Music News

The Denver scene: more fertile than Octomom after a fistful of Clomid!

If you've been reading the Backbeat blog, then you know that the Denver scene is en fuego right now, muchachos. Muy caliente! The amount of attention that's being paid to our city is kind of stunning. And it's coming from across the national media, with a different act getting face time on the idiot box or making headlines every day. Just last week, for instance, we posted clips of the 3OH!3 dudes getting their spring break on all over MTV (and altering the lines "Don't trust a ho" to "Don't trust a bro") while the Fray was finding God on Letterman (with Jeff Linsenmeier filling in on drums, BTW). Meanwhile, the Photo Atlas got a write-up and a four- (out of five) star review in the pages of AP (Alternative Press, if you're not into that whole brevity thing), and Pictureplane got much-deserved props on Pitchfork, even as it continues to gain exposure on tour with HEALTH.

And there's more where that came from. As a breeding ground for new talent, the current scene is more fertile than Octomom after two fistfuls of Clomid, as those who are left in what's left of the industry are keenly aware. Every ten minutes or so, it seems like another band is being picked up by a label. Last Friday, we received confirmation that Strange Condition has landed a development deal with an unnamed major label (we know which one, but we're waiting until things are firmed up to reveal it — for now, we'll just say that the imprint already has strong Denver ties); this makes Strange Condition the sixth local act to be picked up by an imprint outside of Denver since the first of the year. The other five: Havok (Candlelight), Skyfox (Crappy Records), 29th Street Disciples (Zodiac Killer), Frontside Five (DC-Jam) and Pictureplane (Lovepump United). And that's huge, particularly when you consider that at the beginning of this decade, even most indies would have had to consult a map to find downtown Denver if they landed here on a layover.

But if Strange Condition's name doesn't register with you immediately, don't feel bad. Far from critical darlings, the group, which has endured numerous lineup changes since forming, has worked tirelessly over the years to establish a loyal and ravenous fan base that operates outside the scrutinizing gaze of most local tastemakers — this one included. I'd seen Strange Condition a bunch but was never terribly impressed. Even so, the band has consistently packed Herman's, and these days has little difficulty filling the Gothic. In fact, its most recent show there fell just a hundred tickets short of a sellout.

From the sounds of its new material, Strange Condition has been investing as much time in its songwriting as in cultivating fans lately, and all that effort should pay off. The act seems poised to make a big impact on mainstream audiences with a polished, radio-friendly hard-rock sound that's instantly accessible. And the Strange ones are certainly in good hands: Longtime DeVotchKa manager and AEG veteran Rob Thomas has signed on to represent the band locally, partnering with Interscope co-founder and longtime Firm executive Michael Papale, who will represent the band nationally. That's a pretty powerful pairing.

The group will head to L.A. shortly to finish up the first five songs for an upcoming EP with lauded producer Mike Plotnikoff (Daughtry, Hoobastank, Three Days Grace), with a full-length tentatively slated to follow sometime next year. In the meantime, you can stop by the Backbeat blog to hear "Never Fade," Strange Condition's first single, recorded at the Blasting Room by Lee Miles, who's worked previously with Tickle Me Pink and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

Upbeats and beatdowns: In June, we'll celebrate the fifteenth year of the Westword Music Showcase, and it should be quite a party, since we've tapped Built to Spill, Mudhoney, the Fluid and Meese to help us celebrate, along with all the best local talent you've come to expect every year. Damn, man. And I thought we'd never top the Dinosaur Jr. and Lucero bill of a few years ago. Shows you what I know.

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Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera