The ten best shows in Denver this weekend
"Weird Al" Yankovic's zany parodies catapulted him to fame in the '80s, back when pop culture was in dire need of some deflation. He never got critical props for his oddball iconoclasm, though, and after his 1989 film, UHF tanked at the box office, most wrote off Yankovic as a washed-up novelty act. He's had the last laugh, though: Beginning with successful parodies of Nirvana and Coolio in the early '90s, Yankovic's career enjoyed a renaissance that stretched to 2006, when his hit single "White & Nerdy" introduced the curly-haired jester to a new generation. If there's any justice to history, Yankovic will one day rank up there with hallowed satirists like Voltaire. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the laughs.
After the 1988 demise of Green River, Mark Arm and Steve Turner formed Mudhoney with former Bundle of Hiss drummer Dan Peters and Matt Lukin, who had co-founded the Melvins. Coincidentally, Mudhoney formed around the same time that Sub Pop Records was started by a couple of friends, and the band's gritty, expansive power pop and splintery punk sound informed the aesthetic for which the record label became known; that same year, the group recorded and released one of the landmarks of 1980s American underground rock, Superfuzz Bigmuff. Although the exploding Seattle scene of the '90s somehow didn't make Mudhoney a gigantic commodity, these guys are looked upon as legends for a reason. Catch Mudhoney tonight at the UMS, along with a slew of national and local bands.
Although Kenny Chesney is the marquee name on this bill, there's an act on the undercard that's totally worth catching. Her name is Kacey Musgraves, and right now she's probably best known for singing on "Mama's Broken Heart," Miranda Lambert's latest hit. Thing is, this feisty Texan isn't guesting on the track; she wrote it. And she's quickly emerging as one of the most compelling country songwriters since Lambert, a friend and fellow Nashville Star contestant. On songs like "Merry Go 'Round," Musgraves sings with tenderness and conviction while displaying a keen observational detachment: "Mama's hooked on Mary Kay/Brother's hooked on Mary Jane/And daddy's hooked on Mary, two doors down/Mary, Mary, quite contrary/We get bored so we get married/Just like dust, we settle in this town."
After a band has been together with the same lineup for nearly twenty years, it's understandable -- even expected -- that it would lose some of the vigor that defined its salad days. But that's not the case with Jimmy Eat World, which just released its eighth studio album, Damage, recorded last summer with Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures). While the band is now considered one of the forefathers of the emo movement, which spawned countless angst-ridden teenage garage bands, the themes tackled by singer/lyricist Jim Adkins on Damage are unlike anything the group has worked on before. The frontman has been quoted as saying that the album's songs were inspired by the struggles of adult relationships.
Talk about truth in advertising: Musiq Soulchild's moniker is the absolute truth and nothing but the truth. Born Taalib Johnson, the R&B crooner sounds like the direct descendant of soul music's finest, a long line of emissaries that includes Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, among others. In 2000, Soulchild broke into the neo-soul scene with the incredibly sweet single "Just Friends (Sunny)," from his debut album, Aijuswanaseing. His mellifluous tone and lyrical persuasion on that track made asking to come over and "just chill" a pick-up line mainstay. The Philly musician is a master of the vocal art, churning out hits like "Love" and "Halfcrazy" that could legitimately be considered classics. A live interpretation of his love letters is bound to be intimate and sexy.
Formed in 1986 by drummer Sid Davis and guitarist Todd Howell, 40th Day (due this Saturday, July 20, at the Larimer Lounge) set a high standard for alt-rock in Denver. Early on, James Nasi Jr. joined up as bassist, and by the time the band began writing material for its epochal 1992 album, Lovely Like a Snake, Shawn Strub had brought her powerful and haunting vocals to the mix, complementing Mindy Weinberg's icy synths and Neil Satterfield's shimmery yet angular guitar work. Although very popular locally, 40th Day broke up in the mid-'90s, so this weekend marks a rare opportunity to see the group, which will be performing Lovely Like a Snake in its entirety, with drummer Tony Morales of Sympathy F filling in for Davis.
Since its 1995 inception, Shai Hulud has blurred the line between hardcore and metal. Along the way, the band has helped to establish and somewhat define the elements of what later came to be called metalcore. Shai Hulud's influence can be heard in later bands playing music in a similar vein such as Unearth, Silverstein and As I Lay Dying, among others. Shai Halud is currently touring in support of its latest release, Reach Beyond the Sun, the band's fourth full-length.
Since being a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute's 1998 vocal competition when she was twenty, Jane Monheit has released eleven albums under own her name in addition to garnering two Grammy nominations. Last April, the singer released The Heart of the Matter, which is quite different from her previous efforts and features some interesting reworkings of songs from a variety of composers, including tunes by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Randy Newman, Mel Tormé and Ivan Lins.
Talent in and of itself isn't a ticket to stardom, but if it's mixed with a healthy dose of persistence, it can fuel a long and admirable career, as Robert Earl Keen's experience demonstrates. When record companies proved unwilling to back his first album, 1984's No Kinda Dancer, he picked up the tab himself and attracted the attention of folks at the Sugar Hill imprint with his impressive tunesmithing. Thirteen years and half a dozen smart and satisfying discs later, Arista Records inked him to a big-league contract. Keen responded by putting out a couple of typically idiosyncratic platters -- a strategy as creatively rewarding as it was commercially disastrous. Unsurprisingly, he and Arista subsequently parted company, and since then, he's put out a number of strong songs on various imprints that no one else could have written.
The brainchild of former Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros drummer Stephen Perkins, this supergroup has featured such blasts from the past as Rob Wasserman of Ratdog, Mike Watt of the Minutemen and fIREHOSE, and Red Hot Chili Peppers John Frusciante and Flea. The band has been described as experimental art rock or jazzy prog punk, but there's really no reason to get all fancy: Simply put, Banyan is a jam band for jammy jamheads who jam out to instrumental jams. It's dorm-room muzak that's less album-oriented rock than it is a live experiment in improvisational groove.
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