Steal This Track: Checkers and Instant Empire - Reverb

Steal This Track: Checkers and Instant Empire

Denver electronic act Checkers just released its debut EP. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Denver electronic act Checkers just released its debut EP. Photo courtesy of the artist.

As we promised on Monday, Steal This Track is back today to bring you your fourth and fifth free Colorado music downloads of the week. After the bounty of James Egbert, Flashbulb Fires and Git Some, today you get to gorge yourself on two more — the progressive electronic music of Checkers and the nerdy rock of Instant Empire. Top off your tank by stealing these tracks.

Denver’s latest electronic label, Dirty//Clean, seems incapable of doing wrong. Tonight at the Larimer Lounge — the label — headed by Dave Marquess and Moe Velez — will be proving just that with a showcase, featuring Bedrockk, Hollagramz, Snubluck, Dawn Safari and the artist we’re featuring, Checkers. Also known as James Whitney, Checkers released its debut EP, “Leisure Sports,” last month, and has been getting press around the world ever since.

Whitney’s years of study of classical and jazz piano give him a keen musician’s ear, as well as an eclectic palette of influences. The music on “Leisure Sports” is abstract and doesn’t give up its secrets easily. Whitney creates intertwining loops and figures that are as intricate and insular as Celtic knots. However, he also deftly balances his esoteric tendencies with a love for funk, R&B, soul and hip-hop, infusing his complex compositions with beats conducive to blissed-out head nodding. Steal the title track for a taste of Checkers, name your price for the whole EP on the Dirty//Clean Bandcamp page, and then head out to the Larimer Lounge tonight. You won’t be disappointed.

Denver's Instant Empire is: Aaron Stone (from left), Lou Kucera, Scotty Saunders, Sean Connaughty, Matt Grizzell and Doug Chase. Photo by Joni Saunders.

Denver's Instant Empire is: Aaron Stone (from left), Lou Kucera, Scotty Saunders, Sean Connaughty, Matt Grizzell and Doug Chase. Photo by Joni Saunders.

Now it’s time to switch channels and tune in to the alt-rock of Instant Empire. After just over a year of playing together in Denver, this sextet has tightened up its take on melodic rock on its latest release, “Heavy Hollow.” Scott Saunders’ songwriting and distinctive voice are most certainly the heart of Instant Empire’s sound, but they wouldn’t have nearly the power, passion and punch without the contributions of Aaron Stone, Lou Kucera, Sean Connaughty, Matt Grizzell and Doug Chase. Together, the outfit cranks out anthemic tracks that ring with honesty and sincerity. Most important, however, is the fact that they rock — with intensity and absolute certainty. This is a band that has been quietly perfecting its craft in Denver, but this self-produced EP should launch the group into much greater notoriety. Steal “Crooked (and Broken)” to hear why we think that’s true, then get down to the Walnut Room on Saturday, May 12, to pick up a copy for yourself. Steal This Track favorites A Mouthful of Thunder and El Toro de la Muerte will open. Tickets are just $9.

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.

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