Music News

Hit Pick

Mixing rock and funk nowadays is usually about as appetizing as pouring shellac on your pancakes. Luckily for Denver, the Compulsions -- who play Wednesday, July 9, at Herman's Hideaway, with Horse Thief, Etherglow and Ball of Ages -- nimbly sidestep the cliches and offenses perpetrated by this hybrid genre. The secret? A catholic respect for everything from punk to ballads to reggae, as well as an indelible knack for hooks and smarts. Sure, these guys can take apart and rebuild a funk riff blindfolded; on the group's 2002 self-titled disc, Matt Pugliese's guitar and Greg Morgan's drums spin helixes of rhythm and deep grooves. And while Pugliese's occasional leads are both accomplished and soulful, it's Christopher Boyers's bass that usually pulls solo duty, laying down dense lines that swell and snap without churning the stomach. On the track "Amber," singer Ezana Negash's surreal, phoned-in vocals gallop over Boyers's acidic twang, sounding almost like Les Claypool split into two bodies. Negash weaves his off-kilter cadences and oblique turns of phrase throughout the album's twelve songs, in a voice that's equal parts melody, sarcasm and passion. With all its deft careening between prog, funk and pop, the group sounds like a hungrier, grittier Oysterhead or 311; as pointed and venomous as the Compulsions' music can be, though, it stills goes down like honey. (Go to for free tickets.)
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Jason Heller
Contact: Jason Heller