Fresh Breath Committee, CPR (Self-released). CPR finds the Fresh Breath Committee — a crowded collective of talented MCs, all deserving top billing in their own right — working together in impressive harmony to produce an album of substance that sidesteps vapid posturing. Cuts by DJ Skip Ripkin and insanely infectious hooks sung by Crystal Goldenberg help make this an instant classic. — Herrera

Frontside Five, Resurrection Cemetery (DC Jam Records). The appeal of Resurrection Cemetery has much to do with its tongue-in-cheek references to sci-fi staples of pop culture. That's not to say the band's speedy, energetic take on the power-punk genre is lacking musically, but its loving references to everything from zombies to the television show Lost make the album more than the sum of its musical parts. — Goldstein

GT & the Sidewinders, Across America (Self-released). Across America is a perfect title for this album, which is mostly about traveling, be it musically or through the lyrics. GT and company have Hank III and Wayne Hancock riding shotgun in this mix of high-voltage rockabilly, country and honky-tonk, and the result is one hell of a ride. — Solomon

Hello Kavita, To a Loved One (Self-released). Recorded entirely in analog on two-inch tape, To a Loved One is a warm reminder of a bygone era when songwriting trumped pageantry and AM radio reigned supreme. Tastefully ornate — with pulsing bass lines and vibrant guitars fleshed out by shimmering rhodes, gently swelling strings, lush horns and pedal steel — this is Hello Kavita's masterpiece. — Herrera

The Hollyfelds, Black Heart Blue (Self-released). It took me a long time to admit I like country music, but discs like this make it easy. The harmonies and lyrics are classic, certainly. And there's just enough of a contemporary edge to the instrumental mix of languid guitar and rollicking backbeat to help it go down smoothly. — Casciato

Hot White, Hot White (Self-released). There's no taming music this feral, thorny and violent. This is the soundtrack to a street fight in the post-apocalypse or the twisted visions of Shoko Asahara. Eruptive dynamics punctuated by bursts of fury and blazing intensity, each song seems designed to deconstruct the super ego and unleash your primal urges. — Murphy

Houses, Fall (Great White North). The Fall installation of Houses' seasonal EP series ranks high on the list of the band's many accomplishments from 2009. The recording favors brooding and pensive instrumentals in lieu of bright vocals, and the darker approach seems to invest the songs with greater seriousness and import than pieces on Spring. — Goldstein

Houses, Spring (Great White North). At a time in pop music when the word of the day is "complex" (ahem, "pretentious"), Houses takes a refreshingly basic approach to song-building. With Hendrix-esque guitar flourishes on top of supple harmonies straight out of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young songbook, Spring is a pleasure to listen to again and again. Jef Otte

Houses, Summer (Great White North). Splitting the difference between the Kumbaya euphoria of Spring and the balls-out rock of Fall was Summer, the best of three very good EPs and the year's finest love letter to Denver. "How I love this town, full of hooligans and drunks/And Lord knows, I'm one." We'll raise our whiskey gingers to that. — Maletsky

I Am the Dot, I Am the Dot (Brother Bear Records). Zach Tipton shows himself to be a master of moody, literate, minimalist pop on I Am the Dot's self-titled debut. It might seem like there isn't much there, but don't be fooled. The spare arrangements provide a perfect vehicle for Tipton's guitar work, emotive voice and haunting lyrical sensibilities. — Casciato

I Am the Dot, Rare Creatures (Brother Bear Records). I Am the Dot's followup strips things down even further, and may be even better for it. Each of these three gorgeous songs is little more than a story, a simple beat and a few layers of his voice and guitar. Tipton calls his work apocalyptic pop; we can only hope the end of the world sounds this good. — Casciato

The Ideal Fathers, A Complete Waste of Time Travel (Self-released). Start with danceable post-punk that fuses the best bits of Fugazi, Gang of Four and the Buzzcocks. Add a twisted sense of humor, wild-eyed intensity and some serious hooks. Mix well and you've got the Ideal Fathers' four-song debut. All dads should be this cool. — Casciato

The Informants, Crime Scene Queen (Self-released). This disc opens with a dense Peter Gunn-on-steroids riff and never lets up. The cooking Informants frame the switchblade vocals of Kerry Pastine on twelve original tracks destined for house rockin'. Big ups to producer Jeremy Lawton for keeping things ragged and right. — Mark Bliesener

Gregory Alan Isakov, This Empty Northern Hemisphere (Self-released). It speaks volumes about Gregory Alan Isakov's considerable talent that Brandi Carlile's guest appearance on this album seems almost incidental. Not that she doesn't shine, but Isakov is simply in top form here, refining everything that made him stand out in the first place. — Herrera

Izcalli, Despiertame (Self-released). Call it Latin rock if you must, but the fact that all of the lyrics on Izcalli's Despiertame are in Spanish is basically incidental: This is rock, no qualifier needed. And while a few standout tracks do feature elements of salsa swing, the majority of these licks are pure, sweaty, driving, fist-raising, head-banging butt rock. God bless America. — Otte

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3 comments
jeanie straub
jeanie straub

I think this is a great list and I LOVE the fact that you guys have made Moovers and Shakers a Westword tradition. Regarding the other guy's comment: You may be sleeping with some people in some bands, but you're still awesome.

DenverScener
DenverScener

All of these bands suck. All of these records suck and all of your journalists are sleeping with all of these bands. Listen to some real music. Check me out at www.myspace.com/curtisnewart

Why don't you guys open up your ears, all these bands are shit.

Sincerely,

DenverScener - Curtis Newart

Curtis Newart
Curtis Newart

the above post by DenverScener was NOT made by me but by a poser. peace, Curtis Newart

 
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