Dave Herrera | Sept. 8, 2016 | 9:00 a.m.
A bunch of good stuff caught our ear this week, including some fresh hip-hop tunes fromAP x FL, as well as Sam Jay featuring C1 and Wil Guice, along with some dark-hued pop tunes from Stephanie Mabey, and some intriguing entries from Becky Heart and April Levin, a pair of promising new discoveries from Boulder, and the polished punk of theWindermeres.
AP and FL, who topped a crazy good bill at the Bluebird Theater this week, dropped a new record on the Young Amsterdam imprint yesterday. Although the entire Wins: The EP is tight and well worth rocking, “Girls That Smoke” is our favorite cut. Ultra smooth like a velvet smoking jacket, the track starts with an instantly memorable hook and almost plays like a modern day update of “Around the Way Girl,” with the two talented MCs trading verses and tallying the traits of their ideal partner. (Hint: Smoking trees is a requisite.) Super solid. Don't sleep on this one.
"Kind of Life," the latest from Sam Jay (formerly Platmaravich and Platinum), features C1 of Food Chain fame and the velvety voice of Wil Guice, with dependably on point production from Gyp Dahip, who smashes it here, as usual. Recorded this past summer at Mac D Beats' studio, the Lab in Lakewood, the tune finds Jay and C1 bringing a distinctive feel and and fresh flavor to their individual verses, which are seamlessly sewn together by an indelible hook sung by Guice, who's still one of the Denver's greatest unheralded talents.
There's really no way that this record wasn't going to be compelling, considering the pedigrees of all the people involved. False Cathedrals is a bunch of metal dudes, who've played with bands like To Be Eaten, Vale of Pnath, and Ghost of Glaciers, making positively riveting post-hardcore. The playing is as fierce as you'd expect, and the EP was recorded by Chris Fogal of the Gamits and TaunTaun at his Black In Bluhm studios, so it sounds every bit as crisp as you'd expect.
Although Stephanie Mabey had previous releases as Stephanie Smith, her 2012 albumWake Up Dreaming was her breakout, thanks to tracks like "The Zombie Song," which was accompanied by a self-made video that garnered more than two million views on YouTube, and "Glorious," which was covered by American Idol alum David Archuleta and appeared in the documentary Meet the Mormons. As good as that record was, however, her latest effort, I Still Taste Fire, is a stunning progression for the singer-songwriter, who's back to making music on her own after being part of the duo Gusto. Mabey previewed the album, due out September 23, with a pair of terrific videos, one for the title track and another for the title track and another for "Heart Shaped Hologram."
There's very little information about this pair of tracks, which were released by Natural High Records, other than the fact that both of these promising performers hail from Boulder and appear to be proteges of Sasha Rashkin, a Boulder-based instrumentalist, who appears on both cuts. The first song is "Little Bird" by Becky Heart (aka Becky Hartt), a singer whose nimble vocals recall Alessia Cara. "Escaping America" by April Levin, rmeanwhile, has a plodding pace and lo-fi sound that calls Angel Olsen to mind.
The Windermeres, who formed four years ago, have put out three solid pop-infused punk albums overseen by a pair of punk icons; the first two were produced by Ross McAfee of Dr. Neptune at his Noise Gate Studios, and the latest, Continental Divide, was recorded by Chris Fogal at Black In Bluhm. On the new album, the outfit sounds sharper than ever, particularly on tunes like "The Record Begins with a Song of Rebellion," the best song of the bunch, which opens the album, as it should. Keep your eye on these guys in the coming year.