Tag Archives: Brady Smith

MiMOSA – 58 degrees

MiMOSA – 58 degrees

By Brady Smith

So you think white boys can’t dance? Play this album and see what the whitest kids you know can do. Even though the title of the album is 40 degrees away from one of the worst boy bands created, 58 Degrees joins the body-blasting shakes of dubstep with obliging dulcet synth and piles of crunchy samples.

Although the album only teases you with its five-track, sixteen-minute trip through its space-age world, finding something fresh in every one of the five songs is easier than convincing Charlie Sheen to go to a brothel. Bringing Bassnectar’s shattering bass in tune with Glitch Mob’s smooth production makes MiMOSA even more of an up-and-comer in the ever-evolving world of electronica.

The album opens with “58 degrees,” which showcases heavy bass and a quick tempo that makes the flow unmatchable. In the same heavy bass category is “Stairway” – This splash of dubstep adds another element of freshness to the album. “Block Party” carries more of the head-stomping bass, mixing in samples and breaks to cleanse the possible monotony of heavy-hitting basslines.

It’s hard to pick out flaws in such a short album, but the length itself is the album’s biggest blemish. It may not even be listed as a full release, but the music that is packed into the album begs to be expanded upon. Despite its short length, however, 58 Degrees connects all the dots.

myspace.com/tigranmimosa

Crabtree – Small Brewery Brings Big Flavors

Crabtree – Small Brewery Brings Big Flavors

Beer Samples in Crabtree Brewery's Tap Room

By Brady Smith

Nuzzled away in Greeley’s industrial area and surrounded by rusted train tracks and plumes of black smog sifting out of tall smokestacks is the humble home of Crabtree Brewery.

Crabtree has created a name for themselves not only as Greeley’s one and only microbrewery, but also as a hot spot for live music, food, and fun. Almost mimicking the relationship between Greeley and Fort Collins, Crabtree has been the younger sibling to its powerhouse relatives New Belgium and Odell for its entire life span of five years. But Crabtree has not only started to make a stand as a unique and fun brewery, they have also started to take the steps that make them more than a silhouette in front of the other powerhouse Colorado microbreweries.

Jeff Crabtree doesn’t consider his brewery to be five years old. When he started the brewery in 2006, Jeff had already become part of the corporate American lifestyle, working from eight to five Monday through Friday. Business started slow for Jeff.

“Other breweries should be able to do what I have done in five years in three years.”

Not being able to commit all of his time to the brewery made him nothing more than a weekend warrior. When Jeff finally made the decision to commit all of his time to the brewery, not only did business start to flow more smoothly, but Jeff’s creativity made a bellowing appearance.

Although Jeff may be sitting in a huge shadow, there is an unspoken camaraderie between brewers big and small in Northern Colorado.

“There is an unmentioned respect between all of us. Left Hand and Avery brewing have both helped me out, and I would do the same for all the other breweries.”

This respect has opened new doors for Jeff and other small breweries to be free to do what they want. Funkwerks Brewing out of Fort Collins, for instance, has the opportunity to focus on exclusivity brewing several styles of saisons, while Crabtree is allowed to try unique flavors and styles that interest them.

Cask beers have become a huge hit, and Jeff is having fun with the infinite possibilities that the oak barrels give him.

“I’m trying a lot of different things. I’m not even quite sure what’s in this barrel,” he tells me as we walk past the stacks of smoky wooden barrels.

Unique beer and a unique environ-ment give Crabtree its edge in the growing market of craft beers.

“Brewing is an art form, and we support all forms of art.”

Music, painting, and craft beer are all a part of Crabtree brewing, and if Jeff is anything more than a brewer, he is a strong supporter of local arts. Providing a place for beer enthusiasts and home brewers to come and talk as well as get wholesale prices on brewing supplies and throwing family-friendly gatherings with live music, food, and (of course) beer are just some of the things Jeff does to get the community excited about craft beer.

Jeff still feels that there is more to learn, but he’s excited to see where the brewing revolution is headed. Capitalism pits man against man in a fight for superiority, but brewing subscribes to a much more beneficial style of competition. Standing out is still important and competition is still high, but as long as Jeff holds onto his fervor and unique brewery experience, Northern Colorado’s craft beer scene will become more and more unique and influential.

Find out more about Crabtree Brewery at www.crabtreebrewing.com.

Kenny Perkins – Wild Frontier

Kenny Perkins – Wild Frontier

By Brady Smith

Like a fine single malt, music seems to get better with age. Kenny Perkins’ Wild Frontier siphons a plethora of old and new genres into a barrel and waits until it produces a taste pleasing to all the senses. B.B. King blues, Ben Harper alternative and Van Morrison lyricism underpin the slew of distorted guitars, rhythmic drums and raspy-yet-trained vocals that bite through the full-bodied album.

