You Me & Apollo
You Me & Apollo’s second full-length release, Sweet Honey, opens on a note of worldliness that might seem precocious coming from a 24-year-old. But band founder and songwriter Brent Cowles’s experience belies his tender age. He started playing in bands when he was 14, got married at 18, divorced at 20, and has filled the intervening years with a non-stop regimen of national touring and recording. So when he sings “I learned my lesson young,” on the characteristically raucous “Open Doors,” it’s safe to say he comes by it honestly.
“Cowles is a scrawny, wiry 23-year-old with frizzy hair and a shy countenance, but behind the mic he sounds like a haggard, middle-aged man with struggle and strife in his rear-view mirror.” -Ricardo Baca, The Denver Post
Since the band’s well-received 2011 debut, Cards With Cheats, the unmistakable stamp of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding-style soul has made You Me & Apollo something of a friendly anomaly among the foot- stomping roots-folk renaissance that launched the careers of their Denver colleagues The Lumineers, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Gregory Alan Isakov. Sweet Honey is an ambitious attempt to reconcile these two strains of influence in the service of a restlessly contemporary sound that would fit alongside Brett Dennen, Neil Young, and Ennio Morricone on any playlist. A rich goulash of instrumental flourishes accompanies the well-traveled vocals: sinister trumpet melodies, jaunty Wurlitzers, and harmonies that suggest choirboys with jugs of moonshine smuggled under their robes.
Sweet Honey, the long-awaited follow-up to a self-titled EP released early in 2013, was produced and engineered by Jeff Powell (Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Big Star, and Sharon Jones) at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN, where Cowles enlisted the help of long-time You Me & Apollo touring bandmates Tyler Kellogg (drums), Jonathan Alonzo (guitar), Morgan Travis (guitar), and Dave Cole (bass). To help cover the recording costs, the band created a homemade community funding campaign that raised over $20,000. To capture the energy and excitement of a well-constructed live show, honed over the course of 200 shows in a calendar year with bands like Dr. Dog, Devotchka, ZZ Ward and Young the Giant, the record was tracked almost entirely live.
Cowles may have learned his lesson young, but it hasn’t impeded his dogged pursuit of new tricks.
Following Sweet Honey’s May 9th release, Cowles and his bandmates touring the United States.
While crafting songs for The Fray’s third album, the band found inspiration in a faraway source. “We were reading about sailors in the 16th century, how they would leave home and have their bearing for days, but then wake up and realize they had no idea where they were,” explains Isaac Slade, lead singer and pianist for the Denver-based foursome. “The stars aren’t out, the wind’s died, they’re drifting—but they somehow embraced that confusion and the feeling of being lost. It meant they’d gone far enough from home that they were really getting somewhere.”
On Scars and Stories, The Fray transform their own turmoil into a stunning collection of songs that’s markedly moodier than both 2005’s How to Save a Life (the double-platinum debut whose title track graced the “Grey’s Anatomy” soundtrack) and 2009’s self-titled sophomore effort (a Grammy-nominated record featuring the smash single “You Found Me”). “There’s a deep sense that we have no clue where we’re headed or what’s going to happen with us,” says Slade of The Fray, whose lineup also includes guitarist/vocalist Joe King, guitarist Dave Welsh, and drummer Ben Wysocki. “We’ve gotten to the point where we’re playing Singapore instead of a suburb of Denver, and it’s nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time.” Combine the chaos of fame with some personal struggles that Slade describes as “nearly devastating” for the band, and it’s no wonder that Scars and Stories takes on a greater tension than its predecessors.
Despite all the turbulence, The Fray manage to maintain the pop sensibility that makes their brand of arena-ready rock so undeniably infectious. Anthemic from the get-go, Scars and Stories kicks off with the high-powered, harmony-kissed “Heartbeat.” “That song came out of a period of my life when I was trying hard to be open to whatever came my way,” says Slade of the soul-stirring lead single. “I traveled through South Africa and Rwanda with a buddy, and at first it was really hard to stay open in the face of so much pain and heartache. But then I ended up meeting so many cool and inspiring people, and all these ideas for lyrics and melodies just started rushing in.”
