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10 Bands You Should Watch at Riot Fest ’15

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In this, the third installment of the juggernaut music festival known as Riot Fest, there are some acts that do not need column space (or bandwidth) whatsoever; System of a Down, The Pixies, Motorhead…Hell, Snoop Dogg himself will be doing a complete album retrospective of his 1993 classic Doggystyle. Even veteran acts on the indie circuit, bands like hardcore punk darlings American Nightmare and before-it-was-called-emo Emo band the Get Up Kids have considerable fan bases that will be attending to see them. There are, however, plenty of up and coming or just plain hungry bands and acts invading the National Western Complex in Denver this August that are making sure that the entire day spent up to the headliner is not in vain. Here’s a quick rundown of just a few reasons to show up before the sun sets.

Jazz Cartier |  Hailing from the Great North of Canada, Toronto based emcee Jazz Cartier drops dense wordplay and even heavy ideas on his new highly acclaimed mixtape Marauding in Paradise. Pulsating and eerie grimy trap beats combine with stripped down tales of street life and personal psychosis, insecurities laid bare track after track. It’s introspective rumination fueled by hip hop bravado, and I for one will be curious how music this personal can play out live.

Cayetana |  A continual source of contention in independent music and the festivals they spawn is the lack of female musicians. Yes, the members of the Philadelphia based Cayetana may be of the XX chromosome club.  However, calling them just a “girl band” or “an all girl group” does them a huge disservice. Their particular brand of fuzzed up indie pop punk is fantastic and infectious to say the least, regardless of gender. Perfect for anyone looking to have fun!

Northern Faces |  Combining anthemic sing along choruses and plenty of vibrant and shredding guitar solos over a garage rock base, the three members of Northern Faces seem to have just one mission upon taking the stage; Rock and Roll. These New York staters give off a British-tinged electro rock vibe, and if their Youtube videos are any indicator, those in attendance will see a pretty killer and engaging live set.

The White Buffalo | The White Buffalo is the on stage moniker of American singer-songwriter and musician Jake Smith. With almost unholy amounts of Folk and Americana grit, and a shot of punk rock attitude, he and his backing band rust belt out songs at a blistering pace, like a George Jones LP played too fast in a seedy dive bar. If this is any indication of where modern Americana could be headed, we’re all ears. Bring your dancin’ shoes!

Rozwell Kid | The dream of the 90’s is alive with Rozwell Kid! These enigmatic dorks wreck house with their own type of thunderous Power Pop, harkening back to the yesteryear of the Rentals, early Weezer, and a booming 90’s Clinton economy. Expect gnarly guitar solos, expect lyrics about the Simpsons, and expect to have the time of your life! This is Nerd Rock at its’ finest.

Daye Jack |  Daye Jack is the truth. This Duluth, Georgia rapper creates music that is all at once experimental and recognizable, with elements of boom bap (old school) hip hop and RnB intermingling with modern electronic flourish, and still enough expressive soul sound to bring any old timer back to a sonically simpler time. Dude is gonna blow up. Say you saw him before it happened.

Skating Polly | Snotty, sneering and full of more killer hooks than a bait shop, the step-sister duo of Skating Polly are igniting stages all over the US of A with an ultra catchy Riot Grrl-style grunge-pop, tipping their caps to early punk and 90’s alt rock along the way. While still teenagers, these two have some serious clout behind them, with their latest release produced by Exene Cervenka of LA punk legends X and fandom from the likes of Roseanne Cash and Viggo Mortensen! This group is sick. Go catch it!

Pup | Bias alert; I am in love with a band named PUP. This Canadian punk rock quartet really melts my butter. You will find me front and (hopefully) center when they take the stage Riot Fest weekend. Something in their meld of modern pop punk, garage rock and indie that gets my heart racing. Combine that with intelligent lyricism and eruptive sing alongs, and baby, you got a stew going!

Cloud Cult | If you’ve been raging hard in the pit all afternoon and are looking to chill out and enjoy something different, might I suggest the splendor of Cloud Cult? Eight members strong, Cloud Cult has been active in various incarnations since the mid 1990’s, all the while perfecting a beautiful and shimmering indie pop sound, not unlike the sonic force of the Arcade Fire mixed with electronic elements a la the Postal Service. Gorgeous, transcendent and definitely worth your time.

Post Malone | We know what’s up; Sometimes you wanna meet the new bae at a music festival. We get it. And if you wanna dance up on someone, your best bet may be while dropping it to Post Malone. The 19 year old Texas bred rapper/instrumentalist started off in hardcore punk bands, but now boasts over 18 million streams on Soundcloud of his latest trap anthem “White Iverson”, so guarantee it’s just as hot on the dance floor as it has been online. Get you some.

Riot Fest and Rodeo happens August 28-30th at the National Western Complex in Denver, CO. Tickets available here.

