New Music From Denver Pop Sensation Iolite | First Listen "Ring Of Fire"

A breath of fresh air the new single from Denver artist Iolite conjures up the radio friendliness of one Halsey while maintaining the pop appeal of artist such a Katy Perry. A fresh face on the scene it is time for Denver (and the world) to take notice of this young up and coming talent who is bound for stardom and could easily be the next "big thing" to make it out of the Mile High City. A voice you can instantly fall in love with Iolite has all the right tools to become the worlds next big pop star. Fall in love with "Ring of Fire", it certainly will be playing in the office all Summer.

IOLITE is an 18 year-old Alternative-Pop artist hailing from Denver, Colorado. Influenced by the likes of Lorde/Halsey/Broods, IOLITE claims the darker side of pop music, marrying haunting vocals with hooky pop melodies. Her latest offering, “Ring of Fire”, is a mid-tempo with a combination of throbbing 808’s and organic instrumentation. The haunting vocal performance drives a message that is personal and close to the chest. “Ring of Fire is about about having someone in your life, that a part of you knows shouldn’t be in it. When you know the situation will end up in smoke but something always drives you back together”, explains IOLITE. The pre chorus summarizes the theme of the song perfectly, it’s “dangerously charming”.


Jukebox The Ghost | Larimer Lounge | January 23, 2015

Pop is a curious thing these days. With the genre going in so many diverse directions - attempting to pay homage to any style that defined it in eras prior - I feel that the style of music that many considered traditional “pop” from the 90’s and early 2000’s is becoming a bit harder to find. Although it seems to be in hiding from the public eye, one of the most poignant examples of modern day pop reared it’s head in Denver for fans this past weekend. Uplifting piano, well matched harmonies, uptempo songs, and a voice that carries a vibrato vaguely reminiscent of Queen, Jukebox The Ghost showcases quintessential pop characteristics in every way. This D.C. based trio seems small in stature, but they've done a great job of building a diehard fan base in their 10+years, and proved that with a sold-out show at the Larimer Lounge on Friday night. 

Opening the show was a much younger band, but one with an equally serious a fan base. The group is Twin Forks, an Americana-folk-pop septet fronted by Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional and Further Seems Forever fame. Founded in 2011, Denver got their first taste of the group last May when they opened for Augustana at the Bluebird Theatre. The group has already seen some touring success, hitting the road with Phillip Phillips, Counting Crows, Ivan & Alyosha and multiple festival dates across the US. Although the group is still young, their first record, fittingly titled LP, showcases Carrabba’s signature writing style paired with catchy, upbeat, banjo-driven tracks. The band has grown quite a bit since I first saw them in 2012 at SXSW, but I’m anxious to watch the group’s live show continue to progress. Playing a cover of “Blister In The Sun” as well as an array of tracks off their LP like “Back to You”, “Scraping Up The Pieces”, “Kiss Me Darling”, and “Can’t Be Broken”, the music doesn’t translate quite as one would hope from recording to their stage show. The two times I’ve seen them, their live show has solidified a bit more each time, but I feel like there’s still room for more growth from this project.

I must admit that when I walked into the Larimer Lounge on Friday and found the venue that crowded, I was sure that a large part of it was Chris Carrabba. His other musical efforts have built such die-hard fan bases over the years, it seemed a certain answer to the lack of space in the room. But even after Twin Forks left stage and Carrabba disappeared from the merch stand, the crowd stayed, unwavering in their excitement. I owe Jukebox The Ghost a sincere apology for doubting the size of their fan base here in Denver, but how was I to know? The last time this band hit Denver was in 2012 when they were on tour opening for Motion City Soundtrack. I’d found their performance at that show quite fun, but I haven’t heard much from this band since then…I wasn’t sure what to expect from them in a headlining setting. Sure enough, as the band hit the stage, a majority of the room was singing along within seconds, and it stayed that way for the rest of the night. The musical abilities of this group are just as impressive as the sound they produce. Sticking strictly to a piano, a synth, a guitar, and drums, the group’s sound fills out quite nicely for their size. One of the most distinct features of this group is their lead singers - yes, plural. Pianist Ben Thornewill and Guitarist Tom Siegel trade duties of lead vocals from song to song, adding a unique dimension to both their performance and their music. Thornewill’s voice is a beautiful mashup of proper and trained meets pop, mimicking the control of Paolo Nutini while sounding more similar to Tom Chaplin of Keane. Siegel, on the other hand, has a soft, well-annunciated voice with a warm and open tone, incredibly welcoming to the listener. These two together produce seamless harmonies that create a fabulously unique sound, highlighted on tracks like “Sound of A Broken Heart”, and “Long Way Home”. 

