Devo’s back with “Something for Everybody”

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DEVO Something for Everybody (Warner Bros.)

Devo are best known for being the guys from the early ’80s who wore red flower-pot hats and scored a left-field hit with “Whip It.” But even then, there was a subversive nature to the band’s synth pop, with a critical eye to the “de-evolving” of the human species.

With the band’s first new release in a couple of decades, it’s like Devo never left.

“Commercial tastemakers are embracing the sounds and song structures we initiated,” founding member Jerry Casale recently told Time. “All we have to do is what we do, and we’ll sound contemporary.”

And with that Casale slipped in a song title from Something for Everybody: “What We Do” alludes not only to the band’s return to form but to the mind-crushing sameness of modern life. Gas up your car and eat another cheeseburger. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The 12 songs here are as pop-friendly as Devo in their hey-day, from the ’50s retro-meets-post-modern-techno of “Please Baby Please” to the Massive Attack echo of “Later is Now.” And the band’s sense of paranoia is in full force: “Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)” ends with the repeated cry of “Don’t tase me, bro!”

Casale and co-lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh drop the most interesting twist near the album’s end. A melancholy acoustic piano interlude opens “No Place Like a Home,” a heartfelt lament about how humans are busy creating a world that will soon no longer have room or need for them. It’s Devo without the irony. Now that’s subversive.

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A taste of twang and steel: Stone River Boys invade Colorado

Austin-based Stone River Boys bring their mix of Texas twang and funk to Colorado over the next couple of weeks. The band’s recently-released debut, Love on the Dial, is an eclectic mix of pedal steel guitar-laced country and Stax-fueled R&B.

Singer Mike Barfield (Hollisters) and guitarist Dave Gonzalez (Hacienda Brothers, Paladins) have a distinctive sound that underscores the connections between musical styles we too often segregate. Like Ray Charles once showed us, the link from country to soul is a strong one, whether the “Boys” are calling us to dance to their original “The Struggle” or dusting off the Goffin/King classic “Take a Giant Step.”

Thurs./Fri., July 22-23, Fortune Valley Casino & Hotel, Central City
Saturday, July 24, Buffalo Bill Days, Golden
Wednesday, July 28, The Soiled Dove, Denver
Thursday, July 29, The Rocket Room, Colorado Springs
Sunday, Aug. 1, Colorado Steampunk Fest, Central City

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From the reissue bin: the Undertones on iTunes

File Ireland’s Undertones on the list of ’70s punk and new wave bands that barely got their due in their prime (say, the Ramones) only to influence scores of band that came in their wake and made millions (say, Green Day.)

Feargal Sharkey, brothers John and Damian O’Neill, Billy Doherty and Mickey Bradley created a sonic recipe full of clever pop hooks and short songs that did their job in a flash.

Union Square Music has reissued the band’s four albums and an EP plus a new best-of compilation as digital only releases available from iTunes. The batch includes will be The Undertones (1979), Hypnotised (1980), Positive Touch (1981), The Sin of Pride (1983) and the Teenage Kicks EP.

The band’s rock punch is best on the early albums, when Sharkey’s high-pitched Irish wail road a wave of fuzzed-out guitars on high-energy songs like “Male Model” and “Here Comes the Summer” and more quirky fare like the mid-tempo “More Songs About Chocolate and Girls.” The lighter pop sound at the end of the band’s run, too heavy on keyboards, served to diminish that attack.

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