Here at Reverb, Mondays mean free music, thanks to Steal This Track and the countless generous and talented musicians of the Colorado music community. This week, we’ve got way too much good music to let all my flowery prose stand in the way. Let’s get straight to the weirdo jazz rock of A Tom Collins, the metallic hardcore of Il Cattivo, the densely textured pop of the Centennial, the glitchy hip-hop of Reverb and the Verse (no relation), and the muscular metal of Death Bed Confession. Brace yourself, kids. This week’s free tracks pack a punch.
A Tom Collins began life as an introspective solo project for Aaron Collins after his band, Machine Gun Blues, reached its logical conclusion. In the three or so years since debuting, however, Collins found like-minded collaborators in Andy Wild (Big Timber, Oblio Duo), Alex Hebert (American Relay, Death Rides West), Robert Cole Sackett and Franco Valentino (both of Pink Hawks).
The resulting melee is documented with giddy abandon on “OH NO!” The band’s music, recorded by Wild, isn’t exactly fresh — influences of Tom Waits, klezmer music and the Leons (Redbone and Russell) echo through the six-song debut — but like Collins’ previous band, it’s as much about the energy as it is about the music. That’s where the similarities with Machine Gun Blues stop though. Where MGB was loose and undisciplined, A Tom Collins is tight and focused, and its songs are fun, complex and captivating. Steal “Pants Off Dance Off” to see what we mean. Then, as the song says, “Take off your pants and let’s get weird” at the EP release show on Apr 2 at the Gothic Theatre, with openers Princess Music and Collins’s wife’s band, Paper Bird.
If A Tom Collins is a bit of a supergroup, it has nothing on Il Cattivo. Fronted by the iron-larynxed Brian Hagman (of the venerable Black Lamb), and including former members of Machine Gun Blues (improbably named guitarist Holland Rock-Garden), Taun Taun (bassist Matty Clark) and Ghost Buffalo (guitarist Matt Bellinger and drummer Jed Kopp, you won’t find a better rock pedigree in Denver than this one.
A pedigree, of course, means diddly if the music doesn’t deliver, but this litter of sick puppies has both the bark and the bite to match its bio. Titled “To Bring Low an Empire,” the debut album — recorded by Clark’s Taun Taun bandmate and Gamits frontman Chris Fogal at his Black in Bluhm studio — is a mean, dirty, bluesy affair that uses metal riffs and hardcore attitudes to romp through rock territory reminiscent of ’90s titans like Bullet LaVolta and Afghan Whigs (whose “Fountain and Fairfax” Hagman quotes on “Flagship, Part 2″). Hagman has one of the most powerful voices and mesmerizing stage personae in Denver, and his bandmates match him at every turn with precision, power and punk bravado. Imagine being dragged by your hair through the back alleys of hell by a handsome, leather-clad brut — and liking it — and you’ll get a little sense of the strength of this exhilarating album. For a better sense, steal “Betting Boy.”
You look like you could use a little breather, and we’ve got just the thing. The Centennial — the family band of Nathan Meese and husband/wife duo Patrick and Tiffany Meese — just slipped us an unreleased track. Their next show isn’t until Apr 29 at the Hi-Dive, but the Meeses wanted to give Reverb readers a little taste of the atmospheric pop that’s soon to come. Steal the sexy, suprisingly edgy, fuzzed-out sounds that these one-time teen idols are kicking out now. “You Don’t Get to Say” takes the sound the trio debuted last year and turns it up a lush, sparkly notch.
Now that you’ve caught your breath, it’s time to use it to get down with Reverb and the Verse. The electro hip-hop duo of Shane Etter (Reverb) and Jahi Simbai (the Verse) began making music together 10 years ago, and has self-released four albums in that time. Last year’s “D.E.P.T.H.C.H.A.R.G.E.S.” — available directly from the band’s website for just $1 — found the duo using glitchy-yet-danceable beats and old-school rhyming to tackles issues of artistic expression, social justice and the ethics of technology. Etter’s experimental and occasionally noisy approach to beat-making is softened by Simbai’s laid-back flow and the reliable danceability of the album’s 18 songs. In case you’re not ready to drop your hard-earned George Washington based on that, we strongly encourage you to steal “Check Your Vitals” as a free sample.
We wind up today’s marathon of free stuff with the gut punch of Death Bed Confession. Beginning just a year ago at a coffee shop in Lafayette, this traditionalist metal quintet pulls no punches on its self-titled debut, which borrows from thrash, grunge, doom and even a bit of ’80s pop metal. The riffs come fast and furious, the rhythm section is watertight and Jay Quintana’s vocals drive the point home with unflinching honesty and aggression. It’s the kind of music that sounds goofier the more you talk about it. Rather than listen to me go on, you’re better off stealing “Kurari,” and then catching the band live at Cervantes’ on Apr 3 as part of the Rotten Records showcase. Tickets are just $10.
If you like Steal This Track, you’re gonna love Steal This Track: a Reverb Dance Party at the Hi-Dive. We’re taking over the South Broadway indie rock institution on the last Thursday of every month with special guests, giveaways, drink specials and more. This month, we have a Plastic Sound Supply DJ set from the one and only Cacheflowe and a super-sexy set from Kitty Vincent and Ryan Stubbs of Le Divorce. 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.