Prepare yourself: Denver will be rich with musical virtuosity in the days ahead. Here are four concerts you need to know about now.
Thursday, March 12, Ogden Theatre
Perhaps one day music critics will run out of good things to say about Thundercat, aka virtuoso bassist and jazz-hop-funk-avant-garde (you get it) songwriter Stephen Bruner. But whether he’s chugging multiple cans of yerba mate on producer Kenny Beat’s YouTube show or collaborating with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Erykah Badu, there’s something irresistible about his eccentric style, in life and in music. Critics fell over themselves praising his excellent 2017 solo outing, Drunk; its long-awaited followup, the Flying Lotus co-produced It Is What It Is, is set for release on April 3. Thundercat is likely to share a few of the new cuts at this show, which means everyone there gets bragging rights for the next couple of weeks. Just saying.
— Elle Carroll
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Thursday, March 12, Globe Hall
It feels only right to highlight a Nashville artist this week as the city recovers from the devastating tornado that whipped through its east side (destroying, among so many other things, the marvelous Basement East venue). Country artist Michaela Anne is among the city's finest exports at the moment, though she was raised in transit as a Navy brat and moved to Brooklyn prior to settling in Nashville to pursue music. When it comes to her third and best record, last year's Desert Dove, touchstones include Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, especially on the positively dreamy “Run Away With Me” and the remarkable “I’m Not the Fire.” On the latter, she washes her hands of a lover’s spite: “Your house is burning your feet/While your eyes are burning holes in me/Can’t fight a flame that you stoke/I’m not a fire, I’m just the smoke.”
— Elle Carroll
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Monday, March 16, Bluebird Theater
Truth be told, I was hooked on Destroyer the first time I heard the now-classic “Painter in Your Pocket,” from 2006’s Destroyer’s Rubies, and I am smitten with his twelfth and most recent LP, the just-released Have We Met. A former member of longstanding Vancouver indie outfit the New Pornographers, Dan Bejar started releasing Destroyer albums in 1995, garnering acclaim for his abstract lyricism, cryptic imagery, and a delivery that draws comparisons to David Bowie. Have We Met is an unhurried, contemplative record that feels a few steps removed from any obvious and ongoing reality, filled with ambient textures that still feel slightly uncanny. Which is to say, once again, that Bejar is at the height of his powers.
— Elle Carroll
Jason Boland & the Stragglers
Friday, March 13, Grizzly Rose
Jason Boland & the Stragglers, an outfit with deep roots in Texas and Oklahoma’s red-dirt country scene, have delivered slice-of-life short stories through simple songs for more than twenty years. With hardscrabble lyricism and a two-step-friendly sound peppered with honky-tonk keys and the occasional electric riff, the Stragglers' songs carry well-trod country themes. On 2018's Hard Times Are Relative, for example, “Dee Dee Od’d” is about addiction and holding on to your dreams; in the title song, a brother and sister who've lost their parents in a fire struggle to survive; and in “Searching for You,” Boland evokes Hank Williams Sr. as he croons about desperately looking for his ex. The tunes will delight the stodgiest of country purists, but anyone looking for something a little higher-octane should track down Boland's pop punk-tinged "I Guess It's Alright to Be an Asshole."
— Kyle Harris
Listen to Thundercat, Michaela Anne, Destroyer, Jason Boland & the Stragglers and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.