Elsewhere on Scars and Stories, The Fray revel in the same rousing spirit that elevates “Heartbeat” to epicness. On “48 to Go,” for instance, the band serves up a folksy tapestry of sound and gracefully captures the glory of life on the road. With its hip-shaking beat, “Turn Me On” offers a sweet come-on that deftly sets the stage for the sexy swagger of “Here We Are.” And on “Rainy Zurich,” King takes the helm and matches his gorgeously delicate piano work with elegant storytelling to create a joyous yet tender ballad.
But woven throughout Scars and Stories are the strikingly somber songs that give Scars and Stories its quiet intensity. The album’s closing track, “Be Still” achieves an almost hymnlike grace in its stark pairing of hushed vocals and spare piano chords. On “The Wind,” meanwhile, a gently charging drumbeat provides fierce accompaniment to Slade’s tale of a sailor lost at sea. “When it comes to songwriting, I’m usually a tight, Paul Simon-esque sort of overthinker,” says Slade. “But ‘The Wind’ just came together fast and loose and really nails that lost-but-hopeful feeling.”
Denver band Air Dubai is more than the sum of its parts. It’s not about the exciting combination of eclectic genres or even the explosive onstage energy. The group’s appeal lies in its member’s passion for the music they create, as well as their love for the people who come to see them perform. A heady mix of hip- hop, pop, soul, rock and electronic, Air Dubai exists not to fit into one specific category or sound, but instead to create something new and fresh on each album and song.
The band's roots date back to 2008, when high school friends vocalists Jon Shockness and Julian Thomas decided to create a hip-hop duo using the name Air Dubai. Originally utilizing pre-recorded beats, the pair collaborated for a year until they both felt the need to create music more organically. By spring of 2009, Air Dubai had its first rehearsal as a live band. By rounding out the lineup with Nick Spreigl (drums), Lawrence Grivich (guitar), Michael Ray (keyboard/synth), and Taylor Tait (bass), Air Dubai was able to transform itself into a shape-shifting powerhouse of talent, seamlessly blending genres and styles.
To date, the six-piece has three official releases: 2014’s “Be Calm” (produced by grammy award winner Dwight Baker), 2011’s "Day Escape" (produced by Sylvia Massy, whose credits include Prince and Red Hot Chili Peppers) and 2010’s "Wonder Age" (produced by Andrew Guerrero of Flobots). The albums showcase impressive musical dexterity and songwriting ability, but the true magic lies in Air Dubai’s live shows; energetic, soulful performances fueled mainly by the faithful fans that come to see them play.
Air Dubai has received numerous critical and commercial accolades: multiple songs featured on MTV's hit series Jersey Shore and in Journeys & Hollister stores nationwide. Their song “Soul & Body” has been featured on NBA on TNT while “Warning feat. Patricia Lynn” has received spins and adds on numerous radio stations including KROQ & KCRW. Air Dubai has shared the stage with a wide array of national artists, including Chance The Rapper, Jhene Aiko, Vic Mensa, Macklemore, and Lupe Fiasco.
Petals of Spain
With an aim of pushing the pop idiom to new plateaus, Petals of Spain creates original compositions and arrangements that merge fusion-jazz, rock, soul and pop into a refreshing style that leaves fans breathless. A nationwide tour is in sight for Petals and afterwards, to the “toppermost of the poppermost.”
Having studied the great rock bands that came before them, Petals has its roots in the likes of Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Rufus Wainwright, Michael Jackson and Radiohead.With these influences in their ear, they add their own unique elements, crafting original tracks like “Oo Mei Baba Wei”, “Shine”, and the hit single everyone is raving about “I Gotta Know”.
