Moovers and Shakers 2007

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

Calm., Anti-Smiles (Dirty Laboratory). With Anti-Smiles, Calm. has written the perfect prescription for a musical form whose exterior facade is often slick while being filled with insipid cultural detritus. His poetically brilliant words incisively point out the core issues plaguing our culture and the modern psyche over deeply evocative music that matches its dark subject matter. — Murphy

Cat-A-Tac, Past Lies and Former Lives (Needlepoint Records). After scrapping previous sessions a couple of times, the members of Cat-A-Tac finally followed up their excellent, self-titled debut EP with yet another fantastic collection of gauzy, feedback-drenched songs alternately guided by Andy Tennant's whispery delivery and Jim McTurnan's drony, melodious croon. Epic. — Herrera

Cephalic Carnage, Xenosapien (Relapse). Creatively speaking, Xenosapien takes Cephalic Carnage to the next level. Although the metal vets' latest is just as brutal as past offerings, the sounds they draw upon are more varied than ever. From highly technical (and occasionally even artsy) guitar playing to rhythms so heavy they could crush diamonds, Zac Joe and his fellow Cephalites wreak fascinating havoc. — Michael Roberts

Cique, Cique (Capri). First things first: The name is pronounced "sick," as in "That was sick," an oft-heard comment following the band's live shows. In laymen's terms, of course, that means "That was badass," and this disc is. Keyboardist Jeff Jenkins takes some cues from the late Joe Zawinul and late-'60s/early-'70s Miles, and gets help from guitarist John Abercrombie on a few cuts. — Solomon

John Common, Why Birds Fly (Free School Records). Far too many performers settle for predictability — but Common constantly pushes himself, his songs and his arrangements onto paths that few travelers have trod. While his work can seem inconsistent at times, even the misses are intriguing — and the high points (like "Moonlight" and the preternatural "Not So Bad") truly take wing. — Roberts

Ian Cooke, The Fall I Fell (Self-released). With dynamic vocals that are every bit as enchantingly unique as this disc's packaging, Ian Cooke delivers a riveting concept album that explores the exasperating nature of unrequited love, using a cello as primary focal point. Hands down, The Fall I Fell is the most awe-inspiring release of 2007. — Herrera

Deca, The Hedonist (Excess Entertainment). Deca's voice and flow sets him apart from most of the MCs in Colorado. That, coupled with fresh beats from Yonnas (of the Pirate Signal) and appearances from fellow luminaries Paas, Mane Rok and Ichiban, make The Hedonist one of the hottest hip-hop efforts of 2007. — Salazar-Moreno

Epileptinomicon, Nekrobukuro (Sleeping Giant). Nightmarish, primordial drones run through this experimental ambient masterpiece. Nekrobukuro sounds like what it might be like to explore the lost civilization at the Mountains of Madness. Tones collide, fuse, drift apart and get stuck in your head like a terrifying yet inexplicably beautiful vision of darkly infinite horizons. — Murphy

Flobots, Fight With Tools (Self-released). If hip-hop ever had a conscience, it's been safely transplanted into the soul of Flobots. Led by a pair of cerebral wordsmiths, this insurgent seven-piece ensemble subverts convention by using live instrumentation to power incisive, thought-provoking content. There's a war going on for your mind, they insist, and clearly, these guys are winning. — Herrera

Reed Foehl, Stoned Beautiful (Red Parlor/Never Foehl). It's no wonder that former Acoustic Junction frontman Reed Foehl has enjoyed so much success in getting his songs licensed. Each of the earthy vignettes on Stoned Beautiful is filled with the kind of contemplative musings that are easy to relate to, regardless of your lot in life. — Herrera

Forth Yeer Freshman, Rock Your Box (Self-released). Summoning equal parts grit and wit, Forth Yeer Freshman put together the year's most fun record. Rock Your Box is grin-inducing no matter how much song titles like "Hungry for Your Butt" and "Balls Deep" might make you squirm. It's like having someone squeeze an entire tube of Bengay into your shorts. — Herrera

Fucking Orange, Fucking Orange (Self-released). Boasting colossal, droning riffs that erupt like a Titan weary with outrage, Fucking Orange recalls the work of Neurosis, but with a good deal more Teutonic discipline. Here the men of Fucking Orange explore their dark and heavy psychedelic side, proof positive that heavy music can be both artistically sophisticated and unbelievably crushing. — Murphy

George&Caplin, He Really Got Through to Advertising (Beta-lactam Ring). Half of Advertising is flush with fuzzy 4AD shoegazey guitars set against dreamy Boards of Canada-esque electronic landscapes, while the other half finds Jeffrey Wentworth Stevens and Jason Fredrick Iselin venturing into warmer territory, bringing in acoustic guitars and flutes. It's an epic journey, albeit a short one, as the disc is just under thirty minutes. — Solomon

gOP@Riot, gOP@Riot (Self-released). Thundering out of Hell's basement, Nate Weaver, Sean Inman and Ben Williams coax more musical mayhem from two bass guitars and a drum kit than many other bands pull from a full stage of players. The trio combines punk, post-rock and math-rock influences with blunt and brutal force. Unsuitable for cardiac patients. — Eyl

Great American Taxi, Streets of Gold (GAT, LLC). If you thought Vince Herman's musical ride was over, try again. While absent some of the loony genre-mashing and noodle ethos that marks much of Leftover Salmon's output, the Taxi brings straight-up hooks while appealing to the throwback sensibility of bar-room hippies everywhere. — Nick Hutchinson

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