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All Mixed Up

The year's best local music becomes the soundtrack of our lives.

1. "Pessimicity" from the Sisyphean Slope EP by Pariah Caste (Not Bad)
A blast of bleak, jagged angst that would have made At the Drive In proud, this paean to suspicion and ulterior motives is the perfect way to let that special someone know you're lugging around a shit ton of baggage.

2. "Carnisaur Vs. Unicorn" from Killball, by Friends Forever (Load)
Nothing shouts "I don't get out of my mom's basement much" louder than this absurd yet brutal barrage of keyboards, spaceship effects and lyrics about -- you guessed it -- a carnivorous dinosaur battling a unicorn.

3. "Subtle Way" from Maybe Waltz, by Patrick Porter (Self-released)
Currently on sabbatical in upstate New York, this Bailey-bred songsmith carves out the most delicate, desolate romantic scenarios since Big Star's Sister Lovers. "Subtle Way" is true to form, sounding a bit like Elliott Smith just a few seconds before his self-performed bypass operation.

4. "The Dirge" from the self-titled album by Call Sign Cobra (Not Bad)
Call Sign Cobra hangs up the horns and slams on the breaks for this one, a dark and grinding rock-and-roll anthem about despair, self-abuse, booze and the existential pitfalls of fucking. Positively, well, dirge-like.

5. "My Virus" from Black Heart Affair, by Love Me Destroyer (Symbiotic Disharmony)
There's nothing like an STD scare to kill a fledgling romance; unfortunately, "My Virus" is a dark punk scream-along about nightmares and revenge rather than genital lesions. Still ought to do the trick, though.

6. "Alaskan Jihad" from Squirting Flower, by Perry Weissman 3 (Shrat)
The moods swing as hard as the rhythm section on this spectral, aching jazz cut. The jarring crescendos and creeping dissonance whipped up by Apple in Stereo Eric Allen and crew is a good way to tip someone off to your severe bipolar disorder.

7. "River" from the self-titled EP by Dartanian (Self-released)
Hardcore kids pumping out epic, Maiden-style metal complete with an acoustic intro and gloriously histrionic vocals. This should drive a wedge into your co-dependency -- that is, unless your lover looks like an extra from The Decline of Western Civilization Part 2.

8. "You'll Find Lady Luck to Be a Hooker and You're All Out of Cash" from Pattern = Application, by My Calculus Beats Your Algebra (Self-released)
Though the whole disc sounds like a midair collision between Suicide and Throbbing Gristle, this 45-second blitz of abrasive drones and chilling piano should be enough to make any budding valentine think twice before getting all Pepe LePew on your ass.

9. "The Lisbon Girls, Oh the Lisbon Girls" from Odd How People Shake, by Fear Before the March of Flames (Rise)
With lacerating guitars and a twin-vocal attack reminiscent of the Blood Brothers, "Lisbon Girls" sounds like a jealous, violent tiff in song form. Not only will this one get rid of an unwelcome squeeze, but it just might get you slapped with a restraining order.

10. "Dreams Are for Pussies" from the compilation Notes From Thee Real Underground Volume 4, by Sparkles (Underground Inc.)
Sparkles, one of Denver's most promising and incendiary bands, melted down earlier this year, leaving only this track as an epitaph. Like a cocktail of puke and kerosene, "Dreams Are for Pussies" is exactly what its title would lead you to expect: a nerve-bashing tour de force of cataclysmic hopelessness. If this doesn't drive your suitor away, you might as well give it up and go ring shopping.

Top Ten Songs for Someone With a Multiple Musicality Disorder
By Michael Roberts

Be yourself, they tell you. But what "self" should you be today? The alternative-music-loving intellectual? The jazz-obsessed boho? The punk-rocking wildman? Or how about all of the above -- simultaneously? If it was good enough for Sybil, shouldn't it be good enough for you?

1. "Village Secret" from Songs to Lynch, by Sci-Fi Uterus (HyperHead Records)
With this album-length nod to filmmaker David Lynch, the Uterans give birth to a mutant strain of synth pop that's retro and nouveau at precisely the same time. The "Village Secret" here consists of the occasional classical flourish and a heaping helping of creepiness.

2. "My Cliney" from The Modus, by Don Bläs (Mobstyle Records)
Stylistically, there's nothing new about Bläs's gangsta throwdowns, which are built upon familiar tales of locking and loading. But from a performance and production standpoint, the disc -- and particularly "My Cliney," featuring cameos by Jadakiss and Styles P. -- breaks new ground for Colorado hip-hop.

3. "My Dad's a Fuckin' Alcoholic" from My Dad's a Fuckin' Alcoholic, by the Frantix (Afterburn Records)
How typical that the year's best reissue of Colorado music comes from an indie label in Australia. Still, it's great that the disc's title track is available again, since the tune's raucous and riotous nihilism puts punk pretenders to shame. (For more information, e-mail afterburn @>ihug.com.au.)

4. "Blown Apart" from A History of Madness, by Thinking Plague (Cuneiform Records)
Colorado's longest-surviving art-rock aggregation checks in with another thoroughly worthy opus courtesy of mastermind Mike Johnson and a batch of mad conspirators. "Blown Apart" is more than eight minutes' worth of stops, starts, eccentric time signatures and mind-bending surprises.

5. "Mr. & Mrs. Clef Take a Vacation" from Extended Family, by Fred Hess (Tapestry)
The latest by saxophonist Hess adds to his laudable catalogue of post-bop jazz. As its playful title implies, "Clef," Family's central cut, is an extended improvisation in which Hess and company engage in the sort of musical telepathy that makes traditional song structure seem unnecessary.

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