"The Denver Sound examined"

the denver soundThe "gothic country" genre would be only half as intriguing if it weren't for the competing schools and infected disputes in almost every small matter. However, in this case it's a more fundamental and existential question. The question is: is there a "The Denver Sound"? Typically, a question like this should be possible to answer with a simple yes or no. But, I'm afraid this is not the case. One school (deniers) argues that there's no such thing as a "Denver Sound" (only artists and bands from Denver), while a competing school (believers) argues that there's a typical "Denver Sound". It's time for a declaration of interest. I'm a believer. In my opinion, you have to be both deaf and dumb (stupid not mute) not to recognize the existence of the sound. Of course, the sound isn't just one sound, but instead the term "Denver Sound" refers to an umbrella of quite different sounds. The common attributes are the dark and brooding mood with a strange mix of americana, polka, punk, dark cabaret and vaudeville including some east-european influences. Denver was founded in 1858 as a mining town during the Colorado Gold Rush. Denver experienced a second Golden Age in the late 1980s with The Denver Gentlemen and a cult emerged. Very soon bands like Slim Cessna's Auto Club, 16 Horsepower, Wovenhand, Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots and Tarantella followed (all six of them covered in my prestigous article series). A second attribute is the multi-tasking on the verge to work environment offences and incestious conditions. Most musicians in Denver play in at least one band, but often in three bands or more. The names of the musicians shows up everytime and everywhere. You need to be an epidemiologist to keep track of all the constellations and new lineups. Take Slim Cessna's Auto Club for example. Almost every talented musician in Denver have played in the band at some point in a shorter or longer time. All in all, over twenty people have played in the band. Slim Cessna's Auto Club seems to be working as a Temporary Work Agency in the "gothic americana" industry. Musicians tend to go in and out of the band depending on their other commitments. This is not very common in the genre, where leaving a band often is definite and irrevocable. A third attribute is the use of organ, accordion, violin and cello. These instruments also occur outside the Denver scene, but not in the same extent. Denver has undoubtedly had a strong attraction on musicians and have become a creative hub for this kind of weird music. You will find a list with the ten most important Denver bands here (opens in a new window). Sadly enough, only four of the bands on the list are still active and three of them have been around for a long while. What does this say about the regrowth? Is time running out for Denver and is - God forbid - the Golden Age over? There are some new blossoms from the old bough, like Two Tone Wolf Pack, which I maybe will come back to in another context. Personally, I hope Denver will continue to retain its importance and luminosity in the "gothic country" genre. As always, lets hope for the best and plan for the worst.  



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