Web Beat: Ghost Wolf, Blind, the Thief, James Beer, Team Callahan, Tamed Animals and Facing West

Published on: July 17th, 2015

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

It’s official, teachers of Colorado – to reach your students you must think outside the box, which is exactly what’s found in Ghost Wolf’s single, “Danzig”; a track featuring a thorough run-through of the events leading up to and during the Nazi political party’s invasion of France in 1940. “Danzig”, as it turns out, was the codeword used to initiate the coordinated attacks designed by the Nazi war machine in their ultimately-successful attempt to break French defenses and occupy territory. While songs have been used for ages to help educate and reach people who may find certain types of education dense or boring (School House Rock, anybody?) Ghost Wolf executes a simplistic, powerful iteration of the technique where the lyrics are the one and only focus of the musical endeavor. Could production value come up a bit? Sure, but Ghost Wolf must be applauded with the first of three singles released featuring historical depictions from this devastating time in world history. Check out, as well, “Blitzkrieg” and “Stalingrad” – and teachers, be sure to take notes.

Spoiler alert: Blind, the Thief, a new post-rock band out of Colorado Springs isn’t just good… they’re really good. Math rock meets alternative meets post-rock in a stripped-down four-piece format sets the stage for big sounds and big emotions running wild. “All Aboard the Sinking Ship” is the first of five tracks on the band’s debut EP offering and features trademark guitar-focus leading into the story of each song. Between busier riffs the mind expects to hear vocal work thrown in the mix, but what’s found is the cleverly-conversational and greatly-varying instrumental guitar treatments which is somehow even better. Each track on the EP feels alive, and the music speaks for itself – even without a single word being uttered. Production value is unquestionably top-knotch, and this release could stand on the shelf beside the likes of genre greats God is an Astronaut, Red Sparrows, Grammatics, Explosions in the Sky and more. Colorado Springs has a brand new artistic gem, and hopefully Blind, the Thief takes notice and sets their sights on showcasing their work across the state. Five freaking stars.

While this write-up is a bit of a cheat as Boulder’s James Beer currently resides with the New York bigwigs out of state, respect must be paid where it’s due and “Moonlight Bars” fits the bill. “Electronic pop” might loosely describe the sound, but with the production done by the artist himself there’s oh so much more there including no less than one sexy baritone saxophone to help set the party mood. Vocals are crisp, clear, and prominent (but not hot) in the mix and the whole ensemble has that one-mind, pure-direction-type feeling bursting between loud musical stanzas. Beer’s solo work seems like a modernized, fully-realized iteration of The Sun And The Moon – a Boulder-born alt-rock trio which includes Beer and currently on hiatus. “Moonlight Bars” has that special sound, it’s accessible, exciting, energizing, and catchy. Who knows what else there may be coming from the Boulder transplant, but if there’s more like this than Beer’s decision to pursue his dreams might just be the right choice.

Denver-based Team Callahan is fully-staffed by husband-and-wife team Nick and Kathleen Arnal. On Point Doom, the three-song teaser promoting the duo’s upcoming album Afterglow, the title track presents a sort of modern 1970’s surfer vibe complete with heavy crash, ride and snare, but made more complete with a truely beautifully-included ending which turns down the overall song intensity. What’s more, the love and joy of creative collaboration oozes from the couple – it feels like each note is passion incarnate, and arguably comes across in a way not possible without the marital connection. The low-fi feel in production works well, while well-constructed the music seems sloppy and joyful which definitely compliments the energy of the three-song-set to a T. If the tracks here are any indication, August’s release of Afterglow should be one to watch for.

“Arouse” is the second song off Denver electronic artists Tamed Animals’ newest eight-song album The Sea Separates. The constant bass/snare drum drone sets the stage for the backdrop of washed out vocals over a slathering of electronically-produced synth in a peaceful, unfocused package – which as fans of the genre know means “A+” to dream pop lovers everywhere. At around 45 seconds deep, the song is brought into strong focus with the addition of careful guitar strum which only intensifies later in the track. There is a deceptive amount of production going on behind the scenes, with layer upon layer complimenting each other almost effortlessly as the vocal work echos across imaginary fields and bounces against the sides of listeners’ psyche. The Sea Separates is the latest in a long string of releases from the group, and it adds upon an already impressive collection of tracks from across the years.

Ok, just take a moment to let the following statement sink in: sisters Caitlin and Sidney Powell, front-“men” of Facing West are just SIXTEEN and THIRTEEN years old. What? Sure, the production engine backing the duo is amped up, professional, and at times formulaic but by gosh these girls have got some pipes. Long Way Home features 12 full-length southern rock tracks and “Real World” is neither the best nor the only high-intensity offering in the collection. Glimpses of their youth can be seen between the “kick” and “a$$” every so often, but overall it’s absolutely phenomenal how natural the performances across the album seem as a listener. On top of it all, their raw talent got them noticed by Warner Music Group as this debut album is released under Pando Records… If there was ever a more promising future for a set of up-and-coming Colorado musicians than this is it. Expect huge things from the gals, if they’ve got the stones for the limelight you should be hearing more about them soon.

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