Weekend's best live bets: Ryan Adams, Lotus and more
Catch Ryan Adams tonight at the Temple Buell.
Update: The Ryan Adams show originally slated for tonight the Temple Buell has been postponed until tomorrow night. The Dr. Dog show has also been postponed, but a new date has not been announced.
What's a little snow? Blizzard schmizzard. There's too much great music this weekend to stay at home. There's Ryan Adams at the Temple Buell, Lotus at the Fillmore (with Denver's own Octopus Nebula opening up), Cass McCombs at the hi-dive, Dr. Dog at the Boulder Theater, Lemonheads playing It's a Shame About Ray in its entirety at the Fox, Busdriver at the Marquis, plus tons of local goodness, including release shows from Le Divorce and Negative Degree, FaceMan's Waltz at the Bluebird, Hearts in Space at the Walnut Room and more. Page down for the complete rundown.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3
If you ignore the fact that any of his sadder, sappier new material could be about his wife, a post-Walk to Remember Mandy Moore, Ryan Adams remains one of the most listenable and versatile singer-songwriters just this side of Americana. Three years ago, he married Moore, sobered up, disbanded his alt-country band the Cardinals, took a break from touring and began stockpiling all of his previously unreleased material. Through his October solo album, Ashes & Fire, we're led to believe that Adams escaped this period unscathed and unfazed, a little raw for the wear but with a deeper, clearer and more intimate shade of voice and self-awareness than we've seen from him in years. In making himself more vulnerable, Adams has made his second act unmissable.
FaceMan is celebrating the release of its new album, Feeding Time, with a full slate of guests, including members of Achille Lauro, the Knew, Flobots, Boulder Acoustic Society, Hindershot, Wheelchair Sports Camp and more. Feeding Time, the outfit's second full-length, was recorded at Uneven Studios by Bryan Feuchtinger and Evan Reeves at UI Sound in Boulder and then mixed and masterered by Orbit Service's Randall Fraizer at the Helmet Room.
In 2007, singer-songwriter Cass McCombs told the San Francisco Chronicle that he wants his tombstone to read "Home at Last." McCombs's subtle and sardonic humor, enmeshed with a poetic truth, also informs his songwriting. Although he doesn't really sound like Roy Orbison, his lushly evocative tunes resonate with the same kind of dusky, yesteryear charm as the late singer's. Like a wave of nostalgia that makes you remember the most poignant moments of your life one by one, they're both heartbreaking and heartwarming. But there's also a haziness that makes such memories seem more present yet soft around the edges at the same time. Touring in support of his most recent 2011 release, Humor Risk, McCombs is sure to bring his understated wit and penetrating observations to vibrant life on stage.
Dr. Dog has been compared to hipster faves like Pavement and Guided by Voices (which does no justice to the Dog's genuinely adorable '70s AM soul), but the late Rick Danko himself would've loved Philadelphia's current indie darlings: lo-fi keyboards, bass and thick drums make a bed for sentimental, earnest "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" guitar-led melodies and quirky vocals that recall the most playful moments of Dylan's legendary Basement Tapes. And what tucks it all in is the wishful lament of Dr. Dog's poesy. From "I don't need no doctor to mend my heart/I just need you to mend my heart" to "If you're always on the go/Make an angel in the snow and freeze," the lyrics of Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken featured on Fate hit a soft spot. The lovable album catapulted Dr. Dog from East Coast underdogs whose biggest fans were other musicians to a group lauded by fans and critics all over.
