Tag: Denver CO

New Audio: Denver’s Instant Empire Shares An Anthemic Meditation on Death

Denver-based indie outfit Instant Empire — Scotty Saunders (vocals), Sean Connaughty (guitar, keys), Lou Kucera (guitar), Aaron Stone (bass) and Matt Grizzell (drums) — formed back in 2011. Since then, the Denver-based quintet have chronicled the human condition through their work, while garnering comparisons to The National, Bright Eyes, The Hold Steady, Death Cab For Cutie and Manchester Orchestra, among others.

When the pandemic struck, the members of Instant Empire started writing songs — a lot of them. During the earliest and worst days of the pandemic, writing songs gave the band an outlet to grapple with deeply universal issues that hit close to home: death, stinging, a slow-burn disintegration of hopes, dreams and expectations, the inevitable reflection on the past, and living in the wake of uncertain, uncomfortable future. Over the past few years, the members of the Denver-based indie outfit saw parents and friends die, health issues of friends, family members and even themselves, long days and nights in and out of hospitals, lost jobs, lost opportunities and an incalculable sense of isolation. Naturally, all of that would up coalescing into the material they had been writing.

The end result is the Denver-based outfit’s fourth album Standing Eight Count. Slated for a March 31, 2023 release, the album reportedly sees Instant Empire at their most expansive musically and thematically. “It felt like the canvas we were working on had been broadened,” the band’s Scotty Saunders explains. “An undercurrent of deep personal struggle permeates these songs. Broken and battered characters, on the ropes, but still standing, still fighting the good fight … this theme is woven in and out of the 11 songs that make up the album.”

“The title of the album is a boxing reference … and legitimately at the time of writing this album, life was knocking us around,” Saunders says. But what do you do, right? Hopefully, you keep getting up. Fighting the good fight. During the writing of this album, I also was spending a fair amount of time around my father-in-law, who had suffered a series of severe strokes. It was heartbreaking. He was in a really rough spot physically, but he loved watching boxing. He wasn’t a man that showed a ton of emotion, but he’d sometimes start crying in a really good match. Most nights we’d flip over to Showtime and we’d all watch these fights because they brought him some joy. None of us were super into boxing, but sometimes you just find yourself watching a shit ton of boxing because your sick father-in-law wanted to watch it … some of that probably seeped its way into the album, even if in an abstract way.”

Produced and engineered by the band’s Sean Connaughty at their own studio, the album also reportedly sees the band crafting material that aims to be a companion to listeners to all the strange and difficult times they’ll encounter — especially now.

Standing Eight Count‘s latest single, “Tiny Flashes” is an urgent and muscular song built around angular guitar, twinkling keys, a propulsive groove set up by Stone and Grizzell, rousingly anthemic hooks and a blazing guitar solo paired with Saunders’ vocal, which expresses awe, bemusement, resiliency, longing and despair within a turn of a phrase. The song deals with death and grief — but not from the perspective of the survivor; but from the perspective of th person that died.

“My father died a few months before we started writing songs for this album. Around the one-year anniversary of his death, Sean sent me a demo for what would become’ Tiny Flashes’. At the time, I’d been reading a fair amount about the idea of liminality, specifically the Buddhist beliefs in transference from life-to-heaven,” Instant Empire’s Scotty Saunders explains. ” As you’d expect, my dad was on my mind a lot at this time … and I ended up writing this song from my dad’s perspective during the time he was in transition from life to the afterlife. What would it feel like stuck in transition, holding on to the past? This was my attempt to interpret what that might feel like … I imagined you’d almost feel weightless and not rooted to anything.”

“The song plays around a bit on being suspended between life and death, and in the second verse gets really granular as I imagined what it might feel like for my dad to be suspended with only his thoughts and his memories just cycling on an infinite repeat. I tried to just list out memories he might have and might be cycling through. You have to let go to move on … but I imagined the process of actually letting go here would be awful. Almost unachievable. I imagine there would be more questions than answers as a soul passes through a liminal state — so that came out in the lyrics.

Musically, this song really underwent a metamorphosis. It started out as a really sparse piano based tune when Sean first started writing the music. As we started building out the song, and particularly once Matt came up with the drum parts, it started to sound really muscular. The last element added to this song was Lou’s guitar work, and the bridge solo he lays down here really gave this song so much attitude and vibe. We had no idea this song was going to sound like this when we began. Tiny Flashes serves as a really powerful moment in the larger context of the album, and the music ultimately provided the perfect foundation of urgency for the lyrics.”

