In a year of exceptional local releases, DeVotchKa's How It Ends stood out like a peacock at sunrise. A dizzying feast of neo-classical strings, south-of the-border tango flirtations and punk-informed polka, the fourteen-song cycle finds Denver's most sumptuous quartet at the pinnacle of its craft. Recorded and mixed by Craig Schumacher (who has worked with Calexico, Giant Sand and Beth Orton), Ends features an overabundance of exotic tempos, textures and stylistic flourishes. Frontman Nick Urata, who augments his incurably aching vocals with smatterings of Italian, Spanish and French, leads his fellow DeVotchKans through the ultimate immigrant experience -- one where doomed romantics arrive wide-eyed in a new world, only to escape heartache through wine and song, longing for one last kiss before the curtains fall. Ay, mi corazón!