the UMS

The 14th annual Underground Music Showcase is coming July 24-27, 2014!

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The Fresh & Onlys

“We make albums to be heard as albums,” says Tim Cohen. “We always toil over the sequencing and slight pauses.” House of Spirits, The Fresh & Onlys’ fifth album since 2008, testifies to their rigorous full-length approach. Their most adventurous outing yet, House of Spirits devotes its A-side to the character of dreams. Written partly during his stay at an isolated horse ranch in Arizona with only a guitar, Korg keyboard and drum machine, Cohen focused the album’s lyrics on firmer narratives than on past material, but his imagery veers towards absurdity, reflecting the unreliable visions culled from his nightly subconscious activity. The album’s latter half finds his speaker awoken, resolute and lucid. All throughout, Cohen says the album grapples with the “idea that home is where your feet are.” While still possessing the impeccable pop faculties displayed on Long Slow Dance and Soothsayer, The Fresh & Onlys also deal experimental atmospherics and drum-machine anchored ballads like never heard from the group before.

“The things I remember from dreams are when something is slightly off. You’re in your house but realize suddenly that it’s not yours,” says Cohen. In that sense, album opener “Home is Where?” is a statement of the album’s intent. When Cohen’s speaker notices a “bowl full of eyes on the floor,” or “cauldron of hearts on the stove” during his comforting walk through “the good life,” the brisk but nuanced track morphs into a surrealist nightmare.

Originally formed by Cohen, bassist Shayde Sartin and guitarist Wymond Miles, who met through their mutual employer Amoeba Music, The Fresh & Onlys soon recruited drummer Kyle Gibson. Their self-titled debut appeared in 2008 at the fulcrum of a flourishing San Francisco music scene on Thee Oh Sees’ leader John Dwyer’s then-fledgling Castle Face imprint. The debut distinguished The Fresh & Onlys from their peers in the lauded “San Francisco garage scene,” the regional buzz tag that couldn’t have been more inadequate for the band.

With tunefulness equally indebted to pastoral psychedelia, punchy new wave and hyper-literate proponents of lofty 80s pop, The Fresh & Onlys swiftly moved through the ranks of venerable indie rock labels. Follow-up albums and a voluble slew of EPs on Woodsist, In The Red and Captured Tracks earned the group high critical praise, including a flattering New York Times feature, while Cohen’s output with his folk-inclined act Magic Trick and Miles’ own solo career rode impressive trajectories of their own.

In 2012, The Fresh & Onlys’ fourth album, Long Slow Dance, appeared on Mexican Summer. A meditation on the complexities of love with Cohen’s signature insertion of severe imagery into poignant song craft, it also solidified The Fresh & Onlys’ adoption of lush analog production. They continued to work with Phil Manley (Trans Am) at Lucky Cat Studios in San Francisco for the Soothsayer 12” EP, which showcased Miles’ Morricone-esque handle on atmosphere, hazy chords ringing out with shimmering, ghostly notes in their wake.

As Miles says of House of Spirits, “We wanted to honor the mystery that the desert gave to Tim’s songs.” The seasoned ensemble’s fiery feel and careful arrangements run throughout, but it also privileges The Fresh & Onlys’ experimental tendencies. There’s violent, churning guitar noise between gospel-like vocal interplay for “Bells of Paonia” and an ominous drum machine pulse underpins the unsettling finale, “Madness,” a track that inspired Miles to throttle his guitar with a power drill in the studio for what he calls “a sort of Einstürzende Neubauten moment.” As Cohen relishes mystery, camps out in dreams and hones his singular approach to glistening pop with sinister undertones, perhaps “Madness” speaks best to the Fresh & Onlys’ essence. As Cohen puts it in the track, “So, madness has a heart / Letting me rejoice / In the most peculiar things.”

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake

Denver’s Snake Rattle Rattle Snake create music steeped in the darkness, perpetually dodging the sunny sheen of pop tendencies in favor of the shadows. Singer Hayley Helmericks, guitarist Doug Spencer, guitarist/keyboardist Wilson Helmericks, bassist Adam Shaffner and drummer Andrew Warner walk suredly down that partly cloudy street and the result is the band’s first full length album Sineater.