Most artists try and spread their strongest songs throughout the album, but Perkins throws hits in your face time after time as if he has something to prove. “Tiny Distractions” is the pop hit of the album; carrying smooth guitar licks along with a drizzle of dynamic lyrics creating buoyant acceptability. But the album is much deeper than the opening track would lead you to believe. “Need to Believe” beckons southern blues-rock to its forefront while holding true to the album’s formulaic style.

The trail of hits starts to whimper out past the halfway point, but not to the point of lessening the album’s impact. “Blind Lead the Blind” conjures up images of flying pigs and rolling thunder, but the strong lyrics don’t cover up the lackluster, plain musical composition in the back. “Who But An Angel” showcases layered vocals that mimic Van Morrison’s distinct voice, but it seems to be a track that Van himself may have tossed out.

Still, Perkins shows that he was raised during one of the greatest generations of music. This is something that my mother would dance to – and relentlessly force me to join her in – but when she heads to bed, I’ll be dancing to it too.

kennyperkins.com

Kenny Perkins – Wild Frontier

By Brady Smith

Like a fine single malt, music seems to get better with age. Kenny Perkins’ Wild Frontier siphons a plethora of old and new genres into a barrel and waits until it produces a taste pleasing to all the senses. B.B. King blues, Ben Harper alternative and Van Morrison lyricism underpin the slew of distorted guitars, rhythmic drums and raspy-yet-trained vocals that bite through the full-bodied album.

Most artists try and spread their strongest songs throughout the album, but Perkins throws hits in your face time after time as if he has something to prove. “Tiny Distractions” is the pop hit of the album; carrying smooth guitar licks along with a drizzle of dynamic lyrics creating buoyant acceptability. But the album is much deeper than the opening track would lead you to believe. “Need to Believe” beckons southern blues-rock to its forefront while holding true to the album’s formulaic style.

The trail of hits starts to whimper out past the halfway point, but not to the point of lessening the album’s impact. “Blind Lead the Blind” conjures up images of flying pigs and rolling thunder, but the strong lyrics don’t cover up the lackluster, plain musical composition in the back. “Who But An Angel” showcases layered vocals that mimic Van Morrison’s distinct voice, but it seems to be a track that Van himself may have tossed out.

Still, Perkins shows that he was raised during one of the greatest generations of music. This is something that my mother would dance to – and relentlessly force me to join her in – but when she heads to bed, I’ll be dancing to it too.

kennyperkins.com

Paul Russell – Back at the Scene of Our Beautiful Crime

Paul Russell – Back at the Scene of Our Beautiful Crime

By Brady Smith

Whatever happened to the simplicity that folk music engenders in its performers and listeners? Growing bases of musicians are crossing genres. Paul Russell is one of these cross-genre artists, and in his newest album, Back at the Scene of Our Beautiful Crime, he deals with this challenge a bit awkwardly; blending Leonard Cohen’s somber and clear lyricism with tentatively changing vocals that ride over a vast composition of guitar, fiddle, mandolin and cello.

Standing out in stark contrast to the rest of the album is “Brer Rakha.” The Keller Williams-influenced tune turns the album on its head as bouncing percussion mates with meandering guitar riffs, giving birth to a vast dreamscape instrumental. Although the freshness is great, the song comes too early in the album, leaving listeners hungry for more with nothing similar to balance it out.

Many of the other songs seem to struggle with an uncomfortable balance of the classical and bluegrass influences, and Russell also manages to blend his lyrics. “Our Beautiful Crime” offers gentle metaphorical imagery and begs the listener to pay closer attention, while others – for example, in “You and I” – bring us back to the days of bad boy band hits.

Back at the Scene is how I would expect Leonard Cohen to sound if he strained his low calming voice and traded out the Buddhist monasteries for a few trips to Bonnaroo. A mixture that joins the beautiful with the new can be risky, and in this case it sends Russell into a vortex of cacophonously over-blended sounds.

paulrussell.bandcamp.com

Blacklist Boardshop: 86ing Mainstream Culture

Blacklist Boardshop: 86ing Mainstream Culture

BLACKLIST

By Brady Smith

86ers: A self-proclaimed title of the growing counterculture that lingers at the underbelly of the largely conservative super culture and is proudly stamped on skateboards, t-shirts, street signs, and windows of the Greeley area. Where does this all come from? How did this subverted definition of what it means to be young in Greeley come about?

