16
Jun
21

They’re back…

We lived a period where our social calendars were blank. Our live music calendar was empty. I used the virtual show to plan date nights and become excited about something. The optimistic music fan in me knew that live music would roar back. When it all began, those in the know threw out mid-2021 or even 2022 for a resurgence. At the time, it was hard to fathom. An entire year without stepping into a venue, experiencing our favorite acts, and being able to forget everything else happening around us for a 90-120 minute set disappeared.

Denver is fortunate to be home to Levitt Pavilion, a non-profit music venue housed centrally to most. It’s part of the Levitt Foundation, a group dedicated to utilizing underused green spaces and turning them into accessible venues for all to experience the performing arts. It’s outdoors, has an impressive sound system, family friendly, and continues to bring in a diverse lineup. On paper, one would imagine the acts frequenting a place of this nature would be local or mediocre. But it continues to be the opposite: respectable names I want to see. Over its four years, this venue is a host family to acts from all around the world. Yesterday I did a double take on their email announcement: Moenia and Ozomatli are being added to their Free Summer Concert Series.

Both acts were my early instructors in the art of the Spanish language. Ozomatli, a Los Angeles act fusing all vibes and genres seamlessly together to get you up and move, has a formidable strife over injustice and inequality. An act sure to surge and burn in an outdoor setting. And Moenia, a synth-heavy trio hailing from Mexico City armed with pulses, beats, and a dark pop aura. It’s an updated Latin-centric Depeche Mode.

Though I’ve slowed down, and my priorities have radically changed, live music is a necessary staple for a fulfilled existence. Let’s step back out, bust a move, change up the routine, and experience live music again. It’s worth it!

08
Jun
21

Weezer’s SS2K…

True creatives rarely lie dormant. Regardless of what’s happening within them or around them, their mind doesn’t settle. They continue to create. Rivers Cuomo is known for his prolific nature. My guess is when he was at his lowest, putting out his thoughts into poetic form might have been his cathartic therapy. Weezer’s hiatus was brought to my attention recently when I read through Stereogum’s Anniversary review of their controversial, fleeting 3rd record: The Green Album.

Stereogum writes up storied albums after a decade or two of existence. These can be fascinating reads; or great reminders of lost albums from our past. Pitchfork has been doing something similar: reviewing older records that were never reviewed on their site. Each Sunday, they present a new addition. When they’re on, holy shit are they on. But it’s Stereogum’s less formal, bar stool-like dissection Anniversary reviews and their subsequent user comments that propel me to listen with new ears. Stumbling upon these essays on records from my past, I’m drawn in by fresh perspectives, lost tidbits, and mentions of unreleased and unbeknownst to me material.

Searching for unreleased records used to be a routine activity pre-streaming. It was easy to run out of new things to hear if you hadn’t been to the record store lately, or you’re caught up on leaks, miscellaneous b-sides, and live recordings. There was a surplus of MP3s available at our disposal. But today, that choice in what to hear is exponentially greater thanks to streaming. It’s almost impossible to fathom excavating the depths of the Internet for an unreleased record that isn’t commercially available to hold or stream – MP3s are where these unreleased records breathe.

As a young music fan of the 90s, the Blue Album was everything; powerful guitar play, raw vulnerability, melodic and hook heavy power pop. It’s a flawless record that has impeccably aged and one that deserves to be played loud. At the time, Pinkerton was what it was for most everyone else: a disappointment. I wrote off this quirky quartet as quickly as I fell for them. But as time went on, and the backlash dissipated and completely flipped itself on its head, I came around to what wasn’t a sophomore jinx. Weezer’s 2nd full-length was emotional brilliance brimming with memorable melodic hook after fuzzy power pop punch. This act had seemed to disappear though, I was hungry for more material.

Fast forward four years from Pinkerton’s release and the band is on a Comeback Tour. Rivers wasn’t sitting around dormant. They created an album’s worth of new material now dubbed Summer Songs 2000 that was demoed and debuted live as they were building steam for the release of their 3rd record. While reading Stereogum’s review, the writer referenced an unreleased record. Wait, the period where this Los Angeles act was perhaps their strongest birthed another album?

