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Last Friday, I went to see local prog-funk trio Envy Alo at the Boulder House (right next to the Rio), which was once Absinthe House. Throughout the show, I couldn’t help but scrawl names of the artists that I love, whose influence I heard in Envy Alo. I heard a little bit of the Soft Machine, some Pink Floyd layered with bluesy vocals, threads of Surrealistic Pillow, and even a little early Radiohead in there somewhere. What is really striking is the fact that there’s almost a wall of sound effect, yet it comes from only 3 musicians.

Envy Alo is Kevin Hinder on guitar, Aaron Pettine on keys, and Tyler Gwynn on drums. Aaron and Tyler both play with other outfits, Booster and Tenth Mountain Division respectively, and they commented that playing in a trio brings its own set of unique challenges, but resolved that these challenges are actually a major driver for their creativity. For instance, Kevin covers as much ground on one guitar that would be expected from a lead and rhythm two-guitarist setup, and since they lack a bassist, Aaron takes over that duty from the keys. Naturally, I was ready to make the Ray Manzarek comparison, a common connection made by fans. Each of them, they say, are only the more prominent in what they bring to the group than they might be as a 5-piece. Their sound is the organic culmination of three distinct parts, the “center of a Venn diagram,” as they put it. In order to keep things fresh, they are known to have guests sit in on stage with them, usually from local acts like Flash Mountain Flood, Moontang, and Tenth Mountain Division.

They have been playing together for only 6 months, but having hit the ground running, they already recorded an appreciable 4-track EP , which you can find on their Bandcamp. The EP was recorded live in one day at Silo Studios in Denver, with help from the mastering talents of Alan Evans, percussionist for the funk trio Soulive. Of the experience, Evans himself said

It never ceases to amaze me what three people can do with a guitar, drums, and a Hammond organ. I recently got the opportunity to master Envy Alo’s new EP and I was excited to hear so many great rock, funk, and hip hop influences but all wrapped up into their own unique sound. I know all of the Envy Alo fans are going to dig this EP and I’m sure they are going to round up some new fans as well. I can’t wait to see what these cats come up with next and I really hope I can be a part of it!

And certainly, the guys have the recording of a full length record on their agenda for the near future. With the EP, they found that the polished version of their organic compositions still capture the raw, lightning-in-a-bottle feel from live performances, and that there’s a lot they can learn from Alan’s extensive experience. Another goal is to keep playing live, and start getting into the festival lineups, after all the EP, while impressive, is a bare-bones representation of what they’re capable of doing live on stage.

As far as the next couple weeks are concerned, you can catch them at Tony P’s in Denver on Saturday, April 23rd, and in Boulder at the Lazy Dog on the 29th. The name Envy Alo comes from the Spanish “envialo,” roughly meaning “ship it,” and that’s their way of saying they’re gonna rock something. They’re at a prime point where they’re beginning to craft their signature sound, and break through with a new, unique voice. So be sure to hit them up in Denver or in Boulder, or wherever else they roam, and you’ll see they do indeed “ship it.”