Tag Archives: Dusty Ray

Stranger in a Strange Land: The Art of Yann Aubertin

Stranger in a Strange Land: The Art of Yann Aubertin

By Dusty Ray

In the murky light of Cranknstein (215 N. College Ave.), the old brick walls are populated with brightly colored paintings of several different styles. At first glance, one might think that they are the creations of several artists, but they are all the brainchildren of the multi-talented Yann Aubertin.

A French expat, Aubertin has been residing in the U.S. (specifically Fort Collins) for just over a year. Aubertin began painting at the age of 21, and then stopped for a few years, busy with travel and his job as an aircraft maintenance technician. At 28, Aubertin decided to return to painting, enrolling in an evening art class in Toulouse, where his professor, Mr. Ducrot, remarked on his talent.

Aubertin’s pieces range from the abstract to  quirky realism, from the surreal to the familiar. In certain pieces you can see how his years of staring at schematics have bled into his work, creating diagram-like paintings.

Certain paintings are completely abstract, while others blend pop culture and politics in statements of social unrest. This can be seen in his work “Fukushima,” a perspective-heavy piece that contrasts the Japanese nuclear plant of its namesake with multiple mutated “Pikachu” characters from the Nintendo video game Pokémon. The dark comedy of “Fukushima” cannot be denied, and it hits hard with its commentary.

Aubertin is reluctant to read too far into his work. He takes influence from Caravaggio and other early painters of the Middle Ages and turns their religious content on its head. Is he making a statement? Or is it for purposes of, as Aubertin puts it, “pure provocation?” This ambiguity seems to pervade the artist and his work, both of which are nearly impossible to classify.

As to the Fort Collins community, Aubertin feels welcome, and finds friendly artists around every turn. He hopes to bring his influences into the community and find a symbiosis between the art scene and himself as a painter.

From working in the aeronautics industry to becoming a full-time painter, Aubertin has had his share of diverse experiences.

“I came to America with some false pre-conceptions, but I realize now that Colorado is not the same as Mississippi or California. I have found a very progressive scene here, and have found the people to be far beyond what I expected.”

Find out more about Yann Aubertin by visiting wix.com/yannaubertin/yann-aubertin.

Ian Cochrane: A Welcome Abstraction

Ian Cochrane: A Welcome Abstraction

By Dusty Ray

Ian Cochrane is a self-proclaimed stay-at-home dad: A family man whose passion is painting the abstract. His paintings are both vibrant and ambiguous, contrasting striking black lines with bright patches of color, reflecting the personality of their penny farthing-riding, mustachioed creator.

“I have never in my life been so passionate about painting as I am right now,” says Cochrane. “It keeps me sane.”

A whimsical character, Cochrane adds a unique style and diversity to the local art scene.

Cochrane’s work has been showcased at La Luz Mexican Grill, Luscious Nectar Juice Lounge and Cranknstein. As of Scene’s press date, his work can be seen in Fort Collins at CooperSmith’s  Pub & Brewery (5 Old Town Square) and Opiate Gallery (237 Linden St.). He is also a resident artist at the Aspen Art Gallery, located at 228 S. Mill St. in Aspen, Colorado.

Cochrane is self-taught, taking some inspiration from Kandinsky and early Jackson Pollock. His work has been compared to the works of Picasso, Mondrian, and Léger.

“I don’t really set out with a composition in mind – I like to paint and then let people connect the dots. It’s fun to see what they come up with, like my son, who always sees birds in my paintings.”

Cochrane’s work features thick brush strokes of acrylic, since he finds the paint more forgiving and less tedious than oils.

Cochrane juggles his time between raising his two young children (Eli, 7, and Lulu, 22 months) and painting in his spare bedroom studio.

“I’m very lucky to have a wife (Emily Krawczuk) who lets me get away with being a painter and stay-at-home-dad. She is the real reason I can do this.”

Cochrane has recently put his creativity into overdrive, producing fifty paintings over the course of last year and stamping his name into the wax of the Fort Collins art community.

