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Monolith 2008 Picks

The Chain Gang of 1974 — playing Sunday, Sept 14, 1:30PM, GigBot Stage

As the saying goes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. This has been the mantra of a Denver musical entity, The Chain Gang of 1974, an electro rock gang-of-one with Kamtin Mohager at the helm.

In just 18 months, Kamtin has grown his Gang’s presence from a start-up solo act, featuring himself, a bass guitar and prerecorded backing tracks, into a viable music machine to be reckoned with.

A strong vision, belief in the songs he was creating and a DIY work ethic has led to over 160 shows, which is more than half of what was done by his previous alt rock band, The Vanity, during its year and a half run. MORE

FoalsFoals – Playing Monolith – Saturday, Sept 13, 2pm – Esurance Main Stage

Stemming from the strangest of self-proclaimed influences such as tennis’ Andy Roddick, minimalism, and chemistry, Oxford, England’s Foals might describe themselves as “mathletes.”

“What is a mathlete” you might ask, it’s something that doesn’t really seem to make sense until you listen to the album, Antidotes. If dancing can be considered athletic and you’re dancing to math-rock, then you might be considered a mathlete.

Antidotes was recorded with TV on the Radio’s guitarist and producer David Sitek. Front man Yannis Philippakis was warned by Sitek that he wasn’t interested in making a “glossy pop album.” Little did anybody know that Foals had Antidotes up its sleeve. MORE

Pop LeviPop Levi – Playing Monolith – Saturday, Sept 13, 7:10PM – WOXY.COM Stage

To confine Pop Levi to one genre would be severely underestimating his sound. With sound references as diverse and obscure as Michael Jackson, Little Richard, The Beatles, The Flaming Lips, Jimi Hendrix, 80’s pop, 70’s rock and the entire disco era, Pop Levi dances across genre lines with grace and elegance.

In his hometown of Liverpool, England, Pop Levi has found a niche for himself in blurring the lines of artistic titles and musical styles. Also an accomplished filmmaker, Levi has surrounded himself with a broad and diverse world of art.

Never Never Love (Counter Records) is the second release of Pop Levi following the BBC acclaimed The Return to Form Black Magick Party. Lyrically, Never Never Love will have your head spinning in an attempt to comprehend. Perhaps it’s just too high art for this writer to absorb, but it comes off as a randomly generated word compilation. MORE

Atmosphere on David LettermanAtmosphere – Playing Monolith – Sept 13, 9:45PM – New Belgium Stage

Atmosphere’s Sean Daly, AKA Slug, proved his wily, clandestine, and flatly, bare-bones promotional campaign for When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold a pure act of genius, dropping the album straight into number five on the charts on it’s release date (April 22, 2008).

Daly dictated a frustrating and elusive promotional campaign that allowed absolutely zero promotional copies of When Life… to be released—not even to his own publicist, who had to fly to New York City and sit in on a private listening session in a bar. That session, another the same in Los Angeles, and one at the top of the Hilton in Austin Texas were the only opportunities anyone got to here the record prior to it’s drop; and this is precisely why you are reading reviews of the album a week after it’s release rather than a week prior. Most publications had no idea what to review. But clearly the public did. MORE

The Morning BendersMorning Benders – Playing Monolith – Sept 13, 2:30PM – GigBot Stage – Treasure Island – Sunday, Sept 21

Having only seen their name on bills around the San Francisco Bay Area for years, but never hearing or seeing the band itself, we are completely surprised by the The Morning Benders after actually taking in their music. With a name like that, we are immediately thinking of hard-drinking, stayin’ up all night on cocaine, seasoned, if not pickled and preserved rocker dudes.

Oh no, my friend, this is not at all the case.

The Morning Benders is, in fact an incredibly youthful frolicking foursome from Berkely, California who has some amazing ability to create full, hooky, emotive, amazing music for the quintessential indie rock fanatic. Just listen to “Waiting for a War” once and go ‘hmmm…’ Then listen to it again and realize you will always love that amazing song after just two brief listens. MORE

CSSCSS – Playing Monolith – Sept 13, Treasure Island Festival – Sept 20

“We didn’t come into the world to walk around. We came here to take you out.” Thus boasts (and toasts) Lovefoxxx, lead singer of Cansei de Ser Sexy (aka CSS), on “Yager Yoga” from their sophomore release Donkey. This is their first album released completely to the Subpop imprint, which joined with Warner Brothers to sponsor the domestic release of their self-titled debut in 2006.