Founding members Hunter Hall and Nic Hammerberg have been harmonizing together before they had their first mustache hair. The result is a vocal sound steeped in experience and familiarity. Mason Shelmire lays down the foundation for Petals with his pulsating bass lines and drummer Dylan Johnson drives the bus with a groovy back-beat. As a band, they fuse talent with creativity and drive, producing thoroughly original compositions and arrangements. Petals of Spain lives for music and they’ll settle for nothing less than sharing this love with the rest of the world.
Singer, songwriter, cellist, pianist -
Ian Cooke has appeared in SPIN magazine, Finished #1 in the Denver Post Music Poll in 2009, and has been voted Best Avant-Pop for 3 years by Westword Magazine. He also plays cello on Crooked Fingers’ album Forfeit/Fortune and his two songs appeared alongside Billy Bragg, Owen Pallett, and M Ward on ‘Versions of Joanna’ – a Joanna Newsom covers-album.
He has toured in the US and Australia playing with: The Dresden Dolls, Crooked Fingers, Built to Spill, The Decemberists, The Flaming Lips (Monolith Festival), Blonde Redhead, Devotchka, Rasputina, Wovenhand, Pedro the Lion and many more.
Cooke’s 2009 album, ‘The Fall I Fell,’ has sold out of two pressings and has been re-pressed with a DVD with solo live versions of songs, videos, a 5.1 surround mix of the album, etc.
His newest album ‘Fortitude’ was released in 2012 with national distribution with Sony/Red via Greater Than Collective.
There’s definitely something to be said about a band that’s both self-sustaining and has a sense of dogged perseverance. In fact, there’s a whole story to tell about one of the few that meet the aforementioned traits, Denver Colorado’s own, Synthetic Elements. Although the punk-based fivesome, which played its first show in April 2001, has deftly maintained its strident, do-it-yourself mentality and attitude, its fourth album, “Trashed Out Paradise” is finally finding the band getting just a little help from its friends.
Originally hailing from the small farming and factory town of Fort Morgan, Colorado, the band consists of Todd McMullan – lead vocals and electric guitars, Kyle Hernandez – backup vocals and bass, Brett Carson – drums, Johnson (just Johnson) - trombone and percussion, and Mike Blecha – backup vocals and keyboard and acoustic guitar and trumpet (and anything else the band can think of). With an immediate music scene that was dominated by two styles – country and hip-hop, the only method of survival for the band was to take things on their own terms.
That meant spending its formidable years figuring everything out, from recording to touring to self-promotion and songwriting. Though they were just an hour outside of Denver, life out in the plains was decidedly remote from the big city.
Todd and Kyle, amateur competitive skaters, started the band as a reason to do something during the snowy wintry months. Skateboards were traded for guitars once the pair heard ska-punk acts like Mustard Plug, Goldfinger, and LessThan Jake which they heard on the soundtracks of the video games they played. They were quickly hooked and immediately put their future band plans into action.
“The first two years, we were really young,” recalls Todd. “We were 16 or 17 when we started. After a short while, we went on the road frequently for two and a half years straight, living in our van and trailer in Wal-Mart parking lots. It’s a tough life, but a remarkable experience.”
Doing it all indie was the only way Synthetic Elements could make their dreams of a full time band come to fruition. Realizing that the old cliché of being discovered by “that guy”, signing the huge record deal, going on MTV, and living the rock star life was an unrealistic business plan, the band became even more self sufficient by starting their own record label, management company, and booking/promotions company.
The label came to life as “Filthy Beast Records”. The label has worked well for the band and has had success in signing several other Denver area acts. The management company became “Sockout Entertainment” and has grown from humble beginnings to a fully capable logistics and business management, and has grown to include a fully capable recording studio. The booking company is “Kinnon Entertainment” which has exploded from a simple booking agency to booking for this band and many others, promotional activities both internet and “out in the world”, and a sound/lighting production company that is still rapidly expanding and growing.