The record, the first release by Denver startup label The Greater Than Collective, is a black tapestry of pulsing, macabre rock n’ roll that feels as if it is being slowly slashed apart by bright head-nodding hooks---deconstructing the sinister underbelly only to sew it back together.

At its opening, guitars weave together playfully on “Hastily” and as the song progresses an ominous mood is brought on and carried through to such key tracks as “NOPD” and “Break the Same” with the help of growling bass and pounding drums. Helmericks’ skilled vocals are the powerful constant, providing a seamlessness as the album moves from the dance-floor-jungle “Kafka and the Milk” to the cooing, frightening calm of “Warning”.

Sineater was written, recorded and produced by Snake Rattle Rattle Snake themselves and its release is an important benchmark for a band that has already recieved several accolades. 303 Magazine and The Denver Post both named them “Band of the Year” in 2010 and weekly Westword dubbed them “Best Indie Rock” band in 2011.

In addition to recording a Daytrotter Session, playing the historic Red Rocks Ampitheatre and headlining many local venues, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake has shared the stage with notable national acts as The Dead Weather, The Rapture, Devotchka, Pink Mountaintops, Wovenhand, and The Fresh and Onlys.

Hearts in Space

Hearts in Space is a Denver four piece comprising of Ezra Darnell on vocals, guitar and bass. Jordan Hubner on vocals and guitar, Johnny Lundock on drums and Ryan Slowkowski on bass and guitar. Sonically pleasing with touches of light hearted and lush vocal harmonies and soul. Psychadelia is no stranger in their landscape of southwestern born garage explorations.

Pacific Pride

"Denver indie combo Pacific Pride have a deep and wide river of influences that's fed by everyone from Pavement to Pollard... OK, maybe that river's not all that deep after all. Nonetheless, the vocals of Paul Garcia do a lot to separate the band's sound from that of other noise-pop outfits; his lolling, dry singing style is half disinterested observer, half emotional wreck. Combined with the band's tendency to write songs that refract its more obvious American tastes through a prism of odd-pop icons like the Kinks and the Clean, the result is a sound that channels the clattering, energetic velocity of classic indie rock with a touch of cerebral catchiness that warrants more than a second glance" - seattle weekly

the Blue Rider

A rock and roll band started in late 2011, releasing the single Way Out West in 2012 and a full length record scheduled for release in the summer of 2013.

We have had the privilege of sharing a stage with: The Warlocks, Night Beats, Spindrift, Broken Spirits, Hanni el Khatib, Those Darlins and many more.

Shady Elders

Like a drugged Ella Fitzgerald singing to a dying lover" (Denver Westword), Fox Rodemich's inimitable, vibrato-soaked vocals are the centerpiece to Shady Elders' shimmery yet dark take on dream pop, shoegaze, doo-wop and indie rock.

The Denver based band's 2013 debut EP, No Favors, was released via Hot Congress Records to high acclaim, and earned them support slots for Mazzy Star, DeVotchka, Dr. Dog, The Antlers, Wild Nothing, and Caveman among others, as well as a trip to the 2013 CMJ Music Marathon.

In 2014, Shady Elders will tour the west coast in March, followed by the release of a new EP later in the Spring.

Born from toxic sludge leaked from the Beach Boys' amps.

Vitamins

Newly reunited and sounding better than ever, Vitamins are continuing to infuse their classical training (the band formed while studying music at the University of Northern Colorado), with their eclectic interests in country, kraut-rock, indie-pop and psychedelia. With Ryan Ellison's virtuosic ear for melody, Matt Daniels sharp aesthetics, Crawford Philleo's complex yet accessible rhythm back-bone and Lizzy Allen's siren-like falsetto, Vitamins are a well respected force of musical style and talent. Often compared to Euro shoe-gaze/art-pop bands such as Blonde Redhead and Stereolab, Vitamins has won the hearts of Denver scenesters, media, and musical academics alike.

