Arising unexpectedly from the heavy, progressive rock of Portamento, ManCub began about a year ago as a side project for drummer Alex Anderson and guitarist Danny Stillman. Inspired by electronic acts like Ratatat and hardcore bands like Minor Threat, the two wanted to make live electronic music that retained the rawness of rock and didn’t require computers. After experimenting with a number of vintage drum machines and analog synthesizers that didn’t work in a live context, the pair decided that guitar pedals were the perfect tool to create the loops, effects, noise and atmosphere they wanted to call ManCub.
Stillman and Anderson debuted ManCub in July, and shortly after, Stillman left to accept an offer to play keys with Buffalo-based experimental band the Bunny the Bear. Since then, Anderson has been collaborating with James Wayne of Denver’s Force Publique. The two have evolved the ManCub sound from its noisier incarnation to a dreamy, lo-fi synth sound that is almost poppy.
To give Reverb readers a sense of ManCub’s new direction, Anderson shared with us “The New Sound,” a revision of a song that was previously called “Sound,” from “8-Bit Crush,” the band’s debut EP. Re-recorded, remixed and “spiced up,” in Anderson’s words, “The New Sound” begins as a minimalist, bass-driven track that would be at home on an early record by the Faint, but then transforms into a lush, sweetly melodic dance track that walks the line between ’80s retro and gauzy surf pop. Steal it to hear for yourself, then get out to the Bluebird Theater tonight to see ManCub open for Air Dubai and the Epilogues.There are days when it’s easy to feel like Denver’s indie rock community consists of nothing other than white guys with lumberjack beards, but then along comes a band like One Sun One Moon. Frontwoman (that’s right) and keyboardist Ger Chang and brothers Vong and Yeng come from a Hmong family that immigrated to Colorado from Laos in the late ’70s. The threesome began playing shows in their parents’ basement and evolved into the unfortunately named Biscuitland. Last year, however, a lineup change added guitarist Brandon Pierce, and the quartet was rechristened with the much better appellation One Sun One Moon.
Ger professes a love for the Cranberries, and the influence of that once-ubiquitous femme-fronted pop band is certainly audible on One Sun One Moon’s debut, “Collisions.” However, there are many more sounds at play. The rhythm section of Yeng (bass) and Vong (drums) drives Ger’s angst-ridden songs with the urgency and enthusiasm of pop-punk players, and Brandon Pierce’s guitar adds a surprising classic rock dimension.
Throughout the album, it’s clear that this is a young band, still finding its sound, mastering its instruments and honing its craft, but if One Sun One Moon can deliver on the remarkable promise made by this early outing, then the future looks bright indeed. Steal “Head Heart Hands” to get in on the ground floor with this quartet, then get down to the Larimer Lounge early on Thursday to catch the band opening for the Stripe Stripe Fiasco, We Were Cosmonauts and the Kris Lager Band.
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 for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout for stories about Denver musicians doing extraordinary things. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet. You can also follow Steal This Track on Twitter. Sorry, Mom.