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.

May 272012
 

Photo: Shelby McQuilkin

Here’s something to consider. If you:

a) live around Denver;

and

b) like classic rock;

and/or

c) you like the ballet;

then you need to see Ballet Nouveau Colorado perform “Rock Ballets.”

I have had the opportunity to see two different shows by this innovative Denver-based dance company, which has gained a reputation for putting a modern twist on traditional ballet, frequently incorporating visual art, unorthodox music and even poetry into their performances. To see one of their shows is nothing short of spellbinding.

Created by BNC’s artistic director Garrett Ammon, “Rock Ballets” is a series of three short ballets, set to the music of INXS, Queen and David Bowie, respectively. It was first premiered in 2008, and in conclusion of their 10th season, Ballet Nouveau Colorado is presenting an encore performance of this unique presentation on Friday, June 8, at the outdoor amphitheatre at the Arvada Center at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. The evening will kick off with spoken word poetry performances by the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop.

“Rock Ballets” has a history of selling out, so if you’re interested in catching this show (which you should be), it’s best to get your tickets now, rather than later. You can purchase tickets here.

Feb 202012
 

One of the things I love about music blogging is when I come across “hidden treasures”–bands with a unique vibe and memorable sound that not many people know about–but should. In my view, Brooklyn-based Palomino is one of those bands.

Citing influences from late 70’s/early 80’s post-punk, this 3-piece band has a raw, sparse sound that will actually appeal to a variety of listeners. In the video below (the song “Ponte Vecchio”), I definitely hear the punk elements, but also a bit of alt-country, early alternative, and just plain rock. But most of all (and this is the main reason why I like ‘em)–I hear a great song. Catchy, stick-in-your-head music. Lead vocalist/guitarist Elijah Campbell’s unpolished voice reminds me quite a bit of Michael Roe of the 77’s (extra credit if you know who I’m talking about).

I get plenty of submissions from bands who don’t have a huge following, and to be completely honest, when I listen to their music, I understand why. In this case, I’m baffled. Listening to this stuff, I do not understand why more people don’t know about Palomino yet–and I definitely hope a lot more people will.

Palomino just released an EP (simply called The Palomino EP), which can be streamed at their Bandcamp site. If you dig “Ponte Vecchio,” as I do, they’re currently offering that tune as a free download.

Jun 022011
 

After a bit of waiting, I finally got my hands on Changing Color, the debut full-length from Denver alt-rockers My Body Sings Electric. This is a band that has been playing a lot around town and gaining a lot of momentum and attention with their high-energy, indie-punk sound.

I had the chance to talk with these guys a few months ago (you can see the article I wrote here), and the impression I got from talking to them was that they are very purposeful, passionate, hard-working and focused. They want to get their music to a wider audience, and they are working a plan to get there.

Listening to their record, I’d say My Body Sings Electric is ready for the larger audience they are seeking. Recorded at Interlace Audio in Portland, Oregon, the record’s production value is outstanding, with quality audio and near-flawless execution. Tight, complex rhythms and riffs played with searing accuracy, overlaid with hooky, singable vocals, make this a great listen all around. The hard work is showing–these guys play extremely well together.

My Body Sings Electric

Take a listen to the record’s single (and my personal favorite), “Step Into the Light,” and if you like their vibe, the whole record is available pretty cheap from their website. Listen for the wailing guitar solo near the end of the track–gives me chills.

My Body Sings Electric: “Step Into The Light”

May 242011
 

When you hear of a rock band called Afterlife Parade releasing an EP called Death, it might be easy to get the wrong idea–like something dark, macabre, gothic. ¬†But that’s not the case at all with this band. It actually started as a project by Nashville singer/songwriter Quinn Erwin who was trying to process a series of losses that hit close to home. The result is a themed EP that actually takes the listener on a journey processing that sense of loss that death can bring…and musically and thematically, I have to say, I find it brilliant.

Dealing with death in any capacity musically can be a huge risk. Lean too far one way, and you’ll be dark and depressing–and lean too far the other, and you’ll come off as trite. ¬†This record, in my opinion, falls right into the perfect groove between those two extremes, being engaging both lyrically and musically.

I’ve shared the first full track, “Death,” but really this is an EP that should be listened to all the way through. Thankfully, at the present time the full EP is available for free download from the band’s Bandcamp page.

Apparently, Death is just part one of the journey of Afterlife Parade. ¬†A followup EP, Rebirth, is due out soon. After hearing this one…I can’t wait.

Afterlife Parade: “Death”

Download the Death EP from Afterlife Parade here:

May 062010
 

Hailing from¬†San¬†Francisco, Music for¬†Animals¬†has been gaining traction on the west coast for the past few years. Their hooky, danceable pop/rock vibe has drawn comparisons to The Killers. As a songwriter, I’m always looking for the “hook” in songs or in a sound.¬† I also look for the balance between creativity and accessibility.

I don’t know how original the sound is, but I think this song off the band’s EP is pretty catchy. But don’t take my word for it–see what you think.

Music for Animals: “Nervous in NY”

Apr 242010
 

Open Hand, an indie¬†rock¬†band from LA, is exploring new territory with their album Honey. While their previous work tends toward straight out jam-band rock, this record seems to venture into a more atmospheric, progressive, experimental vibe–even incorporating some hip hop elements. Additional contributors to the record are Matt Talbot of Hum and Christopher “Kid” Reid from Kid ‘n’ Play.

Below is a song from the record, “Cool.” Feel free to give it a thumbs up or thumbs down in the comments. Say what you think.

Open Hand: “Cool”

Download “Honey” on Amazon