Alan Andrews — frontman of the Photo Atlas, guitarist in American Tomahawk and the primary creative force behind Serious Moonlight — says his most recent project “kinda just happened.” “I had been working on these simple chord-based songs and it turns out I have a lot of good musicians around me that made it easy to put together,” he says. Those good musicians include his Photo Atlas bandmates Bill Threlkeld and Mark Hawkins, and drummer Adam Halferty (frontman of American Tomahawk, drummer for 3OH!3 and former member of the Chain Gang of 1974 and the Axe That Chopped the Cherry Tree), as well as a pedal steel player named Pinto.
Serious Moonlight’s debut EP will be released on Apr 29 at the Hi-Dive, with support from the Centennial and Tim Hussman. Photo Atlas fans will still find Andrews’s boyish, slightly emo (but in a good way!) vocals front and center, but that’s pretty much where the similarities stop. Where that band relies on hard-driving rhythms and boundless energy, Serious Moonlight shines with simple arrangements, heartfelt performances and solid songwriting. There’s nothing fancy here — just Andrews laying bare his soul in song. That earnestness has captured the attention of Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records, with whom the band is currently talking. Steal “It’s Not Like You Did Anything Wrong” below to hear why.The soul baring continues with Russ Christiansen’s Surplus Cheaper Hands. You might recognize Christiansen’s name from his former band, Three Miles West, but this project takes on a much looser feel, with a rotating cast of Denver-area musicians and a sense that Christiansen has all the time in the world. “It’s Your Parade” — Christiansen’s debut release under this moniker — includes contributions from such local notables as Eric Shiveley, Tim Mallot of the Hollyfelds, John Waggoner and Tony Burke of Ten Cent Redemption, “Goose” Guzman of the Mighty 18 Wheeler and many more. But don’t worry — all those stars don’t outshine the sad, simple beauty of Christiansen’s songs.
You can grab “It’s Your Parade” on Bandcamp right now for any price you please, and you can catch the band at the Soiled Dove on Apr 15. In the meantime, steal “I’m Your Man,” by far the album’s strongest track, below.For something completely different, let’s turn to Trees, the bludgeoning instrumental metal project from guitarist Justin Hackl (formerly of Only Thunder and Blackout Pact), bassist Matty Clark (formerly of Taun Taun and currently also of Il Cattivo) and drummer Danny McCarthy. Recorded in just four days with Toshi Kasai (engineer on records for Isis, Helmet and other titans, as well as guitarist with Big Business), the trio’s debut album, “When the Three Beggars Arrive,” has just four tracks, but lasts more than 40 minutes. To say the songs on the record are ambitious would be an understatement.
Though there’s a jammy quality to those songs, Hackl, Clark and McCarthy operate with such synchronized precision that there’s little room for accidents or serendipity. Each track is carefully crafted and expertly executed. Obviously, 12-minute instrumental sludge metal songs aren’t for everyone, but if you’re curious (or if you happen to already be a fan of bands like Eyehategod, Facedowninshit or even the Melvins), you won’t find more expert practitioners for in this town or nearly any other. “When the Three Beggars Arrive” is filled with musical movements, surprising twists (in addition to the usual instruments, Trees turned dust pans, fences, saw blades and sugar packets into musical instruments), skullcrushing riffs and even some downright catchy melodies that might even appeal to fans of more traditional prog rock (the harder side of King Crimson might even come to mind).
Perhaps most intriguing of all, all the guitars and bass guitars used on the record were made here in Denver by Hackl Guitars, the custom guitar design, repair and restoration shop run by Hackl himself. Steal “Part One” below to hear what they’re capable of, then be sure to catch the band’s release show on May 7 at 3 Kings Tavern, with Cannons, Tin Horn Prayer and Double Penitentiary supporting.After all that metal, and all that sincerity and emotion, you’re probably ready to cut loose a little, and Air Dubai — Denver’s hip-hop/soul/pop/insert-genre-here juggernaut — has teamed up with Jacob Bond, a.k.a. Satan’s Eighties Lovechild to help you get your party on. Last week, Air Dubai released “Remixtape,” a collection of remixes from its mold-breaking “Wonder Age” long-player, with contributions from area producers like Nofrendo, phunkphace, Snubluck, Rex Buchanan, Seismic Headshot (a.k.a. Effektor and Sharkbite) and others.
On “Remixtape,” some producers took the safe route of bringing out the strengths of the original tracks, but more adventurous folks (like Satan’s Eighties Lovechild) practically built whole new compositions on Air Dubai’s foundations. Bond’s remix of “Party On!” stirs glitches, noise and even some house music elements into the original song’s already-spicy stew and makes it flavorful in truly unexpected ways. Steal “Party On! (Satan’s Eighties Lovechild Remix)” below for a taste, then pop over to airdubaimusic.com to download the whole collection for free.
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.