New stuff can be scary stuff. Even venturing into a new genre of music. But don’t turn your ears off before giving something a chance. You could be tapping into a brand new music obsession you never knew you had. And that is why the Indie Dojo is a perfect transition into the unknown world of new indie jams. We promise not to shove anything down your throat, but we do encourage you to at least give it a try.
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It’s no secret at all that The Underground Music Showcase in beautiful Denver, CO has become a mainstay for our Mile-High Ninjas, and as we’re just a day out, we are once again gearing up for another edition of one of the U.S. festival scene’s best kept (not-so) secrets. One of the few remaining music gatherings in the fair city of Denver to eschew the typical smattering of major label festival fare, The UMS boasts a lineup of over 400+ acts strewn across various shops and bars dotting Denver’s historic South Broadway district, and we’ve been salivating like one of Pavlov’s pit-bulls in anticipation of this year’s entry.
Headlined by a number of intriguingly eclectic acts including Poliça, Thee Oh Sees, Sunflower Bean, Allah Las, Lee Fields & The Expressions, and The Bright Light Social Hour as well as some of the city’s most promising acts like Flaural, Shady Elders, déCollage, The Yawpers, Inner Oceans and Sunboy; 2016’s version of The UMS offers us yet another tastefully curated weekend of music in one of the best settings possible. We’ll be out in full force all weekend, and in anticipation of this year’s festivities, we’ve put together a playlist highlighting some of our favorite UMS artists. Get your sunscreen ready, and we’ll be seeing our Denver friends in the sun all weekend!
Las – Buffalo Nickel’
Two Places At Once
It’s not every day we stumble across a stellar, up-and-coming artist from Boise, Idaho. In fact, this may be the first time we’ve ever written up an Idahoan. But, today proves that the state’s official nickname holds true, as we uncover this gem of a song, “Two Places at Once.”
If this is the first time you’re catching wind of multi-instrumentalist Andrew Martin, also known as Up Is The Down Is The, you’re definitely not alone. With only a small following of a few hundred fans, you’re in the unique position to start supporting him from the very beginning, something that holds a special place in every music lover’s heart.
“Two Places at Once” is officially coming out on this act’s debut album, Memory, which is due out on August 3rd. It’s an interesting blend of indie rock and R&B, rooted in sultry guitars, and powerful, wistful, and highly infectious vocals. Its calming yet bold nature gives the song a unique weight, showcasing Andrew’s affinity for acts like James Blake, Sampha, Radiohead, and Madlib.
The same music doesn’t work for everyone. We all come across that song that makes us say “Seriously. What the hell is this?” But you know what, SOMEONE out there likes that song. And that someone might say the same thing about a song you absolutely love. Like with everything, we all have our own tastes, which is why the Indie Dojo is the perfect solution. Skip through the ones you hate and repeat all the ones you do. There is something out there for everyone and if not in this week’s, there is always next.
I’ve written out and deleted at least twenty opening lines while trying to kickstart this album review. From inspirational messages, to thoughtful condolences, to moments of fear and frustration, my blinking cursor seems to disapprove of just about every set-up I can dream of.
Here’s the thing – I absolutely adored Viola Beach. From the very first time I heard “Swings and Waterslides,” I knew these youngsters were onto something big. It was just last summer. The days were growing shorter, but these four lads from Warrington gave my aging bones something to hold on to as winter’s chilly winds blew across Colorado. Release by release, I was continually drawn to their highly engaging, pop-structured tunes, each giving way to wide-spreading grins, incessantly tapping feet, and the urgent sense to spread the word about this budding talent.
Earlier this year, as most of you know, Kris, River, Tomas, Jack and their manager Craig were taken well before their time in a tragic car accident. I certainly don’t feel like highlighting that evening, though, as even in death, these talented souls have far more to offer than just a mournful headline and story.
We believe the best way to celebrate our sons’ lives is to release an album of their songs.”
If you followed along with the releases that preceded that night, you’ll know that they were rife with proper amounts of energetic percussion, playful guitar work, and anthemic lyrics that paved the way for happy, dancing feet across the globe. Just one trip through “Boys That Sing” should be more than enough to have you proudly belting out the chorus as you prance around your living room, whether or not you actually know how to sing. That certainly seemed to be the case at Glastonbury a few weeks back, when Coldplay covered that very song on the main stage.
While those three releases were more than enough to cement a lifelong legacy, we have a few more to add to our beloved collection. That brings us to today. As honored as I was to premiere Viola Beach’s debut song, I’m doubly honored to provide one of the first album reviews for them.
“Swings and Waterslides,” “Cherry Vitmo,” and “Boys That Sing” aside, this collection has hits spilling out from every seam.
Take “Like A Fool,” for example: Led by a sportive guitar riff, it immediately welcomes you in, taking you by the hand to the eventual chorus, which could be reserved for the night after your next break up. (Not that we’re wishing that upon you–but it happens, and it’s always good to have songs to get you through it.)
“Drunk” brings an expertly crafted blend of emotive nuances and danceable rhythms, offering an interesting juxtaposition. While the lyrics are melancholy, its healthy rhythmic backbone maintains a pace that’s will undeniably have people nodding their head along with the ripping guitar breakdowns and heavy snare work.
One of my favorite tunes in this collection is definitely “Really Wanna Call,” which beckons comparisons to legends like Paul Simon, and modern marvels like The 1975, The Wombats, or St. Lucia. While it will never see stadiums full of the singing fans it so rightfully deserves, it will always carry the weight that other anthems in its class do.
The collection is destined for greatness, regardless of the fact that Viola Beach won’t see so many of the world’s stages they was bound to play. Instead, their greatness will be held in the headphones and speakers of adoring fans across the globe, with more and more discovering how truly incredible these guys were.
Help embrace and share the legacy by picking up their album through the band’s own label Fuller Beans Records.
The close of the weekend definitely calls for a healthy dosage of dreamy encapsulating indie rock to help ease us into the inevitable start of yet another work week. Luckily for us, we stumbled across Denton-based Pageantry, and have subsequently added this lil’ beaut into our Sunday rotation.
“Vicious Wishes” soars with textural layers of piano, guitar, and soft, rhythmic percussion, giving listeners a chance to escape the worries of day-to-day minutia for a full five minutes. It seemingly teeters perfectly along the narrow line between spacey psych rock and hip-swaying indie rock, somehow perfectly pulling in elements of both. We don’t know whether to lie back in our favorite recliner and get lost in our own minds, or whether we should get up and dance around. Maybe we’ll alternate as we hit the repeat button. Problem solved.
If you’re digging “Vicious Wishes,” make sure to follow these cats on facebook.