Colorado bands welcome summer with new CDs

Spring and early summer is always a hot time for new music.

It should come as no surprise that bands want to get in on having their releases be your soundtrack for the warmer months, and Colorado bands are no exception. Here are some releases getting significant press statewide; they may not all make my summer playlist, but I’d take them over anything 311 or Sublime has ever done.

Leftover Salmon: “Aquatic Hitchhiker” – The Nederland-based jam band isn’t reinventing the wheel on its sixth studio album and first release in eight years. But it has managed to catch some of the fire that existed when it started on the road almost 20 years ago. At times, Leftover’s studio releases have always been hit or miss. When the band forays into rock-based rhythm and blues,it continues to sound like a poor man’s version of Little Feat. However, “Aquatic Hitchhiker” shines on the cuts that represent what the band does best – play rocking newgrass. Perhaps this is because newest member Andy Thorn, the young banjo player, is blowing some life back into Leftover Salmon, contributing the upbeat title track and a slow number penned with Benny Galloway. Mandolin-fiddle-guitar player Drew Emmitt contributes the waltz “Bayou Town,” and guitar player and vocalist Vince Herman’s strong tracks are the calypso number “Eliza” and his autobiographical foray into bluegrass, “Kentucky Sky.” This is classic Leftover Salmon, if that’s your thing. The vinyl release hit stores last month and the CD drops May 22.

The Lumineers: “Self Titled” – This Denver trio’s debut came out in April and is a collection of upbeat indie-folk ripe for the fandom of the summer festival crowd. Songs, like the single “Ho Hey,” have potential to quickly turn into catchy sing-a-longs, with lyrics that will suck you in as they drip with drama and sentiment. They are catchy, and that catchiness was introduced to the world when they appeared on Conan O’Brien’s showMonday night. But at times, The Lumineers’ sound is a muscle-less take on music that’s already been made by the likes of Fleet Foxes or Mumford and Sons, but it’s a sound that will sell some records.

Bad Weather California: “Sunkissed” – Also out of Denver, the band’s sophomore full length is an 11-song collection of punk and folk-inspired indie rock. It may seem short, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in diversity. Garage rock, dance music and psychedelic throwback pop are all represented on a soundtrack fitting for beer-drinking in the sun or driving with the windows down. Front man and guitar player Chris Adolf may have gotten his start in punk and hardcore, but he’s grown into a diverse band leader writing music representative of the great American bands of his youth, along with sounds similar to sounds from his parents’ record collection. This will most likely make many end of the year best-of lists throughout the state, including mine. It came out earlier in this spring.

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at

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