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Dying to Break Your Heart

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The sparsely winsome and uniquely haunting music that permeates Desirae Garcia’s newest EP Dying to Break Your Heart is far beyond an easy classification of genre, nor would one do music this powerful any real justice.

Sure, the songs arrangements on the album pay a certain stylistic homage to various American roots music and vintage baroque and psychedelic Pop, and the production from Colorado Springs production house Right Heel Music calls to mind indie darlings such as Neva Dinova and Rilo Kiley, but the irresistible draw of Desirae’s music lies in her voice. Always planted firmly at the forefront, like the the song of a siren luring you downward, the arresting vocal incantations conjured by Garcia can and will stop you dead in your tracks.

She has the unique musical ability to sharply express complex emotions with succinct wit and perhaps the most soul per measured syllable of any artist I have encountered to date.


PULP: In an earlier conversation we had, you said that you had recorded these songs initially four years ago. Why release the record now?

Desirae Garcia: It was actually three years ago, almost to the day. I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about releasing it ever since I recorded it. I guess I felt like there wasn’t any pressure to do it and maybe it just seems like the right time is now. It’s so overwhelming to get it back and try to put it  out right away. Two years ago I was like okay I’m ready to put out but it was poor timing then. So finally, I just decided to do it and just ripped the bandaid off and be brave and put it out to the world. Also, I decided that since I still liked it after three years that it was maybe still a good album.

Do you feel like write songs the same way now, years later? Have you shifted at all musically?

No, I feel like it’s all extremely similar still. I feel like I write really different when it comes to writing songs for the (Haunted) Windchimes than when I’m kind of just writing for myself. Ill Fitting sort of bleeds into this new record, which is still like super similar to how I write.

You write differently for the Haunted Windchimes songs?

I definitely feel like when I’m writing for the ‘Chimes I tried it and go out of my way to keep that sort of upbeat Folkie style, which is not something that I do naturally. I’m always writing sort of like emotionally driven self analysis for my songs, and when for the ‘Chimes I try to actually not write from an emotional place as much, and keep the tempos up that night keep the energy upfront.

What kind of mood do you think Dying to Break Your Heart gives off?

Hmm. I think it’s like, mildly jaded with like a little bit of hope. (laughs) Maybe? There are moments of the sort of of getting older and how it’s hard; hard for me I guess. I’m getting older, and it’s hard, and then they’re also these moments of determination to be happy, too. It’s a heavy and light record at the same time.

Interesting.

Yeah, I don’t know. It’s so weird. I think it’s maybe a byproduct of trying to evolve musically, but finding myself sort of like repeating the same cycle all the time. I find myself telling myself “you can’t sing about the same themes over and over again”, and I think that when I try to stop doing that is when the tone shifts.

Do you feel like you’re trying to fight against the way you write songs?

Yeah, but it doesn’t make any sense. Because I feel like the better songs I write are the ones where I just kind of give into what I feel like is the natural pattern anyway.

 

How was working with Right Heel Music on the recording?

He’s so great! I mean, the reason that I worked with them in the first place is I was talking to Adam (Hawkins/engineer at Right Heel Music) one night. We were having drinks, and I was telling him how much I love the first EP of It’s True! that he had recorded on a four track tape recorder. I was telling about how that EP was what inspired me to view do a four track recording of my own. Half a year later or so I went and started recording with them in the basement of their house, which is where Right Heel was at the time. And and was such a great environment; real mellow. Perfect for the kind of music that I do, which is pretty like simple and quiet.

It got to be my wintertime ritual; I always went up by myself, which was pretty cool. I always play music with other people all the time; I’m never doing it alone, so it was really interesting to like, pack up all my instruments in the car and like drive to Colorado Springs and I work for five or six hours, grab some fast food, and then drive home. I loved it.

You talked about the fact you always play music with other people. Is it a lot different to play solo shows?