The Sao Paulo-based CSS originally dropped Cansei de Ser Sexy on the edgy Brazilian label Trama, but the group quickly became a hit through the neo Internet-eats-music (r)evolution. Like many other electro dance bands, tech met tech as the SEXtuplet found a massive and ever-growing following through Myspace, Wikipedia and other online resources. MORE

The KillsThe Kills – Playing Monolith – Sept 13, Treasure Island Festival – Sept 20

Sundance Channel Presents: Live From Abby Road – Episode 9 Premieres Thursday, August 14 – The Kills, The Fratellis, Sara Bareilles

It’s times like this when I miss cable, something I got rid of a few years ago. I figured I would put that money away to travel myself instead of sitting at home watching someone else have all the adventures. But yes, I do miss that damn Travel Channel, the Food Network, Comedy Central, IFC, and one of my “favorites” from those 200+ channel days, the Sundance Channel.

This summer Sundance has an adventurous series of a musical kind called “Live From Abbey Road,” which takes place in the most famous of all recording studios, bar none. Within this intimate setting, artists perform and open up about themselves and their music. Some very noteworthy artists that have appeared include Elbow, MGMT, Stereophonics, The Black Keys, Manu Chao, Hard-Fi, Suzanne Vega…and some you may not be sorry you missed (Rascal Flats, Matchbox Twenty, James Blunt). MORE

Port O'BrienPort O’Brien – Playing Monolith – Sept 13, Treasure Island Festival – Sept 21

San Francisco Bay Area indie-folk-rock quintuplet Port O’Brien released their sophomoric LP, All We Could Do Was Sing this past May, and since than the band has spent a great deal of time on the road, touring with Bright Eyes, Modest Mouse and Rogue Wave. (We first discovered them while covering of their opening spot with Rogue Wave at Bimbo’s in San Francisco.)

These have been very appropriate bill-mates, as Port O’Brien has combined elements of all of the aforementioned groups in their offering: the emotional, romantic and family-oriented aspects of Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), the modern Americana topics of Zach Rogue (Rogue Wave) and the tendency to “go big” as Modest Mouse does with arrays of instruments and throngs of extra singers. MORE

Tokyo Police ClubTokyo Police Club – Playing Monolith – Sept 14, Treasure Island Festival – Sept 21

Tokyo Police Club has been getting chatted up since their inception in 2005 without blowing up, which is odd in this readymade and ready-to-be-exploited era of indie pop. Rather, up to now, TPC have been on a slow-burn path toward a lasting musical career by amassing a solid underground following. But with their debut Elephant Shell now out on Saddle Creek Records, and an impending tour with Weezer and Angels and Airwaves this fall, the foursome seems poised to start making a bigger wave. MORE


The PresetsThe Presets – Playing Monolith – Sept 13, 9:10pm

My stupidity convinced me that it would be a good idea to go to a slip-n-slide party and do some heavy drinking the night before I was to interview Kim Moyes from The Presets. But I did wake up at 8am the following morning, ready to receive a phone call from The Preset’s manager. Sore, tired, and maybe a still a little bit drunk, I stumbled around my room to find my voice recorder and then stumbled some more trying to find the speaker-phone function on my cell.

If you’ve never woken up to an Australian accent in your ear, I highly recommend it. All of my aches and pains seemed to disappear for the duration of the phone call as I was enamored and swooning at Moyes’ lush accent and willingness to participate.

Kaffeine Buzz: Sorry if I’m a little slow, it’s 8am here, I should be up, but I’m just lazy. Where are you guys calling from?

Kim Moyes: We’re in London right now. It’s 3pm here. Where are you? MORE

Does It Offend You, Yeah?Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Interview – Playing Monolith Sunday, Sept 14 at 7:10PM

First off, the name: Does It Offend You, Yeah? It’s always slightly uncomfortable to utter it to people who haven’t heard of them, because you know exact what reaction you’re going to get. All you can do is shrug and reassure them, “Just trust me; they’re good.”

