Tag Archives: Erik Myers

Bad Weather California – Sunkissed

Bad Weather California – Sunkissed

badweathercalifornia.com

Loose melodies come together on Bad Weather California’s latest full-length without much hesitation, threaded together by Chris Adolf’s righteous affirmations of sun and love. Accordingly, his lyrics are upbeat but nuanced, offering words of advice that occasionally invite interpretation: “If your baby’s crying in the middle of the night, shine a light, shine a light in her eyes.” There’s plenty to soak up from the vibrant and varied Sunkissed, which hosts an exciting assortment of influences spanning across a few decades of rock ‘n’ roll. Key track “Let It Shine” latches onto a simpering Sausalito guitar melody as it rises into a loud and loose ending, whereas “Big Yellow Ball” links together sonic layers of strings and synth for an incredibly engrossing effect. Weird energy abounds in Sunkissed, an album ideal for the summer.

– Erik Myers

 

 

Pinball Jones: The Reawakening of Pinball Culture in Fort Collins

Pinball Jones: The Reawakening of Pinball Culture in Fort Collins

By Erik Myers

During no other time in Western culture has the past ever been more en vogue. As the popularity of Old Town’s new pinball gallery PinBall Jones shows, it goes well beyond remakes and reissues – what better way to indulge nostalgia than with the original artifacts?

Located beneath Old Town Square (in the basement suite of 107 Linden St.) and sharing a stairway pocket with the GNU Experience Gallery, Pinball Jones is owned by Kim Jones. A lifelong fan of the game, she began amassing machines. Impressing friends with her small collection, she lent the Lyric Cinema (300 E. Mountain Ave.) her “Creature From The Black Lagoon” machine. Lyric owner Ben Mozer took notice when customers began to constantly buzz around it.
“He knew of a open space next to GNU and encouraged me to utilize it,” Jones says of her gallery. “He was pivotal in making things come together.”

Stepping into the busy gallery on a Saturday afternoon is an odd experience, surrounded not only by the devices of decades gone by, but also the names and faces that stubbornly remain in modern entertainment. Peering out over one table is Elvira, the well-endowed horror TV host who awoke the sexuality of millions of young geeks in the eighties, and who still makes appearances around the country and hosts her own radio show. Another, “Demolition Man,” features the heavy stares of Sylvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock and Wesley Snipes, the faded stars of the 1993 sci-fi film that has since developed a cult following.

Jones’ favorite is “The Black Hole,” based on the 1979 Disney movie of the same name (and subject of an upcoming remake). She says it’s the most challenging machine she owns, and revolutionary for its time: it was among the first machines developed with solid-state electronics rather than electromechanical components like motors and relays. Its descendents include the more modern members of this gallery.

The Internet has been held largely responsible for nostalgia’s pervasiveness in today’s culture.But perhaps it’s different with Pinball Jones. Jones herself believes the popularity of her gallery, and that of “barcades” like The 1Up in Denver, signals pinball’s reawakening. She doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
“It’s the overall experience that brings people in to play,” she says. “They come with their friends, they meet other people, soak in the atmosphere, and take in the physical games and the sheer variety of them. It’s a big shift from where it was and it’s amazing to be in the middle of it.”

More information and operating hours can be found at pinballjones.com. Pinball tournaments are held at the gallery on every second Wednesday of the month.

Tennis – Young & Old

Tennis – Young & Old

By Erik Myers

myspace.com/tennisinc

Young and Old, the new album from Denver’s Tennis, contends with midlife’s disappointments – an interesting arrival point for a husband-and-wife duo with a debut inspired by a seven-month sea-faring expedition. Losing the excitement of a couple’s best years will inevitability strain the relationship, as singer Alaina Moore muses early on: “We could be good, but we don’t live the way that we should.” But the tension is flattened under the numbing ’60s surf pop aesthetic that is Tennis’ creative clutch, leaving little behind as it sails in and out of the ears. Based on a syrupy mixture of guitar, keyboard and the studied Moore, Young and Old is pleasant enough to arrive at the coffee shops it was aiming for.

