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Music » Interviews

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The Photo Atlas celebrates its new disc and handles big-name criticism


The Photo Atlas has trouble thinking outside the box. - Seriously. The guys wrote the whole album in there.
  • The Photo Atlas has trouble thinking outside the box. Seriously. The guys wrote the whole album in there.

Everyone's favorite Denver-based dance-punk outfit should be celebrating right now.

Indeed, The Photo Atlas, long a favorite performer of the scene kids at The Black Sheep, has strung together quite the year a fiesta-worthy one, for sure. Over the past 12 months, the group was signed to a major label (Stolen Transmission, a subsidiary of Island/Def Jam Records), shot its first music video, released its debut major-label disc (their No, Not Me, Never LP was re-branded with four new songs and new artwork) and earned some radio airplay, too.

But things are only about to get better for the guys in the band. Next on the docket: a U.S. tour opening for The Bravery.

It's all the result of some hard work.

"We've been touring our asses off for three years now," vocalist-guitarist Alan Andrews says over the phone.

He's not complaining, just tired. This 10:30 a.m. call woke him up. But can you blame him for sleeping in? He's a busy guy. The No, Not Me, Never album dropped just three weeks ago, and Andrews has been busy with promotion ever since.

And the guys in The Photo Atlas Andrews, Bill Threlkeld III (guitar), Mark Hawkins (bass) and Devon Shirley (drums) are trying to live up the moment as best they can.

There is one black cloud amid all this bliss: Haters.

Major music magazines recently began publishing their reviews of No, Not Me, Never. And while many have been flattering, applauding the Denver band for its oft-chaotic guitar play and Andrews' equally off-the-wall vocal arrangements, not all of the write-ups have been so positive.

One CD reviewer, Jonah Weiner, an associate editor at Blender magazine, was especially harsh on Andrews. He labeled Andrews' "the most annoying voice you'll hear this month," and he didn't stop there.

"Alan Andrews isn't merely a poor singer," Weiner wrote. "He's a poor shrieker, a poor bleater and a poor yelper, too."

In the end, Weiner gave the No, Not Me, Never release two out of five stars. After reading his comments on it, it's surprising he gave it even that many.

But Andrews says he isn't concerned.

"I laughed so hard the first time I read it," Andrews says. "I thought it was hilarious. I've been waiting for that review."

One of the more difficult things Andrews says The Photo Atlas has had to overcome in Colorado is fans' almost excessive adoration. It's nice, from time to time, to be taken down a notch, Andrews says.

"It really doesn't bother us at all," he says of criticism. "My band isn't for everybody. Some people are going to love it and some people won't."

But Andrews was a little curious about Weiner. Criticism's fine, Andrews says, but he wanted some insight into why Weiner crushed them so.

"I was wondering about the background there," Andrews says. "I checked out some of his old reviews."

At, Andrews found what he was looking for: A recent, glowing review Weiner had written about Beyonc's B'Day album.

"I wasn't surprised," Andrews says. "He probably likes "American Idol' and crap like that."

Weiner probably never will like The Photo Atlas' sound. And Andrews is fine with that.

He just won't invite Weiner to the party.

The Photo Atlas with A Novel Form, The Axe that Chopped the Cherry Tree and Seconds From Waiting

The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Friday, March 30, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $8; visit

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