Alcoholism? Check. Despair? Check. Refusing the "fuck shit"? Check.
Look at the five music videos below, and you'll find Denver artists quick to share their troubles with the world. Whether they're delivering songs backed by animation, baring their guts to the camera, dancing, sporting edgy fashion or rapping on the street, local artists prove to be a vulnerable yet talented bunch.
See for yourself in these five music videos from artists from around town:
"I Can Change"
A guy has a drinking problem and it's hurting the people around him, so he decides he can change. Sobriety is a promise many have failed to fulfill, and it's the painful personal subject of plenty of songs, including "I Can Change," by Kyle Emerson, a single off his fall album, Only Coming Down. Still, the collage animation in the music video offers compelling imagery that the song itself does not convey. Emerson, who will be playing the Underground Music Showcase, has something delightful here, and with a promising career, a lot of people looking to find out where he's headed and the new album dropping soon, he's got a big year ahead.
Gregory Alan Isakov
Gregory Alan Isakov's subtle music is mostly heard on big stages these days. But it's best up close. Very close. There you can see his eyes squint and just how intimate his delivery of each line is. That's what he achieves in his recent live video of the song "Southern Stars." Directed by Bryan Dos Reis and shot in a largely empty ballroom, Isakov and his bandmates deliver a performance that highlights each musician's solos through close-ups, demonstrating how the song itself has been assembled. The video unwittingly serves as a master class in how to write and perform a simple folk song, turning lyrics and the strum of a guitar into a dynamic experience.
"Fold in Half"
Kayla Marque, who will also play the UMS, has a stunning voice – the kind that deserves international recognition. In recent years, the hardworking Denver artist has taken a foray into modeling, and in her new music video, for "Fold in Half," she puts her stylish creative vision to work. "I'm not doing well," she sings in the brooding song. The video of her smoking, drowning in water, tearing at her skin, dancing and staring painfully into the mirror undergirds the melancholy mood. Off camera, she's continuing to work on her Brain Chemistry album, which still doesn't have a release date. But no matter. What she's making in the meantime suggests it will be worth the wait.
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On the heels of releasing the strong Godfather-themed album Mafia 2, Denver rapper WesDawg dropped this collaborative video with Dre Booth and KB called "Fuck Shit." The hook — "I ain't never been down for the fuck shit" — is catchy and serves as a solid backdrop for the rappers who spit bars about envy, jealousy and strife. Behind a haze of smoke, the artists do their thing, dancing on the streets, strutting.
We wrote about YaSi in a recent cover story. She's one of Denver's hopeful hip-hop-infused pop singers who's generating buzz, radio play and some national attention. "Issues" offers a dive into her personal struggles: It's a desperate pop number about facing inner demons, her obligation to please her parents, and the perils of success. The vocal modulations on the track risk covering up brutal introspection. The video, which basically shows her singing in a darkened space, is at once terrifying and vulnerable, punctuating her singing with rapid-fire David Lynch-esque edits that mirror the inner turmoil she's expressing.