It’s super scary sometimes. I think it it becomes less scary the more often you do it; I’m not used to the feeling of being by yourself on stage, but I don’t do it all that often, but enough to not feel terrified I guess. When I do play solo sets, I like to still put together a backing band to support me, which makes me feel a little less terrified. But it is really something to put yourself out there as like the front person for your songs and ideas, and to take ownership over the songs that you write and the feelings that you had when you wrote the song to begin with. It’s a very vulnerable feeling.

One of my favorite aspects of Dying to Break Your Heart is the really great use of the audio space. But is it weird to have that space when play these songs live?

There’s actually a song on the record called Do You Know, and it’s the most heavily produced on the album. Adam handled the production on it, which I love. It’s got his wizard sonic magic happening all over it, and it’s very formally dressed up. If this if this album were a runway fashion show it would be the ball gown at the end of the show. But I feel like that song in particular is like really kind of like sparse and redundant; it’s just a verse and a chorus verse and a chorus, it doesn’t really ever build, it doesn’t really ever change. And I really enjoy that for some reason. But at the same time, if I’m sitting on stage by myself in front of an audience I feel like I get lost inside of like the repetitiveness of the song,  and I get self conscious about it. Can the audience stay with me you know if I’m bored I they’re probably bored. So I really about that stuff,  how adding instrumentation to change the vibe is really helpful, but at the same time I love the sort of like droning aspect of it. There’s a time and place for everything though. (Laughs)


Dying to Break Your Heart from Desirae Garcia is out officially October 8th, with a run of release shows to follow. Dates, info and most importantly the album itself available at inplanes.com

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It’s a Punky Reggae Party with Pueblo upstarts Might of Henry

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via Eyeworm Photopraphy

Smooth Ska-Punk | Might of Henry

Like a jump-up jolt of electric shock to the heart, Pueblo’s Might of Henry are here to win hearts and minds with their uplifting jazz-laced ska/reggae consortium. Proudly “Recorded in multiple basements and living rooms” in Pueblo, CO, the Push for Progress E.P., while at times is a touch wanting in clarity, is no less a groove-heavy, well put together and entertaining one way ticket to Jam City, USA.


Darkwave Electronica | Cutworm

Head Trash from Denver’s Cutworm is on some next level ish. At times a touch unsettling in the ears, these seven tracks are the audio equivalent of puttin’ an escape room in a hot nightclub that you’re not sure they’ll let you out of. Dark, pulsating, and heavily distorted, these tracks are an electronic experiment in the macabre meeting the modern club banger, and I’m all in.


Wide-Open Heartland Punk | Sleep Union

Full of big hooks and undeniable sense of resolve, the four tracks on Sleep Union’s Downed in the Harbor dance delicately and defiantly between the indie-fed punk rock charm of early Rise Against and the sharp musicality and bite of Oklahoma City’s best kept punk rock secret Red City Radio, offering huge wide open songs sounding like the alternative-laced punk rock score for your new favorite movie.


Modern Alt-Rockers | The Timberline

Alternately sweet and sultry, Autopilot from Fort Collins three-piece, Timberline, is a shot in the arm of alternative-minded indie rock and modern pop-punk swagger, funneled through some seriously great songwriting and sharp production destined for bigger radio audiences and tons of airplay if they keep this up!

 

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

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Stand By This Man: A Talk with Andy Hamilton & the Rocky Mountain Contraband

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It’s no secret to anyone listening that country music, once a proud American traditional style made up of Appalachian roots, blues, and European folk traditions, just ain’t the same. Gone are the homespun recordings and the cowboy tales. In its wake, a new version oft dubbed pop or “crossover” country has taken its place and taken over the charts, largely while eliminating many of the tenets and traditions that made this uniquely American art form what it was.

