The ten best concerts in Denver this week
Since its inception in 1993, Low has created a body of work characterized by a fragile intensity. Although often lumped in under the banner of "slowcore" with a group of bands of similar sonic leanings, like Red House Painters, Galaxie 500, Tarnation and Codeine, the Duluth, Minnesota-based act doesn't fit neatly into that sub-genre. For starters, much of Low's material is anything but slow. For the last decade, Low has branched out from the focused introspection of its early releases, and by the time of its 2005 album, The Great Destroyer, the band had proven it could write a song in whatever tempo it liked with whatever sonic character it preferred.
Formed in 2005 out of the ashes of Dying Star, an older project that included singer Maria Brink, guitarist Chris Howarth and drummer Jeff Fabb, In This Moment mixes thrash with threads of hardcore and, more recently, industrial metal a la Fear Factory or Marilyn Manson. Brink's wail is powerful in a way that can only really be compared to Doro Pesch in its versatility and facility with expressing mind shearing emotional intensity. But it's not all blasting volume with this bunch. The band's 2012 album, Blood, may be more imbued with a darker spirit than previous efforts but it also emphasizes the act's sonic diversity.
Shinedown is an addition to the post-grunge hangover that spawned such names as Nickelback and Alter Bridge. And like those groups, the Florida-based act is fronted by a powerful vocalist: Brent Smith's gravelly voice is loud, emotive and moving in that irksome way that leaves you feeling awkward for singing along. Take Shinedown's cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man," for instance: On the one hand, it's a stirring tribute to Pantera's Dimebag Darrell, but on the other, it's another reason for thousands of people to wave lighters and cell phones in the air.
Leftover Salmon has graced the the bluegrass scene with their talents for 23 years and counting. With the passing of Mark Vann in 2001, the band hasn't produced an album in eight years. The new addition of Andy Thorn, carried over from Emmitt-Nershi Band, sparked a new interest in touring and inspiration is in a steady flow among the members, and the band went on to release Aquatic Hitchhikers last May.
Still new to rapping in 1993, and under the tutelage of Wu-Tang mastermind GZA, Masta Killa only contributed one verse to the legendary 36 Chambers album, but Masta Killa was a major player on later projects such as 1997's Wu-Tang Forever. While personalities like Method Man and Redman are larger than life, the unassuming Masta Killa is content to let his lyrics do the talking for him. Since his work with Wu-Tang, he has released three solo albums, including last year's Selling My Soul.
It's hard to take Wavves serious, but really, that's kind of the point. Everything about the project, the work of California "Weed/Beach Demon" Nathan Williams, comes across as tossed off: The scuzzy, no-fidelity sound of the records, the "So Bored" lyrical stance, the misspelling of the band name. It all feels disposable, but fun, reminding us some of the best rock and roll doesn't really mean anything. While Williams apes the sounds of cerebral bands like Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and Wire, he seems intent on boiling things down to the most primal level, crafting art rock for stoners, heshers and art school dropouts.
At first listen, Cave Singers doesn't sound like a band that came out of the ashes of Pretty Girls Make Graves, Hint Hint or Cobra High. But considering that it features Derek Fudesco, who made a name for himself in the whiskey-swigging garage-rock band Murder City Devils before doing time in PGMG, the sound makes perfect sense. There's still plenty of down-and-out wordplay here, and lead singer Pete Quirk's voice resembles that of a chain-smoking, nasally Bruce Springsteen. It's all a bit slower than you might expect from a group with such a pedigree, but the rustic nature of the act as a whole has more in common with Murder City Devils than is initially apparent. The recently released No Witch marks the band's move from Matador to its new home at Jagjaguwar, a perfect fit for this dark and booze-soaked folk music.
Max Cavalera formed Soulfly after leaving influential Brazilian thrash band Sepultura in 1996 and moving to Phoenix. The then new project wasn't initially dramatically different from Cavalera's previous band, but as the band came together and he wrote music for subsequent records, Soulfly incorporated bits of musical styles not common in heavy music. This was especially true on 2004's Prophecy, where Cavalera injected bits of Serbian Gypsy instruments, the traditional music of indigenous Brazilians and sonic ideas from the Medieval era. With every album, Cavalera has pushed himself as an artist, and Soulfly's 2012 album, Enslaved, sounds more like an industrial grindcore album than what we've become used to. This should prove to be an interesting live version of the band now that Cavalera's son Zyon is the touring drummer.
KMFDM (originally Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid) started as a performance-art one-off in 1984 that evolved into an ongoing endeavor. Founding member Sascha Konietzko was joined by drummer and vocalist En Esch, who formed the core of the band until its temporary split in 1999. With various collaborators, KMFDM developed its signature melding of electronic industrial music and hard rock, which has often been imitated but seldom equaled. The peak of the band's commercial popularity came following the release of Nihil in 1997, which spawned the soundtrack-friendly hit single "Juke Joint Jezebel." What has kept the group interesting is its visceral live shows and its songs, which feature tongue-in-cheek, genuinely clever lyrics that take aim at sociopolitical ills in the world -- that and KMFDM's willingness to poke fun at itself.
Although to our knowledge, Mike Marchant's name has never appeared in bold print in the New York Times touting the local scene, he's a local treasure and has most certainly played a crucial role in helping to make the music in this town infinitely more compelling. He first made a name for himself a half dozen or so years ago as the creative mastermind behind Widowers before spending time with Houses and then fronting his Outer Space Party Unit. Over that time, he's proven to be one of the most gifted songwriters in Denver, and, more important, one of the kindest, gentlest, most genuine guys we've ever met. Marchant was recently diagnosed with with lymphoma and is in the midst of undergoing chemotherapy. In an ongoing testament to the generous spirit of the people that make up our local music scene, the number of benefit shows devoted to Marchant continues to grow, including this one featuring Dragondeer, Varlet, Tjutjuna and Dalco.
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