Coverage and the Bitchfest
Concerning the small bitchfest that seems to come every year when the Denver Post’s Underground Music Showcase winners are announced:
It’s a tough world out there. I heard a quote from a cop on the Late show last night: "We’ll never beat crime! Crime never sleeps, and we do." And journalists sleep too, albeit not very much. We’ll never be able to cover every deserving band. Some people, like Tom Murphy, come pretty close. But the rest of us try, and mostly do so without getting paid. It’s hard for everyone to get heard. Fuck, try being a writer. People don’t even read anymore, but they still listen to music. Show your tits or something. Try having a photo shoot where you all dress in white or something. Gahd!
Anyways, since there are so many bands playing the showcase, I decided to take on the task of writing a sentence about each band. Sort of like Sufjan’s 50 States project. And much like Sufjan, I failed miserably. Instead, here are a few rambling useless paragraphs (see: my Monofog blurb) on a couple of local bands, as many as I could squeeze into a three hour writing period.
American Relay: Big loose buzzing blues coming out of a small, thrown-together band. (If you’re wondering, it’s supposed to be a compliment – I like my blues raw)
Bela Karoli: Soft, slow, cerebral minimalism balanced by vocal warmth and whimsy. I also hear there are hot girls in this band.
Light graffiti conceptualized by Nina Barry
Blue Million Miles: Westword‘s Tom Murphy called them a "respite from the otherwise trendy sounds of today," and I think it’s a good way to describe them, although they are difficult to place, genre-wise. They’re blue-tinged indie rock. Here’s what they list as their influences: "Sudden stabbing pains, comets on fire, debilitating fatigue, frank’s wild years, pale faces, hunter thompson, whiskey, bottled Bud, whiskey."
Born in the Flood: I would characterize their album and live shows as being sad and moving. But this is why I’m a proponent for the single, for mixing songs up into compilations – you just might miss something if you gloss over an album or entire sound as a whole.
One day we were driving outside of Boulder, past fluffy green fields and horses and the sunroof was down, the dog was panting with his head out the window, and I was carving through the wind in waves with my hand, feet on the dashboard, sun blaring, and Born in the Flood’s "Low-Flying Clouds" came on the iPod. Childlike, breezy, sunshiney, remiscent of red balloons and chimes, swaying beautiful song. It was decidedly different than my idea of Born in the Flood, and it made me happy to put things on shuffle – to examine each song to get a more accurate idea of the band. The song works up to a decent level of energy, and then swings back into a moment of relief when Nathaniel sings, "It feels strange, but good." Like whatever was wrong in the other songs is going to be okay now. And then he starts blabbering about flames shooting out his head and I lose my grasp of what’s going on.
Bright Channel: A secret? I voted for them to be #1. I said what I had to say about them here. Honestly, #1 was a tie for me between them and EAOD. So I sort of flipped a coin and they won. Shall I return to the premise that music journalism is flawed?
Jim from cat-a-tac: Jim has this look; he often looks serious when he’s not. It’s one of his great characteristics. But he really is that serious with music. I feel like he’s constantly collecting sounds in his head; every song he hears, he either identifies it aloud or asks what it is. Hungry for music. It makes him the excellent songwriter that he is.
This is Jim. He wears striped shirts
Cowboy Curse: They bring out a flaw in my approach to music journalism. Here’s why. I can write exciting paragraphs about weird, novelty bands like Gil Mantera’s Party Dream, because they pull out all the bells and whistles and shiny things. But those bands suck compared to Cowboy Curse, and I can never express the enthusiasm I feel everytime I hear them. I can tell you that they’re a successful balance of extremes: political pop music, hard driving rock drumming with vocal harmonies, both raw and held together…no matter how I describe them, it just sounds lame. I’m flustered, and it makes me want to quit. You have to see it to believe it. That’ s all I can say.
George & Caplin: Like bashing Moby upside the head with a banjo! Like incinerating Boards of Canada in a prairie fire! Their myspace profile admits to being your average, "prototypical experimental-folk-space-rock." UGH! How very cliche indeed.
Hot IQs: I have a half-cocked theory that Hot IQs approach music differently, coming from the producer/deejay end of things. It’s as if they’re scientists, and have created a formula for excellent, clever pop music. Sometimes when they’re onstage, I imagine the Eli is a robot, and Bryan is a transplant from the past, and Elaine was created by a geeky audiophile as the perfect female. But I am kind of crazy.
Ian Cooke: Hi, I’m Ian Cooke, and I’ m a songwriting McGuyver. I would probably still be good with simply my voice and cello, but watch me piece together an ambitious, textured song with just a cello, looped background vocals and a book of matches!
Laylights: The verdict is that Laylights are like the Killers, with a big huge gigantic sound without the pretensious airs, that they could fill a stadium with their giant sound and infectious energy. I just hope they don’t pull the same shit Brandon Flowers did when they play Red Rocks.
Laylights photo by Nina Barry
Machine Gun Blues: God, life is so hard. I love MGB, so I guess I’ve written about them so many times, about Aaron in his underwear and people getting topless and spraying each other with beer, rolling around on the dirty ground, ah, that I’m bored of writing about them (but not listening to them). Hey! But I did discover that I just happen to be in their photo on the site, having my face rocked off. What a pleasant suprise! Let’s talk about me.
Matt Boyer: Hollow voice, sad songs.
Monofog: I’m not sure, but I think I went to high school with Haley and Doug. I’ll refrain from mentioning where, so as to preserve our street cred for future hip hop careers. But I will say that, if I’m correct, Doug literally won our school’s popularity contest. Got a crown and everything. This goes against all my hopes about karma. If Gene Simmons is as undyingly correct as I’ve been led to believe, popular kids in high school are not supposed to become rock stars. It’s the nerds who really deserve it. Damn you, karma! Where were you?
Nathan and Stephen: Happy, happy, fun, pop! Everything they play will explode into bubbles. Despite the misleading name, there are like 8 members in Nathan and Stephen. I wonder if they’ll all go at once for their DJ set? Either way, I urge the world to throw out the antidepressants, and I instead prescribe Nathan and Stephen. They are a raging, shifting, loud cluster of happy.
Pee Pee: Unfortunately-named sweet whimsical collective weird harmonic John Lennon singalong.
pictureplane: This sounds like the confusion of being human amongst an increasingly technological and media-saturated world, with blurry vocals and a lone piano amidst a chaotic synth background. "Future Step" repeats: "I wish I could feel just one more time."
Porlolo: Carved out of wood, twisting, smooth. Like a girl Neutral Milk Hotel.*
The Swayback: Dark, visceral, and every variance on their way to finding their sound has been thrilling.
Tarmints: Fucking god, where does it come from?! Classic, flame-licked hedonistic orgies of darkness explode out of the most polite, hard-working band in Denver.
Well, that’s all I had time for, that’s it for now, kids. Remember: this year, cellos are the new black. I will now collapse.
*I have a feeling that this comparison wasn’t made by me first. I want to give someone credit, but I don’t remember who you are. Who said this? Was it you, Ivyy? You get a gold star!