Manzoon

loud and wild psychedelic freakout!!

CLEAR/BLACK

CLEAR BLACK is a band that was formed under the premise that there's a sad shortage of good, heavy, pissed-off rock bands to match and document this moment in time.If you put on the White Album, you can get a sense of how people were feeling in 1968. That record sounds like fucking 1968. That record sounds like a sexual revolution was happening, a Cold War was raging, a drug laden counter culture had become mainstream.If you put on Nebraska, you can get a glimpse of what it was like to be alive in America in 1982. That record embodies the hopelessness many Americans were experiencing at a time when unemployment approached 11%. With an honest job out of reach, a life of crime and robbery seemed like a welcome escape from the dismal and opportunity-less landscape most people in the lower classes were used to waking up to each morning. One can hear and learn what it was like to live in 1982 through that record.Nevermind is an obvious reference point to delve into the mind of 1991′s young adult. Too many broken homes, unwanted and attention deprived children abound, 12 years of conservative rule, a decade of insipid hair metal bands; there was lot to be pissed off about in 1991 and Mr. Cobain left us with a telling artifact to re-experience the time period.Flash forward to 2013. What artifacts are currently reflecting to the people of 2045 how we are feeling in 2013? If you turn on the radio today, it sounds like we wish we were in any other time period other than our own. We sound nostalgic for a past where we were hopeful for the future. We sound like we've spent too much time on our computers. We sound unfocused, only capable of maintaining our attention for the length of time it would take it read 140 characters. We sound lazy. We sound overwhelmed by this new evolution of mankind, this interfacing with new technologies that has destroyed our memory and diminished our opportunities for real human connection with one another. We sound emotionless and pacified. But is that really how we feel? Is that really who we are?Maybe some of us, but not all of us.CLEAR BLACK is not retro. Sure there are the influences (Sabbath, Barrett, Pixies) but the band's goal is to do what it's forebearers did; document the time period they lived in through their art, have influences but develop a voice of their own, carry the torch of heavy rock n' roll a little further down the road. How does CLEAR BLACK feel about our current time period? PISSED OFF! The never-ending onslaught of coded advertisement messages to make us feel like shit to raise product consumption, the fucking ocean wide gap in income inequality between Joe Blow CEO and working class Americans, the blatant discrimination of our friends that happen to love someone of the same gender, the continuing sense of disconnect that advancing technologies have forced upon the human race, the pumping of millions of fucking barrels of toxic sludge into our oceans by BP and other corporate douchebags, the endless, mindless war for profit under the guise of security in the Middle East, the destruction of the public government servant into an obedient corporate employee, the general lack of consideration we as humans show toward one another far too often………..it's got us feeling angry, and a little like losing it.CLEAR BLACK hopes you can hear their feelings in their art. They hope the people of 2045 will hear and feel it too.

Erin Tidwell, Nicole Smith, Michael Bauer

the Vicious Women

We live in basements.
Behind locked security doors.
On Hills, in houses, In Rows.
We aren't hiding.
We've been here the whole time.
We were Just watching without you knowing.

Somerset

You will find as you grow older that the first thing needful to make the world a tolerable place to live in is to recognize the inevitable selfishness of humanity. You demand unselfishness from others, which is a preposterous claim that they should sacrifice their desires to yours. Why should they? When you are reconciled to the fact that each is for himself in the world you will ask less from your fellows. They will not disappoint you, and you will look upon them more charitably. Men seek but one thing in life -- their pleasure. - Somerset Maugham

Talk All Night

Talk All Night is a dark and playful 4-piece modern electronica/rock group, with allusions to 80's and 90's synth pop, shoegaze, indie, and IDM. Lush/dynamic/intriguing/fun

35-80

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the UMS with The Fresh & Onlys, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Hearts in Space, Pacific Pride, the Blue Rider, Shady ...

Saturday, July 20 · Doors 3:00 PM / Show 4:00 PM at Hi-Dive