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From Studio to Stage

Navigating the live music options in Colorado can be daunting. EO is here to help. Check out these five acts with new albums who will be coming to the Front Range this spring. 

Mandolin Orange

New Album: Tides of a Teardrop

Playing: March 15 at the Boulder Theater and March 16 at the Ogden Theatre in denver

Last month, the acoustic-based duo of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz returned with Tides of a Teardrop, their latest set of introspective Americana tunes. Now rounded out by a full backing band, the group’s sound is widening from its bluegrass and folk roots to include a broader country-rock edge. Lyrically, though, they’re still focused on examining life’s personal trials, from facing fears (“The Wolves”) to grappling with loss (“Golden Embers). While writing the record, Marlin was reflecting on the loss of his mother, who died when he was 18. “I think her passing was almost the genesis of my writing,” he said in a statement on the album. “That was when I really began to find refuge in writing songs. I feel like I tried to find a voice around that time, just because I needed the outlet.”

Better Oblivion Community Center

New Album: Better Oblivion Community Center

Playing: March 20 at the Bluebird Theater in denver

One of the best surprises in music to happen so far in 2019, Better Oblivion Community Center is the collaborative side project of Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers. Without notice, the singer-songwriters dropped a joint album under the new name in late January, releasing a concise, 10-song set of alt-folk and synth-hued garage pop with lyrics that mingle personal revelations and political frustrations. Throughout, it’s immensely refreshing to hear Oberst’s aching vocals uplifted in harmony with Bridgers’ sweet, yet at-times intense, lilt. Another surprise was the group announcing an extensive tour that crosses the country this spring. It’s hard to predict how long this project will last, so grab a ticket to the Bluebird show if you can. 

Ryan Bingham

New Album: American Love Song

Playing: April 2 at the Ogden Theatre 

On February 15 the outlaw troubadour released his first studio album since 2015’s Fear and Saturday Night. Bingham may be best known for the dusty ballad “The Weary Kind,” which earned him an Academy Award for its placement in the Jeff Bridges’ film Crazy Heart, but his latest finds the gritty-voiced tunesmith getting back to his roadhouse roots. A standout is the dance-ready blues stomper “Jingle and Go,” which was directly inspired by the time Bingham spent cutting his teeth playing in East Texas bars.

Jenny Lewis

New Album: On the Line

Playing: May 16 at the Ogden Theatre and May 17 at Mishawaka Amphitheatre 

Back with her first new effort since 2014’s The Voyager, Lewis found fuel in the emotions of big life changes when making her latest album, On the Line, which comes out March 22. The songs came together after Lewis ended a decade-plus relationship and left her native Los Angeles to move to New York, at age 40. Despite the circumstances and some pointed revelations, the album doesn’t wallow in gloom. Lead single “Red Bull & Hennessy” is a fiery, Fleetwood Mac-style rocker with Lewis exuding plenty of passion while exorcising the hardships of change. On the record, she gets help from a killer cast of friends, including Beck and Ringo Starr. 

The Infamous Stringdusters

New Album: Rise Sun

Playing: May 29 at Red Rocks with phil lesh and the terrapin family band

Fresh off an energetic New Year’s run at Denver’s Ogden Theatre, The Infamous Stringdusters will return to the Front Range this spring to play Red Rocks with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and his Terrapin Family Band. The boundary-pushing bluegrass crew will be adding new tunes to the arsenal of its dynamic live show, after the release of the upcoming album Rise Sun. The new effort offers a well-needed dose of optimism in these divisive times: The title track in particular charges forward with positive momentum, led by celebratory handclaps and driving banjo rolls.

“Rise Sun was sparked by the feeling of wanting something better for the world—more love, more awareness and more compassion,” says dobro player Andy Hall about the record that comes out on April 5. “It’s a message of taking care of each other, our planet and ourselves. Sometimes a message of hope is less popular than one of despair, but it’s much-needed nevertheless.” 

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