Five Colorado bands and their national doppelgangers: Inner Oceans, Hot Apostles and moreBy Dylan Owens | June 3rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »
The Underground Music Showcase is like Colorado’s South By Southwest, with a few notable exceptions. First, there’s a hell of a lot less sponsors. (And they’re relevant: While fans at SXSW might scratch their heads over why Katy Perry is blasting the crowd with a Cool Ranch Doritos cannon, Illegal Pete’s actually has its own label, Greater Than Collective, and serves as an official festival venue.) Second, it’s a lot less hassle getting into shows. At South By, it’s hard to tell when you have to RSVP, where you need a badge, or whether only Nike FuelBand owners can get in to a given show (really).
But one similarity is the mix of lesser-known or up-and-coming acts with the national artists that are anchoring the festival. And just like at SXSW, the UMS fans will use national acts to describe their favorite local or lesser-known acts. For example: “let’s go see X, they sound a lot like Y.”
With that in mind, we matched five Colorado bands with their national doppelgangers to help you get prepared for the UMS on July 24-27.
See photos of Ark Life and Inner Oceans at the Reverb SXSW party below:
Sounds like… The Band
Not only is the country’s best Americana band not from Colorado — they’re not from our country. The Band started out in Toronto as the Hawks, but would go on to craft some of the most American music this side of Richard Shuckburgh (he wrote “Yankee Doodle,” you guys). With our sweeping prairies, penchant for sleeping bags and Cripple Creek, Colorado has always evoked the music of The Band, so there’s no doubt there’d be a big hankering in their absence.
Ark Life sound at times like they actively channel the boys from up north. Frontman Jesse Elliott’s Levon Helm delivery and sunny day americana melodies aside, Ark Life can occasionally hold a candle to The Band’s songwriting at times, too, as evidenced in “Very Fine Friends” below.
Watch out for the band’s—Ark Life, that is—new album, “The Dream of You & Me” on Aug. 19.
Sounds like… Grace Potter
Like Grace Potter before her, Hot Apostle’s front woman Eryn Swissdorf dares audiences to match her intensity. When they want to, her band can crank as hard as any Grace Potter song, and does so much more often: guitarist Tay Hamilton swaps out Potter’s acoustic flourishes for raw speed metal riffs. If it’s the soft balladry of Potter you’re after, you won’t find it here. But for hard and fast barroom ass-kickers, Hot Apostles is a one-stop shop.
Sounds like… Youth Lagoon
You might think Youth Lagoon is way too specific of a band to merit mention here. Granted, there are probably a handful of Denverites that have listened to the spaced-out indie outfit in the last month, but that’s it.
But don’t be surprised if Spotify’s analytics show those few listeners have racked up hundreds of listens in that time—Youth Lagoon are fringe, but they’re deservedly revered by their fan base. More than that, they represent a swath of indie shoegaze/electronica-rock that a heap of other great bands also call home (think the xx and Wild Nothing). Of these, Inner Oceans happen to resemble Youth Lagoon most closely in style, and more importantly, function: you sink into it and get lost in it. That’s a function of music people have always revered, and Inner Oceans does it as well as any in their scene.
Colfax Speed Queen
Sounds like… Iggy and the Stooges
They may not look the part, but Colfax Speed Queen can cause as much ruckus as a drunk bear on skates in a roller rink. They are a dash more Ramones than any Stooges fan would be comfortable with, but the Speed Queen can channel the punk energy of the Stooges with beer-spitting aplomb. Don’t expect an Iggy Pop in frontman Matt Loui, but also don’t be surprised if they throw out a cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” after a sweat-wringing set of speed surf.
My Body Sings Electric
Sounds like… Minus the Bear
If we are having an apocalypse, I wouldn’t want our kids to be robbed of indie pop punk.
We all went through a Minus The Bear/Brand New/Taking Back Sunday phase (right?!). It’s an unintended right of passage for high schoolers, and for others, a lifelong obsession. My Body Sings Electric effuses the sugary spirit of these bands with impressive verisimilitude. If you squint just right, you’ll find that girl that broke your heart in 7th grade front and center, making eyes at frontman Brandon Whalen. (He’s way too old for you, Katrina!)
Whether you listen to them or ever will, My Body Sings Electric is one of the most successful bands on the list, having made the Warped Tour roster back in 2009, which helped them break through nationally. If you get nostalgic for the music of your formative years (or mine at least), they hit the spot as squarely as any of their “classic” counterparts.
Dylan Owens is Reverb’s all-purpose news blogger and album reviewer. You can read more from him in Relix magazine and the comment sections of WORLDSTARHIPHOP.