Echobelly to Calm Of Zero (Twice)

According to various tweets, the band Echobelly went from Echobelly to Calm Of Zero (Twice). However, the heart and soul of the band, Glenn Johansson and Sonya Madan are touring acoustically as Echobelly. Frankly, I don’t see the majority of their catalog being transferable to an acoustic set, but hearing Sonya sing might be worth the price of admission alone.

Originally, I’d planned to simply discuss the brilliance of Echobelly’s third album “Lustra”. Instead, this will end up a pastiche of retrospect and review. After seeing an advert on facebook asking people’s opinion about a different well-known artist’s third album, I came across a response I absolutely loved. You can read it in its full glory here …

Next time you post a third or fourth album from an artist like this, you should just say “here’s the third album, start crapping on it now and bragging about being the first kid in school to own their first release”.

Brilliant Steve. I often have this chat with Tyler on the podcasts.

Second and Third albums are often incredibly overlooked masterworks because an ADD public can’t stay tuned into an artist long enough. This is certainly the case with “Lustra”. Second and Third albums often get met with label pressure and contract issues. Second and Third albums often find themselves stuck in a moment of time that sees a transition in public infatuation to a new “scene”. I don’t automatically pin the failings of a record in the public’s eye on the artist. There are a lot of idiots out there. I write this in the knowledge that two of the best bands out there now (SULK and The Black Ryder) are getting ready to follow-up their incredible debuts.

 ”Lustra” finds Echobelly at their best. Sonya continues to bring a fresh zest to her lyrics. She is a perfect example of how a child who grows up with a different language or culture in the home, often brings a different interpretation to phrasing and word use. You couple this with her astral and heavenly voice on top of quality guitars that bounce between pop and rock without becoming too sugary or too dull and you have “Lustra”.

Do yourself a favor. Take advantage of being able to look back without the dying “scene” of Britpop clouding your vision, and let your hearing enjoy one that got away. If you’re in the UK, you can catch them on tour. Make sure you tell them to stop messing about, and get plugged in!




Review: The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Years ago, when I was a younger and more misanthropic record store employee, a coworker of mine used to say that even the best bands in the world really only had 3 great albums in them, with very few exceptions.  Or more likely he said something like “It’s Modest Mouse’s 5th album? Fuckin’ forget it.”

Trouble Will Find Me is The Nationals 6th full-length release.  Let me start by saying I love The National.  I have threatened fellow writers Tyler Jacobson and Jake Ryan with physical violence in arguments over The National.  I honestly believe Alligator and Boxer were 2 of the greatest albums of the last decade and “Mistaken For Strangers” might be one of the greatest rock songs ever written.  But it seems that The National, like so many other bands before them, have aged out of their youthful angst and settled into a comfortable routine together.  Which, appropriately, are some of the themes this album explores.

In “Demons,” Matt Berninger sings “I’m going through an awkward phase/I am secretly in love with/Everyone that I grew up with” invoking a wistfulness over lost youth and the adolescent relationships that shaped him.  In “I Need My Girl,” he says “I know I was a lot of things…I can’t get my head around it/I keep feeling smaller and smaller,” as though he is looking back over his life.

These are themes so many artists have explored as they mature, which is something I can attest to even in my own writing.  And Berninger is, at times, even brilliant in his own acknowledgement of this.  In “Graceless,” he writes “Is there a powder to erase this?/Is it dissolvable and tasteless?/You can’t imagine how I hate this.”  And there is something to be said for self-reflection, acknowledgement of regret, and uncertainty for the future.

Trouble does have moments of absolute genius. Bryan Devendorf’s always inventive drumming gives “Demons” a pulsing sense of immediacy. “Graceless” has an extremely catchy melody and even approaches a dance beat, making it a candidate for one of the break out hits on the album.  But possibly the most beautiful track on Trouble is “Fireproof.”  It is sparse with haunting minor guitar melodies and delicately swelling strings throughout.  Perhaps this song best of all showcases Berninger’s heartbreaking baritone.

But, ultimately, much like High Violet before it, the album is somewhat lacking in the visceral energy of The National’s earlier work.  Which, as I said before, is no real surprise for a 6th full-length release.  To quote my friend Joe, it may be that The National is destined to become an NPR band from here on out.  However, given that the band ends the album with the line “You can all just kiss off into the air,” to quote the Violent Femmes, it is unlikely they care a great deal what this writer thinks.

