Thursday, April 8, Climax Lounge, 303-292-5483.
Nagging itches, deep bruises, a fibula-cracking cramp in your calf muscle that wakes you up screaming in the middle of the night: Such are the metaphors for the music of the Building Press (right). For the past few years, this Seattle-based outfit has put the "ow" in power trio, and its sophomore release, Young Money, offers no respite. The seven songs on the album might as well represent deadly sins, wonders of the world or the layers of skin you're going to lose listening to them; the opening cut alone ("It's Probably Just You") packs an entire record collection's worth of moods, textures and genres into its gangling, disjointed frame. Post-hardcore and free jazz figure prominently in the mix, as does a dose of math rock -- only contorted with a lopsided algebra that'll send your inner ear into a tailspin. Riding on top of the whole shambling contraption are the vocals of guitarist A.P. Schroder, whose gurgling-in-tongues voice sounds alternately sloshed and prophetic. If you can handle a walloping compound of Don Caballero and Laddio Bolocko punched up with some Led Zeppelin immensity, this is all you. -- Jason Heller
Saturday, April 10, Fox Theatre, 303-443-3399.
Grandaddy's baroque lo-fi arrangements consistently evoke comparisons to the Flaming Lips. It's easy to see why, given frontman Jason Lytle's feathery upper register and his similar prediliction for esoteric and often obtuse storylines and lyrics. Like the Lips' Wayne Coyne, he is one weirdly artistic cat: From dirge-y ditties that "fizzle and pop" like "Jed the Humanoid," who checks out Leaving Las Vegas-style after being neglected, to songs about all of the microwaves being dead "like the salamander said," Lytle composes with a vivid imagination. More approachable than Radiohead but every bit as sophisticated, the Modesto-based Grandaddy adds a California sheen to spacious and somber pop that indeed falls somewhere between the Lips -- although aesthetically less ambitious, with less fanfare -- and Sparklehorse. -- Dave Herrera
The Twilight Singers
Sunday, April 11, Larimer Lounge, 303-291-1007.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away (specifically, Los Angeles in the mid-'80s), Greg Dulli was a rambunctious Tower Records clerk who was always ready with a quip and a grin for a fellow employee (me) who didn't know what the hell he was doing with his life. But the boisterousness that was so much in evidence during the days when Ronald Reagan ruled the world generally plays a secondary role in Dulli's music. With his now-defunct first group, the Afghan Whigs, and his latest project, the Twilight Singers, he's spent the lion's share of his lyrical time exploring sexuality, romantic confusion and bad behavior -- and the seamier, the better. The compositions on Blackberry Belle, the latest Twilight offering, released last year on the One Little Indian imprint, is a case in point. The initial couplet from "Martin Eden" -- "Black out the windows/It's party time" -- is simultaneously lurid and lascivious, and Dulli maintains this mood from one end of the disc to the other through sheer fearlessness. He clearly doesn't give a damn if his protagonists come across as geniuses, jackasses or some unholy combination of the two. At times, Dulli's love of melodrama can make his work seem histrionic, but even at its most overwrought, it carries the kick of conviction. He's a true original, and in his current incarnation as a Twilight singer, his talents rise as the sun goes down. -- Michael Roberts
Monday, April 12, Fillmore Auditorium, 303-830-TIXS.
Kanye West creates new school classics by sampling sped up soul records that make artists such as Chaka Khan and Luther Vandross sound like background singers who have just huffed an inordinate amount of laughing gas. West's tasteful selections have created hits ("Through the Wire," "Slow Jamz") that have helped inject the art of sampling back into the mainstream. You can't turn on the radio without hearing his influence. He's progressed smoothly from providing sonic blueprints for Jay-Z to dropping rhymes over his own beats on his promising Roc-A-Fella debut, College Dropout. Lyrically, West (left) straddles a middle ground between the excesses of the materialistic rapper and the self-righteous, conscious one. -- James Mayo