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The Denver Gentlemen
(Absalom Recordings)

Every once in awhile an album just sort of comes into my life from out of the blue and strikes me upside the head with so much force that I end up listening to it every day for weeks on end. It's usually either by a group that I've never heard of before (although it has happened with groups that I have heard) and usually it involves no prior knowledge on my part that the album was even coming out. This is exactly what happened with the Denver Gentlemen, and even after snooping around a bit looking for more information, I can't seem to find a whole hell of a lot. Even the packaging of the disc even seems to purposefully obscure names, song titles and faces.

The things that I do know is that they unfortunately seem to be broken up at the moment, and that Introducing is actually a collection of recordings made several years ago by members of the groups 16 Horsepower and Slim Cessna's Auto Club. Musically, the group is a strange mixture of alt country, European folk, raggedy street-corner music, and a touch of Tom Waits and/or Nick Cave and/or Sparklehorse.

The disc opens up with "When The Lord He Speak To Me" and it will give you a good idea of what to expect with what will arrive on the rest of the release. With some frumpy horns and chimes and an accordian and odd percussion, it sounds like some sort of weird carny music, and the half yodeled/half sung, almost indecipherable vocals of Jeffrey-Paul only add to the strange proceedings. "Mid-Day-Merry-Go-Round" starts with a melody sounding like "Hit The Road Jack," but soon the song morphs into almost a jazzy torch song with female vocals before breaking off into dark gospel and about 3 other styles in only 3 minutes.

"Little Darlin'" sounds like it could easily be the theme (albeit somewhat twisted one) to an old Western television show with the sing-along chorus while the simply titled "W" takes a more upbeat tempo and adds a piano to give it one of the most playful feels on the entire release along with "That Certain Kind of Woman." The group even manages to pull off the plodding (but quite beautiful) epic track of "The Denver Grab" with some upright bass and minimal percusson backing. In fact, the album never manages to get boring in the slightest over the course of 12 tracks and just over 50 minutes. The instrumentation is quite varied and it's easy to hear different things going on within it on different listens. Plus, the group is obviously passionate about what they're doing and you can just hear it in the recording.

The album was actually recorded live in Denver's Bug Theatre, and the atmosphere only adds to the sound of the release. Perhaps one thing to look forward to other than the music itself is that the group is supposedly going to be resurrected under the torch of lead man Jeffrey-Paul. Until then, if you like strange and interesting music that you honestly won't hear much of anywhere else, you'd probably do best to check out the Denver Gentlemen. A little release that makes a big impression.

Rating: 8.5