Our music writers pick the yearís national bests.

Murs & 9th Wonder, Murray's Revenge (Record Collection). Cali underground rapper Murs has been putting in work for years, but it wasn't until he connected with Little Brother producer 9th Wonder that he made his best album ever. Wonder's laid-back, soulful production is the perfect match for Murs's witty, insightful lyricism. -- Salazar-Moreno

My Chemical Romance, The Black Parade (Reprise). Some dunderheaded reviewers have fixated on the bleakness of Gerard Way's themes without noticing the glee with which he shares them. Despite the presence of a tune cheerfully named "Cancer," The Black Parade is a kick from start to finish thanks to the theatrical joy that Way and the Romancers exude as they promenade into Hades, skeletal grins firmly in place. -- Roberts

My Morning Jacket, Okonokos (ATO). The antidote to jam bands while still kind of being a jam band, My Morning Jacket brings it home in the live setting. The act's ethereal, reverb-heavy sound is anchored by chiming guitar lines, steady grooves and wistful vocals. Stretching out on 21 live cuts, Okonokos is the next best thing to being up front at Bonnaroo. -- Hutchinson

Nicolay, Here (BBE). Amsterdam producer Nicolay made waves in the underground with Foreign Exchange, his project with Little Brother's Phonte. This year he dropped his debut album, Here, which introduced new talents Wiz Khalifia and Black Spade and continued to display Nicolay's brilliant musicianship, production artistry and song craftsmanship. -- Salazar-Moreno

The North Atlantic, Wires in the Walls (We Put Out). Wires is magnetic. It's an exaltation of stupid punk ardor and art-house intellectualism that in some weird vortex of hand-clapping and fervid guitar-playing makes total sense. The San Diego-based North Atlantic sweats out youthful apprehension that transcends genres, making this release easily one of the most accessible rock records of the year. -- Nguyen

Om, Conference of the Birds (Holy Mountain). Everyone talks as if High on Fire's Matt Pike was the acid-fried brains behind stoner-rock progenitors Sleep. But the other guys -- bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius -- prove that Pike ain't got nothing when it comes to super-slow, ultra-heavy, loud-as-fuck drone metal. Two songs in 33.3 minutes, and not a second wasted. -- Nguyen

The Prids, ...Until the World Is Beautiful (Five03). The critical backlash against all things post-punk should halt when it comes to bands like the Prids. Driving, propulsive rhythms and ethereally incendiary guitar draped in shiningly icy synths -- those were the hallmark of the best of early-'80s post-punk. On this release, the Prids update that sound with exhilarating energy and conviction. -- Murphy

The Roots, Game Theory (Def Jam). The past year and a half has been an emotional roller coaster for the Roots. The effects of Hurricane Katrina and the death of friend and collaborator J Dilla proved difficult to ignore and permeated Game Theory. The Roots' darkest release yet, the album finds the act baring more of its soul than ever before. -- Salazar-Moreno

Siouxsie and the Banshees, Voices on Air: The Peel Sessions (Universal Polydor). Legendary radio host John Peel died in 2004 and left behind an equally legendary body of recordings created to air on his BBC show. The first four tracks on this disc are the band's earliest studio recordings, before it ever released an album. Voices is stark, haunting, jagged music often overlooked by post-punk miners of yesteryear inspiration. -- Murphy

Sivion, Spring of the Songbird (Hip-Hop is Music). Sivion's uplifting lyrics over brass-knuckle beats provide a perfect balance for those who love a raw sound with resolute lyrics. Ranging from his love of hip-hop ("I Still Love H.E.R.") to his love of being a father ("Songbird Saturday") to his love of God ("Today Is the Day"), Songbird exhibits the MC's notable versatility. -- Salazar-Moreno

Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped (Geffen). There are very few things you can depend on anymore. Fortunately, a good new Sonic Youth record is one of them. This band has been expertly fusing its avant-garde aesthetic with solid pop songwriting ever since 2002's Murray Street. Even without Jim O'Rourke, Ripped is among the act's most compelling material in over a decade. -- Murphy

Bruce Springsteen, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (Columbia). In his ongoing attempt to become Bob Dylan, the Boss dips into a seemingly bottomless well of old-timey American folk favorites. Backed by a spirited crew on banjo, mandolin and all manner of acoustic instruments, Springsteen narrowly hops the wolf of pretension to hit his mark, like a quick fox on a slow hen. -- Hutchinson

Kenn Starr, Starr Status (Halftooth). Still relatively unknown and unbelievably slept on, Kenn Starr is a shining light in the darkness of underground hip-hop. He's a lyrical heavyweight who can battle with the best of them while dropping knowledge that inspires the listener -- all over the freshest beats from a new crop of talented producers. -- Salazar-Moreno

Stereolab, Fab Four Suture (Too Pure Records). The Groop is still playing space-age bachelor-pad music. Although it comprises four different EPs -- hence the title of the album -- this collection of songs make up Stereolab's most cohesive and warmly organic release in years. Jazz-lounge sounds intertwine with an electro-kraut-rock drone to produce an effect both nostalgic and futuristic. -- Murphy

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Denver Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • January
  • Sat
  • Sun
  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed
  • Thu
  • Fri