What were you doing when you were 15? As for me, when I wasn’t smoking cigars made of brown paper bag and dried weeds, I was making horrible synth-pop in my parents’ rural basement, with a synthesizer, a drum machine, a Radio Shack microphone and a four-track cassette recorder. The three members of the Baltic — all 15 and living in the Mile High vicinity — are making loud-as-hell shoegaze and power pop that blows the doors off records being put out by people of twice their age and experience. Though drummer Graham Epstein’s dad was the publicist for IRS Records in its ’80s heyday, the trio (rounded out by guitarist Jose Chalit and frontman/guitarist Adam Dankowski) draws inspiration from fuzzed out UK outfits like Chapterhouse and Ride, with a bit of punk energy thrown in. The band’s debut single — recorded, engineered and produced by the Swayback’s Eric Halborg and released on Halborg’s label, LGL Records — will be available this Saturday, when the boys open for the Swayback at the Hi-Dive. Get there early and look for the trio with the X’s on their hands. Prepare yourself by stealing “Easter Island” as a high-quality MP3 below.Speaking of the Swayback, the venerable Denver rock quartet will release its long-awaited follow-up to “Long Gone Lads” at that same show on Saturday night. Bassist and vocalist Halborg, guitarist Bill Murphy and multi-instrumentalist Adam Tymn (formerly of Vaux and Ride the Boogie) are still the core of the band, but longtime drummer Martijn Bolster returned to his native Netherlands. Picking up the sticks is none other than in-demand Denver drummer Carl Sorensen.
“His background is in jazz and singer-songwriter stuff, and we said, ‘You have to hit them really hard to be in this band,'” laughs Halborg.
And so he does. Five of the 12 tracks on “Double Four Time” feature Sorensen’s surprisingly rock worthy skinsmanship, laying down heavy beats for the Swayback’s new sound. While much of the band’s dark swagger will be familiar to followers, the foursome — perhaps influenced by time spent with Led Zeppelin producer Andy Johns — has taken their music in a direction that is more heavily influenced by ’60s blues rock. Halborg’s baritone is more soulful than gothic, and Murphy’s guitar work is, at times, downright psychedelic. The Swayback has been headed down this path and away from its Bauhaus-biting origins for many years now, and this down-and-dirty rock-and-roll album finds the group reaching its stylistic destination with power and panache. At the end of a debauched night, as you down the last of your whiskey, paying no mind to the cigarette butt languishing at the bottom, this will be the soundtrack. Get started by stealing “Gonna Walk,” offered in full 320 kbps quality at the request of LGL Records. Then get your tickets to Saturday night’s show here.Finally, we turn our ears to something completely different. When Fort Collins indie pop band the Sunshine House hung up its laminate last year, many fans of frontman Philip Waggoner’s songs were disappointed. This week, however, there is cause to rejoice as Waggoner lets us in on his latest musical project, Catch Bees. Written, performed and recorded almost entirely solo by Waggoner (with notable contributions from You Me and Apollo‘s Brent Cowles, former Sunshine House singer Becky Raab and Philadelphia’s Denison Witmer), “Newman’s Open Choir” is a beautifully produced, painstakingly arranged collection of scintillating orchestral pop that would fit right in on Witmer’s (and Sufjan Stevens’s) home label, Asthmatic Kitty, but will actually be released by like-minded On Joyful Wings Music.
As delicate and strong as a spider’s web, “Newman’s Open Choir” has already been added to my list of great 2012 albums. Steal “Atlanta” below for a tiny taste of this exquisite album, then get yourself over to Everyday Joe’s in Fort Collins (144 S Mason St) for the CD release show on Saturday. If you’re already booked to see the Swayback/Baltic show that night, mark your calendar for Mar 10, when Catch Bees will hit the Walnut Room.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and — unless otherwise noted — 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.