Nate Giska may be reluctant to accept the role as the catalyst for this local movement, but when he saw the lack of representation for everything that he loves – skate and snow culture in particular – in the Greeley area, he accepted the responsibility to open up the Greeley staple skate and snowboard store, BLACKLIST, or Blacklist Boardshop.

Blacklist Boardshop started in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where Nate grew up. Nate and his brother Ben were embedded in the culture of Lawrenceburg’s skate community, and the shop gave them the opportunity to explore the skate and snow industry from the merchant’s perspective.

When they began their own clothing line, Concussed, in 2003, Ben did all the creative design. The owner of BLACKLIST, Joe Hughes, must have seen the brothers’ creative potential, as he soon let them take over all of the creative aspects (t-shirt design, advertising, etc.) for his shop.

When Nate came to Greeley for college and in pursuit of his passion of snowboarding in 2006, he found there was no way for the snowboarding and skiing community to connect with students who shared his love for the mountains. In an attempt to find students who were experiencing the struggle of being infatuated with the mountains in a location that’s so far away –the two hour drive and rising gas prices make taking the drive by yourself not only exhausting, but expensive – Nate started up Northern Colorado Riders, UNC’s ski and snowboard club.

Running the club was a full time activity, and the Greeley community didn’t necessarily provide a nurturing environment.

“When we ran our events, we needed a shop that supported what we were doing and there wasn’t one in town. Not to mention [that] there wasn’t one that carried any of the brands that we wanted to sponsor our events.”

Nate used NCR as a building block to bring the muddling skate and snow culture together. Soon after, with Joe and Ben’s help, he gave the skaters and boarders a shop that they could rally around in April of 2009.

BLACKLIST competes with two large corporate companies that attempt to be copacetic with the small culture revolving around skating and snowboarding in Greeley. Nate distinguishes himself from these corporate giants by introducing what he thought was cool and stylish but very unknown to Greeley two years ago.

“We’ve influenced brand preferences” says Nate about bringing companies like Nomis, 10.DEEP, Celtek, Rome, and Grenade to the foreground in Greeley.
“[We’ve] introduced a collection of brands that are doing good things for the scene.”

These brands, along with the Blacklist Boardshop namesake and popular New Era/BLACKLIST collaboration “86” hats, have become symbols of not only riders, but also the counterculture lifestyle.

“People know us for being out at the bars having fun or being up in the mountains having fun. We’re not afraid to leave it out there as to what we’re into.”
As a matter of fact, Nate’s company pulls crowds into downtown Greeley regularly.

Working closely with bar and club owners downtown, Nate has organized several events, such as a Steamworks Brewing’s 86er Ale Release Party, several condo trips, and a Blacklist Boardshop party thrown at SKY nightclub where Nate also DJ’d (one of his many hidden talents) and then gave out free snowboards to top off the night.

“We also do barbecues and daytrips to the mountains for all the high schoolers around town too.”

Nate considers this younger generation of riders to be cooler than he was, and he respects their views and influence on the direction of the cultural movement.
“We try and balance being a college shop while catering to the high school community.”

Nate balances this separation fluidly as he builds an important rapport with the younger crowd while continuing to impress the college-aged crowd.

Nate’s representation in the community is nothing but positive. He has not only helped UNC establish a legitimate ski and snow club, but he has also opened up a can of lifestyle and cultural statements that are beginning to form the identity of Greeley’s subculture.

“We’ve given everybody something to relate to with the BLACKLIST title. Whether you’re getting kicked out of a circle of friends, getting kicked out of the bar, or getting kicked out of your marriage, you’ve gained an understanding of what it means to be blacklisted or 86ed.”

And this is the brand, culture, and experience that Nate proudly embraces and offers as an alternative to the conventional in Greeley.

For more information, visit www.blacklistboardshop.com.

Take To The Oars – American Volume

Take To The Oars – American Volume

By Brady Smith

Vonnegut is dead – the band name, that is. Denver’s popular modern rock group Vonnegut is now known as Take to the Oars: A change evoking impressions of the ever evolving, always experimental qualities of the writer for whom the band was originally named. The new moniker redefines the band; re-christening it as one that has the courage to define themselves within the rock genre with their new release, American Volume.

The album signals where it’s headed with its first track, “Answers.” The straightforward baseline and balanced melody of guitars build with the song and support the chorus nicely. While their defining sound peaks in “Stones & Sticks” and “Vanishing Act,” “The Cast Off” is a nice intro into “S&S,” and the accordion adds a bold sound that draws the tone of this song in a powerful and ominous direction.