Here’s the skinny: In the early days, the group was much slimmer, consisting only of Dan Coop (synths) and James Rushent (bass, vocals). They were contemplating a name simply so that they could put their music online. They decided to switch on the television and use the first line they heard. It was the British version of The Office, and Ricky Gervaise (playing David Brent) said, “Does it offend you, yeah? My drinking?” And there you have it.

As quirky as their name is, taking in one show or giving a single listen to their debut LP, You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into will prove that the stylistically indefinable Reading, England group is breaking new ground, both musically and in their following.

DIOYY has been spending a great deal of time on this side of the pond. Kaffeine Buzz met up with the group at Austin’s South by Southwest festival this past spring, again in Denver at the Bluebird earlier in the summer, and tonight we sit down with the lads at San Francisco’s Fillmore, where they are opening for Bloc Party. MORE

Event Review – Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Monolith CrowdThe Lowdown (Aug. 8, 08) — We’ve all seen the flurry of music festivals popping up over the last five or so years, including the resurrection of Lollapalooza and it’s revamped program that restricts the event to their Chicago home base, the shift of jam band heavy Banaroo to indie/alternative rock superstars like Sigur Ros, Death Cab and Radiohead taking over the stages, and the emergence of Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle, which has begin to overshadow its predecessor, Bumbershoot. But none can say they take place in the historic and world-renowned Red Rocks amphitheater. And as with the innagural Monolith Festival in 2007, the two-day event will again take place in this magestic and magical place September 13 and 14. MORE

The Chain Gang of 1974The Chain Gang of 1974 – Sunday – 1:30PM

If you want to do something right, do it yourself. Or do it by yourself. Listening one of the new tracks “Let’s Make It Tonight” from the new EP When the Apple Drops, by The Chain Gang of 1974, you could easily picture at least three dashing men, whipping up potent electro cocktails on stage – singer, bassist, and keyboardist. But alas, Kamtin Mohager it is the lone gang of one, and he’s one hard working dude.

This solo act has more punch than a high school dance, whipping kids into a moshing frenzy with legs, heads and arms wave at a frenetic pace to match the music emanating from the stage. Mohager will keep things rolling after his CD release party tonight at LIFESpot, heading down to the Springs to The Element, performing with The Wake Up, Of The Wolves, and Quote The Raven.

In line with his track “New York Dressed Girl,” Chain Gang will hit up The Knitting Factory in NYC after he performs with the load-o-fun dirty-boy, hip-hop act, 3OH3! Stay tuned to this local talent:

Event Review – Chain Gang of 1974 (opening for 3OH!3)

Astra MoveoAstra Moveo – Sunday – 1:45pm

Having missed the CD release party for Astramoveo, one of Denver’s latest acts to emerge from the confines of four walls, I was excited to get my hands on the band’s new E.P. (thank you Jason Roth).

Like most handmade E.P. art pieces, it was numbered—so I was to have in my possession number 44 of 300. It is the size of your average novel, made of a light sandstone, thin cardboard material and a blood red imprint of the band’s brand, picture, member (Tyler Hayden, Christophe Eagleton, James Cromwelll Holden (the III?) and song listings, cleaning laid out by MATTER.

Much love was also sent out to Mark Clevenger and two studios were listed as the spots were the magic and music took place—The Mortuary Mansion (this sounds like a haunt Disney himself would have drummed up…but it is rumored to be the abode of Mr. Holden) and New Japan Studios.


Joshua NovakJoshua Novak – Sunday, September 14 – 5:15pm

New York loves this boy. So do I, and so should you.

Joshua Novak is a Denver native who creates intense and awesome singer-songwriter material comparable to the emergent New York solo artist scene that holds claim to such burgeoning acts as Devendra Banhart and Kimya Dawson.

During an evening discussion with a Twin Beaks Shiraz and a Luis Bernard Cotes Du Rhone at the Paris Wine Bar, Joshua told me that he doesn’t care to be lumped into the singer-songwriter category.

“I write music and lyrics, but everybody brings something to it.” He says in reference to bassist Giovanni Toninelo, drummer Arbon Reimer and sometimes the electronically proficient Gann Mathews.

Joshua also doesn’t care to take flight to a city where his sort of career is so established that one could search for openings on Craigslist. He would rather contribute to the local music scene.



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