 

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Soul mates: An interview with Colorado’s in/Planes

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I feel the need to take a quick second to clear something up—I watched the band in/PLANES get married. Not for this article, mind you; the ceremony was years ago. I have been friends with musical and otherwise soulmates Inaiah Lujan and Desirae Garcia for over a decade at this point (due in no small part I’m sure to our mutual enthusiasm and passion for local music). As a result, I have had the opportunity to bear witness as not only their music but also relationship has burst and bloomed into multiple amazing endeavors. Whether it was their passionate and spirited take on Dustbowl-era Americana as members of folk revivalists the Haunted Windchimes or the wonderfully intimate lo-fi solo albums the both of them have released over the years, these two have a continually impressive musical output and a charm that I have always been excited to delve into. Hell, they even played in my basement once upon a time.

But none of them have struck me quite the same way as in/PLANES has. “Radio Wave,” their first full-length offering via Denver indie record label GROUPHUG, is something altogether different; something wondrously unique. It could be their voices. THOSE voices—honeyed and harmonious—especially whilst entwined in the duets that frequent the songs of in/PLANES. It could be the melodies they create—a riding-high blend of 50’s sha-la-la doo-wop, 60’s sunshine pop and indie-birthed soul—that feels distinctly pop without the trappings of sounding glossy or over-produced. Where tons of modern indie acts are ready to make a loud racket, in/PLANES instead opts to let the grooves play out sparsely and intimately, with inviting musicianship and vocal performances that envelop the space surrounding them. Whether live in concert or in the car, the music of in/PLANES holds on tightly and never lets go.

PULP: It’s weird trying to formally interview you guys; being friends makes it weird to ask you questions in a regular way.

Inaiah Lujan (guitar/vocals): That’s okay.

Desirae Garcia (bass guitar/vocals): We’ll be semi-formal.

IL: Business casual. (laughs)

I did do some research though, and I realized that in/PLANES has been around for longer than I remembered. But this new album is your first full length?

IL: Yeah. This is our first formal release that isn’t an EP. And also first physical release. There is some intention with that. You know that we are champions of analog stuff; Cassette tapes are my first love; I grew up making mixtapes. And CD’s have always felt pointless to me, but for so long we played the game because you used to HAVE to have CD’s on the merch table. But this band has been pretty vocal about our disdain for CD’s; “Radio Wave” is only going to be available on cassette. You’ll get a digital download with purchase of the tape.

Speaking of which, what does the name “Radio Wave” mean in regard to the band?

DG: It’s a line from the song “Why Didn’t You,” a song that is actually not on the record. (laughs). But it’s the very first in/PLANES song we ever wrote. We wrote that song, and it felt like it was part of a totally different project; it felt different than anything we were doing. So maybe it’s a nod to the beginning of the project. We like to think of the song as kind of a breadcrumb to where we are at now.

IL: The benefit of this band is getting to take our time with things; to be more intentional. So now we have been releasing stuff retroactively. The EP we released just last month is stuff we had recorded from our apartment; “Radio Wave” is stuff we put together with Adam Hawkins from Right Heel Music and our drummer Carl Sorensen, and we already have another album in the works.

For me, it also has dual meaning; in/PLANES seems to always create this kind of duality. “Radio Wave” also musically reminds me of when people were only listening to the radio. It kind of plays to idea of this vintage-pop genre we’re kind of going with.

DG: That’s also the music that this record is really inspired by.

IL: The EP feels like kind of a sampler or mixtape for what we’re all about, but this full length is more focused; a little more of that classic pop sound. It’s a fitting title for sure.

DG: Also it’s 1,000,000% love songs; which is bad and good. (laughs)

When you wrote “Why Didn’t You,” did it feel like a song intentionally for a new project?

IL: I think it just presented itself that way; I had been toying around with some chords, and I had been trying to write a song and I didn’t know where to start with melody or lyrics, so I had Desi help me out and it came together really quickly.

In doing so, we realized that we hadn’t collaborated in that way with just the two of us since the beginning of the Haunted Windchimes. At that point, the ‘Chimes had already become four contributing songwriters and had developed a strong formula; in that way it felt like not exactly a departure, but something new that we could try and explore on our own.

DG: It came out really naturally and organically. And it didn’t fit anywhere, either with the ‘Chimes songs or solo songs.

Do you feel like fans of the ‘Chimes and your solo efforts are following you down this path?

IL: I think so. We are all taking a break with the ‘Chimes for now, but we haven’t officially announced that to our fans, so sometimes we’ll get messages asking where we’ve been and why haven’t they heard any news about the band. So maybe some people are a little resistant to it. I don’t know.

DG: It sounds different enough so that some people aren’t going to be into it, which is okay. The other day, someone left a comment on the Windchimes Facebook page asking about us, and another person commented back saying “you should check out in/PLANES and (Haunted Windchimes member Mike Clark’s) the River Arkansas” and the first person commented back “We just like ‘Chimes’ style music,” which is okay! You don’t have to follow us everywhere.

IL: The great thing about being an artist and a musician is the ability to shift gears and follow rabbits down different holes. And with in/PLANES, we’re already trying to get out of our own box and comfort zone. But the common thread that ties it all is that we write all of the songs together, and we wear our influences on our sleeves.

