The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase has made it through a decade! We're gearing up for a huge summer festival July 22-25th and there will be more bands than you can shake your SXSWangs at. Donnybrook will help get you up to speed on artists playing the fest. The first three are A. Tom Collins, Bad Luck City, and Candy Claws; words by Sid Pink, Col. Hector Bravado, and Lord Howard Bonneville.
Photo by 28 Deep
While it may not be nepotism, technically, there is currying favor via promotion in a family way happening here. I call that 'Full Disclosure'. There's another family trend of getting naked onstage. I call that 'Full Des-couture'. I don't do it, but my nephew, Aaron Collins, has made a second-career out of being out of his clothes; a technique he perfected whilst belting forth for Machine Gun Blues. But now mi Sobrino is a little older, a little wiser, married to the lovely and charming Esme of Paper Bird. A musical family, if you will. And his seasoned and hard-living past lend ample mass to his new effort, A. Tom Collins. This is the band that grumbles along with the desperate yet careless fortitude that it takes to make the unbearable elements of existence become compressed into a four-minute rollick that imparts both malaise and joy.
It's freedom; but not jumping-naked-offstage-punk-rock freedom - it's better. Imagine Tom Waits and Nick Cave trading lyrical and musical barbs with Leon Redbone and The Yard Dogs Road Show. No matter where you hear Collins, you'll swear the room was smoke-filled, underlit, and there was a vague menace in the air that was only mitigated by the songs themselves; enveloping everyone in a darkness, walking us through The Thousand Dangers of Life - with only Collins' smoky, rubbery, stylized voice to lead the way. Don't misunderstand me; this is not brooding music; the energy is Tenderloin dive bar, with manic turns by each band member, every song ready to burst with purpose; each note needs to follow the next; that's the tale.Check out the roadhouse charm and electric immediacy of A. Tom Collins at_____________ this UMS. You won't regret it. Only the things you do *after* hearing a band that makes you want to drink whiskey until you fall over.
Photo by Jody Dileo
I had the good luck to find Bad Luck City one night at the Hi-Dive last fall, where I watched vocalist Dameon turn out narratives hung in cobwebs and blood, that -- backed by Kelly O'Dea's violin, Andrew Warner's drums, the guitars of Gregor Kammerer and Joshua Perry, and Yassit Arocho's bass -- wind through forlorn byways before pummeling you in the face with climactic bursts of sound. Done with conviction, it was a fantastic device, and last autumn's coolest discovery.
You owe it to yourself to see them at least once. If you've seen them twice or more, you may have caught the last-minute mutations that Dameon will add to a tale with each performance. Then again, you may not have noticed, as you are usually drunk. In either case, do try to be cognizant of the band's forthcoming EP, at least one song of which should be rolled out for the UMS. Songs gestate a good long while among these friends of 10 years, who don't mind sitting on a song for three or four months until every chord and cobweb is in place. It's bound to be worth the wait.
Photo by Matthew Sage
When you first hear Candy Claws' In The Dream Of The Sea Life, you might think you're adrift amidst the most intriguing depths of a thriving ocean. The Fort Collins natives delve into the electronic in their new LP but they give typical 'electronica' a much-needed overhaul. Their hushed melodic instrumentation pulls you in and pushes you through a current of audio samples, lingering guitar riffs and melodic enjambment (much of which is accompanied by actual samples of the ocean).
"We just record in pieces," Candy Claws' Ryan Hover explains. "We won't lay down a whole guitar track for the whole song. We'll record a melody and we'll copy and paste it or put it in backwards or put it an octave up or something. We have some raw sounds that we deal with and then we do a lot of different things with those. A violin part could be re-sampled into a cello part and stuff like that."
Keep an eye on Candy Claws. They are likely to be a notable competitor amongst Denver's finest local artists, and don't pass up the opportunity to see Candy Claws at UMS this summer.
By Lord Howard Bonneville
Stay tuned! Donnybrook will be writing about our favorite artists playing the UMS up until the festival. We have festival fevah!