Moovers and Shakers 2007

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

Spoke in Wordz, Word Play (Illuminated Records). Spoke in Wordz is pretty much the dopest MC out of Colorado, and he basically proves as much on his debut album. Spoke shines through, even over mediocre beats, and when he's trading verses with his mentor, Playalitical, and established MCs Chino XL, 2Mex and Bizzy Bone, he absolutely slaughters them all. — Salazar-Moreno

Sweet Sunny South, Showtime (Two Dolla Reccas). This Paonia-based quartet puts the old-time back in bluegrass. From party-starters "Showtime" and "I'm Satisfied" to more pensive cuts like "Two Shot Glasses," Showtime invokes the simple joys of life in the high lonesome with nothing but a banjo, a fiddle and a six-string. — Hutchinson

Tarmints, Thirteen Dead Cats (Denver Coffee Achievers). In its tenth year, this square wheel rolling released its most gleefully dangerous record. Featuring a new level of atmospheric dynamism and co-lead vocals by bassist Sonya Decman on "Bring Me Down," Thirteen Dead Cats represents a band that's added a heavy dose of playfulness to its legendary ferocity. — Murphy

Otis Taylor, Definition of a Circle (Telarc). The pair of Taylor albums that preceded Circle were more interesting than the vast majority of contemporary blues releases, yet they suffered from the absence of Kenny Passarelli, Taylor's longtime bandmate and producer. This time around, however, Taylor's work behind the boards matches the quality of his captivating performances and haunting originals. A bracing return to form. — Roberts

3OH!3, 3OH!3 (Self-released). The long-awaited full-length debut from these Boulder goofballs flawlessly captures a dizzying mix of hip-hop, electro, freaky folkiness and, well, Joan Jett. While their nimble tongues spend plenty of time in their cheeks, Nathaniel Motte and Sean Foreman are deadly serious about their party plans. Next year: world domination. — Eyl

Tifah, Safe & Sound (Self-released). One of the brightest new talents to emerge this year, Tifah Al Attas — whose namesake band is now known as the Autumn Film — possesses an utterly beguiling voice that evokes Natalie Merchant channeling Joni Mitchell. Backed by a cast of crack players, her piano-driven pop is absolutely breathtaking. — Herrera

Tudaloos, Houses (Still Soft Recordings). Through an innovative use of analog and digital synths alongside acoustic instruments, Tudaloos reinvents lo-fi indie pop for a new generation. A youthful enthusiasm shines through even on the most contemplative songs, and on track after track, the band explores different facets of its core sound with an organic, homegrown warmth. — Murphy

Uncle Earl, Waterloo, Tennessee (Rounder). The odd pairing of Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Uncle Earl, a bluegrassy combo co-starring Lyons's own K.C. Groves on vocals and mandolin, sounds like an idea bound to make fans of every description feel dazed and confused. Nevertheless, it works beautifully, with producer Jones subtly bringing out the best in this thoroughly modest, undeniably gifted quartet. — Roberts

The Wheel, Desire and Dissolving Men (Public Service Records). Recorded mostly in the Baker living room of Born in the Flood frontman Nathaniel Rateliff, this solo debut is an intimate document of raw honesty and subtle brilliance. The fractured beauty of these twelve tracks — performed almost entirely by the frighteningly talented songwriter and performer — quietly demands repeated listens and close examination. — Eyl

Yerkish, The Return of Douglas Jupitor (Self-released). Yerkish's second release is a trip into the smarter, weirder side of metal. Dynamic song structures, powerful vocals and excellent, effects-laden guitar work drive the strong material. Standouts include "Optiplex," which injects a lounge influence into the band's signature sound, and the epic "Megaman," maybe the best song ever written about a video game. — Casciato

Various Artists, Psychedelic States — Colorado in the 60s (Gear Fab Records). Audio archivist Roger Maglio has outdone himself with Colorado in the 60s. The two-CD collection sports curios associated with acts that made a mark beyond the state line (Lothar & the Hand People, the Poor, Boenzee Cryque), plus vintage cuts by lots of shoulda-beens or never-weres that drift through the speakers like smoke from a clove cigarette. — Roberts

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