In The Whale – Cake

In The Whale – Cake

By Erik Myers

myspace.com/songsinthewhale

Singer Nate Valdez and drummer Eric Riley have had a strange, genre-blending journey as In The Whale; Cake being their hard rock affirmation. The Denver duo achieve an impressive intensity, but the songwriting tends to cop material from influences instead of developing on their cues, like the Eagles of Death Metal chorus on “34-28-32.” Cake is more compelling for its tongue-in-cheek Christian subtext. Valdez sings of being distracted from “the Lord’s work” by a bad news beauty, described first as “an affliction,” then as “an addiction.” In the end, he becomes the temptress, borrowing a chorus line –”Like a tree that’s standing by the water, I shall not be moved” – from a gospel hymn. But considering the full context, it’s more like he’s giving in to temptation, skewing the phrase to justify his less-than-holy pursuit.

Creative Reinvention: Trichome Diversifies Their Sound, Image

Creative Reinvention: Trichome Diversifies Their Sound, Image

Photo by Darren Mahuron

By Erik Myers

Sitting in the quiet basement of Mugs Coffee Lounge, the members of Trichome are reconsidering everything, name included. Well, maybe not the name.

“It’s a unique name,” says tenor saxophonist Mike Windham. “It has presence. I don’t think it’d behoove us to change the name, but the band has definitely evolved a lot since I’ve been a part of it.”

Then, ambling down the stairs as if to squelch any doubt comes bassist Dave Frediani. Flanked by the dual grins of drummer Jeff Dejohn and digital percussionist Matt Schooley, his perfectly normal appearance draws surprise. Guitarist Matt Newhard can’t help but laugh: “Oh my lord.”

“Dave cut off his dreadlocks about two days ago,” lead singer Evan Daldegan* explains.

Laughter abounds, but Frediani takes it in stride: “They were getting pretty long.”

But there’s also an upcoming meeting with photographer Darren Mahuron, who’s shooting their Scene cover photo. Image is essential for just about any band, and this one is in transition.

“We’re maturing,” Daldegan says. “We’ve had stories in Scene before about where we came from and where we met, and I think we’re in dire need of someone who’ll say, ‘These guys have been in the scene. They just want to have fun and play music, but be professional and mature, not stand in a field with dreadlocks and hemp necklaces and get photographs by trees with a weird lens.’”

“Can I say that?” he asks his bandmates. Nods all around.

“We’re beyond the point of looking at ourselves as up-and-comers,” Windham adds. “I feel like in order to be successful, you have to project the image of what you’re trying to be. What we’re trying to be – are being – are professional working musicians.”

Photo by Joel Decatur

Formed in Greeley in 2005, Trichome have come up in a Colorado scene of groove-influenced electronica, also known as “livetronica,” “jam-tronica” or “electrojam.” The scene has become hugely popular in recent years, moving in step with the swift rise of American dance music. Teeming with college-aged youth, Fort Collins and Boulder have produced a few of the state’s biggest names: EOTO, Big Gigantic and The Motet. Like those who’ve come before them, Trichome has accrued a devoted following and are just beginning to enjoy its fruits, like the sold-out Aggie shows and the national tours that include dates at festivals like Wakarusa and Summer Camp.

Those same fans pushed them to the top of Scene’s Readers’ Choice Poll in December, a close victory that won them this cover story.

“Are we more popular because of the scene? Maybe,” Daldegan says. “But you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot.”

Trichome doesn’t lean on electronica as much as afrobeat and world music, incorporating a bit of a progressive rock flourish as well, courtesy of Newhard. That might change. The reggae roots of their first album Where Creation Now Grows seem eons behind them in the wake of their recent Chromeo cover show at the Aggie.

Schooley is the proud impetus behind that project, having turned the rest of the band into fans after bringing the duo’s She’s in Control on to the tour bus last year. They put months of work into the show’s production, learning the songs and delving into unfamiliar technology to replicate the aggressive infusion of techno and funk.

While the cover show signals a newfound professionalism, what it means for their sound is up in the air. The band is mum on details about an upcoming EP. But they’re more than happy with what they’ve come up with so far.

“It’s the blessing and curse of having so many diverse musicians in the band,” says Windham.

Trichome seems more decided on their end goal, which is to take their music as far as it can go, getting as many people as possible dancing along the way. The discussion inevitably brings up Colorado’s jam scene and its new direction, of which they’re hoping to help steer.

“I don’t think it’s taken as seriously as it could be,” Windham says. “I think some people take a look at the scene and see it as music that’s just good to dance to. I like a lot of that music because it’s good music. I’m not in it for the party. I’m in it because I like to play my saxophone.”

“But it’s good fun,” Daldegan adds. “There’s a certain atmosphere at, say, a String Cheese show. It’s not like you’re just hanging with a bunch of granolas.”

