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Web Beat: Stephen Melton, Colin Harris Jr., Better Than Biscuits, Vatican Vamps, Tortuga, and Na’an Stop


Yellow Scene prides itself on being hyper-local, and that includes music. We want to make sure that as many local bands, DJs, MCs, etc as possible get the press that they deserve, so Web Beat will be a weekly online column going forward. Every week, we’ll check into Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and whatever else we can find, and listen to the latest tunes from local artists. If you have hints and tips for us, email editorial@yellowscene.com.Y

Denver singer-songwriter/producer-for-hire/guest-musician Stephen Melton recently released Stephen Melton, a collection of five of his favorite pieces he has ever written or produced. The five are boiled down from “nearly 50 songs throughout 365 days” and the polish on the final product is outstanding. On the album Melton wrangled the help of no less than five supporting musicians as well as production, engineering, and mastering assistance which results in a truly loving, social, soulful, and pointed musical production. On Fire can be purchased separately, but the entire collection is available online for $5 and as an added bonus Melton has pledged 20% of all proceeds to support Denver’s local animals shelters. Melton’s goal with the release is to raise awareness as well as $3,000 for the organizations in need.

Destroyer comes from Colin Harris Jr.’s Exile On Canyon Blvd, an 11-song offering recorded and produced in Boulder. On the surface the lyrics give life to what seems to be a love (or hate) interest, and in a desperate sort of drone listeners begin to feel that the dormant interest has been stretched thin – Harris’ voice is tired, but he’s still fighting. Across the album Harris offers a fair amount of variety in instrumentation, vocal work, and subject matter. Each track has it’s own story but there seems to be a common thread throughout them all, which of course is Harris’ story. Destroyer is probably the darkest track on the album, but it is presented in such a peaceful and emotional way that it sets the stage for the highs and lows stretched throughout all the pieces.

The Colorado folk scene checks in courtesy of Denver’s Better Than Biscuits’ February release of their newest album Flour Power (probably the best album name ever). Better Than Biscuits bills themselves as “original, fun contemporary folk” which is certainly right on the money. Rain is the first song on the album and works great to set the stage for the rest of of the 12-track offering which features many different vocal and instrumental treatments from song to song. Strong storytelling runs rampant set alongside beautiful vocal harmony and a great selection of stringed additions. The lack of percussion means the bass walk is that much more rhythmic, it’s a wonderfully melodic presentation overall that Better Than Biscuits can certainly be proud of.

While we do try to share the love here in Web Beat, it’s a job that’s made infinitely harder when Vatican Vamps follows up the pre-album release of 12 Parsecs with the full-length album Yggdrasil. As it turns out, 12 Parsecs isn’t the best track on the album (but it’s hard to make the distinction of what is). Vallnor is the first song off the full-length offering and is deep both in subject in sound. Vocal treatment for the piece is far and away the most engaging aspect of the song and by and far a staunch change from the musical direction of the previously-reviewed 12 Parsecs. Nat Lort-Nelson has done great work, and all 5 band members contribute so effortlessly to the production value that it’s a true testament to the overall direction of the band’s presentation. This is the first time we’ve featured an artist in back-to-back Web Beat articles and if the tracks had been staggered out a bit more we might even have included them next week.

Tortuga sends love from Denver with the Back Home EP which features five tracks in their trademark “avant-garde textures smashed into ripping synths, subtle keys tickling angelic harmonies, all tied into our funk-inspired clash of titans”. Very reminiscent of artists like Flying Lotus, but much greater influence of funk, r&b, and hip hop song structure. Back Home works as the title track from the EP, and one of the only instances where there is even sparing use of vocal sampling. Tortuga has only had online accounts since earlier this week, which means they are new on the scene – expect great things though as the first production hints at more fantastic music to come.

Na’an Stop comes to us out of Boulder with Cruising, the pre-release single off of the group’s upcoming March release of From the Deep (the second album produced under the Na’an Stop name). It’s a reggae roots rock presentation with heavy influence from traditional ska hooks and the like. Strong vocal harmonization rounds out a driving bass-centric beat with synth and guitar accent to boot. The five-piece ensemble plays regularly at Conor O’Neill’s in Boulder and can be seen as well at other area venues from time to time. Hopefully there will be some fanfare with the release of the new album as they’ve been able to drum up a fairly good following without much help from press in the past. If the first track from the album is any way to gauge the rest of the work it’s probably safe to say that Na’an Stop fans should be pleased come next week when From the Deep hits headphones across the state.

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