Folk-grounded exuberance with startling elements of random noise might best describe Nounsville, the fifteen-song offering from Montana transplant J-ME Smith, aka Dang Head. Fans of musical deconstruction could argue that the ornery fella is merely skippin' down the junkyard path of poetic stray animals with a butterfly net -- and they'd be right. But the critters, duly nabbed (with the help of a few long-lost members from Questa, New Mexico's Lords of Howling), deserve a zoo of their own, and they get one on Smith's homegrown Discobolus imprint. It's an arresting batch of enjoyable songs, all right, strewn with dadaist humor, the occasional broken instrument and that unique mix of blessings and curses that can't help but glitter in the dust.

Folk-grounded exuberance with startling elements of random noise might best describe Nounsville, the fifteen-song offering from Montana transplant J-ME Smith, aka Dang Head. Fans of musical deconstruction could argue that the ornery fella is merely skippin' down the junkyard path of poetic stray animals with a butterfly net -- and they'd be right. But the critters, duly nabbed (with the help of a few long-lost members from Questa, New Mexico's Lords of Howling), deserve a zoo of their own, and they get one on Smith's homegrown Discobolus imprint. It's an arresting batch of enjoyable songs, all right, strewn with dadaist humor, the occasional broken instrument and that unique mix of blessings and curses that can't help but glitter in the dust.

Former Boulderite Jello Biafra provides a spoken-word introduction to this collection, a two-CD, 45-track crash course in the very best modern music emanating from the Front Range. Sponsored by the good people at Radio 1190 (KVCU-AM), the student-run station affiliated with the University of Colorado at Boulder, Local Shakedown highlights many of the artists played on the station's weekly broadcast of the same name. A mishmash of styles ranging from punk and pop to ambient and plain ol' rock and roll, the compilation is a solid -- and wild -- ride through the complex terrain of local sounds. A good starting point for the newcomer -- and a satisfying recording that stands on its own.

Readers' choice: Here & Now, Saxxon Woods

Former Boulderite Jello Biafra provides a spoken-word introduction to this collection, a two-CD, 45-track crash course in the very best modern music emanating from the Front Range. Sponsored by the good people at Radio 1190 (KVCU-AM), the student-run station affiliated with the University of Colorado at Boulder, Local Shakedown highlights many of the artists played on the station's weekly broadcast of the same name. A mishmash of styles ranging from punk and pop to ambient and plain ol' rock and roll, the compilation is a solid -- and wild -- ride through the complex terrain of local sounds. A good starting point for the newcomer -- and a satisfying recording that stands on its own.

Readers' choice: Here & Now, Saxxon Woods

If you're in the habit of thumbing through publications like Flipside or Maximum Rock 'N Roll, you may have noticed that Owned & Operated Recordings has branched steadily outside of its Fort Collins base in the past year. A record company started by former members of ALL and the Descendants, Owned & Operated has put out some of the finest and most professional-sounding releases of the past year, including fine offerings from locals Tanger and Someday I and regional acts like Shiner. Primarily a punk concern, O&O also operates Upland Records, a spin-off project created as a vehicle for more difficult-to-define artists like Drag the River and Spot. O&O's professionalism and quality output just might be proof that some old punk-rockers never die. They just figure out how to run cool, artist- and listener- friendly companies.

If you're in the habit of thumbing through publications like Flipside or Maximum Rock 'N Roll, you may have noticed that Owned & Operated Recordings has branched steadily outside of its Fort Collins base in the past year. A record company started by former members of ALL and the Descendants, Owned & Operated has put out some of the finest and most professional-sounding releases of the past year, including fine offerings from locals Tanger and Someday I and regional acts like Shiner. Primarily a punk concern, O&O also operates Upland Records, a spin-off project created as a vehicle for more difficult-to-define artists like Drag the River and Spot. O&O's professionalism and quality output just might be proof that some old punk-rockers never die. They just figure out how to run cool, artist- and listener- friendly companies.

The Wingnuts' debut is a madcap celebration of roots raunch and the trio's "doghouse rock." Soapy Argyle brays his hillbilly-savant lyrics over his own careening guitar solos and the insane swinging of bassist Mr. Tree and drummer Shawn 4-On. It's baked, refried and loaded with musical fiber.

The Wingnuts' debut is a madcap celebration of roots raunch and the trio's "doghouse rock." Soapy Argyle brays his hillbilly-savant lyrics over his own careening guitar solos and the insane swinging of bassist Mr. Tree and drummer Shawn 4-On. It's baked, refried and loaded with musical fiber.

Stephen Scott, whose day job is instructing at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, is an unsung musical innovator who converts his primary instrument, the piano, into a veritable symphony orchestra with a little help from his friends. He and his assistants physically pluck the pianos strings, many of which are altered with the use of bows made of Popsicle sticks and horsehair. New Music for Bowed Piano, which was first issued in 1984, isn't his finest work (1996's Vikings of the Sunrise continues to hold that distinction), but it's a welcome introduction to an artist with both talent and idiosyncrasies to spare.

Stephen Scott, whose day job is instructing at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, is an unsung musical innovator who converts his primary instrument, the piano, into a veritable symphony orchestra with a little help from his friends. He and his assistants physically pluck the pianos strings, many of which are altered with the use of bows made of Popsicle sticks and horsehair. New Music for Bowed Piano, which was first issued in 1984, isn't his finest work (1996's Vikings of the Sunrise continues to hold that distinction), but it's a welcome introduction to an artist with both talent and idiosyncrasies to spare.

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