Find out more about Trichome at trichomemusic.com, or find them on Facebook.

*Editor’s Note: Evan Daldegan’s name was misspelled in the print version of this article. We apologize for the misprint, Evan!

Various Artists – Galaxies Christmas 2011

Various Artists – Galaxies Christmas 2011

By Erik Myers

While it’s a little late to get into the holiday spirit, this Christmas compilation produced by Galaxies does make for good winter walking music. Comprised of 12 Christmas songs by 12 young artists, the free-to-download album almost resonates less with the holiday spirit and more with the weather; it’s bright days, dark nights and element of surprise.

The mixed spirit makes for some interesting covers, like on opener “Last Christmas.” As pretty as Emily Knurr sounds, her voice carries the requisite pinch of longing that’s missing from the popular covers that come year after year.

The conventional Yuletide cheer drops out a couple of tracks later with Galaxies’ cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Christmas At The Zoo.” Galaxies is more or less Dillon Groeneman, who takes the slacker rock seasonal down a notch and springs in soft keyboard and sinewy violin. Then there’s Jeremy Lewis’ “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Building up with rigorous strumming and Lewis’ echo-affected vocals, the payoff comes in a delightfully unexpected glam-synth breakdown.

These moments speak to the smart direction of this compilation, it’s balancing of treatments both careful and creative. In this case, there’s less of the latter, setting the stage for more potent moments. Many, this reviewer included, may not remember a song titled “Christmas Time Is Here,” but Ghost of York draws it out with an expert’s touch. Familiar guitar chords trickle out from a warm ambient sea before a lovely soprano brings them into focus, stirring up memories of a round-headed kid and his sorry-looking tree.

galaxies.bandcamp.com

Fierce Bad Rabbit – Live and Learn EP

Fierce Bad Rabbit – Live and Learn EP

By Erik Myers

Fierce Bad Rabbit isn’t keen on being called a “supergroup,” and in our post-Chickenfoot era, who would? But the label is tempting, as they’re packed with some of the city’s best talent at every angle. Their mere existence has enhanced Fort Collins’ music community in ways seen and unseen: Few in Colorado work as hard as they do. Their three years has seen three records and extensive touring – the latest being a 130-show tour which included performances at SXSW and the CMJ Music Marathon. Most (probably all) of those shows had them playing their energetic live shows under hot lights in their stylish formal wear. That’s a lot of sweat.

The Live and Learn EP is a taste of their next album. Like most EPs, it’s a little lopsided. The powerful opener “YOU!” is likely to become a crowd favorite, a showing of pop fundamental mastery in which every element lines up perfectly. The guitar melody sets up the hefty instrumentation of viola, drum and piano with ease, and feels completely balanced even as it shifts about unexpectedly; a product of the clever songwriting abilities of lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Anderson.

Live and Learn’s sole problem is its relentless optimism. It’s not a problem on the title track, but it feels heavy-handed by the closing track “Rich Man.” “Oh, if I could, then you know I would,” Anderson sings of the jet-setting he can’t provide his girl, but he’s a “rich man” nonetheless since everything he needs is right in front of him. You have to wonder what she’s thinking.

myspace.com/fiercebadrabbit

Innovative Technology: Colorado-Developed Mobile App Helps You Find Live, Local Music

Innovative Technology: Colorado-Developed Mobile App Helps You Find Live, Local Music

By Erik Myers

The only problem with a good idea is that there is usually already someone else acting upon it. Lucky enough for Nick Smalling (who currently resides in Carbondale, Colorado), that wasn’t an issue.

“There was no real single place you could go and see what was going on around you as far as nightlife events and music,” he says. “Especially not when you’re out and about.”

So began Where’s The Party At? – A free mobile app available on the iPhone and Android that gives users up-to-date information on parties, concerts, club nights and other nightlife activities taking place in their immediate area. The app’s development and upkeep demands at least six to seven hours a day from Smalling; a time commitment he hopes will decrease as more promoters and musicians create accounts to post up their own activities.

Getting the wheels rolling wasn’t easy, especially since Smalling was a newcomer to the game and lacked experience in creating mobile technology. Smalling pitched the idea to a swath of development companies, eventually going with Mutual Mobile, a development firm based in Austin, Texas.

“I came to find out that if I had chosen a smaller company, I probably would’ve saved a lot of money,” he says of the price tag. “In the end, I spent somewhere in the range of $70,000 in cash and put two years of labor into it. I wasn’t expecting that much.”

