Westword's Now Hear This section has historically been devoted to concert picks. When we wrote this edition, we had no idea the live-music industry was about to collapse. The four bands listed below were headed to town, and we were thrilled. Then the venues shut down. As folks hunker down for the foreseeable future, great music is needed more than ever. Here are four bands — who were slated to play Denver this week — to explore online.
And the Kids
It's hard not to be wooed by the western Massachusetts trio-turned-duo And the Kids' charms: three albums of wayward, bones-exposed indie rock, jokes about recording during Mercury in retrograde, and co-vocalist and guitarist Hannah Mohan’s chest tattoo that reads “Folk the system.” As for the music, and despite its title, last year’s When This Life Is Over is not a beleaguered funeral dirge. But it does trade in meditative, optimistic folk (“Somethings [Are] Good”) and punk diversions heavy on the kick drum (“Champagne Ladies”).
For one thing, James Supercave (that’s a band, not a person) isn't afraid to take on political issues. “The kids are excited about Medicare for all, a livable minimum wage, and getting corporate money out of politics,” reads a recent tweet in support of Bernie Sanders. For another, the L.A.-based trio makes sophisticated, post-post-post-genre synth pop, distinguished by frontman Joaquin Pastor’s gossamer falsetto. We’re still waiting on a full-length followup to the group’s magnificent 2016 debut, Better Strange, which includes standout tracks like the agile, nervous-energy-powered cut “The Right Thing” and “Just Repeating What’s Around Me,” a dead ringer for Lonerism-era Tame Impala. But recent EPs M.O.W.O. and Alarm Will Sound have flashes of brilliance, including “Something to Lose,” a pop assemblage of minor-key melancholia and in-comes-the-chorus catharsis. So replay at will.
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The Mauskovic Dance Band
Led by frontman Nicola Mauskovic (whose other projects include drumming for Turkish psych band Altin Gün, W.I.T.C.H. and Jacco Gardner), members of the Amsterdam-based Mauskovic Dance Band wear a lot of cheetah prints and make dizzying space disco — albeit the kind with deep, earthbound roots in thick Afro-Caribbean rhythms and cumbia. The group’s self-titled debut arrived last year, followed by a four-song EP, Shadance Hall, this past February. First-timers should start with slippery funk number “Space Drum Machine” or the swinging salsa cut “Dance Place Garage,” with an extra bubbly bass line and quite the cowbell. This band is for real, and it rules.
In the interest of transparency, I met Goth Babe songwriter Griff Washburn long before Goth Babe was anything resembling a national touring act. We met in his home state of Tennessee — at Bonnaroo, no less — during a sweaty set from mind-numbingly average Welsh indie band Catfish and the Bottlemen. In the years since, Washburn has made Goth Babe into a bona fide dream-pop juggernaut, racking up millions of Spotify plays while riding around the Pacific Northwest with his rock-climbing gear, surfboard and dog in tow. As for the songwriting, he’s not putting more milquetoast, gauzy indie dream pop out in the world: Last year's “Her Vacation” mixes a throbbing, labored beat under a luminescent, delicate synth riff. Good on you, Griff.
Listen to And the Kids, James Supercave, The Mauskovic Dance Band, Goth Babe and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.
What musicians are you most excited about right now? Let us know at email@example.com.