Since studying music at the University of Colorado and moving to Brooklyn after living in the area for a decade, keyboardist Erik Deutsch has gone on to play with Norah Jones, Trevor Dunn, Erin McKeown and did a three-year stint with Charlie Hunter. Prior to that, while living in Colorado, Deutsch played in Fat Mama, studied with Art Lande and also performed with Ron Miles -- two musicians he lists as major influences. The keyboardist gets extra funky and groovy on his brand new album, Demonio Teclado, his follow-up to 2010's Hush Money.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4
The jazzy electronic quintet Lotus, known for its precisely timed improvisations during live shows, is celebrating its thirteenth year together. This weekend, fresh off the release of its most recent effort, Lotus, the band, which is signed to Boulder's SCI Fidelity records, is kicking off a tour that will culminate with a group of shows in Japan. From incorporating video-game music to performing David Bowie tribute shows and playing Black Sabbath covers, Lotus has figured out how to evolve its music and have a lot of fun doing it. Backed by the locals in Octopus Nebula, Lotus is sure to please the Fillmore crowd with extensive, complex jam sessions and, if we're lucky, a few covers.
Not nearly enough people remember the band Facade. The act was a charming mixture of dream pop and jazz that played low-key shows for a couple of years right after the turn of the millennium. Then the band's singer, Kitty Vincent, dropped out of music for the better part of the decade, while guitarist Joe Grobelny went on to Jet Set Kate and the highly lauded Everything Absent or Distorted. Vincent and Grobelny really had something as a musical unit, though, and after EAoD disbanded, Grobelny and Vincent got back together as the atmospherically bombastic, energetic and engaging Le Divorce. Tonight the band celebrates the release of its new album, The Sting and the Light (read a review of the new disc) with the Dont's and Be Carefuls and Ending People.
Cheyenne, Wyoming, isn't the most ideal place to grow up as a punk -- "It was an uphill battle," says Mark Masters, who eventually moved south and with three friends formed Negative Degree, part of a new wave of hardcore bands in Denver. Masters and fellow record nerd Johnny Mather shared a love for early-'80s hardcore punk, and recruited drummer Alex Dominguez and vocalist C.J. Quiñones. The band released a demo tape that had a microscopic run of 200 copies, but punks on computers -- including a writer for Maximumrocknroll -- characterized it as an addictive release that you listened to a few times in a row (and not just because it clocks in at less than ten minutes). Negative Degree will release that demo on a vinyl EP tonight at Old Curtis Street Bar. We spoke with Masters, who plays bass, over a pizza the day after a sweat-soaked house show in Five Points (read the full interview).
Anyone who has been around the Denver underground scene for the past decade or so has run into Ezra Darnell cheering on bands with an open, unaffected enthusiasm. Now the guy has put together a band of his own, called Hearts in Space (due at the hi-dive on Wednesday, February 16). For this project, Darnell has teamed up with former Pacific Pride and Hawks of Paradise guitarist and singer Jordan Hubner, Jonny Lundock (who can be seen performing in Houses and Blue Million Miles) and bassist Billy Draper to write sparkly psychedelic rock with sweeping melodies akin to the more countrified end of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and vocals injected with a soulful flavor. Like Darnell himself, there's nothing saccharine or insincere about Hearts in Space.
Boasting is an essential element of hip-hop; the verbal technique, honed through countless on-stage battles, epitomizes the idea that a rapper can go from nothing to something B.I.G. if only he can spit better than anyone else. But while Regan Farquhar, better known as Busdriver, loves such traditions, he can't seem to get the hang of trumpeting his own excellence. Take "Least Favorite Rapper," one of the key songs on Jhelli Beam, his ultra-quirky album for Epitaph Records, during which he and cohort Nocando engage in humorous back-and-forth about their lack of popularity. At one point, Farquhar declares, "Your favorite rapper's brawny/Wearing a French-braided hair shirt/My bank account be scrawny/Since I was a tenth-grader square twerp" (read the full Busdriver profile and also see the extended Q&A).
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5
Colorado native Manuel Lopez discovered a fondness for Latin music after he stared playing congas in his early teens, and then found his way to the drum kit. Together with pianist Peter Ellingson and bassist Eduardo "Bijoux" Barbosa, Lopez's trio delves into a variety of repertoire from old Cuban standards to more modern arrangements. The trio plays at Dazzle every Sunday evening.
Weekend round-up compiled by Nick Callaio
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.