Welcome to another jam-packed edition of Steal This Track, your weekly chance to abscond with great Colorado music downloads for less than that penny you used to tape to the Columbia House record club postcard.
You know, there was a time when the holiday season meant a lull in the music world. Sure, you’d see a few Christmas albums cropping up to cash in, but it was usually pretty quiet around here from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. These days, however, Denver doesn’t seem to have a lull. If anything, the pace of production has picked up. This is the second week in a row that we’ve had four great tracks for you to steal, so we’re going to get right to it, with twangy rock from 4H Royalty, pretty indie pop from Amazing Twin (formerly Old Radio, electronified (that’s right) rock from Gritch and experimental folk from Tall City. Let’s go!
While Denver has come into its own as a medium-sized cosmopolitan center, we still love our rural roots. The National Western Stock Show is still one of our city’s biggest events, our professional football team is named after livestock and an equine demon guards our fancy airport. Perhaps that’s why a large and visible portion of our music scene has also maintained its ties to the country. Slim Cessna, Munly, 16 Horsepower and Drag the River (among many others) all like a little twang with their rock-n-roll, and 4H Royalty is welcome addition to that tradition.
Earlier this year, the quartet — Zach Boddicker (who has played with Drag the River, Marty Jones and the Railbenders) on guitar and vocals, Andrew Porter (you might know him from Dicky Jaguar) on bass and vocals, Robert Buehler on drums and Jamie Mitchell on all sorts of things — quietly released its debut, “Colossalalia.” The album’s 13 tracks are steeped in a uniquely rural kind of swagger and desperation that comes from owning the shiniest Pontiac Fiero in town, pouring Wild Turkey in your morning coffee and knowing you’re meant for bigger things. The album is available for a mere fiver at the band’s Bandcamp site. The band expects to release a new album early next year. In the meantime, you can catch 4H Royalty at the Larimer Lounge on Wednesday night, with Elway (formerly 10-4 Eleanor) and Fort Collins’s Sour Boy Bitter Girl for a mere $8. To get ready for that show, steal “Tires in a Landfill” today.
From rural desperation to suburban angst, we bring you Amazing Twin — formerly known as Old Radio. Patrick Kelly, Lucas Johannes, Chris Durant and Stuart Confer bade farewell to good friend Eric Peterson (who is putting his music career on hold for a bit), as well as to their old identity, and released “New Wives’ Tale” (reviewed a couple weeks ago by John Wenzel here.
The seven-track collection is shamelessly nostalgic for music that happened not so long ago. Touchstones include the emotive (don’t say “emo”) rock of Milwaukee’s Hey Mercedes and the ambitious pop of the Velvet Teen. Solid songwriting, earnest performances and intelligent lyrics save the band from being merely derivative, however, and result in engaging, affecting pop rock for smart people. Steal “Naked Girl Part 2″ (which takes its name from a Velvet Teen song, and also name-checks the band in a lyric) for a better idea of what we’re talking about, then pop over to CD Baby to download the whole EP for a mere $5.
Indie pop is bread and butter for Denver’s Gritch, also, but the electronically augmented group has a very different take on things. Emotive vocals and chiming guitars are about all the band has in common with Amazing Twin, while synthetic keyboard sounds and dance-friendly beats take Gritch in a very different direction. Though the band has recently undergone some major lineup changes, making the future sound of Gritch uncertain, the songs on “Arrivals & Departures” — Gritch’s second full-length, released last month — deftly leverage ear-grabbing melodies, ass-shaking beats and dense sonic layers that will appeal to fans of both Death Cab for Cutie and Franz Ferdinand. For a sample, steal “Escape This World” right now, then rock on to Gritch’s home on Bandcamp to get the whole album for $5 and their debut album, “The World Was Asleep” for free!
Still with us? Good, because you don’t want to miss this last one. Tall City is Colorado Springs-based experimentalist Christopher Bullock. Attentive Colorado music lovers might recognize him from punk ruffiansthe Nicotine Fits, but you won’t recognize this music. Skillfully crafted from vintage electronics, simple pedals, a tortured autoharp and Bullock’s own vulnerable voice, the music of Tall City is simultaneously dense and sparse, weighty and ethereal, lo-fi and lush. The naiveté and simplicity of Bullock’s music that make it endearing, but its sophisticated sonic experiments yield surprises on repeated listens. The “Soft Sunlight” EP was released in October, and can be had from Bandcamp for $5. Steal the title track here before you buy the whole thing.
When he’s not making fascinating music, Bullock is a published poet, as well as a visual artist who creates one-of-a-kind works on found materials. He’ll be showing his series of works on antique piano rolls in a show curated by Michael Broberg’s Birdseed Collective at Inkling Studios on Saturday. Check out the Post’s calendar listing for more information.
If you like Steal This Track, you’re gonna love Steal This Track: a Reverb Dance Party at the Hi-Dive. Starting Dec 30, we’ll be taking over the South Broadway indie rock institution with special guests, giveaways, drink specials and more. In the later hours, DJ Savior Breath (a.k.a. Reverb’s own Eryc Eyl) will turn the shindig into a pants-dropping dance party. And just like Steal This Track, it’s absolutely free. You won’t want to miss it.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.
If you’re a band or musician ready to expose your fresh sounds to the readers of Reverb, email your tracks — along with any interesting facts about them, as well as a photo or album art — to Eryc Eyl for consideration.
Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track every Monday for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout every Friday. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet. You can also follow Steal This Track on Twitter. Sorry, Mom.