Don's Club Tavern
Sarah McGill
In the era of digital boxes networked into 100,000-song libraries, mood is half the battle, and sadly, some places just don't have that good jukebox vibe. But the beer-soaked, retro aura at Don's is a perfect match for the music in its box, with discs ranging from the Beatles' "Abbey Road" to Tom Waits's "Closing Time" to "The Essential Patsy Cline." The nicotine-stained ambience is further bolstered by nice helpings of barroom standards (Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, John Lee Hooker) alongside side dishes of 21st-century hip-hop (Outkast, Eminem) and the greatest hits of assorted departed icons (Cobain, Marley, Joplin, Hendrix, Gaye). If you can't find five songs you want to play here, you aren't trying.


Electronic alchemists Resurrector and Patch enlist an impressive crew of Denver and Boulder-based artists -- Apostle, Wailer B., Elon, Stero Lion, Vill, Totter Todd, and DJ Hot Daddi 36-0 -- to create a shamanistic wall of hip-hop dubtronica that aims to topple the foundations of modern-day Babylon. The analog mix of illbient bass sounds comes courtesy of some of the best technicians in the business, L.A.-based Scott Wolfe and Brian Gardner, who helped engineer that classic Death Row sound. So warmongers, take note: Both the crew's raps and the manifesto accompanying the record offer up prescriptions for survival and victory in a tension-filled time.


The Czars have long specialized in dreamy, abstract, melancholic music, and the inspiration for their album titles over the years seems to come from an equally surreal place. Now comes further proof that the Czars are simply playing with us: Witness the lighthearted wordplay of X Would Rather Listen to Y Than Suffer Through a Whole C of Z's. Whether it's with their album titles or their music itself, the Czars always keep us guessing.


After a few years of toiling in the music shadows, Dixie transplant John Davis has finally treated the local music consciousness with his unique take on American roots music. Dreams of the Lost Tribe is a lush, layered masterpiece of deep-fried Americana that's equal parts Flannery O'Connor, deep-bottom blues and Tin Pan Alley treasure. Chock-full of imagery, emotion and fresh language, this debut is a commanding stunner.


David Eugene Edwards is the grandson of a Nazarene preacher, and like a chip off the old block (or in this case, brimstone) he offers up his solo debut side project Wovenhand. The presentation sounds as though it has gathered some dust, probably because it is largely derivative of his band 16 Horsepower. But Wovenhand's message -- like the call of a street-corner doomsday prophet -- is hard to ignore.


No matter how mainstream and mall-ready punk rock gets, there's always a new batch of bands lurking in dirty bars and warehouses tearing out the type of hot-wired, four-chord rock that launched the genre almost thirty years ago. On Undead in Denver, compiler Timmy Gibb and producer Bart McCrorey have assembled a cast of sixteen local bands contributing two songs each, most of which heavily reference the sound of punk legends such as Social Distortion, Channel 3, the Avengers and the Ramones. Standout tracks include Reno Divorce's "Getting Used to You," The Hacks' "Vodka," Teenage Bottlerocket's "Mini Skirt" and the Swanks' "Big Man Mouth" -- but the whole disc rumbles with the subterranean shock of raw, honest and uncorrupted punk rock.


Under the leadership of music director Marin Alsop, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra released a new CD this year through the Naxos imprint. Recorded live at Boettcher Hall, the disc offers a unique take on two of Tchaikovsky's more popular symphonic compositions. So far, Naxos has distributed 4,500 copies to retail stores, and sales have been better than expected; we'd call that a coup in the world of classical music.


Despite their collective name, the members of Accidental Superhero have worked hard in their seven years, making their own success instead of waiting around for a record-label deal. The Internet-savvy Colorado Springs outfit racked up close to a million downloads through MP3.com, repeatedly edging past radio-saturating bands and onto that site's top-ten list. Now their music can be heard across the country on low-watt FM stations, as well as many other places on the Web. The Superheros self-sold over 10,000 copies of their first CD back in 1998; a new disc, Full Circle, is poised to do even better. The New York Post is just one in the gaggle of press cheering the band on. All this, and they can leap tall buildings in a single bound.


The minds behind HigherListening.com -- Dan Vigil, Kelly Beckwith, Nate Weaver and Trish Baird -- have done a fine job in the past few years, moving from a mere message board to what is now a comprehensive online resource for those interested in local performers of all stripes. Offering a local calendar along with news, reviews, interviews and a comprehensive database of performers, the site covers the Mile High scene admirably and is eminently surfable. Deep down, though, it's the creators' straightforward and sincere enthusiasm for local music that makes it all happen.


Louisville-based UltraCo Inc., once a darling of the Boulder-area high-tech economy, has since fallen on harder times. Founded in 1999, the company rebuffed a few acquisition attempts, only to see its business model fizzle after the dot-bomb. But UltraPlayer media software, with its customizable appearance and the versatility to play all of the most popular audio and video formats, is still among the cream of the crop -- and even though the company is defunct, the software is still available to download for free online.


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