On August 19, Misra Records will join Greater Than Collective in releasing The Dream of You & Me, the debut album by Denver rock and roll band Ark Life. The partnership results from several chance encounters between old friends, the most recent of which took place at a house party at the Underground Music Showcase, the largest music festival and conference in Colorado. There, Future of Music Coalition and Misra co-founder Michael Bracy and WESTAF Senior Associate Director and new Misra co-owner Bryce Merrill saw the young band perform. They quickly learned that fellow co-owner Leo DeLuca knew Ark Life songwriter Jesse Elliott from his other band These United States, with whom DeLuca’s band Southeast Engine had toured. As they talked with Greater Than Collective about its plans, the mutual respect spread even further, and all parties decided they had much to offer each other.
GTC, Denver’s omnipresent festivity conveners, bring together not just Ark Life’s fellow musicmakers A. Tom Collins, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, and Esme Patterson, but also the comedy world’s outrageous Grawlix, a monthly cabaret variety show, and a nearly endless list of other food, drink, and media happenings. Their leaders are “Illegal” Pete Turner and Suburban Home Records founder Virgil Dickerson, their logo a sideways peace sign and a mathematical aspiration.
Misra has long been a stalwart of the national independent music scene — home to releases by Phosphorescent, R. Ring (The Breeders’ Kelley Deal), Shearwater, Holopaw, Centro-matic, and more, and now operating out of Dayton, Denver, Cheyenne, and D.C. Extending the Misra family further is the latest by Dayton’s Motel Beds, These Are the Days Gone By, which arrives August 26, just a week after Ark Life’s debut.
Which brings us back to the The Dream of You & Me, produced and engineered by Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats, The Shins) and Marc Benning (Hideaway Studios) in Pike National Forest and Portland, OR. There, Elliott and bandmates Lindsay Giles (vocals and keys), Anna Morsett (vocals and bass), Natalie Tate (vocals and guitar), and Ben Desoto (drums and percussion) create a musical community portrait that may end up serving as a mission statement for the whole collective endeavor. As Elliott speculates on side one closer “Molly Brown”: “Maybe I’ll invent the wheel again / cut through the land / call it a knife? / Maybe I’ll build up the dream of an ark / invite a few friends / call it a life?”