his creativity. Rusko later attended the Leeds College of Music, and that's when he focused his efforts on beat-making.
Originally called the Mob, the group wisely chose a new name before releasing its first full-length, the concept album The Warning. Unlike many other bands that have tried their hands at concept albums, these guys seem to have put more thought into what they had to say and express without the letting the topical inspiration trump the long-term relevance of the lyrics. This side of the band's music perhaps reached its apex with the brilliant 1988 release, Operation: Mindcrime, a dark and fully realized exploration of political dirty work written from a personal perspective. The band found its greatest commercial success with 1990's Empire and a string of singles, including "Silent Lucidity." In 2012, there was a schism within the band, both allowed to use the same name. This show will be the band with original singer Geoff Tate.
Helsingborg, Sweden's Soilwork got off the ground under the name Inferior Breed. Originally more of a thrash and straight ahead death metal band, Soilwork started developing a more melodic sound in the mold of Gothenburg death metal bands like Dark Tranquility and In Flames. By the time of 2000's Predator's Portrait, the group had established itself as one of the most well-regarded and popular melodic death metal bands out of Europe. In 2012, founding member, and one of the outfits primary songwriters, Peter Wichers, stepped down for good. But this doesn't appear to have slowed the band down much if its latest record, The Living Infinite, is any indication.
Suffocation's unique sound combines intricate lead guitar work from Hobbs and complex, polyrhythmic drumming by Mike Smith with churning, powerful breakdowns reminiscent of hardcore bands like the Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front; all the while, frontman Frank Mullen barks and roars. A lot of metal vocalists get compared to Cookie Monster, but Mullen's version is hilariously flawless.
Kawabata Makoto, the founder of Acid Mothers Temple, started his career in music in the late 1970s. Whether he experienced Flower Travellin' Band's motes of resonating distortion or the dark, haunted droning of Les Rallizes Dénudés firsthand is anyone's guess. But since founding Acid Mothers in 1995, Kawabata has forged a path into inner and outer space with his most high-profile project. The alchemical combination of Stockhausen-esque, avant-garde electronica and transcendent, incendiary, prog-warped blues defies convenient categorization. In fact, Kawabata eschews the term "psychedelic" in favor of "trip music" because he wants the music to take the audience on a trip into an altered state of consciousness, where the mundane dissolves in a wave of mind-expanding sound.
The Drive-By Truckers have always been considered by many to be the torch-bearers for the alt-country genre, but with The Big To-Do, the outfit's most hard-rocking album since 2001's Southern Rock Opera, the Truckers surpassed most bands in that watered-down category with memorable stories, characters and songs, telling tales of four-day drinking binges, courtroom miseries and bar-room brawls. And just as quickly as they returned to the bombast of rock, they muffled it again with the release of 2011's, Go-Go Boots. Replacing the shimmer of a ride cymbal with the hush of a shaker, Go-Go Boots pays homage to early soul greats like Eddie Hinton. The new approach introduces a new cast of characters sitting morosely in the same bar they brawled in last night, wondering what the hell happened and, like the band itself, what they will do next. (The Truckers are also slated to perform at the Boulder Theater on Saturday, April 13.)
Bad Religion came barreling out of the California hardcore scene in 1979, setting fire to listeners with a lyrical bag full of syllables and philosophical grit. Led by singer Greg Graffin, guitarist Brett Gurewitz and bassist Jay Bentley, the band wanted you to think about your world as much as they wanted you to slam into someone in the pit. No other punk band would ever pack as many graduate-student-level words into a two-minute song, nor would another one wield such intelligent aggression. How Could Hell Be Any Worse? (1982) remains one of the best debut albums in Bad Religion's genre, and the band's run of late-'80s albums are still staples. A detour into the major-label woods darkened Bad Religion's flame for the better part of a decade before they returned to home base Epitaph in 2002. New album The Dissent of Man is one of their strongest since 1994's Stranger Than Fiction.
Akron/Family started in 2002 as what some might call a "freak folk" band. But the group quickly headed in its own idiosyncratic direction. In 2004, the Family became involved with the Young God label and served as Michael Gira's band on that year's Angels of Light tour. It would be difficult to say what a typical song by this band sounds like because, from album to album, its sonic palette is as varied as its expansive dynamics. Albums like S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT showcases Akron/Family's interest in non-Western percussion by re-contextualizing it into the realm of jubilant, experimental pop songs.
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