One of the more exciting developments in the Grand Junction music scene is the trend of new artists creating original music.
Just over the past year, there has been a flood of new releases. From old favorites such as Zolopht, Jack+Jill and We Speak Imaginese to newer bands such as Mount Orchid, original music from local musicians is easier to find than ever.
With KMSA and KAFM pumping local music over the airwaves and venues such as Sabrosa and The Local filling their schedules with local performers, it finally seems like the area is receptive to new, original voices.
One such voice is singer/songwriter Will Whalen. As a multi-instrumentalist solo artist, Whalen has performed around the area for the last five years.
Once strictly a cover artist, Whalen has spent the past year writing and recording an album that is fully his own. “Right Away,” his new modern rock album, features 11 tracks about a variety of topics from girls to social activism.
“The ideas for some songs had been complete for a long time, others needed polishing, and a few didn’t even exist yet,” Whalen said. “For instance, ‘Sense’ was written about a girl I admired several years back, while ‘Cross Your Fingers’ was largely inspired by the August 2014 Ferguson protests. I liked being all over the map like that, because it keeps me interested and engaged.”
Listening through the album, you can hear Whalen’s wide range of influences. From bluesy indie rock to electronic drum patterns, Whalen meticulously has pieced together a variety of modern rock sounds that, in the wrong hands, could easily have been interpreted into a jumbled mess. Instead, “Right Away” gives you a complete picture of who Whalen is: a complex musician with an appreciation for all types of music.
On “My Full Attention,” Whalen delivers lines with the sass and attitude of an agitated Jack White. The influence of the former White Stripes front man is all over this album. The guitar tones on “Supernatural Blues” sound like White Stripes outtakes. Whalen also goes as far to cover “The Denial Twist” from the White Stripes 2005 album “Get Behind Me Satan.”
“Stray Season,” on the other hand, is influenced by the complex electronic drumming patterns from Radiohead’s latter albums such as “Hail To the Thief.”
Whalen wrote, played, recorded, mastered and promoted the entire album by himself, partially because he is still pinning down his style. Working solo on “Right Away” not only helped Whalen develop his sound, it also has given him valuable insight into the business side of being a musician.
“I saw each step of the process, like learning another instrument. Mixing and mastering audio isn’t just a skill, but a talent. The same goes for promotions, graphic design, booking and social media maintenance. I feel like if I know the complexities and difficulties of each job, I can hand over the reigns to someone on a professional level and truly appreciate their talent in the future,” Whalen said.
New York City Cops, a new band made up of members from Wavebaby and Mout Orchid, debut tonight at Sabrosa. A Strokes cover band, New York City Cops will playing a note for note cover of the band's classic first album "Is This It."
Originally released overseas on July 30, 2001, "Is This It" featured the naked thigh/black glove album cover and included the song "New York City Cops." After 9/11, the album was altered before the US release. "New York City Cops" was removed and replaced with "Hard To Explain." The cover art was also changed from the naked thigh/black glove picture to the colorful, psychedelic image that adorns the album to this day. New York City Cops will play both songs.
Avett Brothers + Sturgill Simpson, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, July 11, 2015
All the important memories in my life, or at least a majority of them, are tied to music. In somehow, someway, my most cherished moments seem to be connected with a song, concert, or a band.
Cooking for my parents with the omnipresent George Harrison playing in the background, driving overnight through the Utah desert with my best friend for a Dave Matthews Band concert, sharing a beer with Wilco at the Rockslide, my first performance with Dreamboat at Tenacious Brothers — the list goes on and on.
Music has meant so much more to me then I can describe here. Yes, it’s been the soundtrack of my life but it’s also been the gateway to so many great relationships. From melancholy and joy to heartbreak and romance, I would simply not be the man I am today without harmony and melody.
For the average music fan there’s nothing particularly special or memorable about the Parlours, a mildly successful indie band from Iowa. Yet for me, they are one of the most important bands of my life. At their Mesa Theater and Club lounge show, Saturday night, August 25, 2012, I met the love of my life.
Even today, as the opening synth chords fade into my favorite Parlours song “Dreamers,” time stops, and no matter my surroundings, I’m reminded of when I met Jamie.
I see the tiny giraffes on her patterned blue dress. I see her long, loose curls lightly falling on her grey cardigan sweater, and her warm, heart-melting gaze like it was yesterday.
I also see the terrible outfit I was wearing, ragged cut-off jean shorts and one of my dad’s old plaid button up shirts, and wonder why she ever gave me the time of day.
I can’t tell you if it was love at first sight, but seeing her and realizing that the rest of the lounge had vanished around us, the connection I felt, and continue to feel today, was undeniable. Truth be told I can’t recall anything about the night, other than the moments spent in effortless conversation with her.
Almost a week later we meet again at another concert, Jack + Jill with opening support from Dreamboat, the band I was playing bass with at the time. Feeling unusually confident, perhaps the result of the full blue moon hanging overhead, I asked her out after our set. She said yes.
Since those late August nights we’ve made countless memories together. We spent our second anniversary at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, weathering a torrential downpour to see the Arctic Monkeys. We went to the Postal Service reunion show and “Motown: The Musical” together. We’ve spent date nights at our friend’s band and DJ shows. We’ve dressed up as zombie Ewok and zombie Hunter S. Thompson for Zombie Prom.
When I play an Avett Brothers song on guitar I think about our annual pilgrimage to Red Rocks to see them live. I think about filling our house with their music and the promise I’ve made to learn banjo because that’s what Scott Avett, her favorite Avett, plays.
The past three years have been the best of my life, filed with great music, yes, but more importantly, priceless memories. Jamie’s made my ordinary life extraordinary and I can’t help but wonder, if it wasn’t for the Parlours, or Dreamboat, or the Avett Brothers, would we still have found each other?
Coincidentally next Friday, July 31, is the first blue moon since August 2012. It is also our wedding day. I love her today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives, and feel lucky to store yet another treasured memory with this perfect girl.
Local indie band Mount Orchid will officially release their new, self-titled album this Saturday with a concert at the Local. Comprised of former members of the band Dreamboat, Mount Orchid will debut several new songs as well as perform old Dreamboat classics. The new album is already available for streaming and purchase at bandcamp.com.
Sharing the stage will be Denver based Indie/Folk artists Anthony Ruptak and the Midnight friends. They have been featured on Open Air CPR and have been making waves in the exploding Denver music scene. Also performing is Denver musician Jacob Russo.
The show starts at 10 p.m., tomorrow (July 18), at the Local in Downtown Grand Junction.
Icelandic folk band Árstíðir (Arstidir) and Brooklyn piano-violin duo Gracie and Rachel perform tonight at the Coloraod Mesa University Moss Performing Arts Center.
“Árstíðir is a group I have known and loved for many years. When we got in touch with them, Lauren and I jumped at the chance to bring them here to share their incredible music with the Grand Junction community,” Joseph Moher, a music performance major at CMU who is promoting the concert, said.
Arstidir’s music defies genre borders and like fellow Icelandic musicians Sigur Ros, might best be described as classically influenced indie folk rock.
Accompanying Arstidir is Brooklyn-based piano-violin duo Gracie and Rachel. Their forthcoming debut album "Go" is a penetrating record of a lifelong friendship, which flows freely between virtuosic violin textures to sylphlike melodies, highlighting seasoned songwriting. The result is a heartfelt glimpse into two artists' intertwined lives.