The National – “Demons”


King Khan & The Shrines

VIDEO: King Khan & The Shrines – “Bite My Tongue”

The best news I’ve heard all day… (well, that’s not true – but it’s in the top 3.) King Khan & The Shrines have announced a follow up to What Is!? and released a video offering the first taste. Idle No More will be released by Merge Records on Sept. 3rd.

From King Khan:

It has been a lengthy hiatus, but we have finally finished our latest ‘masterpiece’ and named it after an incredible indigenous-rights movement that is happening right now called Idle No More

I was born and raised in Montreal and spent a lot of time on the Kahnawake Mohawk Indian reservation. Much of my juvenile delinquent training came from years of tripping out there with my best friends. I began the Shrines in 1999 with the blessings from my brothers in The Spaceshits, right after we disbanded. The dream was to make something reminiscent of Sun Ra, James Brown, and Otis Redding with a hint of The Velvet Underground, Love, The Monks and about a million other influences that riddled my LSD-soaked brain at the tender age of 22.

The Shrines was my pirate ship and we sailed many a turbulent sea, spreading our music ‘like peanut butter’ all over the world. We celebrated our cult ‘underground’ status and became the kings we are through word of mouth and by making an ‘aural eyegasm’ that has often been called the ‘wildest show on earth.’

Idle No More is probably the most refined piece of music we have made to date. The songs are about the state of the world we live in today. It took a long time to make, but we are very proud and pleased to bring you this album. I hope that the future will brighten up every time it is played. Ultimately, John and Yoko were absolutely right: LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED!

Peace and Love,

King-Bama Lama Khan

Emperor of RnB

3 Songs to hear this week

3 songs to hear this week: 5.24.13

Looking for some new sounds? Try these 3 songs to hear this week on for size. They are mostly new, save for Parquet Courts – but our friend Lenny has been (rightfully) on me about checking these guys out. I finally did. Solid band.

1. La Luz – “Sure as Spring”

Tour Dates:
Jun 28 – Portland, OR – The Know
Jun 30 – San Francisco, CA – The Hemlock
Jul 2 – San Diego, CA – VOID
Jul 3 – Phoenix, AZ – The Last Exit
Jul 4 – Marfa, TX – Padres
Jul 5 – Austin, TX – Hotel Vegas
Jul 6 – Fort Worth, TX – The Wherehouse
Jul 8 – Atlanta, GA – 529
Jul 9 – Knoxville, TN – Pilot Light
Jul 10 – Nashville, TN – Stone Fox
Jul 11 – Boone, NC – Black Cat Burrito
Jul 12 – Baltimore, MD – Golden West Cafe
Jul 14 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
Jul 15 – Boston, MA – TTs the Bears
Jul 17 – New Haven, CT – BAR
Jul 18 – Harrisburg, PA – The Makespace
Jul 19 – Cleveland, OH – Happy Dog
Jul 20 – Detroit, MI – Garden Bowl
Jul 24 – Denver, CO – Moes
Jul 26 – Boise, ID – Neurolux
Jul 27 – Seattle, WA – Capitol Hill Block Party

2. Alpine – “Gasoline”

Pretty much anything out of Australia will get me to pay attention. There’re so many good bands coming out of there lately spanning the spectrum of genres. That said, this song is much better if you’re not watching the video. -Tyler

Alpine Tour Dates
*supporting Crystal Fighters
†supporting Grouplove

June 1 San Diego, CA The Casbah*
June 4 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre*
June 5 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall*
June 7 Portland, OR Holocene*
June 8 Vancouver, BC Electric Owl*
June 9 Seattle, WA The Crocodile*
June 11 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge*
June 12 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge*
June 13 Brooklyn, NY Celebrate Brooklyn†
June 14 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall*
June 15 Toronto, ON The Hoxton*
June 17 Montreal, CA SAT*
June 18 Cambridge, MA The Sinclair*
June 19 New York, NY Webster Hall*