New Audio: Denver’s Jordan Lucas Shares a Hook-Driven Bop

Jordan Lucas is a Georgia-born, Denver-based singer/songwriter and musician . Lucas can trace the origins of his music career to high school, when he discovered both the guitar — and the guitar heroes. Once he was obsessed with guitar, Lucas started to discover all the things the instrument could do and the pedal effects, endless possibilities opened up for him.

Lucas began to brach out to different styles, genres and instruments, and began to realize that it isn’t necessary to hew your sound and approach to what’s heard on the radio — or even deemed popular. During what was an eye-opening stage of his life and career, the Georgia-born, Denver-based supported other acts, joined bands and did studio work. Moving around a bit, he started a band with a few friends called My Instant Lunch, in which he played guitar and contributed backing vocals and some songwriting. His experience with My Instant Lunch helped to lay the foundation of his own songwriting.

Once My Instant Lunch split, Lucas relocated to Denver, where he started to build a life, while establishing himself as a songwriter and musician. And while he loved working and writing with other artists, he wanted to focus on his own work. In 2020, he began focusing on his own work as a solo artist. Back in 2020, Lucas started working on his full-length debut, Serious Musician, which touches upon his professional journey, his mental health, life experiences and hopes for the future while evoking the outward expression of all the different musical influences and experiences over the years.

Centered around shimmering guitars, glistening keys and a propulsive backbeat paired with Lucas’ plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook”Wake Up,” Serious Musician‘s first single brings Danish JOVM mainstays Palace Winter to mind — with the song being rooted in deliberate attention to craft.

Steve Terry Project is a Denver-based jazz/jazz-fusion/funk outfit. The band’s latest single “Hot Mess Express” is a a loose and laid back track seemingly drawing from 70s funk and jazz fusion centered around a bluesy and soulful horn line, twinkling organ, sinuous bass lines, bursts of retro-futuristic synths, rolling percussion placed within an expansive and improv-driven composition featuring a explosive peaks and meditative valleys. The composition also manages to be spacious enough for each musician to take the metaphorical wheel, catch the song’s funky groove and jam out.

Written during a caffeinated drive across Georgia and South Carolina, Terry found himself humming the bass line, connecting its repetitious nature to the seemingly endless sameness of trees, road, highway sign, trees, road, highway sign, sky. The composition’s horn line is meant to represent the stop and start nature of breaks in the trees — or a new landmark approaching. The track is also heavily influenced by the Grant Green standard “Jan Jan,” as Terry recalls having just performed it at an open jam prior to recording “Hot Mess Express.”

George Lattimore is a Denver-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind the emerging psych pop recording project Graffiti Welfare. Lattimore grew up in a music loving home, where he developed a voracious ear, listening to anything he could get his hands on. 

Eventually, the Denver-based multi-instrumentalist discovered Animal CollectiveTame ImpalaRadiohead, Brian EnoMiles Davis and a few others. For Lattimore, listening to Tame Impala’s Lonerism was a life changing experience: The first time he heard the album, he bought a Roland Juno-G keyboard and started writing and recording his own material. 

Lattimore used that Juno-G until the screen died; but that was fine because at that point, he was ready to grow musically and to become much more serious at pursuing a career in music. 

He moved from Austin to Denver for grad school, then recorded and self-released an EP on Spotify that began to receive some positive attention. Buoyed by the positive attention from his debut, Lattimore felt that he was ready to make something much more serious, defined and complete — his full-length debut Revolving Shores.

Written, self-recorded and self-produced over the course of five years, Revolving Shores was mastered at Golden, Colorado‘s The Wheelhouse Studio. Last month, I wrote about, the somnambulant “Volume,” which evoked a half-remembered yet somehow very vivid dream centered around Lattimore’s laconic delivery, glistening synth arpeggios, reverb-drenched, blown out beats and a wobbling bass line.

Lattimore’s latest single “Just Follow” is a slow-burning, shoegazey track centered around the Denver-based artist’s laconic, reverb-drenched delivery, blown-out beats, atmospheric synths paired with textured guitar soundscapes. The end result is a song that continues a run of somnambulant and gauzy material.

New Video: Denver’s Graffiti Welfare Shares Trippy “Volume”

George Lattimore is a Denver-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind the emerging psych pop recording project Graffiti Welfare. Lattimore grew up in a music loving home, where he developed a voracious ear, listening to anything he could get his hands on.

