Monday, April 28, 2008

We have found Providence

With all the gushing over the Old 97s I've really neglected my "Denver sound" folks, namely the new releases by DeVotchKa and Slim Cessna's Auto Club.  

Slim's new album Cipher was released last month, and while they played a few SXSW shows and one hometowner, they've been relatively quiet since.  I guess that is the reality of having a band where a number of folks live in different cities. 

Nonetheless, the new album has a great progression, although their slower songs seem to have grown darker on this album.  Overall, however, this album definitely delivers with some great new songs.  Given that this is the band that brought us "He, Roger Williams," they could get away with just about anything in my book, but they don't rely on any formulas on this record.

For any of you who have seen recent live shows, you'll already know "Children of the Lord," quite the quintessential tent revival rocker with a redux of a familiar Vacation Bible School song.  "Scac 101" brings some great contrast, with what one might deem a bit reminiscent of older Slim.  The thematic tune of "An Introduction to the Power of Braces" appears throughout the album, the significance of which must be interpreted by the listener I suppose.

On top of the well arranged songs, the album artwork, especially the photos by Gary Isaacs, really give the album a great visual presentation.  Isaacs has become somewhat of an icon in the photography of a number of Denver musicians, and the inside photo is a great example.

Next up we have the new album by DeVotchKa, A Mad and Faithful Telling, released on the Anti- label, their first LP released on a label.  Honestly I hate to try and describe the sound because I know I've been heavily biased by reading various reviews of DeVotchKa over the recent years, and thus, I don't know that I have much different to say.  Needless to say they still have a pretty good corner on the market of gypsy indie mariachi cabaret music.  However, speaking of Gary Isaacs, here's a great new press photo he did for DeVotchKa:

An important recommendation I would make is to purchase the ITUNES bonus track of "Undone," featuring the Tom Hagerman Quartet.  While the regular cut of "Undone" is a great listen, I prefer this extra track.  We had the opportunity to see Tom play an instrumental show in Boulder a few months back, and while a completely different experience from DeVotchKa, it was an amazing night of instrumentation with his extremely talented colleagues.  If that's your thing, don't forget to pick up a copy of Tom's The Breakfast Playground.   Other good listens off the new record are "Along the Way" and "A New World."  Still haven't really warmed up to "Transliterator," but maybe with time.

While I'm on the subject of Denver music, a couple of other items of note.  Around this time last year, Smooch Records announced that there was a documentary in the works about the Denver sound.  I've not heard any updates on this, but hope to see something out soon.  One can argue there is no specific "sound," but there is an interesting element to the fact that the city has produced such distinct and notable acts as 16 Horsepower, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Munly Munly, DeVotchKa, Woven Hand, and the Denver Gentlemen to name a few (in no particular order).  

Speaking of Munly, the only news I've been able to find on him is that he is working on a double album on the fictional town of Lupercalia, although the most that has been heard of him lately has been his appearance on New Years Eve with his new band Munly & the Lupercalians.  However, word is that the Lee Lewis Harlots are no longer playing, for reasons that I have only heard in rumor form.  And I don't want to be one to go spreading rumors...

And finally, one more Denver-related release on the horizon is the new Woven Hand record Ten Stones, slated for an August release.  Hopefully that means they'll play a hometown show by that time, although they seem to have a more adoring fan base in Europe than here in the U.S.  

i can't get a word in

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