“Fort Collins really values the artistic community, with programs like Art in Public Places. Websites like LocalEasel.com help to get patrons out to appreciate the scene and allow local artists to connect with one another,” Cochrane says.

You can check out Cochrane’s work at CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing until April 4 and The Forge Publick House (232 Walnut St.) throughout the month of March. Find out more at iancochranefinearts.com.

Turn 4 – What Do You Do About It

Turn 4 – What Do You Do About It

By Dusty Ray


For all its catchiness and hook-laden composition, Turn 4’s latest cut, What You Do About It, never really strays from the typical alt-country clichés. Songs about trains, trucks, guitars and the weather pepper the album, but the strained vocal delivery with its forced twang can become tough to swallow for the duration of seventeen songs. The instrumentation is good: it’s obvious that these guys know what they’re doing, and they channel a certain Bob Seger-like charm. If you’re looking for something completely out there, however, you won’t find it here. Alt-country fans give it a listen; you might like what you find on What You Do About It.

Earth Burnt Black – Harrowing Catharsis

Earth Burnt Black – Harrowing Catharsis

By Dusty Ray


Harrowing Catharsis starts out like a sludge-laced snow cone, slowly melting into a semblance of Between the Buried and Me with slightly more demonic vocals. Earth Burnt Black presents a fractured type of prog-metal sure to lure in any fan of this quickly changing and growing genre. This dark and enveloping album will grab you with its chugs and burn you with its constant diversity. It will definitely keep you listening, if only to see what unexpected turn comes next. The members of Earth Burnt Black shoulder their way out of Greeley on this hellish freight train of an album, destroying all in their path with the bone-crushing strength of Harrowing Catharsis.

Mosey West – Vaca Money

Mosey West – Vaca Money

By Dusty Ray

The cover of Mosey West’s first release, Vaca Money, is a giant Mason jar filled with milk. And it is a perfect representation of the album: cloudy, smooth and refreshing. The band has an amazing songwriting ability, capturing a slight alt-country sound along with catchy hooks and some deep lyricism. All of the members play a huge role in Vaca Money: The trio is well-balanced, and no song overstays its welcome.

The album opens up strong with “Lonesome River.” A harmonica drives the melody along, and the track moseys on by like the river of its namesake. It is a fitting opener, and reveals some of the tricks up the band’s sleeves, but they throw you for a loop with “Cold Prediction,” a more emotional song that pulls its punches with an almost tortured vocal delivery and a straight blues feel.

“Stone by Stone” shuffles along as a distinctly bluegrass influenced track which is contrasted by the final track “Crystal Fire,” a song which starts out very folksy and closes with a punk-influenced build up; a strong and fitting close to a varied album.

Though Vaca Money is brief, and ends too soon, Mosey West’s ability to completely change their style between songs while still sounding unique is impressive. With Adam Brown and Mike McGraw sharing vocal as well as songwriting work on the album, different tastes and influences reveal themselves. It is the inherent equality of the band members that makes Vaca Money a success. It is a breath of fresh air from the convoluted genre of “alt-country.”


Constitution – Wrestling With the Daylight

Constitution – Wrestling With the Daylight

By Dusty Ray

Fort Collins quartet Constitution embraces down-home, whiskey-drinking, feel-good music with their latest release, Wrestling With the Daylight. It is a very light album, laden with the playful bluegrass/folk that has become a staple of many Colorado groups. It does jump beyond its simple framework, throwing trumpet and steel drum into the mix, adding another dimension to the album as a whole.

“Can’t See Me” is reminiscent of the Grateful Dead during their Working Man’s Dead years; a mandolin-driven piece with storytelling lyrics about being not just another face in the crowd, but a different face in the crowd. The vocal delivery has a raspy southern twang, and is backed up by the cooing of the rest of the band.

