The ten best concerts in Denver this weekend
Half a decade ago, Speakeasy Tiger seemed to be in the right place at the right time, with a kind of electro-rock that was equal parts Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Gossip, only gone in a more pop direction. The group got its start as an expansion of original singer Kyle Simmons's folky solo project, Girl Named Kyle, and with Simmons at the helm, Speakeasy Tiger put out The Sore Throat EP in 2008, followed by The Public in 2009 and an odd single or so.
Simmons's powerful and soaring vocals coupled with sweeping music to match proved a compelling formula. However, struggles within the band led to Simmons's departure in 2010, and she was replaced by Katrina Stone, who departed later that year. This reunion show marks the return of the original lineup, with Simmons back fronting the band, and it's about time.
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With Men in Burka, Kamran Khan, Mario Zoots and Strange Powers push the conceptual envelope further by blurring the meanings and images of the burka as both Caucasus-region menswear and the clothing worn by women in various Islamic cultures. Musically, Men in Burka is a mélange of experimental electronic music akin to that of a less warped Muslimgauze repurposed for a dance club -- or of Big Freedia, if she took a trip to Cairo and clued the locals in on bounce.
Near the end of "According to Me," the spirited opening track on his new album, Raise Your Flag, whose release is being celebrated tonight, Sam Lee intones, "Turn it up and sing it like you mean it," a reasonable demand given Lee's performance on the disc. Dude puts his money where his mouth is, literally. Lee's got some incredibly powerful vocal chops, and here, he belts with a considerable conviction on each of the thirteen songs on the record, a follow-up to his 2011 EP, Better Half. The singer/songwriter says he's got a self-professed rock and roll complex, and indeed, he eschews the sappy coffee house ballads you might expect for a much more rocking approach on most of the cuts. But while Lee's vocals are front and center, the guy also has a knack for penning upbeat, catchy tunes, as evidenced by songs like "Livin' It Up," "I'm Not Coming Home" or "Leaving Home."
Kottonmouth Kings has been ruling its own corner of the musical stoner universe since 1994, carrying with it a fan base equally obsessed with weed culture. Coming up in the post-Sublime mid '90s, the Cali dudes easily found a niche market for their dirty smoke raps. Since issuing Royal Highness, their 1998 debut, the Kings have pretty much dropped an album a year. From the looks of it, Kottonmouth Kings could keep on for decades, as long as fans are around to pass it from the left-hand side.
Imperial Teen was formed in 1995 as a side project of former Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum. He and Lynn Perko, a fellow San Franciscan and then-drummer for blues-rock outfit Sister Double Happiness, were seeking to scratch a creative itch that their respective musical projects couldn't reach. Attempting to emulate their indie-rock heroes the Pixies with a coed roster, Bottum and Perko recruited bassist Jone Stebbings (Perko's former bandmate in the Wrecks) and art student turned singer/guitarist Will Schwartz.
This week's Root 40 Festival, which kicked off last night, continues through this Saturday with a slew of performances by an array of local and national acts across various venues up and down East Colfax at places like the Cheeky Monk, Independent Records, Prohibition, the Squire Lounge and the Irish Snug, as well as the Fillmore and the Ogden.
The Ramones blitzkrieg bopped for the last time in 1996, but the iconic punks' spirit still glows in scores of leather-jacket-clad, hook-smitten underground bands. Laramie-based quartet Teenage Bottlerocket (due tonight with Face to Face) is one of the acts admirably carrying the torch with smart songwriting, whoa-oh choruses and sour-apple-flavored blasts of bubblegum pop. On Freak Out, its fifth full-length, the band continues to mine favorite subjects (namely, romance and why it hurts so good) while giving more play to pop-culture inspirations via tongue-in-cheek homages to The Evil Dead, Top Gun and cheesy 1980s karate-film plots. The group unexpectedly squeezes some pathos into Freak Out, too, with "Mutilate Me," a song about sadomasochism that doubles as a portrait of the artist in self-loathing. That skill for shifting between moods makes Teenage Bottlerocket's work a true treat, especially when stacked against other pop-punk bands.
Perhaps taking a cue from his pal Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, who's written and produced songs for an array of top-shelf pop acts, Fray guitarist Joe King has been steadily making a name for himself as a burgeoning songwriter in his own right. Prior to working on his own solo material, King co-wrote a track for American Idol winner Kris Allen and collaborated with Timbaland and Esthero on a tune from the former's album, Shock Value II. On the heels of releasing his debut single -- "Need a Woman by Friday," featuring Trombone Shorty -- which dropped last month on iTunes, King is playing a pair of solo shows, the first on Thursday, April 25, at the Bluebird Theater, and the second on Sunday, April 28, at the Fox.
Nearing its second decade of existence, the Philadelphia-based act has finally settled into its role as one of the most sought-after jam bands still touring. When the Biscuits, who are known for improvised renditions of their own complex songs, step on stage, you never know if the journey is going to find them exploring the depths of their creativity or ambling through their seemingly endless catalogue of studio gems. (Biscuits will also be at Red Rocks tomorrow night with Shpongle and RJD2.)
After James Blake's eponymous debut came out, "The Wilhelm Scream" made its way into the playlists of anyone who wasn't allergic to electronic music and his equal parts crooner-cum-electronic producer (or was it the other way around?) output saw the highest points of the European charts (though James Blake topped out with a 123 rank stateside). A Mercury Prize nomination, more best-of list mentions than one can count, and a handful of international tours later, Blake just released Ovegrown.
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