Denver, Colorado – I’ve Never Been, But Here’s Why You Should…
Finds From The Soundscape: A Glance At Denver’s Rock and Punk Scene.
Cover photo of ‘The Larimers’.
You may remember our article on Denver Punk n’ Rollers E/M/P back in December. In said article I hinted at a yearning for a visit to this fine musical city and since then, said feeling has only intensified. I almost ended up there for Riot Fest a few years ago but sadly wasn’t able due to that thing called money that seems to enable and disable everything.
Since then (again), the Denver-lot in my music collection has increased even more so, prompting this article. A side glance on some of best of the Denver underground Rock and Punk scene.
For the article on E/M/P – Click Here.
Serial Killer Sunday School
(Back centre, you’re going to be seeing a lot of him today.)
The 13th April 2014 saw a band form, a band by the name of Serial Killer Sunday School. Combining the breakneck drumming of old-school Hardcore, brief Ska flirtations and nods to some of Punk’s most notable from the last 30 years, they are a band hard to ignore. Is that enough though? Maybe? It depends who you ask but that musical punch isn’t worth much in the sound of SKSS, if not accompanied by the vocal and lyrical kick to the face.
‘Dealer’s nation’, ‘Jimmy’ and the title track from their debut EP Curbside Killers, are exemplary of such. They aren’t the most eloquently written songs, that can be left to Good Riddance or Bad Religion, but what you do get is sheer power, straight forward honesty and a visceral blast of Hardcore Punk-Rock. *Disclaimer* I love both Bad Religion and Good Riddance, I just needed to make a point.
It’s not alway all serious though, the band’s politics do them credit but sometimes, it’s better too…
Antirobot formed in 2013, played some shows and recorded a demo. There really isn’t much more to say on that. The band haven’t been the most active in recent times but that shouldn’t matter. Bands like this, the smaller more local bands have a habit if reigniting and wowing everyone, so heres to hope.
‘I’ve got an endless itch to scratch on my back, why can’t I think anymore?
Avoiding my confliction, it’s an easy prediction, now I can’t sleep anymore.
Get me out, I don’t want to see how this’ll turn out’ – ‘This Place Is Dead Anyway’
Sounding like a cross between Dillinger Four, Off With Their Heads and maybe a bit of Banner Pilot, the sound of the 2014 demo wasn’t anything new but what it was or indeed is, is a four-track run of raspy upbeat Punk-Rock that does says what it says on the tin. I’ll leave you with a very well titled number.
The Windermeres formed in 2012, and since then have released 2013’s Savor These Lies EP and debut full-length, Anthem Of The Recession Generation, an album which has not been without considerable airtime on my own personal radio.
The band’s style stands them out somewhat in both this list, as well as with their peers. Their Punk-Rock sound samples comes off as classic, but not without the company of catchy pop-like hooks and rockier structures.
That said, darker, harder numbers such as ‘Curse Your Sudden, But Inevitable Betrayal’ and the instrumental Punk-Rock of ‘I Swear On My Pretty, Floral Bonnet: I Will End You’ and ‘Letting The Wookie Win’, show that The Windermeres may enjoy a good melody and flirtation with bitter-sweet old-school Pop-Punk and rock sensibilities but are at roots a Punk-Rock band, and not one afraid to flip the switch to show you.
‘The dichotomy in the music of The Windermeres is part of the allure they bring to the table. Their variety attests to the originality and creativity of the band.’ – Extract from their Facebook Bio.
… and I couldn’t agree more. A satirical sense of humour infests the lyrics and track titles, showing that the band takes things seriously in a very non-serious way and that’s fantastic.
Photo Credit – Emily Owens.
Four-piece, Male Blonding, are the next on in this mine exposé of Denver’s musical talent, with their melodic, yet jagged and intense Post-Punk and Indie Rock. Post-Punk is an interesting genre in it’s contemporary form, as it hasn’t quite gone the distance on and off the track as it’s sibling Post-Hardcore has but is still producing some solid compositions.
Many such contemporary bands stick with the 80’s gloom and that’s perfectly understandable or if not, go down a harder Punk fuelled direction in favour of the genre’s forbears or even the bouncy up-beat Indie Rock root. Male Blonding on the other hand, sample each and so a bloody good job.
A matter of days ago, the band dropped their new EP, ‘Tiny Death’. The release could have easily been just the first track ‘Get Sewn’, as this six-minute plus number not only starts the EP perfectly but isn’t letting you go until it’s royally rummaged around you’re head and securely fastened you to your seat for the rest of this Post-Punk masterpiece.