“The Green Album” Turns 20

06
May
21

Lights Up, Let’s Make Moves…

It turns out there isn’t only one Australian dynamic duo constructing beats and grooves. Perhaps Flight Facilities are bouncing harder than the archeologists, there isn’t a doubt their latest “Lights Up” with Compton’s Channel Tres bumps. His deep, smooth G-Funk spit accentuates this hard to sit still beat. As the song kicks off, Tres speaks of hitting him up earlier because the collaboration of Facilities with Tres on the vocals could be crazy. The energy of this combination is addictive, it’s hard to sit still and not want to strut into the club, throw up your arms, and immediately make moves.

04
May
21

Roisin and Crooked Man’s Alternate Machine…

The amount of remixes constructed on a yearly basis is incalculable. Which is okay because most fall flat and are an inferior product to its original. This caliber of shoddy work exists in all artistic formats. We as listeners, consumers, and those in need of something more desire the best experience. The creative process rarely has only one ideal end product. But certain projects do require the right artist.

We have a contractor who specializes in houses like ours. His specialty is repairing, updating, and building better homes. By choice, he’s exclusive to this neighborhood because there is a similarity that these homes share: their period of origin. Most are a century plus old. This craftsman understands the ins and outs of these homes. When someone desires a reinterpretation of their current home, it’s not even a question of who you need. When Roisin Murphy gave her blessing to a complete reinterpretation of last year’s Roisin Machine, she didn’t hesitate to grant her producer Crooked Man full access to the record’s DNA.

Roisin Machine is a brilliant, near perfect dance record with Chic-grooves and an energetic bounce crafted for long, sweaty nights on the dance floor. Crooked Machine is a record by its original producer to be another way of viewing these themes of regret, lust, and the entrepreneurial spirit to create your own happy ending.

Calling this a remix album doesn’t do it justice. Most remixes fall flat and are as functional as chewed up gum, used floss, or a poorly aged record. It’s far from a sequel to last year’s monster Machine; this is an album that doesn’t need an accompany piece, it formidably stands on its own.

If Version I was full of shimmer, illuminated multi-color floors, and steamy tales from front to back, Version II hits harder with traces of techno and heavy house; each track is allowed to build around a pulse with Murphy’s voice scattered throughout. The evening has just began, drop that needle on Roisin Machine, let your party come alive with its raw, upbeat energy. As the evening progresses, and some begin to bow out, grab your Crooked Machine record sleeve and inject the dedicated with a dose of heavy hitters. Both are soundtracks to lose ourselves to. It’s gonna be your choice which sound is going to get you lost in the groove because in the end, both are meant for a lifetime of dancing.

28
Apr
21

I’m Perfect…

I’m a guy, I so happen to be white, too. I got it easy. But the opposite sex, regardless of race, though that compounds the challenges, is a different story. There is a societal expectation for women to look a certain way and act a certain way. You’re not perfect if you don’t fit that mold. It’s not right, far from even beginning to be fair. Thankfully, we have strong women standing behind the microphone armed with instruments of mass destruction. With fierce, insightful vocals, and riot-inducing instrumentation, Philadelphia’s Mannequin Pussy want to grab you by the collar and shake all misogynistic BS out of our not trying hard enough society with their latest single, “Perfect”. A blistering tsunami of a track off the forthcoming Perfect E.P. set for a May 21 release.

When you’re redlining, going forth with everything you have in the moment, you can only sustain a short duration. Why not plug in, crank the dial, and ramp up the intensity for a mesmerizing 82 seconds? Front woman Missy Dabice vehemently confronts this societal dilemma over raging, burst an ear drum instrumentation. A peaceful demonstration will only get you so far. If you want to truly stir shit up, cause a ruckus, and get someone’s attention to shift society’s mis-actions, you have to come armed with the immense power this punk trio is brandishing all over “Perfect”.