The app is almost everything Smalling wanted it to be: a “cut-and-dry” app that hosts advertising (so Smalling can keep it available for free) but without the bureaucratic tendencies that come with Facebook and Twitter, such as featured events and posts.

“Your event has to speak for itself,” Smalling says. “If you have a good event with good music, you have a much better chance that people will find out about it.”

Smalling says the app has caught on in Denver, and other cities are following suit. So far, Where’s The Party At? has had over 7,500 downloads on the Android, 2,200 downloads on the iPhone and is averaging around 11,000 unique visitors to its mobile site per month.

Among the ideas he has for future development, Smalling is working on a platform that would allow users to purchase tickets through the app. He’s also eyeing a notification system for promoters so they can communicate directly with attendees, as well as a video feature that would allow events to be streamed live through the app.For those looking to develop their own mobile magic, Smalling says non-disclosure agreements are key when shopping an idea around.

“There are so many mobile apps and so many people looking to do it that until you actually have the means, people will copy you.”

And as far as the shopping itself, he suggests taking one’s time and getting hooked up with a good web developer.

“Find a company you’re comfortable with,” Smalling says. “You’ll find that a lot of companies are better at some things than others.”

Find out more about Where’s the Party At? by visiting wheresthepartyatapp.com, or find them on Facebook.

Gauntlet Hair – Gauntlet Hair

Gauntlet Hair – Gauntlet Hair

By Erik Myers

Gauntlet Hair’s first step out of the gate might end up being their biggest. Popping out of the blue early last year, “I Was Thinking…” was a massive-sounding and intensely fun single that instantly defined the Denver duo’s sound. It flew across the Internet like a lark bunting set ablaze, eventually landing onto ESPN’s Tim Tebow special. A win is a win.

All the technical tricks that made that song so compelling, like the cool guitar shimmer effects, are accounted for on this self-titled full-length. The album is by no means a repeat, with fresh, compelling melodies that tend to be narrower.

Occasionally they’ll reach for a similar sense of vast space, like on opener “Keep Time,” which builds on a smattering of symbols, rolls into a clap-along melody before dropping into a much more majestic end section.

“Top Bunk” is similarly structured, but with the delay effects ratcheted up, it’s more subdued.

Gauntlet Hair is one of those rock acts that make slow-motion music accessible. Andy Rauworth’s vocals might not cut through the packed layering cleanly, but they sound comfortably in-place in the mix. He sounds best on “My Christ,” an energetic track with a stirring groove and a shade of INXS-inspired flash, utilizing a stark mix of drum machine and Craig Fleischman’s real-person patter.
Towards the end, somewhere between the short bubbly slice of “Overkill” and the more untethered “Shouting in Tongues,” it becomes clear that Gauntlet Hair has successfully followed up their killer single and can now lay claim to their own corner in present-day chamber pop.

myspace.com/gauntlethair

WhiteCatPink – The LoveBalletGirl EP

WhiteCatPink – The LoveBalletGirl EP

By Erik Myers

The set-up is simple: Every so often, David Jacoby dresses up in a fur and spandex one-piece, slips on a cat mask, and slinks around downtown to the amusement of the gown and town alike. For being a spectacle, WhiteCatPink is rather laid back. He talks about life back on his home planet of Saturn in a purely casual tone; no cartoon character is he. Turns out he’s a pretty talented musician too.

The LoveBalletGirl EP is his debut recording – five tracks of smooth, colorful electronica, influenced largely by the works of Serge Gainsbourg, among others. Jacoby performs in every capacity on this album: drums, keyboards, synthesizers and vocals, switching back-and-forth between English and French in his full lush delivery. Using the classic electronica technique of repetition, Jacoby does manage a dazzling series of melodies, adding interesting touches to each.

Weaved into the throbbing club beat of  “Gitane” are a few cascading synth solos and Jacoby’s perfect French phrasing. “Dusk” has a similar (though less intense) aura, putting plinking key patterns over a bright but slow backing thread.

The album is without weak points, frankly. It just doesn’t get boring, even when setting aside its dream-dance theme for the final track, “Snow Bunny,” a lovey-dovey tune of straightforward pop with a funny rhyme scheme. There is some question as to who LoveBalletGirl refers to, but the slender pink ballet dancer on the back cover (and occasionally seen by his side on downtown strolls) would be this reviewer’s first guess.

If this excellent debut doesn’t win WhiteCatPink a few close admirers, love surely is dead.

Find WhiteCatPink on Facebook