Vices I Admire - Fables

In the past, I've used this space to applaud the amazing work of Denver's Vices I Admire. The band Fables on May 4th, featuring the epic cover art shown above. Vices, as I'll refer to them colloquially from now on, were a post-punk, hard rocking band when I saw them last. What we hear on Fables is a more bare mix, loaded with more creative songwriting, and more complex arrangements. Shades of Jimmy Eat World's debut, and Queens of the Stone Age come to mind, but Vices is also climbing undauntedly toward a confident stadium rock greatness.
has, in the short time, evolved generations. They are releasing a new EP titled

With a partially revamped line-up, you can read details below, Vices I Admire now plays for a larger crowd than they had on albums and tracks past. This is a band happily building its audience, but actively seeking the world to hear them. A mellower, more earnest, and direct lyrical style makes Fables a deserving listen. And the catchy, alt-pop hooks and melodies create an experience that both demands dancing and decries the nonchalance associated with tapping your feet to songs about distance, disillusionment and rebirth.

Check out "Come Home" and "Beautiful Fire" for two disparate, unique and enjoyable tastes. You can listen to the album for a limited time here: http://vicesiadmire.bandcamp.com/album/fables.

Tickets for the May 4th CD release show are currently available at moonroomatsummit.com

Vices I Admire is an alternative rock band from Denver, CO. The current lineup is Dave Curtis (vocals, guitar; 2002-present), Dan Battenhouse (bass, vocals; 2009-present) and Alex Simpson (drums, vocals; 2012-present); for performances, a second-guitarist spot is filled by various musicians, the most recent being Tavis Alley (of Speakeasy Tiger) and Scott Uhl (of Glass Delirium).
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RIP Jason Molina

Yesterday, I was shocked and saddened to read that Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. leader, singer-songwriter-genius Jason Molina, had passed away after a lifelong battle with alcoholism. In many circles, Molina's work, a prolific catalog of sad, dark, folksy, occasionally-uplifting, and always extremely beautiful songs, was and is revered. Molina's voice, a trademark strained caterwaul, was something that many people probably had a hard time connecting with. It was the words, though, that made the biggest impact on me.

My friend and coworker, Sean, led me to Molina's music through our office's shared sound system. Some days, I'll be honest, Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., depressed the hell out of me. Sometimes it was just plain to hard to listen to. Yet, Axxess & Ace sticks with me note for note. I won't say that I can recite the lyrics from memory, or even along with the songs, but goddamn if I can't feel every single thing Molina says and find a parallel in my own history. There was something so incredibly timeless and aware about Molina's work that makes it undeniable.

Like fellow gone-too-soon artist Elliott Smith, Molina was a dark-side poet of life. He didn't write songs about sex or love or happiness or sadness in pop-ready terms. The hooks in his songs, of which there are many, would be unlikely to snare the casual radio listener. The western-classic slide guitar and plucky nature of his arrangements don't drive you to the dance floor or inspire a Journey-esque bar-wide sing-along. Instead, it was always poetry, dark, human, and in brief snapshots.

The Magnolia Electric Co. album by Songs: Ohia, the last before transitioning bands, features a song called "Old Black Hen," sung by vocalist Lawrence Peters in pristine, visceral, glory. That song changed my life. It changes my life every time I listen to it. And the "bad luck lullaby" refrain that strings that song together will always make me think of Jason Molina. He, who was so willing to put his heart on display in his music, to show everyone what he was made of, created so many powerful and potent songs that his short life was a gift to every audiophile.

The tragic nature of his passing will never be at the forefront of my mind because his legacy is as robust and untarnished as any artist in the public eye could ever hope for. Whatever pain and suffering he felt is now done, and he has left us all the great gift of a timeless library of honesty, truth, and impeccable music.

Thank you, Jason. 

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Petula Clark - Cut Copy Me

Born in 1932, Petula Clark, perhaps best known to Gen Y and Z and whateverthefuck for the song "Downtown," has released a new single. It's called "Cut Copy Me" and it might be the best song of 2013 so far, in any genre, but specifically in a British, downbeat, electronic, love, alt, rock. Keep in mind, that "Downtown" song about "when you're alone and life is treating you lonely... you can always go..." was released back in 1964, when Clark was 32. It was a prime piece of '60s pop elegance, and one of the most, stuck-in-our-heads songs of all time. Clark has clearly grown with the times and continued to write amazing, honest, sweet lyrics. The computer metaphor in "Cut Copy Me" serves to drive the video, but it also speaks to the distance and automation of modern love. The simple request in that title, to be removed from one document or file and placed in another, leaving no trace of the past, is something we've all hoped for at times. But, it's clear here and that Clark sees this as a romantic electronic future dream. The truth is that love is always messy, always complicated, and there's no keyboard macro to end one love and create another. This might be 2013's through-thread song. We'll see.

Regardless. I hope I'm even half this prescient, open and creative when I'm 80. Thank you, Petula Clark.
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The Amends - What We Could Be

Boulder/Denver-based local rock darlings The Amends are back again. When I first heard them in July of 2011, I was throttled with the potent, catchy nature of their indie-punk-pop-power aesthetic. They released their first full-length album soon thereafter, and once more, I was floored. So no wonder I was so happy to hear that they'd be releasing their second album on January 8th. That album is called What We Could Be. Many bands, on album 2, experience something called a sophomore slump. Usually it is attributed to having less than a lifetime to write a new set of songs, and putting all of one's band eggs into the basket that was most popular from album 1. Luckily, The Amends don't have to worry about that because it's just about impossible to hit a moving target. While the quality, power pop strains of great, memory-grabbing rock music remain, What We Could Be, hits harder into realms of psychedelia, blues rock, Southern rock and garage grunge.

A track like "Big City Way" for instance feels like a Black Keys, The Band, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin massive blow out. The Amends revels in pushing the volume to eleven and grinding out long, beautiful, artistic bridges and instrumentals. Don't get comfy there because the very next track, "More to Give" feels like classic Joe Jackson, though without the glossy production of the '80s. Also, it breaks open like a volcano at the end. Yet, "Make It So" is a bouncy, bass-driven bit of post-Strokes garage rock, with some excellent insights on the distractions of youth and the wastefulness of listlessness. Then "Time Goes On" happens. It's a gorgeous high school dance of a track, sad, plodding and dressed in a careful riff that is both wallowing and ceaselessly hopeful. "Tick Tock" changes the pace again, alternating almost spoken-word verses with fantastic slinky lead guitar work.

So, here's the thing, What We Could Be, is a love letter, a wish, a dirge, a celebration and an apology. But that's just the lyrics. Musically, this is close to the rock heyday stuff of the late '60s and '70s, with style to spare. The Amends dabble in a lot of sub-genres here, and rather than creating a series of pleasant homages, they apply a unique spin that makes each style their own. "It'd Be Nice" appears at surface to be a basic chugging blues-rock track, but incredible vocal style, witty, caustic lyrics and the vibe that this band is really enjoying themselves sets it far apart. If you don't check out this second album, you're a goddamn fool. There I said it. And I won't take it back. You can stream it free at The Amends's bandcamp site starting on January 8. You can also download it for $5, or order up the physical album.

Support local music. These Colorado boys are making good.
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