The intensity of the first EP isn’t lacking, the quirks and the discordantly progressive aspects are still standing firm and the band’s appeal as more than just some other Post-Punk act that aren’t The Smiths or Joy Division, but sound exactly the same is stronger than ever; I.e this band deserve your attention and it’s time to put down that Smith’s record.
(There he is again, sporting the Circle Jerks this time.)
Formally 3 Grams Over An Ounce, the band formed in 2006, released a full-length in 2010, an EP in 2012 and then disbanded a few short months later. However, 2015 saw the band re-emerge with a new line-up and a new name and plans for new material, which is now underway in 2016.
In regard to their sound, Three Grams showcased and indeed showcase, a simple and straight forward mix of Punk, old-school Hardcore and Ska, all rolled into a space saving Three Grams of honesty Punk-Rock music.
Whether it’s the up-beat fist pumping anthem of ‘Raise Your Voices’, the snot-nosed hangover song ‘I’m Stayin’ In’ or the Ska-infused – “CrackRockSteady” of ‘Long Road’, ‘Shut Up Stuck Up’ and ‘Toking Methods’, the band have a good grounding for what is to come. It’s time to…
Kicking it all old-school, Denver’s Chemical X unleash a hard-edged barrage of 80’s Hardcore Punk and Street Punk, with a doses of Rock n’ Roll and Thrash Metal, just add to the already relentless ferocity.
The great thing about Punk-Rock music is it’s growing diversity and it’s nature to have a cater for everyone and anyone, which is the reason why Chemical X were chosen for this list. Their assertive, “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” appearance, sound and attitude is both nostalgic, a tribute to the past and a certifiable contemporary defiance.
The band’s debut album was released in 2014 and boasts nine tracks ranging on topic from ostracisation, the threat of Fascism, grievance against government and fighting for your individuality and freedom – Punk was always a means to vent and that hasn’t changed.
Back towards rocky ground now, Cougar Gold. Formed in 2013, the band have released two EPs since then, with 2014’s self titled and 2015’s Archway EP, with both releases leave me pleasantly surprised.
Why? Well Alternative Rock can be a very mixed back, both in style and of course quality, it’s almost never terrible but is often mediocre or simple prompts the classic shrug of the shoulders and half smile accompanied by a neutrally tones, ‘they’re alright’. This is not the case with Cougar Gold.
The band’s sound sits somewhere between Punk-Rock rhythm, Post-Punk guitar leads and chunky, melodic Alternative Rock riffage and dynamic. Band’s such as Hot Water Music and Jawbreaker come to mind when making comparisons, particularly on the first EP.
Cougar Gold are one to watch as although possible, crafting a sound as multi-applicable to tastes as this is, is no easy feat. I’ll leave you with the infectious bass-line of ‘Elanors’.
(There he is, the fourth time we’ve seen him, Mr. Ryan Hatfield. Bonus points for the cover photo spot.)
The Larimers have been featured Musically Fresh before, and through them we have not only taken interest in their vocalist’s other projects but have found and been recommended an almost continuous stream of new music to keep us busy in the “office”. Click Here for a review of their debut and Click Here for an appearance in out fantasy Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Soundtrack.
Formed in 2013, the band have had their share of ups and downs with line-up changes but seem to have themselves well grounded now, with regular shows and new music on the way.
The band’s sound sits well in the middle of most 90’s style Punk music from up-beat Pop-Punk to slightly darker and harder-edged Punk and even flirtations with Melodic Hardcore. The follow up to the debut is something I’ve been waiting for for a long while now, so if that’s not a hint gents, I don’t know what is.
‘Punk-Rock is our business and our business is good’
I remember turning to a friend of mine recently, talking about Thrash influence on contemporary Punk music and instantly remembered this band, and then going on to describing them as – ‘Somewhere between old-school Melodic Hardcore and Thrash Metal – if A Wilhelm Scream were a Thrash band’.
Formed in 2008, Allout Helter have three EPs and a mini-album under their belt, as well as something somewhat characteristic of Denver-based bands, an extensive history of live appearances. I could rattle on about their sound the bands own tag as ‘Melodic Hardcore/Progressive Thrash’, if I’m honest, suits them perfectly.
Incorporating Thrash Metal into a Hardcore based sound has always been easy enough and has produced some crucial bands to the scene but incorporating said influence into a more Melodic Hardcore or Punk-Rock sound, for me as a music fan that is, has always seemed something harder to accomplish.
It’s doable but in-order for it to sound as groundbreaking or simply as prominent is far harder, Allout Helter on the other hand, have managed it. The transitions between genres and the breakneck speed of the band is nothing short of impressive, so here is that new band you, your Metal mates and your Punk comrades can meet in the middle over.
There we are, few musical reasons to visit Denver, Colorado and new bands to keep you company on the journey. Enjoy and don’t for get to – #StayFresh