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Has the scene peaked? Have we hit a lull? Or have our expectations just been raised?

Has the Denver music scene peaked, or are we in a temporary lull? I've been wrestling with this question for several weeks. Because while I've been to some decent shows over the past month, that's just it: They were merely decent, not life-changing, as so many shows have seemed over the last couple of years. What's more, with perhaps the exception of the Young Coyotes or Enemy Reign, the flood of exciting new bands seems to have slowed to a trickle.

Maybe it's me. Maybe my rose-colored glasses have been fogged by the unrelenting, inescapable miasma of current events — the economic meltdown, the threat of a global recession, the upcoming election. Or it could just be perspective; perhaps I've been desensitized by all the cool shit that's happened over the past five years. Maybe we all have. For instance, the Flobots — who this week received a platinum certification for one million downloads of "Handlebars" — were on Conan last week, and I didn't hear a single person talk about it. Not one. Did you? Remember when the Broncos won their second Super Bowl, right after the first? Kind of anti-climatic, right? The scene seems something like that, like we've established ourselves to the point that it's no longer surprising when someone from here breaks out — it's almost expected.

The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that it's a combination of all those things. Fortunately, some intriguing prospects are on the horizon. A few weeks ago, I received a super-secret, hand-illustrated, advance copy of the new Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story) record, The Great Collapse, along with a straightforward note from the band — a simple plea, really — asking me to kindly not talk about the album until the release party on December 6 at the Gothic. That said, I won't tell you how delightful Collapse is, or how it's ruined me for so much other music in recent weeks. Instead, I'll simply point you to the act's next gig, a Drunken Halloween Costume Ball, at the Oriental Theatre on Friday, October 31, where you might be able to persuade the gents to play some of their new songs (like the one we posted for free download on Backbeat Online).

And speaking of free downloads: Hello Kavita, profiled in these pages in April, has partnered with Grant Blakemen's burgeoning Backstage site to give away three tunes from the band's latest effort, the fantastic And Then We Turned Sideways. If you don't already have a copy, head over to share.go-backstage.com/hello-kavita and download "Burn," "Silent Bed" and the Neil Young-owing "Pensacola" — which should be more than enough to convince you to pick up the rest of the album. While you're there, you can also download a copy of the Autumn Film's Grey EP.

And while you can't yet download Chuck Potashner's new songs, they're worth checking out on his MySpace page (MySpace.com/chuckpotashner). You might know Chuck from his time in teamAWESOME! — but in my book, dude's just plain awesome, team or no team. His "Slightly Unhealthy Love Song" is a delightful little ditty that's holding me hostage right now, and "Boo," posted on team's site and featuring the Kissing Party, is swell, too.

Brace yourselves for yet another batch of pristinely crafted, radio-friendly pop served up from Fort Collins — or, more specifically, the Blasting Room. From the sounds of it, Roe — which is previewing new songs from its forthcoming full-length, Letters and Light, every week until the record drops on November 13 — is in line to be the next northern Colorado act to make a splash, following the Heyday, Set Forth, Tickle Me Pink and Tyler Ward. What the hell are they putting in the water up there?

Upbeats and beatdowns: Looking at Crooked Fingers' new record, Forfeit/Fortune, I noticed that Ian Cooke, Tom Hagerman and Elin Palmer are all listed as contributors — and the packaging also features the photography of local shutterbug Rod Blackhurst. Seems like Denver left as much of a mark on Eric Bachman as he left on us.

 
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