3. Parquet Courts – “Stoned and Starving”

Tour Dates:
MAY 25th@ The Black Cat – Washington,DC w/ Total Control, UV Race

MAY 26th @ Strange Matter Richmond,VA w/ Total Control, UV Race

MAY 27th @ 529 Atlanta,GA – w/ Total Control, UV Race

MAY 28th @ Murphy’s – Memphis,TN w/ Total Control, UV Race

MAY 29th @ RGRS – Denton,TX w/ Total Control, UV Race, Endless Thoughts

MAY 30th-June 2nd CHAOS IN TEJAS – Austin, TX

JUN 2nd @ El Cosmica FREE SHOW – Marfa, TX

JUN 3rd @ The Rhythm Room – Phoenix, AZ

JUN 4th @ Che Café – San Diego, CA

JUN 5th @ The Echo – Los Angeles, CA

JUN 6th @ Richshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA

JUN 9th @ 1234-GO Records – Oakland, CA – w/ Pure Bliss

JUN 10th @ Davis 4th – Davis, CA

JUN 12th @ Doug Fir – Portland, OR

JUN 13th @ Neumos – Seattle, WA

JUN 14th @ Electric Owl – Vancouver, BC

JUN 17th @ Neurolux – Boise, ID

JUN 18th @ Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT

JUN 19th @ Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO

JUN 20th @ Sweatshop – Omaha, NE

JUN 21st @ Triple Rock – Minneapolis, MN

JUN 22nd @ High Noon- Madison,WI

JUN 23rd @ The Bishop – Bloomington,IN

JUN 24th @ Magic Stick Detroit, MI w/ Protomartyr, Feelings

JUN 29th @ South Street Seaport 4 Knots Music Festival - New York City FREE SHOW

JULY 4th @ Eurokeenes Festival – Belfort, FR

JULY 5th @ Hove Festival – Tromøy Island, NO

JULY 6th @ Roskilde Festival – Copenhagen, DK

JULY 7th @ Metropolis Festival – Rotterdam, NL

JULY 7th @ Wereld Draait Buiten Festival – Amsterdam, NL

JULY 9th @ What We Do Is Secret Festival – Stockholm, SE

JULY 10th @ What We Do Is Secret Festival – Göteborg, SE

JULY 13th @ TT The Bear’s w/ Woods – Boston, MA

JULY 14th @ Space 53 w/ Woods – Portland, ME

JULY 15th @ Signal Kitchen w/ Woods – Burlington, VT

JULY 16th @ Il Motore w/ Woods – Montreal, QC

July 17th @ Horseshow Tavern w/ Woods – Toronto, ON

JUL 20th @ Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park, Chicago, IL

JULY 22nd @ Zanzabar w/ Woods – Louisville, KY

JULY 23rd @ Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar w/ Woods – Charlottesville, VA

JULY 24th @ Morgan’s Pier FREE SHOW- w/ Woods

JULY 25th @ Ottobar w/ Woods – Baltimore, MD

AUG 2-4 @ Pickathon Festival – Happy Valley, OR

AUG 9th @ Oya Festival – Oslo, NO

AUG 11th @ Flow Festival – Helsinki, FL

AUG 16th @ Green Man Festival – Black Mountains, Wales, UK

AUG 17th @ Route Du Rock Festival – Sainto Malo, FR

AUG 23rd @ Leeds Festival – Leeds, UK

AUG 24th @ Reading Festival – Reading, UK

AUG 25th @ Rock En Seine Festival – Paris, FR

AUG 30th @ End of the Road Festival
Curated by Boyz II Men – North Dorset, UK

AUG 31 @ Electric Picnic Festival – Dublin, IE

SEPT 2nd @ AN Club – Athens, GR

SEPT 6th @ Berlin Festival – Berlin, DE

SEPT 7th @ Into The Great Wide Open Festival – Vlieland Island, NL

SEPT 8th @ Bestival – Isle of Wight, UK

SEPT 28th @ Pappy and Harriet’s WOODSIST FESTIVAL – PIONEERTOWN – Pioneertown, CA

OCT 8-13th @ Austin City Limits – Austin, TX


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Gothic Theater

Several songs into Monday night’s show at The Gothic Theater, Robert Levon Been of BRMC asked the crowd, “Do you all still believe in the power of love and fucking rock and roll music?”  And the resounding response from the crowd restored our faith in rock and roll, if only for one night.

There are many different definitions of “rock and roll music,” but since its earliest origins, the core of rock has always been based in classic blues and rhythm & blues.  Many years ago, having grown sick to death of classic rockers like Zeppelin, Hendrix, and Aerosmith, I said something to the effect of “If I never have to endure another blues based rock band, I’ll dance naked on the roof in celebration.”

But the last decade has brought us a resurgence of blues based rockers like the Jack White, The Black Keys, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  This generation of bands base their sound not on their bloated classic rock predecessors, but on the blues legends of old like Leadbelly and Robert Johnson, creating a sound far more raw and authentic feeling than the blues based rock of yesteryear.  Throw in a little Velvet Underground, a dash of Jesus and Mary Chain, and a heaping scoop of a live show with edge and immediacy, and BRMC has crafted a sound that could potentially save us all.