Viewing the album by songs doesn’t give the full picture of what American Volume really provides, however. This band has been able to establish itself as a piece of modern rock artistry, but that doesn’t mean that it’s done growing. Some of the songs fall into similar patterns; using breakdowns, breaks, building intensity and occasionally dropping everything to a dull murmur, only leaving the vocals to seep in. This formulaic repetition effectively diminishes the novelty of the album.

But, given this, I think that their new namesake gives them confidence: When a critic critiques, ‘take to the oars’ and bring more of your best.

www.taketotheoars.com

Cualli – Quantum

Cualli – Quantum

album cover

By Brady Smith

A quantum is defined as the smallest unit of matter in an interaction. As such, it is a well-suited title for Cualli’s debut album. Aaron Holsapple leads us in a masterfully mixed journey through wildly fresh musical varieties by giving fine attention to the smallest elements. Cualli blends several types of electronic music punctuated by improvised guitar licks that illuminate it with stingingly prudent novelty. Hints of Lotus and STS9 combine with the hard-hitting bass derived from dubstep.

This album tantalizes the listener with tastes of almost limitless musical influences. Funk in the opening song “Imminent Earth” crescendos into a cosmic flight of synth melodies, and “Mystic Sunrise Pt. 1” offers an experimental flow of genres. The use of the sitar and electric guitar gives a fresh mix of sporadic riffs.

“Mystic Sunrise Pt. 2” is the longest song on the album, exceeding ten minutes, and it begins to create restlessness in the listener. Although Cualli’s variety within the song continues to impress, the melodies become so random that they lack any coherence, leading the listener to question whether this is indeed one song. Although this feature highlights Cualli’s inventiveness in live sets, it becomes slightly overbearing in an album.

Taking in the whole album, Cualli’s debut offers us the variety that many have been searching for in the monotonous world of electronic production. With music that can satisfy the tastes of all electronic junkies, expect to see Cualli break further into the Ft. Collins music scene.

soundcloud.com/cualli

Jim Bradford – Redraw The Line

Jim Bradford – Redraw The Line

By Brady Smith

Bob Dylan was the poster child for folk artists with mediocre vocal talents. As a matter of fact, it is not the vocal qualities of most folk artists that draw in their fans. In keeping with this tradition, Jim Bradford’s artistic talent can’t be judged by the vocals. Classical folk tale playfulness and the use of horns create a fresh addition to his sound.

The sax solo in “Near Miss” enforce Bradford’s message-sending lyrics, and the guitar solo in “Weena” showcases a distinctive talent. But, all artists walk that fine line between trying enough and trying too hard.
The strengths of the album lie in “Brave,” which feature Bradford’s rough vocal sprawl and offers us a more traditional folk sound. The easiness of his vocals allows the message of his lyrics to shine through.

When Bradford stops trying so hard, we hear a vocal raspiness that allows the powerful harmonies to filter through. The nuanced vocal distortions in sections of “One Punch Fight” serve up a kind of Johnny Cash country touch to the melody.

Overall, there is impressive potential in Bradford’s ability to produce influential folk rock. But there is a caveat. He either needs to ratchet down his near tone-deaf vocals to something more consonant with the folk sound, or he needs to realize that since his greatest gifts are as a songwriter and musician, and a more talented vocalist might better serve his music.

jimbradfordmusic.com

Trichome – Where Creation Now Grows

Trichome – Where Creation Now Grows

By Brady Smith

The grassroots Fort Collins-based reggae band Trichome breaks through in their debut album, Where Creation Now Grows. Like the name implies, this pot-induced, reggae-infused musical montage floods the senses with catchy riffs and meandering instrumentals that build throughout the album.

This band has made a name for themselves in their hometowns of Greeley and Fort Collins, and now, with the release of their album, the group is expanding its fan base from Northern Colorado to statewide recognition and beyond.

This album bears the signature of all the members of Trichome, well-known for their inventive live performances, but it begins with the all-too-familiar guitar chop, a trademark of reggae that carries through nearly the entire hour length of the album. Like baking with the same ingredients over and over, it may taste good, but eventually you hunger for something new.

If you’re a hardcore reggae fan the album will impress. If you want more, Trichome cleanses your pallet with “Rebel Stomp.” The song opens with an eerie wind and a sax weeping out alone, then punches into a solid melodic flow of guitar, percussion, and drums delivering a soulful message. “Them Fools” injects a playful, fast tempo beat into the body; it is guaranteed to get you movin’.

“Reggae Lives” finishes off the album with a boom. The ironic title belies the song’s fusion of reggae, electronic, and Edvard Grieg’s classic “Hall of the Mountain King.” This song hits hard and leaves us wanting to know where the music will grow next.

www.myspace.com/trichomerasta