The album takes a more Spanish turn with “Pesos”; an airy trumpet line (played by Greta Cornett) brings in the verse, lyrics laden with everyone’s favorite problem: money. The bouncy, fun feel spills over into the tracks “Last Drag” and “Don’t Get It” and sets the theme for the rest of the album, which is more up-tempo and full of finger-pickin’ speed.

Wrestling With the Daylight finds its variety less in song structure (most of the tracks are reflective of the others) and more in the instrumentation chosen. The vocal delivery doesn’t change across the whole of the cut, and a certain amount of emotion is lost halfway through the album. But what it lacks in diversity, it makes for with its country charm.

If you like your whiskey and wine, pick up a copy of Wrestling With the Daylight.


The Symbols – Be Here Now

The Symbols – Be Here Now

By Dusty Ray

The Symbols’ newest release, Be Here Now, is a soft musical stroll traversing through country, lounge, blues, reggae and funk-fusion. A guitar-driven album with vocals that fall somewhere between Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell, Be Here Now is a dense and dance-worthy cut that does quite a bit in its short presentation.

The Symbols have an unerring catchiness about them, dancing the fine line between pop and underground with rump-shaking simplicity and an enthusiastic ear for different styles. “Good For Me” opens up the cut and immediately presents the talent of Symbols guitarist, Jasco, and singer, Mer Sal. Jasco’s melodies interweave with Mer Sal’s vocals, creating an interesting, jazzy harmony.

“Be Here Now” slows down the mood, combining folk with strange mixing effects and Stevie Ray Vaughan-esque guitar solos that roll over into the Bossa Nova-like track, “Soon.”

“Two Shades of Blue” brings yet another genre to the table with its reggae-revival bounciness. This track displays hilarious lyrics, and is themed around finding love based on favorite ice-cream flavors. The Symbols close out Be Here Now with a peculiar funkiness: “It” is the strongest track on the album, and is a fitting close to a varied EP.

Technique is important to The Symbols; they can change their sound in the blink of an eye. Though the vocal delivery can be shaky at points, and there are other spots of compositional uncertainty, Be Here Now is a great representation of The Symbols’ sound. For all of its brevity and quirks, this album is definitely still worth a listen.


Green River Vibe – Sun Comes Up

Green River Vibe – Sun Comes Up

By Dusty Ray

Green River Vibe has an ear for the lighter side of reggae music. They effectively recreate this sound through influences of other re-creators, like Sublime and Slightly Stoopid. It’s tough to emulate a music so separated from your own experiences as a kid living in Colorado, but bands before them have done so successfully – Taking the strife-ridden, downtrodden revolutionary content of ‘70s Jamaican reggae and synthesizing it into something easily swallowed by partying teenagers.

Sun Comes Up is a party album, with track titles like “When It All Goes Down,” “Noise Noise Noise,” and the more obvious “We Like To Party.” This is definitely a good album to put on while you and your underage friends stress about buying beer or figuring out how to have a good time.

“When It All Goes Down” is a reverb-heavy track that borrows a lot from early dub music. The vocals drift between hip-hop and soft, singer-songwriter juiciness. The reggae vibe permeates the album, and there is only slight deviation from it in the tracks “So Be at Peace,” “Sweet Summertime Darlin’” and the closing track “Play Around (It Ain’t A Chore).” These tracks reveal the jammy, bluesy side of Green River Vibe.

Sun Comes Up is definitively Colorado reggae. The lyrical content is less about social injustice and oppression (though these themes do appear) and more about having a fun time with your friends. What it lacks in substance, it makes up for in goofy charm. If you like to dance and/or party, pick up Sun Comes Up – it will bring a little life into your living room.


