An out-of-state friend of mine just asked me to pull together some recommendations of good music that has emerged from colorful Colorado in recent years. I’m looking at the playlist in iTunes right now and can’t believe my eyes.
I think my friend was expecting an eighty-minute CD of greatest hits, but I just can’t bring myself to trim it down. Of course, I cheated by including some favorites that no longer exist (like VAUX and Black Black Ocean), as well as some that can’t strictly be called Colorado’s anymore (like Strangers Die Every Day and Slim Cessna’s Auto Club). Over 38 hours’ worth of music, 83 different artists, 617 songs -- and all I can see is what I’ve left off. I can’t believe I forgot Bright Channel! And I completely left off Cephalic Carnage. And I just couldn’t find my copy of that first Nightingale EP, though I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.
Oddly enough, my first makeout session was with Nightingale, about three years ago. The noisy, psychedelic rockers who would later become Moccasin were the first local band that I interviewed for Westword. Before that, I covered touring bands because it was just easier from my location up here in the north country fair. But when I sat down with Scott Bagus, Eddie Dugan, Ryan Sniegowski and a not-yet-legal James Barone, something remarkable happened.
By all rights, our interview should have focused on the group’s debut EP and its bright future. After all, this was some of the first press coverage Nightingale had received, so the act should have wanted to talk about itself for hours.
Instead, Bagus, Dugan, Sniegowski and Barone wanted to begin by talking about all the Denver bands they loved. I remember setting aside my interview questions and scribbling furiously, trying to capture all the names the four passionate souls threw at me.
I’m sure they didn’t know what they were starting. I’d hate to tally up the thousands of gallons of gas I’ve burned on my musical pilgrimages since then -- all of which started with Nightingale’s recommendations. Today, I don’t even remember which bands they name-checked, and I’m not sure if it matters. What matters is that the band wanted to share some of the attention they were getting with other friends and musicians they admired.
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And that’s the essence of the Mile High Makeout. It’s not about patting ourselves on the back, lavishing indiscriminant praise on everyone with a Peavey, or wondering why the rest of the world hasn’t flocked to Denver like a musical Mecca. It’s simply about looking around our big backyard -- from Nissi’s and Trilogy to the Falcon and D-Note -- and marveling egolessly at the beauty, diversity, quality and quantity of the flora and fauna that make this such an amazing place to live.
While I try to unearth that Nightingale CD, help me out. Check out the admittedly incomplete list of music I’ll be sharing with my buddy and, if you think of something that really needs to be included, slap it in the comments.
-- Eryc Eyl
• (Die) Pilot • 3oh!3 • All Capitals • Aloft in the Sundry • Angie Stevens • Astra Moveo • Astrophagus • Autokinoton • Bad Luck City • Bad Weather California • Bela Karoli • Birdy • Black Black Ocean • Black Lamb • Blue Light • Born In The Flood • Corey Teruya • Cowboy Curse • Dan Craig • Devotchka • Drag The River • Everything Absent Or Distorted • Funeral • Ghost Buffalo • Go Patriot • Gregory Alan Isakov • Handsome Bobby • Hearts of Palm • Hello Kavita • Ian Cooke • Jack Redell • Jen Korte • Joe Sampson • John Common • Jonathan Byerley • Joseph Pope III • Joshua Novak • Kal Cahoone • Kathryn Ostenberg and Dash Benison • Kevin Mileski • Kingdom of Magic • Laylights • Magic Cyclops • Maraca Five-O • Mark Darling • Marty Jones • Masquerade Scene • Matt Boyer • Matt Skellenger • Matthew Cox • Nathan & Stephen • Only Thunder • Paper Bird • Planes Mistaken For Stars • Porlolo • Rachael Pollard • Red Cloud West • Reno Divorce • Reverend Deadeye • Roger Green • Shygone • Sleeper Horse • Slim Cessna's Auto Club • Strangers Die Every Day • Tarantella • The Chain Gang Of 1974 • The Hollyfelds • The Knew • The Paper Stars • The Photo Atlas • The Swayback • The Trampolines • The Wheel • Tickle Me Pink • Tim Pourbaix • Tiny Television • Vaux