You know that feeling you get after seeing a really good band that wasn't even the reason you went to a show? Everyone's got to have their story concerning this, and this review is essentially mine.
I went to a tiny basement show in New Brunswick, New Jersey with my friend to see his co-worker's band play. There were supposedly four bands on the bill, but two dropped, leaving the band we came to see, Scream Hello, and this other band who my friend had told me was good, Denver In Dallas. To make a long story short, Denver In Dallas kicked loads of ass and impressed everyone cramped together in that basement. Great stage presence and excellent songs were what hooked me, and I immediately purchased their CD/DVD combo re-release of their first EP, After Diego.
While not as energetic and intense as the band's live show, After Diego is a great display of killer songwriting and melody. The band plays their own original blend of rock, with a mix of softer, prettier parts, and more aggressive intense moments. Call me crazy, but it almost reminds me of something At the Drive-In would do. What impressed me the most was guitarists Ramon Alarcon and Adam Delnegro's chemistry; the guitar parts always complement each other, and the same thing is rarely, if ever played by both guitars at once. It makes for great melodies and it makes the music that much more exciting and interesting, as opposed to both guitars playing the exact same thing. Matthew Holdren's vocals are all over the place and occasionally off-key, but it is that kind of chaotic-yet-controlled singing that makes this band all the more original. Nine times out of ten, it sounds great. My only (minor) complaint is that the drums don't nearly stand out as much as they could. They are rather low in the mix, and there are places in songs where a simple drum fill would be a nice addition. This is very minor, however, and doesn't take away from the music at all.
As far as the music goes, the leadoff track, "Arizona," is one of the best songs I've heard all year. I could sit and rave about this song all day. It's one of those songs that you saw the band play earlier (when you didn't know it) which makes you extremely happy when you recognize it on the album you just purchased. From the catchy chorus, to the beautiful slower parts, to the absolutely killer finish, this song has got it all. "The Negative Exposed" is another superb track; a 6 minute rollercoaster which showcases everything that "Arizona" did; great melody and extreme catchiness. The beginning of the song screams catchy, with it's bouncy rhythm and happy tone, and the combination of Matt's and Ramon's vocals in the chorus work wonders. "Grab Your Martini And Meet Me On The Balcony" reminds me of something that would be in the background of a police chase scene in a movie, with its urgent feel and "It'll getchagetchagetcha" lines. There's also a video for this song on the included DVD showcasing members of the band getting in knife fights, a very appropriate theme for the song; they fit rather well together. The closer, "Fix Me Sarcasm," has some great dual-guitar noodling in it, which reminds me of something Hot Cross would do, and it basically makes the song. It closes the album on a high note with its triumphant ending, and leaves me begging for more.
The music is not flawless, however; there are times when the music just sort of drags and wanders aimlessly. Cutting about half a minute off a song or two would tighten the songs up for the still-young band, who have an extremely bright future ahead of them with the release of After Diego. Denver In Dallas are extremely high on my list of "best bands you've never heard of," and should be seen when they pass through your area. Just watch the impressively well-done live videos (there are four of them on the DVD) for proof. I highly recommend this.
Listen to three tracks off of After Diego