But because of the bands commitment to touring, the act had a difficult time making a name for itself and generating a following in its own vicinity.
“We’d have big shows in places like Indiana, Louisiana, and Alabama,” Says Brett. “We could pack the house in other cities, but we couldn’t bring the crowds to the home venues.”
With the release of the band’s full length album, “Standing Still”, came some local radio support and more respect in the Denver music scene. Consequently, Synthetic Elements opted to increase its focus in the home area, eventually becoming one of the frontrunner bands in the Denver area.
For the latest album release, “Trashed Out Paradise”, the band chose to record at the world famous Blasting Room recording studio. As it turns out, the studio was in the bands back yard (Fort Collins, Colorado). The Blasting Room is owned and operated by Bill Stevenson of “Black Flag” fame and a big icon in the punk music scene.
The album was written and produced by Synthetic Elements with help and advice from Bill Stevenson and the crew at the Blasting Room. The intimidation factor of performing in that studio with a guy like Bill Stevenson listening and critiquing each take was intimidating to say the least. “It gave us a little bit of that extra kick, I’ve never played my trumpet as well as I did during that session,” says Mike.
Since the album was released, the band and company has produced two music videos. The first, “How Far”, was done in a three day shoot by a professional film crew and was posted to Youtube for free access by all. The second video was “The Fire”, also produced by a professional film crew in Denver, Colorado, was also release to the public through Youtube.
The bands success continues to grow and new opportunities come frequently. “It’s like going from a lemonade stand to a restaurant,” adds Todd, “because now, a lot more people are going to get to hear our music. And that’s just cool!”
CAM RECORDS MISSION STATEMENT
It is CAM Records mission to promote and help independent Colorado artists grow to a new level of success while also educating CAM students with hands-on experience on how to run a record label.
CAM RECORDS SLOGAN
“Amplifying Colorado Music”
CAM RECORDS BIO
Since it’s official beginning in 1998 CAM Records’ mission was to be more than just a record label. It was destined to be the best student-run record label in the country. After working with artists including The Fray, My Body Sings Electric, and You Me & Apollo and two awards for Best College Record Label Release of the Year under their belt, CAM Records is proving itself as a force to be reckoned with in the Colorado music scene.
CAM Record’s history begins in the fall of 1998. With two professors, Dick Weissman and Frank Jermance, a dozen students, and a vision CAM Records was born. That same year CAM’s first album, Revolutions in Music, was released. Revolutions in Music II and Revolutions in Music III followed and were released in 2000 and 2001. These albums included songs written, performed, and produced by student musicians in the College of Arts and Media at UCD. In 2002 CAM Records changed from a club to a class on campus. With the collective effort of several students over two years, their next album, Colorado Cuts, was released in 2006. The album featured songs from The Fray and Bop Skizzum. It also received critical acclaim in the New York Times and Denver Post. The sequel to Colorado Cuts, Put Your Ear to the Ground, was released in the spring of 2007 with music from Paper Bird and Ian Cook. This album earned CAM Records the Independent Music Association’s Vox Populi award for the best college record label release. This award was won a second time in 2009 for the release, From These Words, which included work from John Common, The Dualistics, and The Autumn Film. From These Words utilized technology never before scene in the College record label industry. The album was released exclusively on USB wristbands. The wristbands set all sales records previously set by CAM and sold out within days. From 2011 to 2013, CAM collaborated with University of Colorado Denver’s Digital Design team to release music videos for Denver artists including My Body Sings Electric, MTHDS, Regret Night, Wire Dogz, Lucid Vision, Ronniit, and Sawmill Joe. In 2014, CAM signed Americana and indie-rock band You Me & Apollo to release their debut full-length album, Sweet Honey. With hopes of making a lasting impression on Colorado music, CAM will continue to push students and their artists to new levels of success through hours of hard work and dedication. Every year they’re growing to be a bigger and better label and there is nowhere to go but up.