So if you had to explain what you think in/PLANES sounds like, what would you say?

DG: That is my least favorite question, because it’s so hard to explain. The shortcut i usually go for is throwback, vintage pop with some rock tendencies. And if they’re listening after that, then I’ll just keep talking until they walk away, because it’s so difficult to answer.

But like to go with vintage-pop, because if someone says rock & roll, I don’t feel attached to that. We write pop music; all the formulas, the lack of formulas…

IL: It does feel like something you would turn on the radio and hear in the 50’ or 60’s to me, but our modern influences still sneak in; we’re both big fans of hip-hop and country music, and it all gets in one way or another.

DG: Digital drums are where we lose a lot of people. They’re like “WHAT? Is that a digital drum?” And I’m like, “Yup, it is.” (laughs) It’s those 808 beats.

The electronics are really subtle in your songs though.

IL: I think so too. I think we just want to be able to write a song without putting it in a box, you know? But at the same time, making sure to trim all of the fat; which may be contradictory.

We’re not trying to write complex songs. I don’t like to have any rules, but I do like to set limitations on myself; almost like limiting your color pallette if you’re a painter.

DG: Not to be pigeonholed, but also maintain some cohesion. Present yourself in a way people can understand. I don’t like to tell people what genre of music we are, but it is helpful for us; it makes us more focused.

IL: Knowing where the line or limitation is and knowing how far we can push it over causes a tension we like to work under. It’s good tension.

DG: You can’t put me in a box—only I can put me in a box!

“Radio Wave” from in/PLANES is out 5/3 on cassette via GROUPHUG records, with a slew of release shows and a digital release to come soon thereafter. For full dates and info, head to inPlanes.com

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CO Springs emcee Che Bong goes outer limits on new psychedelic full length

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Electro-Soul Hip Hop | Che Bong – From the dusty ‘Amen break’ heavy loop-gone-psychedelic of album opener Telescope to the lo-fi space rockin’ of album ender The Paradox of Time, CS emcee Che Bong (of Bullhead*ded) has really outdone himself and the genre itself on Telescope to the Heavens. With an album full of immersive and challenging-yet-chill hip hop musicality that owes just as much to free jazz and psychedelic rock as it does to hip hop and neo-soul, Che is on some next level stuff.  Get. On. It.


90’s inspired Alt-Punk | Hooper – “No Monument” from Denver Rock City punkers Hooper does a couple things very well; it provides stellar songwriting and momentum building, gives a healthy shot in the arm of indie-slathered 90s era punk rock, and in doing both provides a direct line to the sonic and perhaps more importantly workhorse aesthetic of the nascent indie punk heyday of the 90s. Trip out on that, holmes!


Blackened Sludge-Punks | Worry – The newest EP from Colorado Springs heavies Worry is not for the faint of heart, smashing heads on the punk rock with a bludgeoning mix of seething sludge metal and intrinsically intense hardcore know-how. Monolithic and absolutely monstrous, the seven raw cuts on A Celebration of Suffering are gloriously bleak, blackened and smolder with an actual extremity that most other “extreme” bands often lack.


Slow Burn Indie Rock | Wrinkle – Mind melding and photosynthesizing the big hook power-pop of early Weezer and the Rentals with the wide-eyed indie bend of Neva Dinova and Cursive, Denver’s indie rock supergroup of sorts Wrinkle are a slackers fever dream; a haze of unaffected yet disaffected indie-fed pop rock that first and foremost rules and that is more commercially viable than them nor I would care to admit on their newest offering A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies.


All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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Raw Rock & Roll and dark Blues collide with Denver’s the Velveteers

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At only six tracks long, this brand new self-titled EP via Denver’s the Velveteers (Recorded on warm analog tape at Silo Sound Studios in Denver) is a half-hour long magic spell; a concoction of twisted psychedelic undercurrent and blues-rock guitar histrionics draped in the smoky and arresting vocals of one Demi Demitro. Demi, along with co-founder and multi-instrumentalist John Demitro, conjure the kind of gnarled, foot-stomping rhythms and riffs that have dual citizenship between the acid-laced Led Zeppelin 70’s arena-rock heyday and the modern fuzz drenched, psychedelic revival of now.

Musically, this 2 piece makes quite the racket. Raw rock and roll power and deep, dark blues mystique collide head on. If you want a band that can riff, look no further! You may snap your neck clean off from all the head nodding you’ll involuntarily be doing. Like a confession to the dark lord himself, the Velveteers pen the kind of dirty rock and roll diddies that are a conduit for the heathen in all of us. With lyrical gems like “You know just what your doing to me / but heaven knows what’s up your sleeves” (off of the sublime album midpoint “Bloody Little Secrets”), Velveteers delve into the dark and macabre underbelly of the mind and bring back blues-laced musical treasures for the world to behold. We should be so lucky.


“The Velveteers” is streaming (and for sale hint hint) via Bandcamp now. Live dates and more info on Facebook.

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