Best Band From an Actual Cowtown 2007 | Vitamins | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Every once in a while, a great new band surfaces that seems fully formed -- like Athena, sprung from the head of Zeus. Greeley's Vitamins, which until recently stayed beneath the radar by playing mostly warehouse-type shows, is one such act. Taking an eclectic approach to songwriting, Vitamins' members wed latter-day no-wave guitar tones and textures with melodic song structures, and country music with experimental guitar rock, punk and whatever it is that Camper Van Beethoven was doing -- all without sounding like dilettantes. They play with wide-eyed enthusiasm, as if completely unaware that so many other like-minded souls exist, like they have to touch upon every style themselves. With a charming, theatrical live show, Vitamins are bound to be good for you.
To the Denver-centric, if you don't hail from the metro area, you might as well be from Mars. Maybe that's why the arrival of Louisville-based Tifah seems so, well, sudden and wonderfully foreign. It also probably has something to do with the fact that the group's members -- vocalist/organist Tifah Al-Attas, drummer Dann Stockton, multi-instrumentalist Reid Phillips, violinist Aubrea Alford and bassist Juli Royster -- make music that's so beautifully radiant and polished, it's hard to fathom why we hadn't noticed them before. But Tifah's registering pretty loudly now, and its sublime blend of piano-driven pop and self-reflective lyricism will surely stay on the radar.

Best Purveyors of Mile- High Honky Crunk


Pimp-limping on the fine line between stoopid and stupid, 3OH!3 just might be Ballerado's hip-hop Tenacious D. Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte rock DFA-style low-tech beats, punk attitudes and Ruff Ryder growls that manage to simultaneously lampoon and revere the well-worn signifiers of punk, electro and rap -- with as much interest in twenty-sided dice as twenty-inch rims. In the group's perpetual-motion live shows, trunk-rattling rhythms combine with rhymes that can only be spat with one's tongue burrowed deep in one's cheek: "You's a punk bitch if you don't know 'bout Boulder/Your girl's a freak 'cos that's what I told ya." And while it's easy to get distracted by the humorous side, resist the temptation to consign the act to the novelty ghetto. Smarts, chops and focus are the real reasons 3OH!3's rabid fans holler 'til they pass out.
On stage, the members of Heyday are like precocious four-year-olds trying to ride a bike: cute and determined, yet still wobbly and unsure. In time, though, their inherent charisma will shine through, and they'll become less stilted, more fluid and self-assured. Rather than speed through the arrangements, as they do now, they'll learn how to just let the songs breathe. In other words, once the training wheels come off, look out! These kids are going to be off to the races. Led by Randy Ramirez, whose songwriting chops are well beyond his years, the Heyday is poised to break out in a major way.
Gregory Alan Isakov has a unique, endearing presence that instantly sucks people in. Isakov has rendered us dumbfounded on numerous occasions with his ability to move audiences in a way that performers with much larger profiles would envy. With a captivating voice that evokes a rootsier Glen Phillips channeling Kelly Joe Phelps, Isakov sings rich pastoral songs that conjure long walks down dusty rural roads. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and raised in Philadelphia, Isakov moved to Colorado at the end of the last decade. Since then, he's released a spate of outstanding discs, including his fantastic debut, 2003's Rust Colored Stones, 2005's Songs for October and last year's Ghost Stories and Fair Weather EP. A new disc is slated for release this May, and we can hardly wait.
Watching Rachael Pollard perform at Chielle recently was a breathtakingly intimate experience. It was like being serenaded by a hummingbird from a windowsill. Pollard sang with a delicate hush that was barely above a whisper, and at one point, she even played her acoustic with her gloves on. It was almost as though she was afraid of disturbing the neighbors. As it turns out, her words speak loud enough on their own. With candid musings that can be unsettling, whether she's singing about waiting for her period to start or reflecting on the current state of affairs ("This country is going to shit/But you got what you wanted/Pretty soon it'll all be desert/'Cause you took what you wanted"), Pollard's a compelling lyricist -- not to mention a highly imaginative guitarist. But her most bewitching features, by far, are her angelic voice, which is equal parts Cat Power and Joanna Newsom, and the way she phrases her words.

Best Guy Who Spends Forty Hours a Week at Band Practice

Andrew Segreti

Guitar players are a dime a dozen, but finding (and keeping) a decent drummer in D-town? Not so easy. That's why Andrew Segreti is the golden drummer boy of the local scene. His octopus arms reach far and wide into varied musical projects, including Bailer, the Autokinoton and the Horace Van Vaughn. His performances, marked by flying hair and sweat, are wily exercises in the physical limitations of the human body. From thundering soundscapes to experimentally diverse beats, Segreti is the reincarnation of every fuck-off drummer who ever lived (or died). And he's only in his twenties, meaning that he's just getting started. Damn.

Best Guy Playing Music for All the Right Reasons

Chris Adolf

Once upon a time, people used to actually play music because they loved it, purely out of joy and for no other reason. No shit. Hard to believe, right? To think that folks wrote and recorded songs with complete disregard for how it would be received or how it would be marketed -- that's just crazy! These days, many musicians often have an agenda before they even have a band name or any songs. Chris Adolf (The Love Letter Band, Bad Weather California) is the antithesis of those people, which is what makes him so refreshing. Of course, his songs also happen to be pretty goddamn fantastic, but even if they weren't, his ideals make him somebody worth supporting. Check out the message on his MySpace page: "Fuck the indie-stry. Fuck contacts. Fuck sound scans. Fuck deals. Play music." Fuckin-A, man. Sounds like a T-shirt.

Best Expatriate Still Involved in Local Music

Andrew Murphy

When he created Radio 1190's Local Shakedown program many years ago, Andrew Murphy taught listeners that indigenous Colorado talent was more than just a series of transient fads. And even though he eventually moved to the Bay Area to work for Revolver Distribution, Murphy's heart remains firmly dedicated to the scene he so brilliantly championed. Aside from the groundbreaking historical work he's done on the early punk and new-wave scenes in Colorado and the superb local releases he's issued on his own Smooch Records imprint, Murphy plans to re-release records from old-school death-rockers the Soul Merchants and long-running scene vets the Denver Gentlemen later this year. Also in the works is a book on the history of Colorado music and a documentary on the Americana phenomenon native to our fair city. Whereas most people would prefer to leave their past behind, Murphy has never forgotten where he came from, and we're all the better for it.
Promotions can be a nasty business. The competition is rabid, cutthroat and full of enough shit-talking to make Simon Cowell cringe. So who ever thought that rival promoters could actually work together instead of against each other? To prove that harmonious unions are always better than pretentious bidding wars, the heads behind the Oriental Theater have teamed up with the infamous Deadhead Bianchi Brothers -- who run the Sancho's/Dulcinea's/Cervantes'/Quixote's empire -- to form a totally killer booking alliance. The merger allows the individual promoters access to each other's venues for special events and also includes a cross-promotion deal to maximize advertising exposure for everyone's shows. Smart move.

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