By Nicole Cormier & Dave Herrera | Oct. 21, 2016 | 8:30 a.m.
Another week, another excellent batch of great tunes that grabbed our ear. This week, we highlight releases from Status, Stay Tuned and Grim & Darling, along with some newer releases from the Heavy Dose imprint, a split 7-inch from American Culture and Homebody, plus previews of forthcoming full-length releases from Homebody and Colfax Speed Queen.
If you’re lucky enough to ever have spent any time with Status of Cadava Recordz in real time, you know that he tells a hell of a story. Sitting at his swanky, downtown bar (Bar Red), shooting the shit, he can spout off confidently about anything under the sun. From current events to the political climate to pop culture, he has legitimate thoughts on all of it.
For those without the luxury of hanging out with this dapper MC/producer, luckily every aspect of his personality is accurately portrayed through his music. His latest three-track EP is equal parts dark and political over rock-infused production, and he leverages his throaty voice to discuss the same relevant issues he’s likely mulling over while minding his hustle. As the seasons are changing, moods can be unbalanced, and Status’ ever-perfect timing is an ideal accompaniment for seasonal angst. — NC
When Stay Tuned, comprised of Mane Rok, Ichiban and DJ AWHAT!, did a physical only drop of After This Break last year I told them they were crazy. The thought process was genuine, an exclusive gift for the fans, but this project is far too good to be a hidden gem. I immediately reviewed it for AXS, even though it was virtually impossible for people to get their hands on. It took a year, but they finally heeded my advice and released a stream so everyone could bump it. And you’ll be just as thankful as I was that they came around. - NC
Grim & Darling, an outfit comprising Jessa Raskin and Jordan Polovina, has created a textured fusion of sounds built on subtle instrumentation —acoustic guitar, cello, and trip-hop-tinged beats — that sets a vibrant backdrop for Raskin’s captivating vocals and Polovina’s nimble rhyme skills.
“Congratulations World,” one of the standouts from the act’s 13-song album, Beauty Through Pain, is a cynical treatise that begins with Polovina’s gentle solemn cello creating a doleful tone, while Raskin delivers deflated lines like:
“Congratulations world/I hate myself/You taught me well that I just don’t belong/You’ve shown me just how far I need to go to be beautiful/You’ll sell me anything and everything but love,” and “I tell you I am sick/You tell me that you have just the pill for it/I tell you I am lost/You tell me there’s an app for it at no cost.”
Those sentiments soon give way to a sense of summoning inner strength and rising above as the song crescendos, with Raskin resolutely declaring, “Don’t need your pill for that/Don’t need your app for that/Don’t need your reality television show for that.” — DH
The best labels are distinctive. Some have definitive sound, while others champion a variety of sounds and styles. The thing they all have in common, however, is that they’ve established themselves as purveyors of great music, reflecting the refined tastes of the people running the labels, folks you know are passionate fans of music.
These are the kind of imprints—Stone’s Throw, Sub Pop, Merge, Matador, Thrill Jockey and K Records, among others, all come to mind—that when you see the label’s logo, you just know the act is going to be worth checking out, whether you’ve heard of them or not. This happens through consistency, reliably putting out quality music.
Heavy Dose is a burgeoning Denver label that has all the makings of becoming that sort of imprint. Everything about the imprint, from the hand drawn logo to the quality of the releases, feel curated, reflecting the sensibilities of its founder, Brian Castillo, a very well regarded member of the Denver scene.
While Heavy Dose is really just getting started, all of the releases have been terrific, from Thee Commons’ two song record this past summer, to the American Culture and Homebody split 7-inch, which just came out a few weeks ago. Both tunes are terrific on that limited edition release.
American Culture’s rendition of Johnny Thunder’s “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” is simply stellar, with perhaps the best vocals we’ve heard from Chris Adolf yet. Adolf has always been one of my favorite guitarists and songwriters. He has a captivating style that’s singular and infinitely interesting. His guitar tone, particularly during the Bad Weather California Days on tunes like “Let It Shine” is inimitable, and here, his tremolo guitar figure adds irresistible texture to a driving, robust bass line. It’s always refreshing to hear a cover that stands up to the original. Adolf and company’s rendition does more than that — it breathes new life into a forgotten gem. —DH
The flip side of this record is equally as excellent. “Catalog Model,” is an unreleased track from Homebody, which has a new platter set to drop next month on November 3 on Heavy Dose. “Victoria” is the first song available from that disc, titled Better Use of Leisure Time, and from the sounds of that tune, this is going to be another record well worth picking up. —DH
Colfax Speed Queen also has a full-length due out early next month on Heavy Dose, on November 11. "Can't Stop" is the first cut from that album, Talk to Your Doctor, and it straight rips with a tangible sense of urgency. Can't wait to hear the rest of these. If Heavy Dose started a singles club, I'd definitely sign up for it. —DH