Although the group played an array of tracks from their older albums, their focus was primarily on their new material, their self-titled album which was released last October. Fan favorites obviously come from records like their 2012 release Safe Travels and their 2010 release Everything Under The Sun, but it felt very apparent to me that the band has found their groove musically with the new album. A perfect mix of tracks featuring vocals from both Ben and Tom, a mix of upbeat tracks and more introspective, down-tempo songs, and diverse lyrical content, the album feels whole; slightly more complete than their work in the past. I really hope to see this band back in Denver quicker than another 2 year wait, and it’s apparent that their fans share my sentiments based on the raucous applause and call for encore at the end of the night. Pop and I may have a curious relationship with one another, but the music made by Jukebox is a brand of pop I can get behind. Their new album, Jukebox The Ghost is available to stream on Spotify, or purchase on iTunes. If you’ve been looking for a new kinda pop that’s a little less “doo-wop”, and a little more “ooh-oh”, this band is just the right thing for you.

Bands you need to know | Lia Ices & Majical Cloudz

This week we had the opportunity to cover a few different shows where the openers caught our ears and eyes just as much as the headliners did. Check out our stories below to hopefully get you stoked on two up and coming acts from across the globe. 


LIA ICES | Los Angeles, California | on tour with: Phantogram

Opening for Phantogram at the Ogden Theatre this past Monday night, Lia Ices stole our hearts quickly and easily with her upbeat, synth-pop magic. Descibed by my photographer as “snazzy dance numbers”, Lia Ices music is quite the compliment to Phantogram. Digital and experimental, yet fun and ethereal courtesy of Lia’s warm voice, her music is a wondrous mix of fantasy, technology, and global adventure. Using what sounds like east Asian-influenced synth tracks, and spanish-influenced guitars in her songs “Sweet As Ice” and “Thousand Eyes”, the sonic sweetness coming from stage was enough to entrance even the most passive person in the room. Her new record, Ices, was released on September 16th, and is already receiving critical praise from numerous sources, including a feature on NPR’s “First Listen” section this month. The track “Higher” is even this week’s track of the week at Starbucks, so as you pick up your fall season fix, be sure to pick up some sweet tunes at the same time. In the mean time, check out one of our favorite tracks, "Thousand Eyes", below: 

Majical Cloudz | Montéal, QC, Canada | on tour with: Lorde

Do you remember the first time you heard a band that made you truly think? One that made you stop in your tracks, who's music is what grabbed your attention, not the "twerking" or the design of the stage? Watching Majical Cloudz will make you do just that. With two men in stark white shirts on stage in front of Lorde's black draped fabric, Devon Welsh and his producing partner Matthew Otto were quiet, collected, and deliberate in their performance. A simple man and his microphone on an empty stage, Welsh delivers lines from their recent album, Impersonator, with haunting devotion; an act that will cut right to the core of any listener. The song that stuck wiht me the most is "Childhood's End", whose opening verse features the lyrics "Someone died/Gunshot, right outside/Your father, he's dead/I see him in my head/Childhood's End/Goodbye, my holy friend/Love me, it's a sin/Can you see me caving in?" With beats reminiscent of The XX or Massive Attack (the House theme song, anyone?), Majical Cloudz fits my desires for a rainy day, or a introspective night in at home. A well-fit pairing with Lorde, the duo are making good use of their opening slot on her headlining tour in the US right now. With no plans for the future yet announced, I plan to catch the group the next time they roll through Denver, and Ultra5280 will keep you in the loop as well. Check out the video for their song, "Childhood's End" below: