Sour Boy, Bitter Girl, Songs About the Landscape or Songs About the Wolf Army (Death To False Hope Records). A thinking man's drinking music from one of Fort Collins's most kick-ass bands, this album escaped the attention of lots of Denver music fans. Let's hope that changes, because this thing is really good: Pianos and acoustic guitars and wailing and shout-alongs abound. — Maletsky

Speedwolf, Denver 666/Hell and Back (Self-released). If you think the negative, pulverizing vibes of Venom and Motörhead are relics of a cruder metal age, Speedwolf isn't going to change your mind. What the band's Denver 666/Hell and Back single will do, however, is this: eat you alive, fuck your skull, and leave the rest for the vultures. — Heller

Still City, We Will Explain Everything (Self-released). Brian Knab tells the tale of a young man moving to the big city from a small town and immersing himself in a new culture. Knab interjects his own parallels with a vocal delivery reminiscent of Matt Pond and a yearning that helps the listener feel that they, too, have been there before. — Thomas

The Sunset Curse, Artificial Heart (Self-released). There are moments of brilliance here ("Too Close to the Sun" chief among them), but to get this band, you have to see it. This is music for the times you feel like trading in life's candle for a stick of dynamite, and theirs is a tomorrow-never-comes live show. — Maletsky

Swimming With Models, Hypnautix and Pork Produx (Self-released). Equal parts experimental electronic music and hip-hop, this sonically rich and diverse release is as inventive in its use of sounds as it is in its creative hybridizing of compositional elements. Using drones, samples, loops and sound collages, the songs are an imaginative reworking of a familiar formula. — Murphy

Tequila Mockingbird, Luck and Trouble (Self-released). While the folks in Tequila Mockingbird, who are equally adept in rock and country, had a few troubles and struggles during the two years it took to make their third, fittingly titled disc, it might have been a little more than luck that caused said album to turn out so well. — Solomon

Throwaway Sunshine, For Everything We're Not (Self-released). This album could represent the disappointment of the year, as the band dissolved shortly after its release. Regardless, the group pays homage to punkers of yesteryear, like Jawbreaker and Crimpshrine — drawing inspirations from the ghosts of their past while becoming one in the process. — Thomas

Time, 11 Headed Hydra: The Great Coffee Experiment (Dirty Laboratory). Branching out from his already potent brand of hip-hop, Time picks up where he left off with The Fantastic Reality. Tapping experimental pop musician Robin Walker for vocal duties, Chris Steele's already densely literary songs reach a sonic depth that points to a new direction for his multi-faceted creativity. — Murphy

Tjutjuna, Tjutjuna (Fire Talk). If Tjutjuna's earlier work could be described as space-rock jams, this album is the distillation of those previous experiments in songwriting. You can hear the influence of Neu!, Acid Mothers Temple and Silver Apples, but it's also obvious the band is now making beautifully mysterious music with its own voice. — Murphy

Veronica, Emerging From Troubled Days (Self-released). As big a thrill as there was in Denver music this year, Veronica's latest is a blinding twelve-song, thirty-minute joy ride of endless guitar and earworm melody. This is windows-down, flooring-it music, the sort of stuff that makes you want to stop wasting time. — Maletsky

Via, Via (Self-released). As Via, Daralee Fallin simply employs a drum machine and some gathered samples to create a soundscape both terrifying and gorgeous. There are very few layers to Fallin's tracks, but her echoing cries — especially on "Mona" — are so well hidden on this EP that at times she doesn't sound human. If the afterlife had a soundtrack, it would be orchestrated by Via. — Davies

Voices Of, Voices Of (Self-released) The stream-of-consciousness narrative that forms the lyrics behind these two tracks sounds like it was recorded while the vocalist was under hypnosis. Hashed together from a much longer recording, the drones and sequenced noises are the stuff of vivid nightmares filled with darkly mythological imagery and experiences. — Murphy

Wentworth Kersey, ((O)) (Plastic Sound Supply). Wentworth Kersey's combination of folk and electronic music is slightly jarring on paper, but the subdued nature of the electronic parts make their records sound older, more authentic and somehow more folk-like. With ((O)), the outfit has created a sound that feels equally at home on the ranch as it does in the city. — Klosowski

Whiskey Blanket, No Object (Self-released). An experimental, fresh and progressive work from a band that incorporates live instrumentation into its recordings, No Object finds Whiskey Blanket showcasing a surprising amount of vigor and execution, letting each track stand on its own without the usual cohesion necessary in hip-hop. Futuristic and mind bending, No Object is a standout effort. — Johnson

Wire Faces, Wire Faces (Bocumast). After the Jimi Austin broke up, Ian Haygood and Shane Zweygardt formed Wire Faces as a way to go in a more progressive direction. Super-tight, edgy and aggressive, their outstanding self-titled debut treads around post-punk that at times recalls older Gang of Four and Fugazi, as well as newer stuff like the Mars Volta and At the Drive-In. — Solomon

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