As Denver eases into 2020, there are plenty of amazing musicians putting on concerts around town. This week's four picks are all artists with Front Range ties. From underground experimental music to singer-songwriter fare, rock and garage pop, there's plenty to enjoy.
Thursday, January 9, Globe Hall, globehall.com.
Who’s down to elect Madeline Johnston as Denver’s next mayor? Midwife is yet another project from Johnston, the longtime local musician and former Rhinoceropolis resident — in these post-Ghost Ship days, she now coordinates shows in the reopened space — who’s both a soft-spoken force to be reckoned with and among the Denver underground’s hardest-working advocates. As Midwife, Johnston makes ambient and understated soundscapes characterized by disembodied vocals; her 2017 album, Like Author, Like Daughter, ends with a nine-and-a-half-minute meditation punctuated by a gentle, finger-plucked guitar that feels just out of reach behind unfurling, reverb-heavy chords. So anyway, Johnston 2023.
Thursday, January 9, Bluebird Theater, bluebirdtheater.net
Although he’s since relocated to New York, it would be hard to argue that Zach Heckendorf’s Colorado roots don’t run deep. The singer-songwriter (in the most straightforward, Jack Johnson sense of the word) was born and raised in Colorado and released his debut EP while in high school. With a production assist from songwriter Brett Dennen, Heckendorf’s first proper LP, The Cool Down, arrived in 2011, followed by Speed Checked by Aircraft in 2014 and Artifacts in 2017. Since then, he’s released the contemplative EP Meditations and a pair of singles, including a crystalline cover of ultimate torch song “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” and the hopeful “Lust & Wonder” (named after Augusten Burrough’s 2016 memoir, perhaps?). His return to Colorado makes us wonder if there’s more on the way. We’re betting on yes.
Space in Time
Friday, January 10, hi-dive, hi-dive.com.
Space in Time is not shy about its influences — and its influences are the complete opposite of shy: Think classic metal acts like Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Motörhead — even a little bit of the Stooges. Case in point: Once “Battle Lines,” from the band’s 2016’s self-titled EP, gets going, it heads straight in the direction of “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” while “Heaven’s Gate” (also from that EP, and named after Marshall Applewhite’s UFO-doomsday cult) is indebted to Machine Head-era Deep Purple. Frontperson Suzanne Magnuson also deserves a special mention: She’s got that perfect-for-punk wail, especially on the raucous “Forever Told.”
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Saturday, January 11, hi-dive, hi-dive.com.
Rounding out this homegrown foursome is Pout House, Denver’s closest thing to proper descendants of the Strokes. The quartet is currently coming off a busy 2019, which included an appearance at the Underground Music Showcase and opening slots for the likes of Slothrust, Bleached and Summer Cannibals. Also in 2019: the release of single “Bluesday,” anchored by sharp Albert Hammond Jr. guitar work and a Julian Casablancas-esque sense of resignation provided by frontperson Catie Rauhala. Whether or not you remember the glory days of Is This It, it’s good stuff.