Look at my body/Tell me it’s it

Tell me I’m royal/Tell me I’m rich

Kiss all my holes/Call me a bitch

Tell me I’m perfect/Tell me I’m “It”

14
Apr
21

Crooked Machine…

When is your artistic endeavor finished? After the 102nd iteration, can you declare it ready to ship? I dunno, really you could work on something forever and not be satisfied; or not achieve the point of perfection you had envisioned upon that first spark. Something can always be moved around, said differently, played in another key, or looked at through an entirely different lens than you initially viewed it through. Last year’s triumph still holds endless potential. All it needs is to be reimagined and then rebranded.

Soulwax took their 2004 rock meets groove explosion Any Minute Now and let it spin around for a year before they reinterpreted it as Nite Versions. Where the former involved plugging guitars into amps and turning the dial to 11, the latter was meant for the club with its dirty, loud electro. Both excellent releases with their own unique sound and objectives. Roisin Murphy stepped into the laser heavy disco club last year with DJ Parrot, AKA Crooked Man, to create one of last year’s most heavily played records with Roisin Machine. Safe sounds, hypnotic grooves, a propellant for my day with its heavy house bounce. Everything about this infectious sound was what I ask of a dance record. But perhaps this album was only the beginning, the man behind the boards takes the original blueprint of this record and reimagines it as Crooked Machine.

Crooked Man takes the record opener “Simulation” and runs it through a breezy pulsating processor to create “Assimilation”. Maybe a remix of the original, maybe what was intended to begin the album. Regardless, this soon to be released record has Roisin stating about her collaborator and his latest output, “I left him and Fat Dave to their own devices on this and they have outdone themselves! I absolutely love it!! I think I prefer it to the original album, slightly less me and all the more ‘cool’ for it!”

09
Apr
21

Since I Left You…

Jesus, I can’t spin The Avalanches debut without hearing something new almost every time. With over 900 samples used to create something original, dreamy, and damn catchy, it’s no wonder each listen yields a new discovery. It’s been two decades since its release. To commemorate, they excavated their archives to provide us with a Deluxe Reissue of what might be the most creatively engineered album ever. Seriously, name another.

These audio archeologists plucked out sound after sound from dusty, unheard records. This duo masterly assembled these samples into an intricate jigsaw puzzle that became one hell of a brilliant aural tapestry. The minds of this duo are otherworldly, not many can hear a snippet of a song or spoken word track and envision blending it with other sounds to create something unique. Let alone a song worth playing over and over again that seamlessly blends into other works of art that thematically fit into Since I Left You.

The mash-up world that came at us full force owes so much to these sample-happy masterminds. Where some records from that era sound dated, or at least their novelty has worn off, there is a timeless element to this album.

“I remember very clearly a few things – “we decided to not have any of our voices on it, which made it last because it’s a kind of transmission; nothing date-stamps it to that time. “Music lovers get it, and that’s what we ultimately are. It’s almost like an exploration of our relationship with the world and with music. “Looking back, I’m proud of this record as a pure expression of joy and love, heart on its sleeve and is free from irony.”

To whet our appetite for which is inevitably the reissue of 2021, The Avalanches share the title track “Since I Left You” re-worked by none other than Prince Paul, an uncredited 4th member of De La Soul. Who was a true pioneer in his ability to push the production boundaries of what a backing track could sound like. Prince Paul helped to lay the groundwork for The Avalanches to concoct such a genre bending mindfuck that is Since I Left You.

Prince Paul’s remix sees him injecting a whole new surging pulse into the title track. Where the original eases us into this genre hopping journey, this version scratches, incorporates additional female vocals telling their ex how it is, and adds an extra punch care of Paul’s rhyming. An excellent glimpse into what this Deluxe reissue has in store for us.

07
Apr
21

I’m Ready…

Opportunity may strike at your lowest point. It seems to hunt you down when you’re least expecting it. You’re down and out at work; but oh, shit, an exciting project now has your name on it. The day was already long enough, and you’re scheduled to attend this meeting; but oh, shit, it was just canceled – a gift of time. 60 minutes ago you were psyched to step into a workout, now you’re far from your house and out of gas; but damn, look what just rolled on.

There are different states during a ride for me no matter the duration and intensity: warm-up, huff and puff, feelin’ good, beginning to lag, and the adrenaline rush of near completion. Though I know a well-timed and appropriately themed playlist would generate more ummph and tenacity, creating a synchronized set of songs isn’t my thing. Instead, it’s a few E.P.s and albums placed in my queue upon sitting on my saddle. My spontaneous choices have been working.