BRMC  once asked us “Whatever Happened to my Rock and Roll?” And over the course of the last decade, BRMC has brought it back to us.  So yes, Robert, thanks to you, Peter and Leah, I still believe in the power of love and fucking rock and roll music.

Love Burns – live at The Gothic Theater 5/20/13


Conscience Killer – live at The Gothic Theater 5/20/13


And check out photos of the show on the Denver Post’s “Hey Reverb” blog


Rank Sleeve

The Smiths – “Rank”

In the interest of saving our ADHD friends from too much of a read, this snippet will hit quick at the importance of this record and the quality of The Smiths “Rank”.

“Rank” is a 1987 release. It didn’t come about during the band’s actual tenure, but posthumously as a contract requirement. I was recently asked about my thoughts on this record while DJ’ing the last CASUAL. I was asked by a person whose tastes differ on many different musical subjects, yet we both managed to come to the same exact conclusion on this album.

The Smiths legacy is massive. Actually, it’s unquantifiable. Most fans and critics will tell you that in order to “get into” the band, you should start with “The Queen Is Dead” or “Strangeways, Here We Come”. However, if you are anything like me, you’ll assess bands on their ability to translate their songs live. This is where “Rank” steps up.

My friend explained that it was easy to dismiss the band during his college years despite a particular friend of his lauding the band. He told me, “She’d walk up and say ‘Here!’ and hand him ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’  It was easy to discount.” It wasn’t until he found “Rank” that it clicked.

The reasoning for this is quite simple. “Rank” finally showcased what live concert-goers already knew about The Smiths. They ROCKED. Morrissey  and co. open the record with a breathless version of “The Queen Is Dead”. It doesn’t stop. Even when the album slows down for an amazing “I Know It’s Over” the frenetic emotional pace of the album highlights the poignancy of the tune. Johnny Marr continues to put at least two of the songs on the album into his current setlist. (“Bigmouth Strikes Again”, “London”) “London” being an absolute blinder on “Rank” and in Marr’s set.

If you feel the need to understand the roots of most alternative/indie, or you feel the need to reevaluate The Smiths as a whole, you should go right past all of the studio work. Grab the nearest copy of the Alexandra Bastedo graced “Rank” and play it loud.

NME top 100 Britpop Songs

NME’s Top 100 Britpop Songs playlist

Last week NME published their list of the top 100 Britpop songs. I decided to compile as many of them as I could into a Spotify playlist in ascending order. If you’re not familiar with Britpop now, you will be by the time you get to Pulp’s “Common People”, which holds to top spot according to the editors.  You’ve got many hours of listening in front of you. Thankfully, it’s mostly pleasant.

With genre mainstays PulpBlurOasisSuedeSupergrass and The Boo Radleys well represented in the list, the editors did their research and included many forgotten (at least by me) gems, as well as tracks I’d never heard before. It’s sure to provide some entertainment/enlightenment equally for those of  you who are new or under exposed to the genre, as well as those of you that consider yourselves connoisseurs. The playlist also serves as a reminder as to why those of us in the latter have been listening to some of these songs for the last 2 decades – solid writing and production have helped age many of these tunes with minimal wear.

Click here for the Spotify playlist

If you like this type of sound and you live in Denver, be sure to come out to The Armoury tomorrow night (Saturday, May 18) because myself and Jake Ryan will be spinning some Britpop (and baggy and glam and indie and and and….)

Danger Radio Podcast Episode 176

Episode 176 – Danger Radio Podcast


It’s a new episode of the Danger Radio Podcast! This may be the best one yet. We’ve got a load of new tracks mixed in with some absolute classics. Give it a listen.

The Laurels – Endeavor
Verbal Kint’s Gone – Doomsday Killer
Echo & The Bunnymen – Do It Clean
Parlour Flames – Manchester Rain
The Mighty Lemon Drops – Out Of Hand
Sulk – If You Wonder
Lilys – Any Several Sundays
Pete Fij & Terry Bickers – Betty Ford
Welcome Pariah – Neither Here Nor There
Johnny Marr – New Town Velocity
The Dandy Warhols – The Last High
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – When Joker’s Attack
Elephant Stone – Setting Sun
Division of Laura Lee – Rudderless
Weepikes – Nothing But A Soar
Throwing Muses – Fish
The Pixies – Alec Eiffel
Joy Division – Warsaw
Clearlake – Far Away


Songs I like: Ladies Night

By now most folks know where I stand on the present sensitive folk movement.  Mainly that I’m over it.  So today I thought I would prove I’m capable of more than just bitching and post some bands I actually like.  And no, none of them formed in the 90’s.

