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Best Of 2007

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best New Band

At first glance, declaring Nathan & Stephen Denver's best new band looks like a misprint. But while Nathan McGarvey and Stephen Till initially began performing together as an acoustic duo, their project has blossomed into a bulging-at-the-seams nonet thanks to the addition of another seven players, including three (Jonathan, Matthew and Leanor) who share Stephen's last name. Moreover, another Till -- Anna -- contributes vocals to The Everyone E.P., which packs more hooky melodies into fifteen brief minutes than can be found in the average double album. Although tracks such as the aptly titled pop-gospel workout "Brothers & Sisters" and "Happier," replete with a chorus guaranteed to induce smiles, feature plenty of instrumentation (keyboards, brass and more), they are, at their base, rousing sing-alongs that brim with good feelings and camaraderie. No doubt these songs would charm in a stripped-down setting, too. Still, there's something to be said for a family affair.

Best New Bar (Since March 2006)
Rockbar

Rockbar could inspire a confirmed teetotaler to do a swan dive off the wagon within ten minutes of walking through the door. Conjuring the bygone decadence left behind by Perry's -- as the joint was known during the last days of disco -- Rockbar is the ideal place to relive your wasted youth. The decor in this late-'70s time-capsule remains pristinely intact, with exposed rock walls, patterned carpet, foil wallpaper and vintage lighting fixtures. There's also a notable kitsch factor about the place -- the trashy menu, the lowbrow drink selection (Mad Dog and brands of beer you swore you'd never drink again), the neon band-logo signage and the retro tuneage -- that has prompted some detractors to grumble that the brashness is a little too calculated. These people are completely missing the point. For those about to Rock, we salute you.

3015 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 80206
MAP
303-322-4444
Best New Neighborhood Bar
Horseshoe Lounge

Recently witnessed at the Horseshoe Lounge: Avery Rains, aka Mr. Pacman, dressed in a full-bodied lion suit, head and paws included, stripping down to a very skimpy and curiously bulged pink thong. True fucking story. Unfortunately, this was a one-off birthday-party gig and not a weekly event, but it does prove how superbly awesome the Horseshoe is for allowing such hilarious debauchery. Outfitted with comfy stools, two booths, a couple of couches, a pool table and a dartboard, the bar is lounge-tastic and tailored for intimate gatherings with good friends. And if you get lucky, maybe Rains will be there and you can entice him into strutting his stuff just for you.

414 E. 20th Ave., Denver, 80205
MAP
303-832-1180
Best Neighborhood Bar Disguised as a Swank LoDo Club

At first blush, the Lure is a swank place. Almost too swank. Hang out there for a while, though, and you start to realize that it's pretty relaxed. Like that really hot blonde in high school that you yearned to talk to but couldn't muster up the courage, there's more to the joint than meets the eye. Remember when you finally got the stones to talk to her and found out that she was into Hunter S. Thompson and dug Tom Waits? Yeah, the Lure is surprisingly cool like that. Instead of being greeted by some huge meathead at the door, the first thing you see is a gang of smiling ladies behind the bar. It's like a grown-up version of the famed City Spirit, which used to inhabit this spot nearly a decade ago.

Best Dive Bar in the 'Burbs
12 Volt Tavern

Arvada's answer to a Colfax dive bar, 12 Volt Tavern has all the grit and attitude of the city -- without the Colfax freaks. Plopped down in the middle of Olde Town Arvada, the Tavern may seem out of place among its better-groomed neighbors, but its well-worn character is completely authentic. Although the place has only been known as by its current name for the past four years, the bar itself has been at the same location for nearly sixty years. The joint is a choice spot for punks and blue-collar barflies to congregate over drinks and games of pool. During the week, the Volt's killer jukebox spits out cuts by Sabbath, Zep, the Clash, the Sex Pistols and Hank Williams. And on the weekends, the bar gets hotwired by a steady parade of local punk and rockabilly acts.

7514 Grandview Ave., Arvada, 80003
MAP
303-432-7463
Best Free WiFi in a Mexican Dive Bar

Aztec Sol is best known for its exhaustive collection of more than 200 tequilas, carefully curated by owner Jose Lara. The funky neighborhood spot is a favorite among locals who live and drink on the edge of Highland: Both caballeros and condo-dwellers are drawn by Aztec Sol's cheap eats and potent, imaginative cocktails. In addition to cantaritas and vampiros (two sobriety-slashing tequila creations), the Sol now offers wireless Internet. Sure, the place can be dark and the music loud, but the connection is strong and, like the chips and salsa, free of charge. So log on -- vamonos!

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Best New Band: Nathan & Stephen

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