Sep 132013

covenhovenMany in the Denver area are familiar with Joel Van Horne as the frontman for atmospheric indie-rock act Carbon Choir (whom I’ve profiled here on this blog from time to time). Carbon Choir has since called it quits, and in the meantime Van Horne has taken a completely different direction–toward folk.

His new album is being released under the moniker Covenhoven, named after the log cabin in Wyoming built by his grandfather, where Van Horne spent summers as a kid. “Some of the best and lasting memories of my life are from this place,” writes Van Horne on the Covenhoven website.  “This music comes from that place… this refuge that I hold dear.”

Indeed, the songs on the record call to mind the places of natural beauty and the fond memories evoked by such a place. With an understated, reflective style reminiscent of Bon Iver, in effect, Van Horne transports the listener to his childhood, allowing us to experience the feeling of a place most of us will never actually see–and yet, we can relate to it because many of us have such a place within our own memories. This is music that is real, because it comes from a very real place, both physically and emotionally.


Photo: Lucia de Giovanni

I have to say, I really like this turn Van Horne has taken. I’ve had the opportunity to hear him perform acoustic sets from time to time, and have really liked his songwriting style, even while playing unplugged versions of Carbon Choir tunes. While it might seem on the outside to be a drastic change of course, those of us familiar with Van Horne and his songwriting abilities can see this is a natural evolution for him.

Covenhoven will see its official release with a show on Friday, Sept. 20 at The Walnut Room in Denver, but you can sneak a listen to the entire album this week over at OpenAirCPR from Colorado Public Radio. You’ll be glad you did.

Oct 032012

If you’ve hung around the Denver music scene much, you’ve probably heard of rock/funk band Bop Skizzum. Founded by former Flobots member Andy “Rok” Guerrero, this band has been rapidly making a name for itself, not just for their niche fusion of rock/funk/soul, but simply by making great music. I’ve seen them play around town a few times, and each time I’ve seen their high-energy performance take over the crowd.

Next week, Bop Skizzum officially releases its new album Coloradical, and I have to say I’m even more impressed than I was before. It’s tight, professional, well-produced, and shows great range–and in my opinion, it represents very well what I’ve seen live on stage.

While “funk” is probably the dominant trait in Bop’s sound, it would be unfair to pigeonhole them as such. They gravitate easily (and seamlessly) between funk, soul, rock, pop and even hip-hop, and are just as able to throw down a moving ballad as they are a rock jam. Lead singer Julie Almeria’s vocals are flawless, SF1’s occasional raps add to the mix, and the horn section is just plain tasty.


The album will be released officially on October 9, but you can hear a sneak peak with the lead single “Do You Want It?” embedded below. And if you’re in the Denver area this Saturday night, you owe it to yourself to catch Bop Skizzum’s official CD release party at The Gothic Theatre, also featuring Rachel and the Kings, Rebel Tongue, In the Whale and Dakar.


Sep 132012

Denver indie-rock outfit Science Partner is, by definition, a Denver supergroup, in the sense that it is composed of band mates who are part of other Denver bands. Lead vocalist/guitarist Tyler Despres and bassist Charley Hine, for example, were from The Dualistics; guitarist Luke Mossman plays in Achille Lauro; vocalist Jess DiNicola sings with John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light; Maria Kohler is better known around town as rapper Kitty Crimes; and drummer Carl Sorenson plays with–well, just about everyone else.

But while Science Partner started out as basically a fun side project, it’s become apparent during their few-but-impactful live performances over the past couple of years that they are actually a force to be reckoned with on their own. Never was this more apparent than during their show-stopping performance at the Underground Music Showcase in July, which practically stopped traffic with the crowds that gathered outside the open window of the venue.

In between their various other projects, the band has been gradually laying down tracks, putting together a record. Over time, Rocky Mountain News grew from an EP to a respectable full-length record–and is now set to be officially released with a special release show this Friday at the Larimer Lounge in Denver. If you’re in the Denver area, it would be worth your time to come out to the show. If you’re not–take a listen to the single below, “Animal,” and go pick up the record from Science Partner’s Bandcamp site.