In my latest search for bands with balls, I realized a lot of the music I’m hearing and liking. with real heart, is being made by women.  Not that this is a revelation; women have been making substantive rock music for a long time, from Janis Joplin to PJ Harvey to Karen O.  But unlike other women I’ve known, I’ve never been the kind of fan who uses gender to differentiate musicians.  And as a musician myself, many of my own idols and mentors have been men, something which has never been an issue for me one way or the other.

My point being that in my ongoing search for music that is meaningful to me, in this never ending onslaught of watery goo washing across the internet, I wasn’t seeking out female artists specifically; so I was surprised to find women making a large portion of guitar heavy indie rock.  And yes, I know men are doing it too, bands like APTBS, Titus Andronicus, Metz, and many others along with half the members of the bands below.  But I think it’s nice that in age where many men are choosing to grow sensitive beards and play lute or whatever, more and more women like Marnie Stern, Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females, and women of No Joy are out there fucking shredding.  So, nice balls ladies, way to go.

Here are some of the others I’ve been enjoying:

The Joy Formidable:  A Welsh rock band formed in 2007.  This track is from their 2012 album Wolf’s Law

The Ladder is Ours


Ume:  An Austin-based trio just starting to garner real recognition.  If you don’t know these guys yet, you need to.  This track is from their Sunshower EP, not their most recent, but one of my favorites.

The Conductor


The Naked and Famous:  Admittedly, I haven’t loved everything these guys have done.  They can be a little sugar-pop for my taste.  But this song from their debut album, Passive Me, Agressive You, caught my ear some time ago, and I think it’s a great example of how a band can mix synth with rock to produce something both beautiful and agressive.


SULK - Graceless

Review: SULK – Graceless

SULK ’s “Graceless” is one of the Albums of the Year. It is going to take a massive effort from anyone out there to keep it from being The Album of the Year. I initially balked at the thought of writing a review for “Graceless”. However, when albums this good come around, I feel obligated to sing their praises.

What would have happened if The Stone Roses hadn’t wet the bed at the most prominent time of asking? Would it have sounded anything like SULK? Maybe. Maybe not. SULK is too much a product of their time to be lumped in as a throwback with the Britpop lot. What SULK really are, are a band that is the perfect storm of all their influences. This is a characteristic shared by all great bands. After listening to “Graceless” (if you’re not completely enthralled and looping the tracks on repeat) you’ll quickly notice one of the best things about this band… There’s room to grow, and you just feel it in your bones that they’ll follow it up with something worthy of, and possibly greater than their introduction to the world.

There is very little to complain about when it comes to “Graceless”, but I’ll do it anyway. The fact that their debut took a long time to get out is not entirely their fault. The band itself changed line-ups a couple times (but kept the same spirit), changed names, re-worked some of the current tracks, and dealt with delays of all sorts. So, some of the tracks on the album have been out for a while. This creates a little bit of a dilemma with the track listing. I would have swapped a handful of the tracks around because of familiarity. “Sleeping Beauty” is a dazzling track that belongs in one of the classic 3,4,5,7 slots. I’m going to assume that the listing was done with the attitude “we’ll assume no one has heard a note”. Despite that or even because of it, as a proper opener, I would have chosen “Flowers“.

Ed Buller (Suede, Pulp, Spiritualized, Slowdive) does a quality job glossing up what were already pretty shimmering tunes. This does however lead to moments in the album where you want a little more aggression, and you are met with muted drums or a guitar hook. That said, the mix overall is solid and I’m really trying my best not to call this record perfect. Buller does do a masterful job in highlighting what are some brilliant bass lines (“Marian Shrine“).

Let’s get down to brass tacks. What SULK have managed to do here, is write an album that is poetic without being overreaching or trite. They’ve given us an album that is seamless sonically. The album, much like the band itself takes on an honest arrogance without being self-absorbed or completely pretentious. Frankly, it’s hard to pick standout tunes, as the album simply moves from strength to strength. Both “Sleeping Beauty” and “Marian Shrine”  are superior to their previous incarnations. Newer tracks such as “The Big Blue” and “Down” highlight SULK’s ability to change the mood and tempo without making the record disjointed. One of the tracks I feel truly showcases some of SULK’s talented traits is “Diamonds In Ashes”. It introduces an immediate hook, launches into rhythmic verse, and then soars with fresh vocals, all the while a guitar weaves in and out mimicking and harmonizing with rewarding results.

In all honesty, you need to BUY this record. Do the right thing, and go through the band themselves. If you’re like me, you’ll buy two.