No High Fives to Bullshit/Snuggle, No High Fives to Bullshit/Snuggle split (Self-released). Too much punk rock sounds like it's worshipping at the altar of the past. The two No High Fives songs here embrace punk's past while also charting exciting possibilities for its future, with melodic hooks that seem refreshingly original and through dynamics that are as emotionally stirring as they are exhilaratingly cathartic. — Murphy

The Omens, Send Black Flowers (Hipsville). Although the word has much more whimsical connotations now, "psychedelic" once meant "corrosive enough to melt your brain." The Omens haven't forgotten: Veterans of the garage-rock scene, the local outfit served up another helping of primitive, cave-rattling R&B. Now, how do we get rid of these skid marks on our skulls? — Heller

Paper Bird, A Sky Underground (Self-released). If apple pie had a soundtrack, it would probably sound like Paper Bird. And if the hooks on A Sky Underground strayed a little further from main-street innocence and a little closer to rock than they did on Anything Nameless and Joymaking, the banjos and sweet Andrews Sisters harmonies are still wonderfully, joyfully there. — Otte

The Photo Atlas, To Silently Provoke the Ghost (Self-released). When hipsters dance, they would be well advised to do it listening to the Photo Atlas. With its abundance of angular guitars and driving, hyperfast dance beats, To Silently Provoke the Ghost could believably be repackaged as the lost sessions of Q and not U's poppiest recording. Lipgloss, turn it up. — Otte

Pictureplane, Dark Rift (Lovepump United). Dark Rift was Denver's coolest album this year. Not just for the samples from a time when pop was more innocent, and not just for the astral production, and not just for the way Travis Egedy combined the two to make us dance. No, it was because it was all done with such pure, beautiful optimism. — Maletsky

Popwreck, Scorpio Rising (Self-released). With his old bands Small Dog Frenzy and Acrobat Down firmly in the rearview mirror, singer/guitarist Aaron Hobbs has humbly, inauspiciously stumbled upon the best songs of his career. If you're looking for hip or buzz-worthy, go fuck yourself. If you're looking for heartfelt, spastically crafted alt-rock with gorgeously strangled guitars and indelible sing-alongs, come right in. — Heller

Pretty Lights, Passing By Behind Your Eyes (Self-released). It doesn't take a great mind to explain why Derek Vincent Smith, Pretty Lights' mastermind, has attracted a throng of supporters across the country. There's a continuity to his patchwork electronic compositions (available for free download) that makes them sound vivid, lush and soulful rather than coming off as listless, mechanical, cut-and-paste contraptions. — Herrera

Chad Price, Smile Sweet Face (Suburban Home). If you're happy being yet another singer-songwriter strumming an acoustic guitar and crying into your beer, you'd goddamn better yank your head out of your ass, grow a pair and deliver something with substance. With his solo debut, Drag the River's Chad Price does all of the above — and he does it with a rough-hewn poise that breaks hearts. — Heller

Primasonic, Unadorned (Fist Music). From the get-go, the stripped-down, balls-out punk of Unadorned captures the frenetic live energy of Primasonic shows. The four-piece does a hell of job channeling '70s and '80s punk and the garage rock of bands like the Ramones or the Buzzcocks, as well as tipping its hat to Repo Man. — Solomon

The Pseudo Dates, 400 Some Odd Songs in 400 Some Odd Nights (Self-released). Psychedelia-tinged pop this fully realized has been scarce since Elephant 6 stopped being an active musical force. But this is no retread, and the Pseudos innovate far more than borrow in crafting their sound of sun-dappled daydreams and late-night excurses of the imagination. Shades of Blake, Barrett and no filler. — Murphy

Reno Divorce, Tears Before Breakfast (Self-released). Reno Divorce is fresh off its latest European tour with Duane Peters and the US Bombs in support of this new disc. Tears is pure punk-rock perfection that combines street-punk swagger, blistering tempos, three-part-harmony vocals and guitar from newest member Tye Battistella. — Seyfarth

The Rouge, Heat & Light (Morning After Records). Heat & Light serves as a coming-out party for one of Denver's brightest new talents. Josh Vaught's vibrant tenor is the driving force on all five tracks, dripping with an undeniable vigor tinged with a sense of longing and urgency. It's elevated by tidy arrangements, outsized choruses and muscular rhythms. — Herrera

Savoy, Automatic (Self-released). Forget MSTRKRFT. Keep your Daft Punk. We've got something just as good — right up the road in Boulder, of all places. Savoy attracts attention with its fist-pumping live performance, but this disc finds the act mixing a touch of nuance into the banging electro. — Casciato

Lelah Simon, Third Week in April (Self-released). Having studied with legendary bassists Buster Williams and Reggie Workman, Lelah Simon certainly has the jazz chops, but she's also quite gifted compositionally. On nearly all of the songs on the gorgeous and expansive Third Week in April, she wonderfully captures the sparkle of early spring. — Solomon

Sin Vida, The Westwood Anthem (Self-released). Sin Vida is the real deal. With a roaring straight-line sensibility as long and direct as Colfax, the band combines the multitude of influences available on Denver's doorstep into a cohesive whole of blistering sound. — Bliesener

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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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