Moovers and Shakers 2007

Backbeat scribes sound off on their favorite local releases of the year.

Mustangs & Madras, La Lechuza (Self-released). Longtucky's hardcore heroes proudly wear their influences (Refused, old-school Fugazi) on their tattooed sleeves, but they undermine facile comparisons by integrating baritone sax, melodica, deafening feedback and one particularly spine-chilling sample. Though some of the band's passionate energy was sucked out by the studio, the pummeling is still plenty potent. — Eyl

Nathan & Stephen, The Everyone EP (Morning After Records). Initially conceived as a collaboration between Nathan McGarvey and Stephen Till, this act has grown into a full-on nine-piece extravaganza. A stunning debut, The Everyone EP showcases sturdy pop melodies driven by McGarvey's raspy croon and bolstered by terse, euphonic guitar lines, tasteful horn and key accents, gang vocals and dynamic, vivacious rhythms. The year's must-hear record. — Herrera

Andy Nevala, Alone Together (Capri). Andy Nevala, who's won nine Downbeat awards, reworks a few standards, adding Latin tinges to some, including the title track and "Autumn Leaves." The pianist's first-rate compositional chops are showcased on a pair of originals, while his insightful arrangement skills shine throughout the disc, especially during a pensive take on Sting's "Fragile." — Solomon

New Dialectic, Get in the Way (Self-released). "Like I Said," a highlight of this vibrant EP, asks a lot of listeners: Lyrics range from "Will I be too old for this excitement?" to "Will you wait around like I told you to?" If answers aren't always forthcoming, the effervescent pairing of vocalists Thomas DeLong and Joanna Pane gives the questions a life of their own. — Roberts

Ninth & Lincoln Orchestra, Ninth & Lincoln Orchestra (Dazzle). Bandleader Tyler Gilmore said that one of his goals for his seventeen-piece ensemble was to capture sounds that big bands don't usually get, and on the forward-thinking Orchestra, it does just that. Some of the state's finest jazz musicians push the big-band envelope, creating some striking textural elements that at times blur the lines between rock and jazz. — Solomon

Only Thunder, Only Thunder (Self-released). When the Blackout Pact folded at the end of 2006, the disappointment in Justin Hackl's voice was unmistakable. Rather than dwell on what could've been, though, Hackl moved forward with a new band and wrote a half-dozen songs of urgent, melodic, guitar-driven rock. From the sounds of Only Thunder, that was exactly the right move. — Herrera

Paper Bird, Anything Nameless and Joymaking (Self-released). While Sarah Anderson, Genny Patterson and Esmé Patterson each have lovely voices on their own, together they make some of the sweetest harmonies this side of the Mississippi. Backed by a banjo, acoustic guitar and trombone, their blend of folk and jazz is honey for the ears. — Solomon

Pictureplane, Turquoise Trail (Self-released). The frayed exuberance of this second Pictureplane album is palpable. Incorporating low-tech sounds with a fresh new take on house music and collage pop, Travis Egedy's visionary songwriting represents a bold new step for electronic music. Encompassing a wide range of moods and textures, Turquoise Trail is as uplifting as it is interesting. —Murphy

Tim Pourbaix, A Pony Craig, Not Greg (Self-released). Yes, he's another melancholy white guy with a guitar, but Tim Pourbaix sidesteps the usual singer-songwriter traps of either saccharine sappiness or self-absorbed solemnity, turning in a set of sincere, tuneful gems that gracefully balance lyrics, melody and rhythm. His Killfix compadres supply additional instrumentation and recording assistance that make for a memorable listen. — Eyl

Jen Pumo, All Over the Moon (Self-released). Pumo and her musical partner, Graham Pearce, do more with accomplished compositions such as "Space Girl" and "Sandstone" than simply perform them. The album's luxuriant production swaddles Moon's tunes in modern studio effects that enhance the material's emotionalism and lend Pumo's laconic vocals an enigmatic edge. The results are out of this world. — Roberts

Serafin Sanchez/Jeremy Jones Quintet, Live at Dazzle (SSJJ Music). Tenor saxophonist Serafin Sanchez, who also plays with funk bands 8traC and Bop Skizzum, shows off some superb jazz chops and a robust tone that at times recalls Wayne Shorter. On Live, Sanchez, drummer Jones and their crew come out swinging with an ode to Jackie McLean and get funky on the Eddie Harris-vibed "Peep." — Solomon

Signal to Noise, Kodiak (Self-released). Signal to Noise could be Denver's most promising yet unheralded outfit. Kodiak, the band's Eyeball Records debut, is a scathingly tuneful testament that conjures the glory days of emo, when bands like Jimmy Eat World and Hot Water Music ruled the roost with fist-pumping authority. — Herrera

The Skivies, Between Appliance and Apparel (Self-released). The Skivies have finally captured their hard-edged, contortionist, trippy soundscapes on record. Burroughs would applaud their edgy lyricism and surreally poetic song titles. This is creatively ambitious metal with punk's disregard for convention — a fine mating of dadaesque aesthetics and heavy music steeped in imagination and mathematically precise, but never tightly controlled, rhythms. — Murphy

Sol Powa, Da Ace of Clubs (Self-released). Rraahh Foundashun's Sol P is steadily becoming a hip-hop icon in Colorado. On his debut, Da Ace of Clubs, the celebrated producer handles most of the production himself and calls upon his buddies C1, Supernatural, Distrakt, Dent, SP Double, Mississippi and the Rraahh Foundashun crew to help celebrate his solo party. — Salazar-Moreno

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