Julox, Da Gator Ghoul (Self-released). Southern-bred with a Colorado address, Julox delivers a remarkably soulful and gritty album. His distinctive voice and stylistic delivery make for a unique yet classic version of that everyday rap shit. — Nicole Cormier

Kinetix, Let Me In (Angry Burro). Up to this point, the biggest assets of this band have been its musicianship and stage presence. Kinetix essentially made its mark playing live; on Let Me In, however, these musicians prove their mettle as songwriters, showcasing tangible pop sensibility on cuts like "Big Screen" and depth on tracks like "To See You Go," which reflects on the death of a loved one. — Herrera

King FOE & Whygee, Dispensary Music (Self-released). Drugs. These two MCs rap about drugs, and it's not only good, but it's creative. From philosophy to the science behind addiction, the content is as compelling as it is provocative, and the production is among the best heard locally this year. Whygee, in particular, is in top form, especially on tracks like "Outside of My Mind." — Johnson

The Knew, Pulpería (Self-released). Although hip enough to fit into the indie-rock category, Pulpería displays enough of the band's classic-rock roots that it's hard to call the music here anything but rock and roll. With groove-heavy bass lines, lightly distorted guitars and Jacob Hansen's dominating falsetto, the Knew treads gingerly in the Modest Mouse realm, only with far more funk. — Thomas

Lion Sized, Cough Up Your Teeth (Self-released). With a punishing rhythm section, complex time signatures and a notably ominous feel overall, Lion Sized weaves political warnings and observations and biting rhetoric into a slashing and pulsing mathy-punk-rock juggernaut. — Thomas

Lust-Cats of the Gutters, Lust-Cats of the Gutters (Self-released). The charm of this raw and unpolished set of songs is that they could have been recorded on a boombox in a garage in the 1980s — or in a dilapidated practice space just yesterday. Filled with catchy anthems both playful and socially critical, the tunes are destined for teenage mixtapes across America and beyond. — Murphy

Makeout Point, Night Moves (Self-released). Amid plenty of lo-fi post-punk revivalism, this is a band that came by both elements organically and doesn't need the former. The guitars are blistering but the vocals aren't, which makes for truly mesmerizing moments. And it's only going to get better with production value. — Maletsky

Mike Marchant, Indulgent Space-Folk Vol. 3: Binary Beach (Self-released). Equally renowned for his songwriting genius and his penchant for endless tinkering, Mike Marchant actually relinquished a huge number of his songs to the public this year. This one was the least labored-over and, perhaps not coincidentally, his most striking work. All proceeds go to Denver arts-related charities. — Maletsky

See even more of our favorite local releases in Backbeat

Married in Berdichev, Readying (Self-released). Sounding like a walk in a fog-enshrouded otherworldly realm filled with light, these six songs are rich with warm tones and hypnotic minimalism. Without conventional song structures, Brittany Gould is able to unmoor the imagination of the listener from mundane reality for trips into places of dream fulfillment. — Murphy

Tommy Metz, The Blossom Frontier (Bocumast). Tommy Metz might be better known nowadays for his work with Iuengliss, but The Blossom Frontier, his first album under his own name, is completely different than anything he's done before. His vocals are more prominent and might initially make listeners weary, but he makes them work to an effect that evokes both Iuengliss and something fresh. — Klosowski

Munly & the Lupercalians, Petr & the Wulf (Alternative Tentacles). Munly's darkly skewed rendering of Prokofiev's famed fairy tale, Peter & the Wolf, is enthralling and equally as gripping as the group's live shows. There's a bit of the gothic country of Slim Cessna's Auto Club, which Munly co-fronts, but at times the twang is stripped away in favor of a completely different musical experience, one that can be as joyous as it is sinister. — Solomon

Musketeer Gripweed, Dyin' Day (Self-released). With Dyin' Day, Musketeer Gripweed has crafted one of the year's most enjoyable, straight-up rock records. You get a little bit of everything on this lean, seven-song release: soul-drenched vocals; chorale-worthy gospel harmonies from the Black Swan Singers; rumbling, funktastic bass lines; searing, deep-fried Southern-rock fretwork; and some excellent harp playing. — Herrera

Mustangs & Madras, Caution: Bang! (Self-released). Mustangs & Madras is a perfect example of a local band that gets it. No cocks are sucked or asses kissed on Caution: Bang!, a tangle of moody post-punk and mathy aggression that buckles and bleeds but never breaks. Sadly, it's also Mustangs' swan song: After eight years together, the band broke up this year. — Heller

Ace Miyamoto, Ronin (Self-released). An abstract concept built around deserting samurais, Ronin finds Ace Miyamoto somehow creating a sound that is more sophisticated and underground than that of even Wu-Tang Clan — an obvious influence of the work — if that's possible. Miyamoto rhymes in a deep and confident voice, adding flexibility to his complex topics and developed production. — Johnson

nervesandgel, If All You Have Left Is a Dream (Self-released). These five songs are a direct window into a dark dream in which a nearly crippling sense of isolation and loneliness has settled into your mind and you're forced to build a bridge out of the pit of your personal hell. At times hauntingly melodic, and always disturbingly evocative. — Murphy

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