Iconocaust, Excidium De Gratia (Self-released). Iconocaust trades in the kind of metal forged in Gothenburg, Sweden, and made famous in this country by bands like Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage. On Excidium De Gratia, the outfit delivers an airtight four-song EP of fleet-fingered riffs, rhythms that bludgeon with relentless ferocity and melodies that mesmerize, setting the stage for great things to come. — Herrera

I'm a Boy, Sensation (Self-released). Many artists try to create that elusive great pop record their whole career. Jimmi Nasi has been trying for more than two decades, and he's finally put together a group of brilliant power-pop songs that come complete with a sense of nostalgia that never comes off as trite. The resulting Sensation offers a compelling blend of sophistication and unfeigned innocence. — Murphy

I'm With Her, Songs We Said Goodbye To (Boss Koala). Keying in on the best parts of her songwriting and fleshing them out with the help of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Haley Rydell, Angie Stevens has never sounded better. Just as you find love when you finally stop looking for it, when you simply play from the heart and forget the rest, you write the best songs. And that's the case here. — Herrera

Turner Jackson, Star Destroyer (Self-released). Since first emerging on the scene, Turner Jackson has shown tons of promise as an MC. But on Star Destroyer — whose cover art couldn't be more illustrative — he establishes himself as a bright, shining new star evoking the Native Tongues era, rapping assuredly and unhurriedly over the masterful production of Big J Beats. — Herrera

Joy Subtraction, The Essential Joy Subtraction (LGL Records). On this release, Joy Subtraction embarks on a ferocious and humorous takedown of the political vultures that have been feasting on the body politic since the early '80s. Commentary aside, this can also be enjoyed purely as an inspired post-punk record. Arch clangor and menacing rhythm course through every song like a defiant spirit that refuses to keep quiet. — Murphy

The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact, My Hand Holding a Still Photograph of the Same Scene (Hooker Vision). Stretching all semblance of melody further out into ambient bliss, this album finds the Kevin Costner Suicide Pact dispensing with most of its previous songwriting conventions. Each track is like an abstract-expressionist painting, except that the overarching mood trickles hypnotically into the mind to create an inexplicable sense of peace and occasional unease. — Murphy

King FOE, J.U.N.K.I.E (Self-released). Yet another release from the BLKHRTS camp, King FOE's J.U.N.K.I.E is an expressive album that finds dark solace in recreational substance abuse, as FOE and the other BLKHRTS take listeners on a trip down the rabbit hole of addiction. — Chester

The Knew, Man Monster (SFP Records). Maybe it's the way these songs carry you away with their exuberance. Maybe it's the way these guys switch up the urgent dynamics of the tracks. Maybe it's an inexplicable sense of familiarity. Whatever it is, there's not a dud in this bunch. — Murphy

Last Eyes, These Wonderful Evils (Planted Tapes). You can practically hear a sense of isolation, boredom and loneliness underlying these recordings. The layers of noise under fuzzy melodies and complementary rhythms make for the kind of otherworldly ambient composition that seems to be the embodiment of daydreaming, transmogrified directly from imagination into sound. — Murphy

Lust, Dark Water (Self-released). Dark Water is like a late-night disco-noir soundtrack for a never-released Emmanuelle sequel. Its sweaty, pulsing beats seem to be simultaneously slowed down and sped up; noises are drawn out to a grind, but the kick throbs steadily in a four-on-the-floor rhythm. The title track makes dance floors writhe thanks to distorted post-punk bass, groping synths and a swinging cowbell. — Rodgers

Maudlin Magpie, Two Maple Keys (Self-released). Genuinely clever lyrics are rare, but this album is full of them. A literary aesthetic informs not just the words, but the delicately crafted music itself. Multiple narratives are created between vocals and the music, resulting in a sonic dimensionality that matches the depth of sentiment contained within. — Murphy

ManCub, Business Dogs (HUG Records). The second official release from Holy Underground's HUG Records, Business Dogs is an upbeat electro-dance-punk gem from ManCub. Elements of new wave and electro blur into songs that come with such side effects as compulsive jumping around and flailing. You could re-enact the final dance number from Napoleon Dynamite to the breakdown in "Quite Possible." — Rodgers

Ron Miles, Quiver (Enja). Local trumpeter Ron Miles and former Denverite Bill Frisell have performed and recorded together on a number of occasions, but they've only teamed up with drummer Brian Blade a handful of times. One of the reasons the trio works so well is that its members share certain sensibilities, and their lyrical playing is beautifully understated here. — Solomon

Native Daughters, War Elephant (Self-released). Who would've guessed that one of the year's most compelling metal albums was made by a bunch of old punk and emo dudes? Masterfully recorded by Chris Fogal of the Gamits and featuring Justin Hackl (Qualm, Only Thunder) and the guys from Mustangs and Madras, War Elephant contains the sort of marvelous monolithic majesty that elevated acts like Cave-In and Isis. — Herrera

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Peace Family, hope to see you Today at SLAM NUBA - FREE FOOD. EAT EARLY -5:PM-10:PM @ the Crossroads Theater (2590 Washington Street 80205 DEN.) for a 80's Hip Hop Theme celebration - live performance, bboy (cash prize) battle, martial arts demo and vegan food demo and potluck! ["Soul Food Junkies"] film screening. Brought by Going Green Living Bling & Moyo Nguvu. Free event & Family Friendly! 5:pm to 10:pm. http://www.voiceplaces.com/slam-nuba-kwanzaa-80s-hip-hop-party-denver-boulder-2276448-e/


love this year's list.   i would find it hard to leave out jon boland's "lightning in the wires" and john statz's "old old fashioned"   two of colorado's best americana releases this year.  add those two and you have an extensive local music shopping list that kicks any other music scenes ass for sure!!  

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