The energy, the nostalgia, the impeccable songwriting, and the combustible instrumentation of Triple Fast Action’s Cattlemen Don’t is what I continue to return to. A great majority of this record is fully charged and ends up exploding sonically. Albums deserve to be experienced with headphones, the brilliance shines brighter, all the expressive nuances of each song ring truer when you’re immersed within that song’s world. Headphones almost force you to be present and one with the song.

While in the huff and puff phase of my ride, after a gradual, loose climb, my energy was waning. I was capable of staying in motion but the pace was the speed where being passed was likely. On a beautiful day, in a heavily populated open space, there is always someone creeping up. I own my age and how my muscle fibers aren’t what they once were. But like electrical paddles hoping to resurrect a normal heart rhythm, an under three-minute song possesses a similar capability: let’s rip! The surge that courses through my body upon hearing “I’m Ready” gave me an instant restart. I was ready for whatever was left ahead. This jolt of opportunity hit right when I needed it.

05
Apr
21

The Offspring’s We Don’t Have Sex Anymore…

It’s not a surprise this is 2021 Offspring. Back in ’95, they were expressing similar concerns: his girl was sleeping with his friends because she pegged him as a disease. The self-reflective “Self Esteem”, off 1994’s Smash, clearly stated its protagonist wasn’t capable of communication. He was okay with being steamrolled by his ex. Speaking up is hard, not many have the confidence and tools to initiate it, let alone be effective.

Well, I guess I should stick up for myself/But I really think it’s better this way

The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care/Right? Yeah, yeah, yeah

And as desired as sex is, it’s often the most challenging topic to discuss. The Offspring don’t have sex anymore. This is according to their latest single, “We Never Have Sex Anymore”, off forthcoming record Let The Bad Times Roll. Perhaps it’s because of their inability to voice their opinion, or simply state their instinctual needs. Maybe it’s a long-term relationship and no one wants anything to do with the other anymore.

Its lively energy presents itself as the ideal walk out song. Or theme song to some slapstick comedy of a TV series. A rolling rhythm, quirky antics, and horns make this sad and dark topic sound as playful as you wish your current relationship was today.

As corny as many of their hits were, there are hooks galore, sing-along choruses, and instant nostalgia. Cringe-worthy songs seem to never truly leave our psyche. It’s not a mistake this Orange County act is over three decades old and appears to still be pumping fists, creating potential anthems, and showing up in my Release Radar. Like you, Smash was on repeat for me in the mid-90s. Those singles off that record were hard to ignore. Any rock-based station had them on regular rotation. Props, Gentlemen. The industry isn’t conducive to you putting out more than a record, let alone 10. Let this single be a reminder for you and your relationship: speak up, keep lines of communication open, and know that if alt/punk veterans The Offspring are on a dry spell, it’s okay that you are, too.

26
Mar
21

Lifers Retour 2021

The rumor is we all have a purpose. Not everyone’s is created equal, where some might have a great undertaking, others appear small. But by no means less vital. Leaders seem to be more revered than others. And rightfully so: their responsibilities are great and potentially life-altering for many. This role comes in all forms and looks different depending on the field one leads in. During a global pandemic, one where initially no one knew what to do and what the rules of engagement were, many sat static. But some opted to quickly step up and continue what they do best: ROCK.

A decimation to the live music industry happened. For some, finding an alternative profession was never an option. As desirable and stable as some jobs are, there is a special feeling stepping in front of an audience, plugging in, and having music course through your audience’s body. For Local H, this is their purpose. Amps, drums, and uniquely modified guitars are their tools of choice.

We knew that one of the first artists to announce a national tour would be Local H. Last year’s album debuted a few weeks into the beginning of the pandemic. They took it in stride, knew their fans would be ready when the green light was given for venues to open their doors again. This Fall will mark the point where there is light at the end of this long, infectious tunnel that has been COVID-19 as Chicago’s Local H announce their Lifers Retour. Never one to half-ass anything rock related, the duo has secured 27 dates.




Upcoming Shows:

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June 2021
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