Six Months to Live, This Is What Happens (Sparky Dog Records). A paradoxically self-deprecating brilliance informs the songwriting on This Is What Happens and lends an unexpected grace and elegance to the songs. Make no mistake, this is a rock-and-roll album — but it's one where the architects aren't afraid to use inspired silliness to highlight the cosmic absurdity of some of life's most serious moments. — Murphy

Skyline Surrender, Pangea / We're Going to the Winchesta (Self-released). Skyline Surrender threw out the rules of what metal music was in 2009. The band brought catchy songs with old-school thrash metal, punk, hardcore, thoughtful lyrics, supremely heavy breakdowns and a keen sense of melody to the table, thus rewriting the rules for what a local metal band could be. — Seyfarth

Snake Mountain, Snake Mountain (Self-released). Of all the songs written by local bands celebrating and/or condemning RTD — and there are probably hundreds — few can touch Snake Mountain's "43 to Montbello," one of the highlights from its self-titled EP. Sporting whiskey-scarred vocals, blood-soaked riffs and negative-fi production, this is as real as Denver rock gets. — Heller

Jon Snodgrass, Visitor's Band (Suburban Home). Before Snodgrass fronted seminal alt-country band Drag the River, he rocked with the space-themed pop-punk band Armchair Martian. Here he provides the best of both worlds, whispering gently on Drag-inspired tunes such as "Brave With Strangers" and then blowing the roof off the record player with the rocker "Remember My Name." — Thomas

Sonnenblume, Sonnenblume (Self-released). The masterful performances on this album would make it remarkable enough. Without the articulate emotional poetry that forms the lyrics and their delivery, it would merely be noteworthy. However, the expansive sounds and dynamic rhythms accent and boost the content perfectly for a deeply affecting journey through personal hell and redemption. — Murphy

Soundrabbit, Tree Trunk Airplanes (Self-released). Some bands have great recordings. Some bands are killer live. Then there are bands that are both. Boulder's Soundrabbit is a group that continues to craft folk- and reggae-infused world rock blended with Pink Floyd-esque sonic textures that flat-out tops better-known performers such as Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. — Seyfarth

Speakeasy Tiger, The Public (Self-released). With its blend of disco-dance rhythms, synth arpeggios and soaring, epic builds, it would seem that Speakeasy Tiger's first LP is aptly named: This is music for public consumption. But though its Killers-meet-Kelly Clarkson sound is oh-so trendy right now, it's earnest enough to have come from the heart, and Speakeasy Tiger seems poised to explode. — Otte

Stella Luce, Zugenruhe (Self-released). Violin-based gypsy pop. Sound familiar? DeVotchKa, we hardly missed ye. But where Nick Urata and company used that dirge-polka sound as a calling card, Stella Luce's hooks are more heavily steeped in mid-'90 s alterna-rock — record-scratching accounted for. This is no throwback sound, though: Zugenruhe is one of the most satisfyingly quirky records of the year. — Otte

Adam Stern, Twang Shui (Self-released). How is it possible for a guitarist to mix vintage country licks with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steely Dan and Miles Davis jazz melodies all in one song and still have it sound good? No idea, but Adam Stern definitely shattered all preconceptions of what a lead guitarist can be. — Seyfarth

Angie Stevens, Queen of This Mess (Boss Koala). With each release, Angie Stevens's songwriting has only become sharper, and here, guided by the gentle hand of Grammy-winning production ace Malcolm Burn, she's at her absolute best. The spacious, understated instrumentation enhances without overwhelming, giving the songs plenty of room to breathe and allowing Stevens's captivating voice to soar. — Herrera

Synthetic Elements, Trashed Out Paradise (Self-released). It's not like the guys weren't trying: For eight years, Synthetic Elements had furiously represented the ska/punk-created DIY mentality. This time around, though, they opted for a little help from the Blasting Room, resulting in Trashed Out Paradise, a cleaner, more professional take on their classic skankin' style. — Frederick

Tauntaun, Tauntaun (Self-released). From the very first riffs, Tauntaun bludgeons relentlessly with a throwback brand of metal whose titanic leads and galloping fretwork owe as much to NWOBM acts like Iron Maiden as it does to classic-era Metallica. The pedigreed players of Tauntaun pay genuine reverence to metal's masters without a hint of irony. — Herrera

Otis Taylor, Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs (Telarc). The latest installment in Taylor's reinvention of the blues is nothing short of revelatory. Drawing from sources as primitive as a two-chord John Lee Hooker boogie and as slick as the contributions here of former Thin Lizzy axman Gary Moore, Taylor delivers the unusual one-two punch of polished authenticity. — Bliesener

Three the Hard Way, Set in Stone (House of Waxx). One of the most compelling hip-hop crews to emerge in the past few years, Three the Hard Way knocks it out of the park on this one. Es-Nine's head-nodding beats and classic soul-indebted production, bolstered by Cysko Rokwell's deft turntable skills, prop up A.V.I.U.S. as he rhymes about everyday struggles with conviction. — Herrera

Time, Naked Dinner (Dirty Laboratory). More than an exploration of paranoia, Naked Dinner takes aim at the phenomenon of competing narratives that flood our lives through various media. With a dimly lit labyrinth of languidly menacing music and lyrical interplay, Time reminds us that our Ariadne's thread out of this postmodern nightmare is within us. — Murphy

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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.


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

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


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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