Moovers and Shakers 2007

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

Greg Harris Vibe Quintet, Frames Live (Greg Harris Music). After eight years of playing together, vibe ace Harris, guitarist Matt Fuller and trumpeter Erinn Bone have mastered the art of the groove. The players are deep in the pocket on Frames; their brilliant interplay is on full display on the disc, which was recorded live at Dazzle last year. — Solomon

Hemi Cuda, Thick Riffs N' Tasty Licks (Self-released). You'd be hard-pressed to find a more aptly named record than this one. Taking time off from her Nashville Pussy duties to focus on her first love, Karen Cuda rejoined longtime cohort Anika Zappe to dole out a mouthwatering, sugar-coated, twelve-track ass-whupping. Thank you, may we have another? — Herrera

The Heyday, The Heyday (Self-released). The Heyday's self-titled debut — overseen by Andrew Berlin and lauded local producer Christopher Jak — is the epitome of radio­-friendly power pop. The act's straightahead, jangly guitar rock soars on the wings of sun-kissed melodies imbued with the fleeting pathos of youthful heartache. Multi-platinum status awaits — if there even is such a thing anymore. — Herrera

The Informants, Stiletto Angel (Wipe It Off! Records). It's easy to underrate music that operates within well-established genres instead of trying to rewrite the rules. Still, the Informants hardly paint by the numbers. Lead singer Kerry Pastine makes every note sting, and a muscular crew of bar-band boogie men light a fire under exuberant tracks like the title cut, which is capable of getting any joint jumping. — Roberts

Gregory Alan Isakov, That Sea, the Gambler (Self-released). Arguably the area's most compelling songwriter, Gregory Alan Isakov has a well-deserved reputation for winning over even the most disinterested audiences. And listening to the way he ambles through the pastoral airs that make up That Sea, the Gambler, it's easy to see why. His gentle delivery is instantly captivating. — Herrera

Kingdom of Magic, Demos EP (Self-released). For Kingdom of Magic's debut, Luke Fairchild and his White Dynamite cohort, Joe Ramirez, team up with drummer Devon Rogers for a relentlessly heavy bong-burner. Unlike their cannabis-cracked stoner-rock cronies, however, the trio keeps the riff tonnage at maximum and drops it hard. There are only two tracks, but they last a total of seventeen minutes. Dude. — Eyl

The Knew, Holladay (Self-released). On Holladay, the Knew delivers a slab of amped-up, bluesy garage rock fortified with a solid slug of Denver cowpunk. Live, these guys play like their lives depend on it, and these five rollicking tunes capture a good sense of that crazy energy, conveniently packaged for use at home or in the car. — Cory Casciato

Light Travels Faster, After the Black of Baca County (No Dance Records). Light Travels Faster is all about atmosphere. Numbers such as "A Broadcast of Natural Resonance," which is more of a soundscape than a song, and the shimmering "Preface to the Stars" use rudimentary instrumentation to eerily captivating effect, while "Everyday" juxtaposes crashing and bashing with guitar tones that evoke the hi-lo country. — Roberts

Love Me Destroyer, The Things Around Us Burn (Suburban Home). On The Things Around Us Burn, Love Me Destroyer has swapped out a smattering of its trademark menace for melody, resulting in the band's most accessible effort to date. Charging dual guitar lines form an anthemic backdrop for Scooter Wellensiek's tortured wail, making Burn an exceptional modern-rock record. — Herrera

ManeLine, Till Then... (Self-released). Till Then... is one of the tightest hip-hop records of the year. Trading verses throughout, Mane Rok and Inkline shine, particularly on tracks like "Voices," "From This Moment On" and "Young Bux," which features the equally skilled Ichiban. DJ Tense's production is on point, as are contributions from Yonnas and DJs Illanoiz and AWHAT. — Herrera

René Marie, Experiment in Truth (Self-released). Instead of going into the studio, jazz vocalist René Marie and the sidemen she's been playing with for the past four years went into a college auditorium, gathered in a circle on the stage and recorded enough material for two albums. As a result, Truth has the feel and energy of a live album, but without an audience. — Solomon

Married in Berdichev, Cold Feet, Warm Hearts! (Still Soft Recordings). Essentially a solo album from former Mannequin Makeout frontwoman Brittany Gould, Cold Feet improves upon the loop-station experimentation of her debut, Friends and Lovers. Its lovingly warm tenor gives the music, whose lyrics often seem melancholy, a rare depth. Possibly the perfect antidote to the blues and freeze of winter. — Murphy

Julie and Andy Monley, And You Could Be the Sun (Self-released). Locals who only know Andy Monley from Jux County will be pleasantly surprised by Sun, the focus of a Thursday, December 20, CD-release party at Dazzle. The album juxtaposes occasional nods to rootsiness with jazzy elements courtesy of guest stars like pianist Joe Bonner and the beguiling vocals of Monley's sister, Julie. Guess it runs in the family. — Roberts

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

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