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The Joy of Calming Music

SHOW #48: Dark Dark Dark with Emily Wells and The Changing Colors

Oh dear sweet internet. How have you been? I’ve been pretty fantastic, though I’ll readily admit that I’ve also been a bit lax. It’s been almost two weeks since my last post. What the heck is going on here? I think I may have become a bit complacent because I know that not only is the end in site but, it’s entirely possible for me to succeed now. I hadn’t really been certain I could pull this off. Of course just because I hit 52 shows doesn’t mean I’ll stop talking to you internet, we’ll still be buds, I’ll probably just stop by less frequently. I might also talk about stuff other than music. I haven’t quite decided. None of that has come to pass yet though so let me tell you about the musics I saw last night.

The Changing Colors

This is literally a band of brothers. If you can call two people a band, which I can, mostly because I just did. These two brothers hail from Manitou Springs right here in Colorado and their music as well as their look speaks to a certain mountain sensibility. It’s both simple and beautiful. Though it’s far from perfect.

From a lyrical standpoint nothing they did really stood out to me, which isn’t to say that the songs were bad they were just simple and straightforward. That’s not always bad but when you’re presenting what they did last night, that being a guitar and a  pedal steel with nothing else the lyrics need to shine as much as the music itself does. These lyrics simply didn’t they felt kind of cliched and generic. They just didn’t speak to me. It’s a shame too because the music the two of them created were haunting and beautiful, they just needed a little bit more.

They also suffered a bit from a lack of structure in their songs. Almost every song they played just kind of stopped. They didn’t end they just stopped. There was no sense of motion to the music so when the songs ended it usually felt strange and a little jarring. It was almost as if they were playing snippets of songs getting bored with them and just dropping them. From the perspective of a listener and an audience member this makes the songs feel incomplete and it made it hard to tell even when to applaud. There were several moments where I, and I’m guessing other members of the audience , were wondering of the song had ended or if they were just pausing dramatically. That led to a lot of delayed and sporadic applause.

There is potential here though, their songs did get better as their set went on. Songwriting is just like any other skill the more you do it the better you are at it and the songs will eventually catch up with the music. I also see potential in these guys because the songs were delivered with passion and the singer strayed a bit into an are that reminded me a bit of Ray LaMontagne, and it wasn’t a hackneyed attempt to sound that way it was just the natural passion of the singers voice coming through.

Given time these guys could really become something special so it would be a good idea to keep an eye on them.

Emily Wells

The only thing I can really say about Emily Wells is that she is ridiculously, incredibly talented, and that her music isn’t really for me. Okay, not all of it isn’t for me but on this night, at this show, the drums were just too oppressive. They washed everything else out to the point where they were overwhelming.

She uses drums, a violin, a synthesizer, and well I don’t know what it’s called. It was a pad that would generate different sounds when she hit it with her drum sticks, it was configurable to make different sounds depending on where it was struck. She also made use of her voice as another layer in the music. She brought all these elements together using looping and created incredibly dense and complicated music but the drums took center stage. If there is anything I’ve learned about myself on this concert journey it’s that I don’t like too much drums and this was just too much drums.

In my cursory youtube searches for her I noticed that the drums are a recent addition and I really wish I’d had a chance to see her before them, because the video I’m giving you below is damn incredible. I honestly don’t know that I’d seek her out again, because I wouldn’t be sure what I’d be getting. If I knew for a fact though that she wouldn’t have the drums I’d be there, because there is a lot of good music buried under those drums. just watch this and see.

Dark Dark Dark

Dark Dark Dark’s music is beautiful and their singer Nona Invie has one of the best voices around. Their music melds so well with what she brings vocally that everything they do just comes across as pure serene wonder. I hadn’t listened to a ton of their music going in, I had heard some and I always liked what I heard but I wasn’t sure how it would translate to a live performance. Apparently the answer to that question is, exceptionally well.

From what I’d heard online I felt like they might be a bit one note but when performing they don’t come across that way at all. Their songs might never wander into danceable territory but they go from up beat to down and back again. Somehow though even their upbeat songs have a relaxing quality. Maybe it’s the vocals, I’m not really sure but it’s true. Their music is calming and yet somehow also powerful and moving. Something tells me that’s not easy to pull off, yet they do, and quite well at that.

They hail from Minnesota, which is a state that seems to produce a fair amount of good music, and in a lot of ways I think that you could point to them as the quintessential hipster band. For a long time the singer wore black thick rimmed glasses (though they weren’t present here), they have an accordion and a clarinet, these are things that people look at and see hipster. Though I’m still not 100% clear on what defines a hipster I have a feeling that it’s the kind of thing that might scare some people away from this band. (Though clearly not that many people because the Hi-Dive was packed) So maybe that’s just a strawman built up in  my head, this cadre of imaginary people that don’t listen to Dark Dark Dark because they are too hipster. If they do exist though, I’d have to tell them they are crazy because who cares what they look like when they produce music like this?

The answer should be/hopefully is no one. No one should care what a band looks like, you’re there for the music and when it’s music this good you can just lose yourself in it. This whole thing has taken a weird turn, but I’m too tired to course correct. So look. Dark Dark Dark is awesome, you should listen to them, and see them. I’ll help with the listening. Right…about…now:


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