Rockin’ Til the Cows Come Home: 20th Annual Battle of the Bands Goes Off without a Hitch

Rockin’ Til the Cows Come Home: 20th Annual Battle of the Bands Goes Off without a Hitch

First Place Winner: Mosey West (Photo by TRIM Photography's Bryan Thomas)

By Dusty Ray

Scene Magazine’s 20th Annual Battle of the Bands took over Hodi’s Half Note on the chilly evening of November 13 to showcase the local talent of some of Northern Colorado’s best musical acts. Nine ambitious bands showed up to rock the stage and liven up the night – Champagne Breakfast, Papagoya, T-Moody, Synergy, Blind Strike, Kingman Brewster, Nautical Mile, Mosey West and Shooting Down Satellites all gave unique and hard-hitting performances. Sweaty teenagers, hip senior citizens and every age group in between came out to support and vote for their musical friends and family in a Battle Royale of genres, styles and energy.

The Prizes
The first place winners of the Battle will receive ten hours of recording studio time at Morningwood Studios; this month’s cover of Scene Magazine; and a write-up about their band (right). The second place winners will have one song recorded, mixed and mastered to its full potential by Jason Larson of Backbone Studios; a feature article in a future issue of Scene; and one band promotion photo by a professional photographer. Third place winners will receive a feature article in Scene and one band promotion photo by a professional photographer.

The Winners
Strong performances abounded at this year’s Battle. Each band was a leader in their own genre, making it a challenging evening for the judges. The bands were judged on their style, instrumentation, presentation, audience participation/votes, vocals (if applicable), originality and more. Each band’s scores were added up at the end of the night, and the bands with the highest scores placed respectively. (Editor’s Note: Due to multiple acts of cheating witnessed by the judges, audience votes were thrown out and did not factor into the judges’ final decisions.)

Third place came down to a two-way tie between reggae/world music masters Papagoya and the hard-hitting hip-hop of Kingman Brewster.

Second place was handed to the youngest band of the evening (ranging in age from 15 to 18), Synergy, who wowed the audience with their musical talents, energy, onstage chemistry and humorous lyrics. They scored extra points with the judges for their ability to work through performance problems seamlessly, being sure to keep the audience entertained during any downtime (there was an electronic issue with a pedal board).

This year’s prestigious first place prize was bestowed upon the creative alt-country trio, Mosey West. Mosey West scored high with the judges due to their originality, strong songwriting skills, broad musical range and well-rehearsed instrumentation and performance.

First Prize Winner Spotlight: Mosey West
The term “alt-country” has been thrown around when describing Mosey West’s music, but they prefer the self-coined term “sonic folk.” The trio consists of Adam Brown (vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, harmonica) Mike McGraw (vocals, bass, acoustic guitar) and Matt Weitz (drums, piano). This group of friends has been writing music and playing shows around town for just over a year, performing songs that echo the hard work and dedication of each member. With a strong and accessible back catalogue, Mosey West graced the Battle of the Bands stage with their unique musical style, energetic stage presence and keen audience interaction.

Mosey West played mostly from their latest release, Vaca Money, a rollercoaster of rockin’ peaks and well-placed refrains. The energy and originality showcased on the album also showed up in their live set, making it one of the more diverse sets of the night. Ranging from blues to country to good ol’ Americana, Mosey West is a pallet of the origins of rock. There are tentative plans among the band for the release of another EP in the spring, or perhaps even a full-length cut, but as with most things nowadays, time and money constraints can cause setbacks.

Mosey West hopes to gain some more drive and support with their first prize winnings, but they still subsist on their live performances.

“When we started this band, we did well on our own expectations – we went from the garage to Road 34, and then to the studio. The first thing is playing onstage; recording comes second,” McGraw said.

Mosey West is no stranger to winning contests, either. The recording of Vaca Money was a prize won through a Marquee Magazine recording contest. The band’s work ethic is apparent, but they are also in it to have fun and do what they love.

“There was no overwhelming pressure to win contests or ‘make it big,’ but we were short on money and winning contests definitely helps,” Brown said.

The origins of Mosey West are humble. Brown met McGraw a little over a year ago, and the two worked on combining songs they had already been kicking around. Weitz and McGraw had been playing together on and off for around three years. With a lot of material ready, the boys got together and started etching out a sound for the trio.

“Working in a trio pushes the music harder. It forces us to make parts that are interesting and involve less jamming or improvisation, and we create more concrete songs,” Brown said.

