Eight Ways Legal Weed Has Changed Colorado's Music Scene

Categories: Commentary

Eric Gruneisen
Heaven is real.
It's now been almost an entire year since marijuana was legalized for recreational use here in Colorado. The experiment, by most accounts, has been a successful one, with other states following in our footsteps. It seems inevitable that we'll see the entire country follow in the next decade.

Although, because recreational marijuana has been legal for several years, things didn't change a whole lot here in terms of the availability of pot, the boom has made a substantial impact on all kinds of tangential industries: Music, for example. Here are a few of the ways recreational weed has changed Colorado's music scene.

See also: Photos: Musicians Buying (Legal) Weed in Denver

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Four Things You Should Know About Opening for Famous Bands

Categories: Commentary

Photo by Clever Cupcakes via Flickr
As close as a typical opening band might get to meeting KISS.
By Chris Lane

Your band has been playing shows for a while and seems to be getting popular. Perhaps you're still just rising stars on the hometown circuit or have hit the road a few times to try your luck at touring. Eventually, the day comes when you get a dream gig opening up for a big national act -- a band with a certain amount of fame and success that you've always looked up to, or at least respected.

Does this gig mean Death Hippie has finally made it and superstardom is around the corner? Can you and your bass player finally quit your jobs cleaning up "accidents" at the porno theater where you both work? Will you at least make industry connections and become friends with your rock & roll heroes after your band opens the show?

Probably not. But as with most things involving the music biz, you'll probably learn some lessons along the way. I certainly did.

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Why Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Album Isn't Rumours

Categories: Commentary

Courtesy of Fleetwood Mac
The first two albums Fleetwood Mac (playing tonight, December 12, at the Pepsi Center) released after Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined Christine McVie, bassist John McVie, and drummer Mick Fleetwood provided the pop soundtrack of the late 1970s. The tender nature of singles like "Landslide," the mysticism of "Rhiannon," and the bold confessional nature of "Go Your Own Way" and "The Chain" struck a chord with anyone with a radio and a pair of working ears. Rumours would go on to be one of the top ten selling albums of all time. It continues to resonate today as much as it did when it was first released in 1977, influencing musicians for generations to come, providing the soundtrack for '90s presidential campaigns, and continuing to set itself upon the lofty perch of various "all-time best album" lists.

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"Twerking," "Dubstep" and Other Dumb Music Words Now in the Dictionary

Categories: Commentary

Photo by Erik Hess
Thankfully, Miley Cyrus finally convinced the Oxford folks to define "twerking."
As 21st-century culture and technology continue to evolve, so too must our language. Whether you like it or not, all these hashtag buzzwords are part of the greater lexicon. Literally, "hashtag" was added to the dictionary.

But it's not just words like "selfie," "noob" or "friend zone." The musical terms making official Oxford and Merriam appearances are just as facepalm-worthy. (Add "facepalm" to the list too.) And while "EDM" isn't one of them, it can't be too far off.

See also: Six Reasons I Won't Dance At Your Wedding

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Why Dave Grohl's Sonic Highways Documentary Series Doesn't Suck, Somehow

Categories: Commentary

Dave Grohl with his mustache.
By Rae Alexandra

As you may have already seen, there's been a fair amount of criticism leveled at Dave Grohl's new HBO documentary series, Sonic Highways, since it launched five weeks ago. And, in the week since the accompanying Foo Fighters album of the same name was released, even more angry voices have emerged.

Accusations have been thrown at Grohl and the band for seeking "respectability by proxy," and at the show for being "nothing more than promotion for the Foo Fighters and their new record," as well as a "bloated, rambling... gimmick." Is the show perfect? Good Lord, no.

See also: An Account of a Foo Fighters Show in Denver

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Screeching Weasel Singer Thinks You Don't Deserve to Be Mad at Him for Hitting Women

Categories: Commentary

Marc Gaertner via Recess Records
Ben Weasel, not punching any women at the moment.
I've never had an interest in Screeching Weasel, as I don't listen to punk music that comes off like it was meant to be the soundtrack of a straight-to-video film about kids rollerblading in a shopping-mall parking garage. I listened to Boogadaboogadaboogada! a few times (primarily just so I could say I knew what the band sounded like) and I've gotten drunk with a pal of mine who has a tattoo of the group's iconic Fonzie-rat-looking character. (He's a good guy who also collects vintage board games -- cheesy tattoo be damned.)

See also: Why Metal Supergroup Old Man Gloom Decided to Screw With the Press

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The Ten Best Videos From the Gangsta Rap Era

Categories: Commentary
Mark C. Austin for the Houston Press. Full slideshow here.
Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys still goes hard.
Gangsta rap, where have you gone?

About 20 years ago at this time, we were in the middle of an unprecedented run of gangsta rap greatness, with Death Row, Bad Boy, Ruthless, Rap-A-Lot and others all functioning at high levels. 

And while the songs and albums from this era continue to get shine, let's not forget the videos, which constitute some of the most visually arresting (and most hilarious) ever made.

Here are the ten greatest videos from the gangsta rap era.
See also: The 50 Best Rap Lyrics of All Time
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A Salute to the Supporting Cast of Run the Jewels 2

Categories: Commentary

Courtesy of Gangsta Boo
She has just the thing for your mouth.
Killer Mike and El-P will bring their Run the Jewels project to the Gothic Theatre on November 18. By now, you've had a few weeks to play the duo's magnificent Run the Jewels 2 on repeat. (If not, quietly chastise yourself and then head over here and download it now.) While the chemistry between Mike and El is an undeniable draw, the Run the Jewels movement has also bloomed into something of an ensemble project, with a coterie of behind-the-scenes cohorts also contributing to the album. Consider this a salute to the faithful jewel-running supporting cast.

See also: One of the World's Best Run the Jewels Murals Is in Denver

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Pop Music Needs to Become Political Again

Categories: Commentary

Woody Guthrie
Like it or not, Pharell Williams' "Happy" is likely to be the top-selling single of 2014. And, yes, its buoyant '60s soul vibe and simple, positive message is modern pop perfection. But scanning the rest of this year's biggest hits, one is struck by a consistent theme: All of these songs are distinctly apolitical. Contemporary slang and the loosening of certain taboos aside, they could have been written in 2002, 1992, even 1982.

By Steve Brennan

Granted, popular music is supposed to provide some kind of escape from everyday life. However, shouldn't it also sometimes reflect what is going on in the wider world at the time of its release? We are not living in a post-AutoTune utopia. Persistent economic problems, a deliberately obstructionist U.S. Congress, NSA surveillance, an expanding underclass -- these are issues that seem ripe for mining by contemporary musicians.

See also: The Ten Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock

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The Ten Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock

Categories: Commentary

Asylum Records/Wikimedia Commons
Joni Mitchell: One of history's most underrated guitarists.
While traveling from Denver to Texas a few weeks ago, I could not stop listening to Mutiny on the Bay, the searing collection of '80s Dead Kennedys performances released in 2001; East Bay Ray, it occurred to me, is one of the most underrated guitarists in the history of rock.

To me, being underrated doesn't mean that a musician has missed out on accolades and commercial success. It means that, for whatever reason, millions of music lovers probably haven't been exposed to a certain musician's talents and thus haven't had the chance to enjoy him or her. So here -- up for potential enjoyment and probably heated discussion -- are ten guitarists I believe are history's most underrated.

See also: The Ten Best Light Shows in Rock

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