April 30, 2009

Queen City Spotlight: Houses


In addition to being a mile high, Denver is also known as the Queen City of the Plains, since we are regally awesome. We have a feisty and fertile music scene here, and this occasional feature aims to spotlight the best of our music to the rest of the world.

Houses is such a curt, domestic, common name for an uncommonly good band. Recently formed and already attracting major word-of-mouth buzz, the smart music of Houses is as expansive and refreshing as it is unclassifiable. Sometimes it shimmers and chimes, other times it just plain squalls with rock and roll — but it seems firmly rooted to me in shades of an earthy sepia.


A big, exuberant, Denver-style collective of at least eight members (and all their varied instruments), Houses is formed around the core songwriting duo of Andrew James Hamilton and his wife Kinsey Hamilton. Joining them are members of several other excellent groups in and around Denver (such as Widowers, Blue Million Miles and the perhaps-defunct Hearts of Palm).

With Bishop Allen-type plans for year round domination, Houses is releasing one EP for each season of 2009. I’m having fun divvying up all the songs on their MySpace player into speculative seasons. It seems clear to me that instrumental sojourns like the surf-guitar-laced “Beach Song” radiate waves of August heat, and the pensive “North Sea” is a brilliant shade of arctic January white — or maybe December with those faint sleigh bells chiming.

But this next track might be more like the hazy smell of burning leaves in late October. I am totally and completely in love with it — the way it starts out with a classy, bluesy organ melody that anchors throughout and builds into a singalong that feels like The Band at the San Francisco’s Winterland, early 1970s.

By the last minute, the song explodes like fiery sunrise, just like they promised it would. We’ll see the sun again indeed.

We’ll See The Sun – Houses

For more listening, last month’s show with Everything Absent or Distorted is up over on The Flat Response.

And one of those EPs (presumably Spring) is being released tomorrow night (Friday) at the Hi-Dive, in a show with other local luminaries Elin Palmer and Ian Cooke.

When Houses played with The Morning Benders and The Submarines in February, the Denver Post’s review claimed that although it was “only the band’s fifth show … it was so well executed that it should put most Denver indie bands on notice.” That’s a show I got real close (meters) to seeing, but lots of wet snow and maybe some tequila stopped me from actually making it inside. Sigh. I shant be so foolish again — I really am looking forward to seeing a lot of Houses in 2009.


ALSO: Speaking of local news, the review I wrote for the Denver Post on the Gaslight Anthem show is now live, for your viewing pleasure, as are the pics I shot in the review for Clem Snide. And check this video I shot of Gaslight on Friday night — easily my favorite video I’ve captured all year so far.

[thanks to the formidable namer-of-things Sean Porter for thinking up this series title!]


  • Heather, that photo of the GA setlist…what a great show!

    Nick — May 1, 2009 @ 5:26 am

  • you’ve probably already seen this, but I love this live version of “1930″ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL8lBPtpmP8.

    I dunno if it true that it’s about his grandmother – http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858671147/1/DESC/ – but if it is then the songs all the more special.

    Great review by the way, I think you’ve really captured their lack of cynicism, which is so refreshing with all the cooler than cool bands that exist these days.

    Steve — May 1, 2009 @ 10:17 am

  • Hope you’re feeling better Heather, scary time to get a funky flu…

    Thanks for sharing your passion for music with us here. As a musician/songwriter, I found myself strangely being distanced from music because my eclectic tastes just weren’t getting satisfied anymore by what I was hearing on the radio. I was lucky to find 1 or 2 new artists a year that really touched me and I couldn’t figure out why. I assumed my 44 year-old brain was depleting itself of dopamine or seratonin and that life was just getting flatter because, over time, we might just get “used” to things…

    Finally, I realized that radio doesn’t let a lot of amazing music through, and that I had to hunt it out for myself. Your blog was one of the first places I discoved a tasteful introduction to new music that’s out there, and that was a big part of my being introduced to some bands I really love now (i.e. Nada Surf). Thanks!

    Jim — May 2, 2009 @ 7:56 am

  • Mucho gusto.

    Dainon — May 2, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  • Wow — thank you so much Jim!

    and Dainon – helps kinda make up for missing them live? ;)

    browneheather — May 2, 2009 @ 10:09 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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