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SHIRLEY, From a Bright Clearing (Dazzle Recordings). Taking cues from Miles Davis's late-'60s jazz-rock fusion period, trumpeter John Lake's forward-thinking quintet SHIRLEY also moves things in a slightly different direction, incorporating electronic music, funk, computers and found sounds. Lake and saxophonist Serafin Sanchez are outstanding throughout, resulting in a captivating album from start to finish. — Solomon

Snubluck, Square Wave Phonetic (Self-released). Square Wave Phonetic is a psychedelic romp of bass-heavy beat experimentation that roams from precisely chopped world music, playful synth lines and frenetically modulated stabs of thick, crunchy bass to jazzy, post-Dilla musings that twist up stuttering percussion, soothing guitar and funky analog keys. This is futuristic beatmaking at its finest. — Rodgers

Sole, A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing (Self-released). His first solo record in the better part of a decade finds Sole unleashing a verbal assault worthy of the album's title. Heavily influenced by his time spent with Occupy Denver, his rhymes touch on everything from radical theory ("Never Work") to personal reflection ("Letter to a Young Rapper") over innovative beats. — Rodgers

SP Double, Loyalty Honor and Respect (Boostwell). It speaks volumes of SP Double's talent that even with the stellar production and all the bold-name features on this record (Royce Da 5'9, Crooked I and Joe Budden of Slaughterhouse, Chino XL), what stands out most is SP himself, particularly his lyrics, his strong, assured cadence and intricate rhyme scheme, and his earnest delivery. A Colorado classic. — Herrera

The Swayback, Double Four Time (LGL). It's beyond admirable that a decade into its career, the Swayback is just hitting its creative stride. A throwback to a bygone era when bands were actually given the chance to develop, Double Four Time is both bright and dark, groovy and sexy, and it plays like a greatest-hits record, highlighting only the choicest parts of this outfit's songwriting. — Herrera

Thee Dang Dangs, Stone Coast (Self-released). In the flood of bands inspired by the raw exuberance of psychedelic garage rock, Thee Dang Dangs stand out by delivering an album that doesn't sound like an imitation of anyone else. Imagine the playfulness of Beat Happening filtered through Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz. — Murphy

Tin Horn Prayer, Grapple the Rails (Paper + Plastick). Over the past three and a half years, Tin Horn Prayer has gone from a side project that included a few guys with punk backgrounds playing folk-based tunes to a full-fledged six-piece band that now includes the occasional electric guitar. While these guys had no problem fueling their folk with a punk attitude on stage, Grapple the Rails fully captures that energy, command and grit. — Solomon

Tollund Men, Tour 2012 (Bleak Environment). Lo-fi and often forbidding, Neal Samples's gift for unconventional melody shines through the haze, even as his voice appears to be coming through whatever sadistic TV channel James Woods was watching in Videodrome. This is dark electro post-punk for those who prefer their music raw and borderline inaccessible. — Murphy

Wovenhand, The Laughing Stalk (Sounds Familyre). Although some of Wovenhand's previous efforts wrangle a fair amount of the group's visceral energy, none come as close to capturing it as The Laughing Stalk, the act's heaviest and most intense release to date. With a few new members added to the fold, the music is much fuller and denser. — Solomon

Whygee, I Need $ (Self-released). Released in late January, I Need $ was a dose of spring/summer vibes that combined Qknox's smooth sample constructions with Whygee's fluid delivery. "Eye" is nasty, and "Elevation Sickness" has to be on the list of Denver's best blunted anthems. Whygee incisively deconstructs all the nonsense of modern living, rap and whatever else catches his attention. — Rodgers

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7 comments
MoetavationMUSIC
MoetavationMUSIC

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/

russ.christiansen
russ.christiansen

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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