Our fair city of Boulder has a storied, if near-forgotten, musical history. And not just the pasty folk music that might immediately come to mind.
A punk band called The Ravers recorded a song called "Cops are Punks" in 1977, moved to New York and began calling themselves The Nails. The band's roadie, Boulder High School student Eric Reed Boucher, changed his name to Jello Biafra and founded the Dead Kennedys in San Francisco. Rock stars like Gram Parsons, Carole King, Stephen Stills and Richard Furay once called Boulder (or the surrounding mountains) home for a time. King met her backing band, Navarro, here in town, and the guys toured with her for years. Elton John, Dan Fogelberg and many others came to Nederland to record at Caribou Ranch recording studio, the source of lore and fantastic stories you can still hear today, if you talk to the right people. Boulder's ability to attract star power began to wane once the studio burned down in 1985, but since then, Boulder has slowly churned out musical acts that went on to bigger and better things: Big Head Todd, the Subdudes, The Samples and Rose Hill Drive, just to name a few. Jamgrass legends Leftover Salmon and String Cheese Incident both formed in and around Boulder. The enormously successful Yonder Mountain String Band launched its career from Boulder.
But the proliferation of soft rock, folk and bluegrass in Boulder begs the question — has Boulder lost its edge? Do people in this town like rock music anymore? If so, where's the scene? I asked these questions in a post called "Where have all the rock bands gone?" a few weeks ago, and the response was overwhelming. Dozens of bands sent in tracks and albums. Most complained that it is near-impossible to get a show in Boulder, and a few even said they moved to cities with music scenes that could support them.
In an upcoming series of blog posts we're calling Flatiron Rock, we're going to be posting tracks from Boulder's unknown rock and metal bands, some of which are unsigned basement bands, some of which have a record deal. If you think Boulder has lost its edge, we're going to try to prove you wrong. There's plenty of rock in Boulder if you look under the right stones.
With that said, it is my pleasure to introduce to you Black Sleep of Kali. If you like Mastodon, Baroness, Isis, etc., you'll dig this group's riffage. The band has gone through a number of lineup changes since forming in 2008, but the core — Patrick Alberts' mathematical fury on guitar and Gordon Koch's thunderous, stampeding drums — remains intact, and the band now includes neo-Viking Taylor Iversen's thunderous bass. They're on two labels, Detroit's Small Stone Recordings and Germany's This Charming Man. Their 2010 album, Our Slow Decay, starts with the epic exclamation "There ... is ... nothing!" and gets heavier and better with each track. Melodic in the right places, heavy and unrelenting in others, the album is a heart-pounding, thumping affair, not for the faint of heart.
Check out "There is Nothing," the first track from Our Slow Decay, which featured Alberts, Koch, Taylor Williams and Austin Michael. As I mentioned earlier, only Koch and Alberts remain. And oh yeah — Koch and Alberts are Boulder natives and residents, and Iversen is a recent CU grad now living in Denver.
Check back every Friday for a new track from a Boulder rock band. This town ain't dead yet.