Moovers and Shakers 2007

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

Earlier this year, I marveled at how my entire iPod playlist was devoted exclusively to the music made here. That was back in February, and considering that we were only two months into the new year, that might've seemed like a moment of breathless hyperbole. At the time, the ink was still drying on our Moovers and Shakers 2006 list, but I was already utterly consumed by three new local albums.

This wasn't a new trend, either: There's been so much amazing music produced here over the past few years that I truly haven't been interested in listening to much of anything else.

And I'm still not. Suffice it to say, the local music released through the rest of 2007 was every bit as compelling as those releases in the first two months. It was all so compelling, in fact, that I didn't need to resort to a list to recall which albums moved me. Like many of my fellow Backbeat scribes, I knew them all by heart, for they'd been the de facto soundtrack of my life for the past twelve months.

As I compiled our faves for this year, it wasn't surprising that a number of releases — from artists such as Born in the Flood, Ian Cooke, Bela Karoli, 3OH!3, Nathan & Stephen, the Wheel and Kingdom of Magic, among others — appeared on multiple lists. Obviously, we couldn't all write about the same discs. Fortunately, we all had plenty of other favorites from 2007, which we've gleefully written about here. Dave Herrera

Achille Lauro, You're Going to Live (and Other Nice Things to Hear) (Self-released). Taking the instrumental flair of acts like Tristezza, the Mercury Program and Pele and infusing it with smoky, jazz-filled interludes and expressive vocals, Achille Lauro is positively eargasmic. You're Going to Live's only discernable drawback is that it's too short, with just four songs and a running time of 22 minutes. — Herrera

all capitals, all capitals (Self-released). After restructuring and downsizing its ranks, all capitals resurfaced this year with an EP that marks a gigantic leap forward for the band. Paul Christus assumes frontman duties with confidence and conviction as the trio finds a new, more distinctive identity. Skip "Chamomile," and the EP stands as a stable three-legged stool. — Eryc Eyl

American Relay, Corn & Oil (Self-released). Nick Sullivan and Alex Hebert's two-man blues assault is thick as Quaker State and has the muscle of a '68 Pontiac GTO. This souped-up hot rod is screaming down the highway with some fuel-injected fuzzy Delta blues under the hood. Jump in and take a ride. Jon Solomon

Astra Moveo, Omnigraph I (Self-released). Laylights frontman Tyler Hayden takes on a new identity as a world-weary, hip-swaying, techno-soul lothario. Hayden, Chris Eagleton and James Cromwell Holden simultaneously evoke Marilyn Manson, Prince and LCD Soundsystem with dark, dirty and danceable delights. Though all the tracks can be downloaded from the band's MySpace page, this one gets bonus points for creative packaging. — Eyl

A.V.I.U.S., Patience (House of Waxx Recordings). A.V.I.U.S. is the type of underdog MC who comes out of nowhere, rips on the mike and then quietly disappears. On his debut album, bolstered by Es-Nine's excellent production, he flows on an array of topics ranging from life's struggles to rockin' a show. Don't sleep on this up-and-comer. — Quibian Salazar-Moreno

Bela Karoli, Furnished Rooms (Helmet Room Recordings). Bluebook, Julie Davis's onetime solo endeavor, is now Bela Karoli, a trio consisting of Davis, violinist Carrie Beeder and vocalist/accordionist Brigid McAuliffe. Furnished Rooms, the ladies' debut, is as gorgeous as it is bleak. Davis's upright bass is supplemented by sparse percussion, creating a detached ambience that the ghostly vocals of Davis and McAuliffe hover above. The results are intoxicating. — Herrera

Blue Million Miles, Blue Million Miles (Self-released). Drenched in delay, the guitar sound on this EP is heady in both its ethereal expansiveness and its angular, frenetic drive. With a momentum and purpose that burns brightly from the inside, the music is smart and electrifying. An enviable dynamism lends the band a righteous stridency that's rare in atmospheric rock. Tom Murphy

Born in the Flood, If This Thing Should Spill (Morning After Records). "Brilliant" is a term that gets thrown around far too casually and liberally, but when used to describe If This Thing Should Spill, it's indisputably applicable. Over the course of thirteen tracks, Born in the Flood presents an overwhelmingly convincing case for why it's one of Denver's most vital bands. — Herrera

Breezy Porticos, These Record Highs (Best Friends Records). Andy Falconetti is a master at writing buoyant, cheerful ditties full of penetratingly observant lyrics that expose the human heart with honesty and compassion. Most pop records include a few clunkers, but These Record Highs finds Falconetti and company hitting their stride. Each song here is a gem. — Murphy

The Brotherhood of Dae Han, For the Glory of Olde Virginia (Self-released). Hailing from Fort Collins, the Brotherhood of Dae Han gives a thoroughly modern update to a classic prog-metal template, augmenting precision guitar riffs with layered harmonies and tonsil-scalding screams, resulting in the year's most enjoyable hard-rock release. More impressive, the guys recorded this gem themselves. — Herrera

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