July 7, 2010

Hot Congress: the Musical Compilation of Denver

(Reposted from Colorado Music Buzz, July Issue)

The world of music is changing, becoming increasingly accessible to local musicians. They can now record in their own homes, produce albums, fund tours. In a time when record companies are becoming inconsequential, bands have learned that all they need is each other. Denver’s own Hot Congress is banking on this notion for the success and support of its members.

Its members help one another out in many ways: together, they book shows, pool money to further promotions, and utilize the many talents found within the group, ranging from art to poetry (including slam-poet Ken Arkind) to film. The group recently showcased many of its bands on a chaotic but satisfying compilation disc. However, Hot Congress is a compilation in itself: across its spectrum, you will find epic to experimental, poignant to punkish. Here are just a few of its standout bands.

Considering the relatively recent birth of The Don’ts and Be Carefuls, this solid rock band has already made an impact on Denver music, playing solid shows and racking up enough press to make long-established bands jealous. While slightly reminiscent of pop band, Hot IQs (Bryan Feuchtinger actually worked on their EP, “Risk Assessment”), they lean toward the edgier, sharper style of The Strokes. Check out “You’ve Been Warned” and “Prole Power!” for a quick audio pick-me-up.

Sounding like a dreamier version of Silversun Pickups, Vitamins has been stirring up the city with its ability to be both atmospheric yet hard. The airy vocals are often punctuated by jagged guitar riffs or prominent bass accompaniment. “Sequined Dress” will have you humming to yourself three hours later.

Lastly, what is there to say about Achille Lauro which hasn’t already been said by every major (and minor) media in Denver? To put it simply, this is the band that, in 20 years, you will tell your astonished children about how you saw them play in a small club, how you talked with one of the members in the bathroom once, how you knew of them before they were famous. Because—with their catchy-yet-complex riffs, layered vocal styling, and a performance which is a tad too tight to be called jams—they will be famous. (Rather than trying to pick out one or two recommended tracks, your best bet is to just pick up their new “Indiscretions” album.)

While you may know of these bands already, there are plenty more to check out in Hot Congress, such as The Jim-Jims, The Widowers, and the brand new addition, Fingers of the Sun (which is a sort of spinoff from the now-defunct Pseudo Dates). You can catch Achille Lauro and Vitamins at the upcoming Underground Music Showcase between July 22-25, and The DBCs at Larimer Lounge with Miniature Tigers on July 30th.


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