Ultra5280's Best of 2011: Albums and Shows

It has been a wonderful year here at Ultra5280, what started as a music blog between two people after a trip to SXSW in 2011 has blossomed into one of Denver's most respected sources for music and film.  Putting together our Top 5 albums and shows truly showcases the diversity that defines our musical taste, and while there were many albums and shows out there; we had the task of narrowing them down to our Top 5.  With big things ahead in 2012, we will continue to provide our readers with the best information, reviews, interviews and exclusive "Sessions".  A big thanks to House In Motion Studios, Love Lasts Longer Than Life, Ultra8201, Apple (Love y'all), Greg Boggs, Courtney Urie, Bree Davies, Ramon Corro, Isaac Camargo, Kevin McCulloch, Alex Acevedo, Ryan Boulding, Tim Tebow, Anya Strauss, Mr. Right, Reviving Cecilia, Air Dubai, Churchill, Traitors To The Queen, The Hundred, Swagger, Everyday In The Mile High, Danny Sax, I Fight Dragons, Florida peeps, Texas peeps, California peeps, Instagram fans...and anybody else I forgot, we couldn't do it without you.

Robert Castro: Managing Editor/Writer/Photographer

Top Albums
1.  M83: Hurry Up We're Dreaming
2.  Bon Iver: Bon Iver
3.  Jay-Z and Kanye West: Watch The Throne
4.  The Weeknd: House of Ballons
5.  Fleet Foxes:  Helplessness Blues

Top Shows
1.  Kanye West-Coachella Music Festival
2.  Pretty Lights-The Fillmore
3.  Arcade Fire-Coachella Music Festival
4.  Future Islands-Larimer Lounge
5. (Tie) Lykke Li-The Ogden Theater and Foster The People-The Bluebird
















Laura Millerick: Writer/Photographer/Media

Top Albums:
1.  M83: Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
2.  Bon Iver: Bon Iver
4.  Mansions On The Moon: Light Years
5.  We Were Promised Jetpacks:  In The Pit of The Stomach

Top Shows:
1.  Pretty Lights- Red Rocks
2.  Paper Diamond-The Ogden
3.  Signal Path-The Bluebird
4. Jazz Aspen Snowmass-Aspen
5.  Snake Rattle Rattle Snake-The Bluebird
















Amanda Spilos: Editor In Chief/Writer

Top Albums:
1.  The Black Keys: El Camino
2.  My Morning Jacket: Circutial
3.  Starfucker: Reptilians
4.  Jay-Z and Kanye West: Watch The Throne
5.  Fleet Foxes:  Helplessness Blues

Top Shows:
1.  Ratatat-The Ogden
2.  My Morning Jacket-Red Rocks
3.  Ghostland Observatory-The Fillmore
4.  Pretty Lights-The Fillmore
5.  George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic -Fillmore
















Maddie Casey: Writer/Photographer/Locals Only

Top Albums:
1.  Adele: 21
2.  Blink 182: Neighborhoods
3.  Air Dubai: Day Escape
4.  Foster The People: Torches
5.  Death Cab For Cutie: Codes & Keys

Top Shows:
1.  Incubus-Red Rocks
2.  Jimmy Eat World/Blink 182-Tempe Arizona
3.  The Fray (Secret Show)-The Fox
4.  Bop Skizzum's King and Queen of Summer Ball-The Gothic
5.  Popcult and Mr. Right ((what's better than seeing two of your friends play on your birthday??!)
















Kyle Risner: Writer/Photographer/Media

Top Albums:
1.  M83: Hurry Up We're Dreaming
2.  Paper Diamond:  Levitate
3.  Bon Iver: Bon Iver
5.  OnCue: Can't Wait

Top Shows:
1.  Big Gigantic-Snowball Music Festival
2.  Zed's Dead-The Ogden
3.  Pretty Lights-Red Rocks
4.  Bag Raiders-Larimer Lounge
5.  Skrillex-First Bank Center



Halloween at the Bluebird Theater: Air Dubai, The Epilogues, Monroe Monroe, ManCub

All Hallows Eve in the Mile High City was pretty rockin’ this year despite it falling on a Monday night. While many people chose to celebrate over the weekend, those interested in keeping their festivities local couldn’t have asked for a better line up than at The Bluebird Theatre on Monday night. Air Dubai, The Epilogues, Monroe Monroe, and ManCub all came out in full “cape and cowl”, ready to rock the east end of Colfax and help their fans celebrate Halloween.

This show was the grand finale to a four-day mini tour hosted and co-headlined by Air Dubai and The Epilogues, hitting each end of the state and featuring different acts from the respective areas as they went. With In The Whale, The Photo Atlas, My Body Sings Electric, and Monroe Monroe all being featured as main support to the co-headliners on separate nights, it was nearly impossible to pick a night you wouldn’t love to attend. Monday night went off without a hitch, as the costume-adorned audience found the Bluebird’s capacity at a perfect medium: packed full of fans, but not crowded to the point where it was uncomfortable. With ManCub opening the night with their distinct brand of techno-electronic beats, and Monroe Monroe following them with their Indie-punk energy, the crowd was obviously warmed up and excited to see The Epilogues take the stage at 9:30.