Playing as a trio has been working fine for Mosey West, though they are not shy to have friends sit in on certain songs. They are also interested in adding a pedal steel player, preferably one who drives a van (hint hint). The two vocalists add their own touch to each song, creating a balancing dynamic while keeping the listener engrossed. Brown’s lyrics are meant to be relatable, while McGraw prefers to let the audience come up with their own meanings to his lyrics.

“We want to create music that people can dance or drink to. We are really geared towards the live show,” McGraw said.

Mosey West plays at Bar SS on December 10, followed by a show at Moe’s Original Barbeque on December 17.

Second & Third Prize Winners: Synergy, Papagoya & Kingman Brewster
Coming in second place was Synergy, a pop-punk group made up of seemingly-unruly (they made the honor roll, so they’re not that unruly) Denver high school youth who shredded the stage with their blazing talent. Tearing through driving, epically fast pop-punk riffs with ease, Synergy set the crowd up for a treat. Bodies swayed and heads bobbed as these young musicians put their all into playing a prize-winning set. Their energy and stage presence was undeniable, making them a worthy contender for a prize from the start.

Third place was a tie between the groovy, organ-driven reggae crunchiness of Papagoya and the hard rock/hip-hop fusion of Kingman Brewster. Papagoya bounced between the sounds of Jimmy Smith and Toots and the Maytals, bringing a smooth, patchouli-scented vibe to the night. Kingman Brewster brought an energy and vocal aggression that destroyed any sense of a calm Sunday night – Their emcees’ rhymes were strong, and their backing band was tight and well put-together.

It’s a Wrap
Other notable performances from the evening included T-Moody and their down-home dirtiness, Blind Strike with their post-rock versatility, and Nautical Mile with their indie quirkiness and hard-hitting pop vocals.

The Northern Colorado music scene showed its diversity with such a wide range of talented acts, making this Battle of the Bands a cornucopia of tastes. Every band was on the ball, playing well-rehearsed sets with only the occasional hiccup or missed cue.

Scene Magazine would like to thank all of the bands who participated in this event, as well as our accommodating (and good-looking) sponsors: Our allies at Morningwood Studios and Backbone Studios, the fun-loving staff at Hodi’s Half Note, the event production gurus at Shaped Music, and all of our music-loving friends over at SpokesBUZZ.

We look forward to seeing you at next year’s Scene Magazine Battle of the Bands!

Be the Ant – Breathe Deeply Stomata

Be the Ant – Breathe Deeply Stomata

By Dusty Ray

It has been said that an ant can carry up to 100 times its own body weight. Be the Ant shows this entomological strength through the music on their latest album, Breathe Deeply Stomata.

Trying to pinpoint the sound of Be the Ant can be tough. At the Drive In, Coheed and Cambria, and even a little Bryan Scary peek through the cracks of this dense and technical release. The instrumentation is terse and impressive – varying rhythmic changes, harmonic bass, and complex guitar lines reveal the talent of the band. Emo-esque vocals add contrast to the progressive song composition (and can become unbearably annoying at points), but somehow this does not detract from the unexpected catchiness of the album.

“This Brotherhood is a Union” best exemplifies Be the Ant’s sound. Subtle genre-jumps from ‘70s bro-rock to scaling Spanish guitar ballads occur underneath the vocals without causing a distraction. Be the Ant works with a musical contrast and drive that sounds like the best of the Mars Volta.

“Remember This” is a turning point on the cut – a mellow mood bleeds into the final tracks “Too Humans” and “Perigee.” Again, Be the Ant reveals its technical prowess and keen songwriting ability, showing the listener that they are musicians not to be messed with.

Post-Hardcore would be the best way to describe Be the Ant, and if you enjoy any of the previously mentioned bands, you will love Breathe Deeply Stomata. The quirkiness and originality of Be the Ant cannot be denied; they are certainly a powerhouse that you will most likely hear more of in the near future.