Ten Songs To Listen To Today

photo by Leslie Simon

photo by Leslie Simon

    Ten Songs To Listen To Today

1. Mystic Braves “Born Without a Heart”- bright, energetic 60’s throwback sound

2. Galactic with JJ Grey “Higher and Higher”

3. Blitzen Trapper “Coming Home” – sweet country swamp funk

4. Miniature Tigers “Swimming Pool Blues” – sunny indie pop

5. Little Racer “Punk Life”- reverb drenched chill surfpsych

6. Charles Howl “Garden Train” buzzy lofi garage rock

7. Cloud Nothings “Psychic Trauma”- pretty rock noise with punk energy

8. J. Roddy Walston and the Business “Heavy Bells”

9. FUZZ “Raise”- heavy, muffled fuzz

10. St. Vincent “Regret”- aggressively cool guitar driven pop

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Wake Up and Live with The Quick and Easy Boys- Photos and Review

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Last night local Bob Marley tribute band Wake Up and Live celebrated Marley’s birthday with a packed house at Cervantes’ Other Side. Thank goodness they took that elevated platform out by the bar, for once no one tripped there! With the new layout and coffee being served, the Other Side is fast becoming a favorite of mine. Portland’s The Quick and Easy Boys from my Jam Bands to Watch list opened, and completely blew me away. I highly suggest checking them out live. Rastasaurus were also on the bill, acting ever more like the polished touring band they are shaping up to be. Read my review at the Westword here:

http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2014/02/review_wake_up_and_live_cervantes_otherside_denver_february-6-2014.php

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I also got a chance to take my first promo shots, musicians are slightly harder than babies:

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Bands to check out at SXSW p.1

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Since I am a detailed person and a bit of a nut, I enjoy listening to every single band that is being showcased at SXSW before I attend (if you’d like a link to the detailed spreadsheet, follow the blog and I will put up a post when it’s ready close to three weeks prior with calendar). I’ve picked out the best for those that just don’t have the time for this daunting task, and will continue to through the festival, got my flights and vrbo booked, just need new ankle boots. These are my favorite groups out of Group 2 (with Group 1 to come because I accidentally did it backwards).

The Apache Relay- Nashville- Americana folk rock with mano and harp and Edward Sharpeish melodies and singalongs

Black Pistol Fire- Austin- TX rock/garage/blues goodness

Bobby Jealousy- Austin- big, bright happy pop

Brass Bed- Lafayette- reverbed out indie rock

Bully- Nashville- Juliana Hatfield-esque indie rock

Crying Nut- S. Korea- loud, crashing melodic pop punk done right

The Growl- Perth, Australia- sexy garage rock

Hurray for the RiffRaff- New Orleans- gorgeous female vocals, zydeco folk

La Femme- France- plain hot stuff

The Parrots- Spain- garage rock

Quiet Company- Austin- upbeat indie pop

Rey Pila- Mexico City- Scissor Sisters-like disco pop

September Girls- Dublin- grungy but pretty garage pop

So So Glos- Brooklyn- power pop twangy guitar goods

Spires- Brooklyn- jangly psych pop

Streets of Laredo- Brooklyn- fast paced folk rock

Troker- Mexico- funk with some killer organ and horns

Angel Olsen is going to be huge with this new album!

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Don’t think she is like all those twee, quirky singer-songwriters with weird inflections in their voices that you hear on every single car commercial, Angel Olsen is a true talent. When she played the Hi Dive last April, she captivated the audience, just her and her guitar. While a backing band eventually joined in, it was nothing like the electric glimpses she has been giving us of her album Burn Your Fire For No Witness out February 18th on Jagjaguwar. Combining her soulful, crackly Americana voice with fuzz guitar is a match made in heaven, and today she released her next single off the album, “Hi-Five”. My first instinct on first listen was to tear up when she croons “Are you lonely too?”, she somehow hits you straight in the feelings. This new album is going to make her a major star. Listen here:

Black Joe Lewis at Bluebird – PHOTOS

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The Monday before Thanksgiving I got a chance to review and shoot Black Joe Lewis for the Westword. As a long time fan, I thought the new material sounded great live, and breathed fresh takes to old material as well. Read my review here, and scroll down for some more photos. It’s time for a better lens.

Westword review for Black Joe Lewis

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Mike Donovan new album Wot is clean and strong.

large_donovan_mike photo by John Dwyer

Mike Donovan sounds like a city punk who went to the country and found out he fits right in. Former member of the grittier Sic Alps, he shows himself to be an extremely capable singer/songwriter with this solo effort. The single “Do Do Ya” has such a great guitar twang background slinking up the half step melody, sounding like early Rolling Stones honky tonk. His soft, almost muted at times guitar tone is gorgeous on opening track “New Fieldhand Bop” as he strums just ahead of the beat, sliding each note into place and giving the whole thing some sass.

The tempo of “Fly Them Yourself” drags too slow for my taste, but the energy is high on most tracks, “Sic Ballad” having a soulful “Hey Joe” reminiscent verse; electric guitar sounding just properly dirty enough. The spaghetti western horns and slide guitar of “Sexual Reassignment Surgery Blues” gives serious credence to a song that could be seen as novelty. “MP3 Farm” has a forceful downward strummed rhythm that begs for getting down, and a simple acoustic major key solo. Overall, it’s a really well produced album, he can write beautiful songs, and he sounds good singing them.

Mike Donovan “Do Do Ya” video

Muse and Cage the Elephant at Pepsi Center

Last night Muse stormed the house at Pepsi Center with a huge set production and far more sound and noise than I expected. These guys know how to be rock stars really well. The crowd was a total mix, and everyone was wearing brand new Muse t-shirts straight from merch. The band was giving all merch proceeds for the night over to Colorado flood relief, so by the looks of things they will be making a large donation. Above the stage were three men in lighting rig seats, hanging from the sky, and LED screens were all over the place. As the music began, a large pyramid of LED screens came down from the sky.

Muse photo by leslie loudspeaker

These guys are LOUD. I went in thinking they were a bombastic, less aggravating Radiohead type with more theatrics, but they are far more than that. Frontman Matt Bellamy is an obvious audiophile, constantly going back to his shiny metallic rotating amp and checking the sound. Live that theatrical sound is really huge and epic, and with the lights, political themes, and the crowd in unison punching their fists in their air, I almost caught a Pink Floyd vibe from the whole thing. The band and audience were on from the first note, and when they dropped into “Madness” you could feel the excitement bump up a notch. You could also see the lights bump up a notch, as suddenly tons of lasers were added to the already wild mix.

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They played hit after hit, and the audience really had some precision handclapping down. Ending with a three song encore and pyrotechnic flumes that definitely gave me a Pink Floyd vibe now, these guys ended at 9:58 with a slightly stunned and very happy crowd standing open mouthed. Gotta give it to Bellamy, he really knows how to be a rock star without you wanting to smack his face. He changes guitars as fast as I’ve ever seen, and looked especially cool with one slung across his back as he played his see-through light-up baby grand piano. Some people have the life.

Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Opener Cage the Elephant played extremely well to a half empty giant stadium. The last time I saw them was opening for Stone Temple Pilots at Red Rocks, and it was empty there as well. They kill it with what they have though, and you can’t keep your eyes off lead singer Matt Schultz. At times invoking Mick Jagger and somehow making it totally work, he slinks and spasms all over the stage, eventually coming down into the crowd, managing to stand up on their hands, and then do a headstand. I’ve never seen crowd-surfing like it. The crowd got amped when they played their hit “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked” and held the energy through to Muse, and their new material sounded great. All in all, a pretty bumping Tuesday.