In their typical style, the band played a generous mix of new and old favorites like “King Arthur”, “Futurebox”, and “The World is Yours”. Fans were excited to hear lead singer Chris Heckman announce that their new music video for their song “The Fallout” will be released “very, very soon”. The Bluebird went wild as they finished their set with their radio single “Hunting Season”, made famous by it’s airplay from local radio station KTCL and their “Local’s Only” segment. Fans seemed very happy with the set, as the band also seemed happy to finally be home after a long, and fun weekend.

Air Dubai finished out the evening with fun for both new and old fans. Celebrating the release of their newest EP, “Day Escape” which just hit stores this past week (available online at www.airdubaimusic.com/ or on iTunes), the crowd was treated to a great mix of fan favorites like “Lasers”, “Modern Gold”, “Warm Days”, and“I Know How”, as well as new tracks like “Summer Solstice”, “Lights Out”, and “Still Searching”. Their certainly something new happening with tracks found on “Day Escape”. It might be the fact that all but one song on this new CD was recorded in California this past August, but in my opinion there’s a bit of a vintage, summery vibe to these tracks, and I LOVE it. Check out Castro’s review of the record -> HERE <-  Overall, this was one of the stronger sets I’ve seen Air Dubai play, probably thanks to the newest tunes added to the setlist. The band sounded on top of their game, and didn’t seem to stutter over any new material. Dressed like The Wiggles, the band gave the crowd an amazing set from beginning to end, closing with their radio single “restless Youth”. 

Currently The Epilogues don’t have any tour/show dates listed on any of their websites, so be sure to “like” them on Facebook to keep updated. Air Dubai is playing a big show November 19th at The Fox Theatre in Boulder. Be sure to grab tickets soon, as the band just announced a free copy of their new EP "Day Escape" with an e-mailed proof of purchase to their Boulder show! Hope to see you all out there showing Denver’s artists some love!


Air Dubai: Day Escape EP: Review

interviewsDay EscapeSoul & Body

Other outstanding tracks include Summer Solstice, which reminds us that summer is gone and a new season is upon us.  It’s a story about a summer romance reminiscing about the joys of touring and time spend together writing and recording, a true ode to the relationships a musician goes through.

On the track Magazines we get to enjoy jazzy piano riffs of Michael Ray and the talented Wesley Watkins on trumpet. With intense bass lines courtesy of Taylor Tait and bouncy drum tracks of Nick Spreigl this is the most complete track on the EP, ending with a punchy guitar sound courtesy of Lawrence Grivich this song gives the whole EP a balance that sets the tone for the rest of the album.


Westword Music Showcase: Review

The Summer music season has officially begun! In many ways the Westword Music Showcase is the launching pad for a season's worth of musical bliss around the mile-high.  This year we made our way to the 17th annual Westword Music Showcase in hopes of catching the next big thing out of Denver as well as some national acts we have all become familiar with.

Traitors to the Queen at Stoney's

Murder by Death at WMS 2011
We headed to the mainstage to hear Murder By Death, hailing from Indiana. We also had the opportunity to hit Vinyl for a rooftop DJ set in the afternoon. boyhollow was there, tearing it up as usual. We danced for awhile and then headed to City Hall to catch Pirate Signal and Air Dubai. Pirate Signal's set was cut off right at the beginning of their last song due to technical difficulties, but they spent a few mintues getting things back together and went out with a bang, seamlessly throwing down "I Can't Wait" for the local crowd. You can catch them at City Hall again this Friday for Global Dance Battle of the Bands as they compete for a performance spot at this year's Global Dance Fest. 
Pirate Signal at City Hall

Jon Shockness of Air Dubai

Chromeo at WMS 2011

Overall, this years Westword Music Showcase was a killer blend of local and national acts, bringing announced attendance of over 13,000. It is evident that this festival is starting to build steam; could a possible 2 day festival be in Denver's future? We will have to wait and see.

Air Dubai: Interview

Before they performed at City Hall this Saturday, we landed an interview with one of the founding members of Air Dubai. Jon Shockness took the time to answer some of the questions we had about the band. First we asked him how they got their name. He said there are a lot of stories around the name, but "truthfully it was Julien's brainchild. He was going to go solo and be 'Air Dubai' but really that sounded more like a group name." From there, the group formed and the name stuck.

When we asked him what he thought of the Denver music scene, Jon said there's really not a lack of music, but of a fanbase. There's a group of committed local fans and then people who know nothing about the local scene; there's really no in between. He commented on their trip to South by Southwest, saying that himself, Lawrence and Wesley had played on a downtown Austin street corner to try and earn some cash before they left; it had been inspiring to see everyone in a central location to celebrate music. In Denver, he said, we have Westword and UMS becoming bigger every year, with local plus national acts bringing a perfect melding of the two central themes Westword embodies. "We've never gotten like Kanye or anything, but even that would be cool to see," Jon told us.

We asked Jon about his musical influences, and he said Air Dubai never really tries to emulate or copy, but they try to write about life and what they've been through. They did grow up around some musical greats though, and a wide range of influences from Stevie Wonder and Marvyn Gaye to Passion Pit and Foals were listed.  In line of being influenced by other musicians, we asked if Air Dubai had ever received any sage advice from the hip-hop heavyweights they've worked with. Jon said that though they know they have those people as resources if they need them, most of the inspiration they get comes from watching artists they aspire to be like. "Nobody ever sat us down or anything, we mostly just watch other artists. Like the BLKHRTS today, I'd love to add the element of energy that they have, or the Epilogues."