But there are still plenty of artists interested in country music as a continuation of tradition. While not technically or sonically as rudimentary as early country acts sounded, (his music has the twang and production of late 60’s and 70’s legends Merle, Waylon and Willie) Denver based Andy Hamilton and his Rocky Mountain Contraband have serious chops and a back-to-basics approach all their own. Taking sounds and cues from those AM radio crooners and American outlaws and bringing them into our modern conscience with an updated sense of humor is more than enough for me. The superb songs on their newest self-titled offering bear that out, but Andy Hamilton and Co. have something even more important. Something that’s absent in the modern era of auto-tuned artists and hick-hop charlatans masquerading as country music: real soul, undeniable musicality, and songs made with honesty and heart.


How did you get your start in country music? Was the genre something you always enjoyed, or did you come to it later in life?

Andy Hamilton (guitar/vocals): I grew up hearing country and southern gospel from my granddad; he was a southern Baptist preacher and used to have a radio show in Knoxville, TN. It always gave me some kind of sentimental feeling hearing that music, but it wasn’t ‘til I was in my 20s that I really discovered an appreciation for it. Over the years I had written a handful of country songs, never expecting to do anything with them. But then maybe five years back a good buddy of mine got cancer and when I was asked to contribute a tune for a benefit compilation, I recorded this sorta gunfighter ballad I used to play. After the comp came out I got a slew of emails from venues wanting to book us, so I figured alright, maybe it’s time to put together a country band.

Have you played any other styles before country? Do you think they’ve informed your music now?

Oh yeah, I played in rock-n-roll bands since I was a teenager. I studied classical piano and jazz guitar ‘til I was maybe 16, then I hit that point in my life when I needed the exact opposite. I found myself totally enamored by all the classic rock riffs and just couldn’t get enough. Still to this day when I hear a Zeppelin tune or some Creedence I can’t help but crank it up. Just the other day The Rolling Stones came on in my truck; that opening riff in “Brown Sugar” and I got thinking how many hundreds of times have I listened to this tune and it’s still so damn good!

I hear old country greats like Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings, and the Flying Burrito Brothers in your sound; but are there any modern practitioners and musicians you take from, country or not?

There are some really amazing singers and musicians doing it right: Zephaniah Ohora is a country singer out of Brooklyn, of all places. He just released one of the best country records, hands down. My buddy turned me on to John Moreland a few years ago. John writes some of the most heartbreakingly honest songs and delivers them in such a way that you gotta have a heart of stone not to feel something.

Your music seems to take a lot from older country and western acts rather than modern ones. Do you feel you have any relationship to the modern country aesthetic or scene?

Classic country resonates with me more than anything. We like to draw from the old greats, then make it our own. I’m a huge fan of Faron Young, Roger Miller, Moe Bandy, Willie and Merle, of course. There are a handful of newer country artists who are keeping it honest; Zephaniah, as I mentioned, Amber Digby, Casey James Prestwood. I know a handful of players in the modern country scene; they’re all really great people.

How do you feel about the sound and style of modern country music?

Man, drum machines and autotune have no business in country music. I have to say this, there is a lot of music that’s churned out and mislabeled as “country”…it’s being marketed by the powers-that-be as something it’s really not. I’m not gonna name names, but I think it’s pretty apparent when some pop artist just bought a pair of boots and a new hat. Then there’s the recipe for writing modern country songs that just sounds like bros at a frat party: it’s so transparent and soulless. But some folks really like that stuff. I mean REALLY like it. It’s just not for me.

Can you tell me a bit about the Rocky Mountain Contraband? They’re an exceptional bunch of musicians. Where/when did they come into the fold?

I started this band a few years back with my good friend, Dave Barker. He’s a killer drummer and had been playing pedal steel guitar a few years. We wrote and recorded a full album, then ditched it. Playing country music is a different animal and we realized if we were gonna do this right, we had to really study the music and learn how to play our instruments. We didn’t want to come off as rock musicians “playing country.” You know? We didn’t want to fake it. Both of us play with Casey James Prestwood & the Burning Angels as their hired guns. That gig has opened some doors to studying under some really big names in the genre. I feel really fortunate for that opportunity and how it’s forced us to progress as musicians.

How long have you played in the Colorado scene?