Eventually, the Denver-based multi-instrumentalist discovered Animal Collective, Tame Impala, Radiohead, Brian Eno, Miles Davis and a few others. For Lattimore, listening to Tame Impala’s Lonerism was a life changing experience: The first time he heard the album, he bought a Roland Juno-G keyboard and started writing and recording his own material.

Lattimore used that Juno-G until the screen died; but that was fine because at that point, he was ready to grow musically and to become much more serious at pursuing a career in music.

He moved from Austin to Denver for grad school, then recorded and self-released an EP on Spotify that began to receive some positive attention. Buoyed by the positive attention from his debut, Lattimore felt that he was ready to make something much more serious, defined and complete — his full-length debut Revolving Shores.

Written, self-recorded and self-produced over the course of five years, Revolving Shores was mastered at Golden Colorado‘s The Wheelhouse Studio. Revolving Shores‘ first single “Volume” is centered around Lattimore’s laconic delivery, glistening synth arpeggios, reverb-drenched, blown out beats and a wobbling bass line. The end result is a somnambulant song that evokes a half-remembered yet very vivid dream.

The accompanying video for “Volume” features stock footage of Midtown Manhattan shot in the 50s and 60s, mass manufactured doodads, what appears to be Los Angeles in the 80s that’s slowly given trippy, mind-bending effects.

Chris Sherman is a Cincinnati-born and-based bassist, best known as Freekbass. Sherman, who graduated from his hometown’s School for Creative and Performing Arts started his career in earnest, when Bootsy’s Rubber Band vocalist Gary “Mudbone” Cooper recruited Sherman to record a track, which would appear on a Jimi Hendrix tribute compilation.

Sherman was introduced to the legendary Bootsy Collins, who had given him his stage name. In 1992, Sherman along with guitarist Chris Donnelly formed SHAG. Two years, later the band released their debut effort, Bootsy Collins Presents SHAG Live.

In 1998 Freekbass went solo, releasing his full-length debut, 1998’s Ultra-Violet Impact. Since then, the Cincinnati-born and -based bassist has gone to release seven more albums leading his own band, including 2019’s All the Way This. All the Way That.

Freekbass begins 2022 with the Eddie Roberts-produced “Under Krameria,” a swaggering and strutting bit of gritty funk that seems indebted to Funkadelic and Mandrill, centered around Freekbass’ thumping bass playing creating woozy melodies, Sky White’s soaring organ chords and some old school breakbeats. It’s the sort of soundtrack for strutting down the street in your finest threads.

After the session, the band was waiting for a title to come to them and found their van stopping under the Krameria street sign in Denver. As the story goes, the band realized that this odd bit of happenstance worked. It also manages to mirror, the song’s organic nature.

New Audio: Scott AF and Censored X Team Up on a Euphoric Club Banger

Scott Fleenor is a Midwestern-born, Denver-based producer and singer/songwriter, best known as Scott AF. From what I’ve been told as a person and as an artist, the Denver-based artist always pushes people to be their best.

Fleenor’s latest single “No Sounds” is a collaboration with Vietnamese producer and songwriter Censored X. Centered around soulful yet tender vocals, glistening synths, tweeter and woofer rattling beats “No Sounds” is a euphoric and crowd-pleasing mix of soul, deep house and pop songwriting that will rock a club.

The New Mastersounds — currently, Eddie Roberts (guitar, production), Simon Allen (drums), Pete Stand (bass) and Joe Tatton (keys) — can trace their origins back to the late 1990s: Roberts was promoting a club night in his native Leeds called The Cooker. When The Cooker moved into a new venue with a second floor in 1999, there was both the space and opportunity to put a live band together to compliment the night’s DJ sets. 

Coincidentally, Roberts and Allen had previously played together in the similarly named The Mastersounds, an act with a completely different bassist and without a keyboardist. Because of the intimate nature of the Lejeds scene, Roberts and Allen met and recruited Pete Hand and Bob Birch (Hammond) to join what would become The New Mastersounds. Since the release of two limited edition boogaloo leaning 7 inch singles back in 2000, the Leeds-based outfit has released 24 more 7 inch singles, 13 studio albums, three live albums, a remix album — and three compilations released in the UK, Japan and The States. And the band has done that while going through a major lineup change with grizzled Leeds scene veteran Joe Tatton replacing Bob Birch on keys and organ.

