By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
6. "X-Photo" from Go Slowly All the Way Round the Outside, by Blusom (Second Nature Recordings)
On "X-Photo," the majestic high point of a consistently impressive disc, Mike Behrenson and Jme (aka Jamie White) draw from a wealth of ingredients: acoustic plucking, electronic touches, bold lyrics, sincere vocals and tender melodicism. The result is irony-free modern music at its finest.
7. "Thunderbolt" from Loneliness Knows My Name, by Patrick Park (Hollywood Records)
Park, a Denver alum who was once in Idle Mind, steps onto a larger stage with a sweetly melancholy album. "Thunderbolt," marked by warm strings, forlorn harmonica and rhymes equating a lover to guns and fire, wraps up the disc's strengths in one tidy package.
8. "Benjamin Bowmaneer" from Trad., by Colcannon (Oxford Road Records)
Anyone who believes that Celtic music from Colorado is inauthentic by definition will have to revise his thinking after spinning this CD. "Benjamin Bowmaneer," an English folk song that doubles as an anti-war satire, feels as timeless as Stonehenge.
9. "House of the Crosses" from Truth Is Not Fiction, by Otis Taylor (Telarc)
Most contemporary blues lack the dark power the music once routinely exuded -- but Taylor's work is a big exception. "Crosses," a gripping saga of murder, rape and retribution set in Russia, of all places, shows that he's capable of walking shoulder to shoulder with the genre's greats.
10. "San Andreas" from Faultline, by Victoria Woodworth (Self-released)
Woodworth's version of country avoids the slick, pre-processed sound currently associated with Nashville in favor of raw emotion and vocals delivered straight from the gut. If "San Andreas" doesn't shake you up, it's nobody's fault but yours.
Top Ten Songs for Rollin' in Your '64 on the Way to a Think Tank Discussion on the "Extraterrestrial Problem"
By James Mayo
There are telltale signs everywhere that Whitley Strieber wasn't playing. According to recent reports, there has been a rash of UFO carjackings. Entice the aliens to jack your shit by bumping the best of Mile High hip-hop as you pop the hydraulics on your hooptie.
1. "M.H.C" from Future ID, by Ground Zero Movement (Response Records)
It's been a busy year for Ground Zero Movement, and the band caused a tectonic-plate shift with this Mile High anthem. GZM's steady flow of consistent product and relentless performances has helped elevate the reputation of Colorado hip-hop.
2. "We Gotta" from ...As Iron Sharpens Iron, by the Procussions (Basementalism Records)
Colorado Springs natives celebrate the elements of hip-hop in this forward-thinking, Pete Rock and CL Smooth-sounding affair. The Procussions may have relocated to L.A., but their heart is here in Colorado.
3. "The 'G' Show" from The Modus, by Don Bläs (Mobstyle Records)
Don Bläs shows why he's the don of Denver's street-oriented reality rap. His reputation extends well beyond Colorado's borders, though, and collaborations with the likes of Jadakiss and Styles have helped earn this MC some major spins on commercial radio.
4. "Rapstarr" from Rapstarr, by Sista D (Kut-N-Kru Records)
This Latina MC puts the muzzle on the haters who think women can't rap. It's been a while since D put out a record, but on cuts like "Rapstarr," she proves that she's still the Queen of Mile High hip-hop.
5. "Malfunction Disorder" from Subliminal Teachings, by Dojo, featuring Extra Kool (Self-released)
Industrial beats and otherworldly rhymes perfectly mirror the dystopia surrounding this sci-fi tale of a dying robot. Good work by talented artists with the best handles in Denver: Selecta Roswell and Analog Suspect.
6. "Mo Jail & No Bail" from Slangin Keyz, by Sacrifice (Tay Records)
Rapping about "court dates and jail mates," this Montbello MC tells the all-too-familiar tale of a young G getting caught up in the trials and tribulations of the street life.
7. "Street Poetry" from Street Poetry, by Derrius (Self-released)
All natural, no filler. On "Street Poetry," Derrius strips rap down to its essence, just drums and bass and a lyrical no-nonsense rhyme flow that recalls a young Rakim.
8. "Time for a Change" from Iseer, by Iseer (D.U.G.)
Iseer and his D.U.G. entertainment family trumpet the call for a conscious reawakening in one of the year's more spiritually uplifting offerings.
9. "Love Sick" from Hard Block: The Compilation, by L.O.C. (Kut-N-Kru Records)
Complemented by stellar production, L.O.C. spins a tragic narrative of two young street kids who end up infected with HIV. The song closes with an optimistic message of hope for young people: "Hold on to your self-respect and aspirations, and we can make it right for the next generations."
10. "Crack It Open" from Hilltop Klick, by Hilltop Klick (Po'No'Mo Entertainment)
Doughboy of the Hilltop Klick expects to play this party-starter to celebrate what he sees as the inevitable Denver Broncos Super Bowl victory in the New Year. Part of the local scene for over a decade, this Park Hill group has seen a lot of lineup changes, but one thing has stayed the same: the consistent high quality of the Klick's music.
Top Ten Songs for Playing Dress-Up
By John La Briola
Where would rock and roll be without leather jackets, rhinestone jumpsuits, love beads, platform shoes, gold chains or baggy pants? Probably stuck in an endless loop of The Twilight Zone, with Pat Boone and Doris Day wearing cardigans, sharing a vanilla malt and being serenaded by a barbershop quartet until they lose their fucking minds. Thankfully, the Front Range scene offers not only its share of exceptional music, but a unique and freewheeling sense of fashion, as well. Here, ranging from chic to shabby, exquisite to ridiculous, is a ten-gun salute to Colorado's haute couture.