Option4, Into the Night (Velcro City Records). When Option4 moved to Denver, he brought his travels with him and packed them into one soulful EP that transports you from your headphones directly to a dimly lit room in the electro underbelly of Chicago. This is lounge music and club music with house tempos, all packed into one hip, twirling punch. — Chester

Esme Patterson, All Princes I (Greater Than Collective). In an interview with Open Air's Corey Jones, Esme Patterson described her October release, All Princes I, as a kind of personal and introspective effort that she didn't want her fellow Paper Bird members to have to represent — and if you listen to this solo release, you'll recognize immediately that it is indeed something remarkably all her own. All Princes I is emotionally exuberant and deeply reflective. — Sam Alviani

Pries, The Lonely Kid Show (Self-released). With each subsequent release, Pries takes another step forward artistically; it's like we're watching him evolve in real time. With less posturing and more earnestness this time out, Pries is steadily progressing as an MC. On his latest release, he gets real about his struggles, and you can hear the determination in his voice. — Herrera

Pries, No Glue 2 (Self-released). This mixtape was so highly tweeted and anticipated that it had 20,000 downloads within a day. Pries's voice is infectious and his hooks are catchy. Although he does sometimes lack diversity in his lyrics, his passion and drive move the listener directly past those minor pitfalls. This mixtape comes across as introspective, deep and emotional as Pries shares his struggles and pain. — Valenzuela

Project Aspect, Time Capsule (1320). On Time Capsule, Project Aspect offers a modern take on EDM while holding true to his original sound: The hi-hat hits are plentiful, the synthesizers are pitched to perfection, and the occasional vocal cuts are well placed. The album's upbeat grooves begin with "Tina Turnon" and don't peak until "Piss like a Race Horse," which will have you running for the nearest dance floor. — Chester

Paper Diamond, Wavesight (Mad Decent/Jeffrees). Methodically perfecting each piece of the puzzle that is Wavesight, Paper Diamond's mastermind, Alex Botwin, drew on two decades of experience to put a fresh face on his solo project. The album's opening track, "Turn the Lights Off," featuring Nasiyimu, is carried by synthesizers, but glitches with bass. Wavesight is a glimpse into the next phase of gangster dance music. — Chester

Quiz, Etcetera (Elm & Oak). When you download Quiz's mixtape from Elm & Oak, it comes as a single file, a thirty-minute-long MP3. In the constant churn of the singles-driven environment in which we currently find ourselves, this might seem counterintuitive. But in this case, you won't feel the need to skip tracks: The whole thing is dope. — Herrera

Raincheck, Raincheck (Dazzle Recordings). On its eponymous release, Raincheck finds inspiration in classic 1960s Blue Note recordings, but the quartet puts an updated spin on the era over the course of eight original tunes and a laid-back reworking of George Gerswhin's "Love Walked In." Made up of Ben Markley, Steve Kovalcheck, Marty Kenny and Chris Smith, Raincheck has an obvious affinity for swinging, with an occasional tip of the hat to cats like Herbie Hancock and Lou Donaldson. — Solomon

Reno Divorce, Lover's Leap (Rusty Knuckles). Although frontman Brent Loveday says he went into making Lover's Leap with low expectations, halfway through making it, he realized it might be the quintessential Reno Divorce record after all, and he was right. Once again taking a few cues from Orange County punk acts like Social Distortion and T.S.O.L., Loveday and company toss in a bit of country along the way, making Lover's Leap the band's most muscular release to date. — Solomon

Robotic Pirate Monkey, Heat.Wav (Self-released). On Heat.Wav, the bass lovers in Boulder's Robotic Pirate Monkey continue their ongoing quest to mate West Coast beats with East Coast hooks. This is most evident on tracks like "Banana Cannon," in which a lost drum-line snare matches that sought-after bass, with the whole production immersed in a thick cloud of reggae. Propelled by a plethora of vocal samples, Heat.Wav is the Choose Your Own Adventure of dance music, and RPM chose the exciting path. — Chester

Rubedo, Massa Confusa (20 Sided Records). A powerful blend of jazz, psychedelia, funk and prog, this record could have come out in the '70s, '80s, '90s or '00s and seemed exciting and innovative. These songs sound like the band tried out everything that popped into their imaginations and somehow condensed it all into a seething, electrifying whole. — Murphy

Joe Sampson, Kill Our Friends (Fellow Creature Recordings). On the surface, there's nothing unique about Joe Sampson, a soft-spoken, acoustic troubadour singing about rejection and loss. But after a deeper listen, Kill Our Friends reveals itself to be a provocative and humorous collection of emotionally abyssal songs, all delivered by a seasoned musician at the top of his game, fueling himself on years of hard living and hard loving. — Hesse

School Knights, FRE(EP) (Self-released). An unholy, unlikely but completely invigorating union of indie pop and garage rock with twinges of prog in the guitar lines, FRE(EP) is freewheeling and fun from beginning to end. It will have you lining up to ride again as soon as it's over, which is entirely too soon. — 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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