The band and its individual members have collaborated with an eclectic and diverse array of musicians, DJs and producers throughout their history, including Lou DonaldsonCorinne Bailey RaeQuanticCarleen Anderson, Keb DargeKenny DopeMr. Scruff, LSK, Lack of AfroPage McConnell, Grace Potter,Karl DensonMelvin SparksIdris MuhammadFred WesleyPee-Wee EllisMaceo ParkerBernard PurdieGeorge Porter, Jr.Zigaboo ModelisteArt Neville and Ernest Ranglin

Over the past few months, the members of The New Mastersounds have been collaborating with a number of incredible vocalists including Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal‘s Josh Hoyer and Ojai-born, Long Beach-based vocalist Adryon de León. The acclaimed soul and funk act’s latest single sees them collaborating with Macon, GA-born, Atlanta-based singer/songwriter and musician Lamar Williams, Jr.

Lamar Williams, Jr.’s father, Lamar played bass with The Allman Brothers and Sea Level, and as a result, Williams grew up in a very musical home: the younger Williams can trace the origins of his own music career to his childhood, singing in church and at school functions. Although the younger Williams lost his father at a very young age, he can say that he started his career independently with the help of friends and advisors throughout the years.

Williams landed his first record deal in Miami, after winning many talent shows and working with a number of sings of bands in the early 90s. He spent the next handful of years working with more bands and artists and various recording opportunities. During that period, Williams — through those various projects — shared stages with Little Richard, 112, Jagged Edge and a lengthy list of others.

By 2000, Williams began working with then-Macon-based act Revival. After moving the band to Athens, Williams began opening with Demun Jones — for Rehab in 2007. This lead to years’ long ongoing collaboration with the band that included played with, opening for and recording with the band while working on and developing his own sound and solo projects. Along with that, Williams has been extremely busy: Following in his father’s footsteps, he has sat in with The Allman Brothers Band and with Oteil and Friends. He’s the lead singer of Les Brers. And he’s currently working on a solo album with Mike Hartnett.

The collaboration can trace its origins back to when New Mastersounds bandleader and Color Red founder Eddie Roberts met Lamar Williams, Jr. at a Denver-based benefit show in early 2018 coordinated by The Gregg Allman Band‘s Peter Levin. As the story goes, Roberts and Willliams instantly connected. So when The New Mastersounds were touring through Atlanta, Williams joined the band for three songs, which lead to a deeper musical relationship.

Recorded in November 2018, Williams’ and The New Mastersounds’ latest single is a testament to their musical bond. Featuring some gorgeous yet hypnotic pedal steel by John Macy, “Trouble” is a slow-burning, bourbon and regret tinged blues with gently padded drumming, funky organ blasts and a strutting groove. And over that soulful arrangement, Williams contributes assured yet silky smooth vocals. While sonically hinting at What’s Going On era Marvin Gaye and B.B. King‘s “The Thrill Is Gone,” the song manages to be centered around a socially-charged, conscious message: “In general, the song inspiration came from how I think people perceive each other without giving love a chance for them to learn and lend their abilities to each unique situation,” Williams explains.

WRD Trio is a dynamic and gritty organ trio that features three highly accomplished bandleaders and musicians:

Walter, Roberts and Deitch would often bump into each other at New Orleans Jazz Fest, and in those those meetings, the trio would longingly discuss future collaborations together. Generally fueled by Roberts’ long-held belief that the trio would yield something impactful and interesting, the Leeds-born, Denver-based guitarist realized that with the co-founding of Color Red Music, that it was a perfect time to bring everyone into the studio to put some tracks on wax.

The end result is the trio’s recently released full-length debut The Hit, which was written and recorded in just two single-day sessions at Color Red Studios. Sonically, the album is reportedly one-part Sunday stroll and one-part rocket ship to Saturn centered around their unmistakable simpatico. (Perhaps that simpatico draws from the fact that each member is a Taurus, with each member’s birthday being a week after the other.)

The Hit‘s first single “Chum City” finds the trio collaborating with The Twin CatsNick Gerlach on a funky and strutting number centered around a grinding and muscular groove reminiscent of Chuck Brown-era go-go music and Booker T and The MGs and an arrangement that’s loose enough for all of these talented musicians to deliver some impressive solos. Simply put, this one is just fucking nasty y’all.

Denver-based indie rock trio Hello, Mountain — Stephen Pamas, Jack Falk and Patrick Smith — formed in back in 2014. And since their formation, the Denver-based trio have specials in what the act describes as glossy indie rock with sincerity.

Hello, Mountain recently released their sophomore album Swim. The album’s latest single “Talk To You” is centered around shimmering guitars, plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook within an alternating loud verse, even louder chorus/hook song structure. While sonically bearing a resemblance to Radiohead and Massive Context EP-era Hands, “Talk To You” is a swooning and earnest love song written with a pop leaning accessibility.