This city is such a great place to be for a music lover. Not only does Denver draw acts from around the country and across the globe, but it's also got its own vibrant local scene. There is a quality pool of creative musicians that are in a multitude of bands, covering just about any genre you can think of. I went to the Larimer Lounge on Sunday night to see a showcase of four local bands - three of them very new - to see what more this city has to offer, and as usual, I discovered a lot of promising music.

Jayne Rutter of The Hits

The first band on stage for the evening was local indie rock trio The Hits. This all female rock band originally featured a fourth member on bass, but their current incarnation features Jayne Rutter on vocals/guitar, Molly Galey on guitar, and Kristen Miller on drums. They create an indie-alternative sound that has shades of early nineties post-punk but leans toward a more modern sound. The two guitar and drums instrumental approach gives the sound a minimalistic feel, but Molly Galey's lead guitar work adds a degree of depth to the sound, accentuated by the fierce drumming of Kristen Miller. Jayne Rutter holds down a steady rhythm while providing a lower register vocal stlye that is a careful balance between empowerment and angst - always at a steady tension.

Kristen Miller of The Hits

The Hits are definitely still in their early stages, still working on refining their band sound. They performed a set mostly of original material that presented their direction and style well, but not without hiccups along the way. They played their songs with a subdued energy level and had technical issues like keeping the instruments tuned, but aside from that I could see they have a core they can build on. Songs like "No Means No", "Fifteen Again" and "Medicated" deliver a certain narrative that binds well with their band sound. They even injected their style into a cover of Cee-Lo Green's "F*ck You", adding a layer of tightness and rigidity that made their representation very honest. I'd like to see this band again after some time, when they've really become a more cohesive and polished unit, but I like what they're doing and think they are headed in the right direction.

Forget Me Not

Next up was the lone band in the mix that I'd seen before, local pop-punk/power pop group Forget Me Not. I'd mentioned last time that their particular genre of music isn't at the top of my list, but they performed their music so well it was hard not to like. I wanted to see how the band has progressed since the last time I've seen them, and Sunday night they were able to deliver another energetic and refined performance that showed the band has a good feel for each other. The instrumentation was very solid, using pronounced guitar work and vigorous drumming to drive their well-arranged melodic songs.

Brian Vogt of Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not played all the songs off their newly released EP, Calling For Context, and a few other new songs. Their set list began with "That'll Be The Day", but this time they added a really nice instrumental introduction that slowly built up tension until they exploded into the song. They definitely did something right with that song, seeing as it got stuck in my head and stayed there all the way through to the next morning. From there was "Last Call", a song that featured Vanessa Spear as the lead voice. I like how they can interchange the lead vocalist without it disrupting the feel of the band. "Every Step" featured the call and response vocals that I thought stood out last time, and Brian Vogt and Vanessa Spear continue to maintain a strong dynamic.

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not flowed well from one song into the next, showing they are comfortable and confident with their material. I was impressed with their ability to maintain a high level of energy throughout their set, despite having a smaller Sunday evening crowd, especially since they just came off the heels of a larger venue show about a week before. Sometimes I noticed dips in individual energy levels, but overall it was a good performance. If you are a fan of pop-punk/power pop, Forget Me Not are a very polished group and they've shown me they can consistently put on a good show.


Next up was a new local two-piece band called Lionized. They didn't even have to take their spots on stage before they started intriguing me, as their unusual instrument setup immediately caught my attention. I knew there were only two members in the band, yet there were far more than two instruments on stage. It turned out that lead singer Matt James would handle both the acoustic guitar and violin, while backing vocalist Melanie Karnopp would provide drums and play the vibraphone. Naturally, Matt James could only play one of his stringed instruments at a time so he employed the help of a live looping device to get the sounds of both instruments into Lionized's songs. But Melanie Karnopp displayed amazing dexterity by often playing her instruments at the same time - she had her drums and vibraphone positioned in such a way she could stand behind her setup and use mallets, sticks, brushes and pedals to do multiple things at once.

Matt James of Lionized

Lionized may have captured my initial attention with their setup alone, but when they started to perform, my attention didn't waver. It easily could have been a novelty performance, keeping me watching based on the merits of the spectacle alone, but their music made it much more than that. This duo performs songs that are influenced by modern alternative rock and folk-country, but their unusual combination of instruments gives their music a unique dreamy quality that really sets them apart.

Melanie Karnopp of Lionized

My favorite songs were definitely the pieces they performed that featured all of their instruments, especially "Far Away" and "Instead". They even added their fantastic quirky multi-instrumental touch to a cover of Led Zepplin's "Going to California". The songs that were just drums and guitar were good, but definitely not as captivating as the ones that featured all the instruments. Lionized still needs a little polish as well; sometimes the harmonies weren't quite right and other times the timing of the loops were just a little off. With some more refinement Lionized has the potential to be absolutely jaw-dropping, and I highly recommend checking this band out.

Young Analogs

Lastly, local indie rockers Young Analogs took the stage. I wasn't really sure what to expect from these guys because the only recordings I had access to before I heard them play were well beyond raw. It seemed like they were going for emotive punk-like vocals, but the two demo songs were very different from each other - one more acoustic and nearly folk sounding, the other an uptempo power-pop sound. So I watched eagerly as the four-member band went up on stage, and little did I know I was about to be completely ambushed by the huge sound of their two guitar, bass and drum setup.

Kyle Westover of Young Analogs

They opened with a song that had atmospheric guitars backing the harmonic and emotive vocal style of lead singer/guitarist Kyle Westover and backing vocalist/bassist Dan Carrillo. Then as if someone hit the ignition switch, an explosion of percussive drums, deep rattling bass, and wild guitar work burst through the speakers. These guys have an amazingly intense instrumental sound that reminds me of a cross between punk rock and progressive rock. Robbie Wold's drumming keeps a tight rhythm and works in perfect synch with Mike Adrian's impressive lead guitar work. Somehow, they can continually build instrumental intensity in every song - once you think a song has reached its peak, another unexpected explosion of sound will occur.

Mike Adrian of Young Analogs

I was very impressed by the way Young Analogs handled their instruments and their songwriting was spot-on. Each song kept me engaged and I could really feel incredible energy coming from these guys. But they still have a ways to go and their weakness is in the vocal work. The singers have the right idea - the higher register emotive vocals don't sound out of place and are the appropriate style - its the execution that needs work. The vocals often sounded strained, like the singers were trying too hard to hit notes out of their vocal range and were just not quite able to get it done. If the vocal quality can match the instrumental quality of this band, they will be a force to reckon with. I like what they've got going so far, but they aren't there yet. Give this band a little time, and they will probably blow you away.

See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page and stay updated.

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