In Colorado alone I’ve been playing since the late 90s. I was in a handful of rock, metal and psych rock bands. Here in Denver I had a band called Houses that was one of my favorite bands I’ve ever played in. There was some real magic there.

Do you enjoy it?

I really like playing in Colorado. People don’t come out to dance like in Austin or Nashville, but man, there’s so much opportunity to experiment with new sounds onstage and the crowds are really accepting.

Anything you’d like to see more or less of in Colorado music?

I would love to see more country players. We live in the West; this is it, man! But where are the country players? We’ve got a good collection of bands here, some are more true to classic country and some are doing their own thing. I just hope it continues to grow.

This album was recorded all over Denver in various studios. Was this happenstance or something you were actively going for?

It really came down to time and money. We did a couple tunes with our buddy, Chris Fogal at Black In Bluhm. Chris has a great ear and is fun to work with. The Christmas tunes we threw together pretty last minute, so we recorded those with our own gear at Dave’s shop. In the future I would like to spend a good week in the studio, getting sounds we like and really crafting songs.

 

 

How long did it take to come together? And how was the recording experience for this batch of songs?

All in all it was a few days. We had a couple guest musicians, so some of the instruments were tracked in Nashville, then sent back to us. The overall experience was a little disjointed. I really like to connect with the people I’m recording with as much as possible, and that proves challenging when we’re working all over the place. But everyone was super easy going through the whole deal and I think it all came together nicely.

What would you like listeners to come away with after listening to this EP?

Well, I hope listeners can hear the effort we put in and appreciate the musicianship. I would love more people to discover a love for country music. There’s so much more than the tripe what’s fed to us on the radio and sadly, much of that gets overlooked because people don’t know where to find it. But it’s out there.

Any release / show plans here in Colorado?

No release shows for this EP. We did just play a couple weeks ago and I failed to mention we had new tunes out. I’m not great with self-promotion. My plan for this year is to write, record, and release as much music as I can when I’m not out on the road. I’ll book a release show when we put out our first vinyl.

Sounds like a plan!


If you can’t wait for the vinyl from Andy Hamilton & the Rocky Mountain Contraband, head over to rockymountaincontraband.bandcamp.com to nab the digital release to hold you over.

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Denver’s SPELLS are the only Rock N’ Roll Juggernaut that can save you now.

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All Live Photos by: Seth McConnell. Promo Shots by: Crystal Allen

Now at an astounding mix of 14 singles, splits EPs and full length records over a paltry 5 years, Denver’s Vacation Rock crushers SPELLS (yeah, you heard me, all caps) are back on their proverbial bullshit again with their newest ripper Big Boring Meeting. From day one, SPELLS has excelled at bringing forth the kind of frenetic and feverishly revved up garage punk that makes their records and live events a high energy dance party for anyone within earshot, and Big Boring Meeting ain’t changin’ a damn thing.

All Live Photos by: Seth McConnell. Promo Shots by: Crystal Allen

Live Photo by Seth McConnell / Promo Shots via Crystal Allen

From the initial pummeling of its’ first track Deceiver, the tempo and intensity of this record is full throttle; an unstoppable amalgamation of Pop-fury and unchained melody intertwined. The EP, which clocks in at just under the 10 minute mark, is a controlled chaos of surf rock and garage punk gut punch delivered straight to the solar plexus.

 

 

But what also bears repeating is the underlying power pop-ness of it all; for all it’s rock n’ roll savagery, the music of SPELLS is just as catchy and fun as they come. With a constant driving rhythm section and call and response vocals from the entire band (and lyricism from the acerbic-laced caustic resonation of vocalist L’il Stevie Shithead) the entire band rides the line between hardcore punk and jagged pop with an unholy gusto that dares you to keep up!


Bonus Alert! Right now, SPELLS is offering their entire discography for $9.25 via their label Snappy Little Numbers and Bandcamp, which is too much killer rock n’ roll for most to handle. Don’t be scared. (spellsrules.bandcamp.com)

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