With all the energy its name implies, Kaffeine Buzz is a scattershot, ADD-fueled cornucopia of music journalism. Covering local as well as national punk, indie and hip-hop, the site features interviews, club listings, weekly show picks and CD and concert reviews. Editor Kim Owens, who also pens an impressive portion of the text, employs a solid, personable writing style that displays a deep knowledge of popular culture without sounding overbearing. Kaffeine Buzz also touches on art, fashion, cinema, even snowboarding -- but it's the great music coverage that keeps it bookmarked.

A professor at Colorado College, Scott does more than just teach about music. He also makes it in a very singular way. Rather than play the piano using the instrument's keys, he and his assistants physically pluck and manipulate its strings with the assistance of everything from guitar picks and percussion mallets to nylon fishing line and horsehair. This approach sounds absurd, but recordings of Scott's so-called bowed-piano works, including Paisajes Audibles/Sounding Landscapes, recently issued on CD by Albany Records, are consistently fascinating. Listen and learn.

The authors of this tome draw from a wealth of experience. Bliesener once drummed with ? and the Mysterians, a group remembered for the garage-rock hit "96 Tears," and went on to become a successful promoter and manager of bands such as Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Knopper, for his part, has written about music for newspapers such as the Boulder Daily Camera, and is currently a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone. These pedigrees inform Guide, which should give even the densest person a fighting chance to win, or at least survive, the music game.

Ironically, many creators of contemporary experimental music are too stuck in academia and orthodoxy to truly forge their own voice. But Michael Andrew Doherty, after earning a bachelor's degree in philosophy and religious studies at CSU, ditched his musical studies and began orchestrating sound according to the dictates of his own soul. The result is a string of releases and collaborations over the past few years that fuse severe minimalism with wit and humanity. His latest work, Preface: Found Score, is a prelude to numerous upcoming projects in 2005 -- including a chamber ensemble that will interpret '80s new-wave hits. "Rock Me Amadeus" as read by John Cage, anyone?

Before they appeared on Saturday Night Live and The O.C. and were lionized by damn near every music scribe in the free world, the Killers were just another out-of-town act performing at the Larimer Lounge on a Tuesday night. Although the Lounge was only a quarter full -- the band was still flying well beneath the radar, and most folks opted to catch the Strokes at the Fillmore that night -- the Las Vegas-based quartet brought the house down with its retro-tinged romp. Talk about a missed opportunity: The next time the Killers played Denver, they sold out the Fillmore, just like the Strokes.

For anyone who cuts the rug like Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis or Elaine from Seinfeld, the Colorado Prog Music Fest offered the perfect excuse to boogaloo like you just didn't care. Area musical acts committed to precision and unusual time signatures held court for an entire day of free-form anarchy. The all-ages event featured sets from the Colorado Guitar Circle, the Music Retaliation Ensemble, Patch, Pindral, Singularity and Zed. For event organizer Phillip Satterly, who also runs the Colorado Art Rock Society, it was an opportunity to celebrate an often misunderstood art form that always looks forward, strives to be new, and dissents vigorously from the current musical establishment.

In a year of exceptional local releases, DeVotchKa's How It Ends stood out like a peacock at sunrise. A dizzying feast of neo-classical strings, south-of the-border tango flirtations and punk-informed polka, the fourteen-song cycle finds Denver's most sumptuous quartet at the pinnacle of its craft. Recorded and mixed by Craig Schumacher (who has worked with Calexico, Giant Sand and Beth Orton), Ends features an overabundance of exotic tempos, textures and stylistic flourishes. Frontman Nick Urata, who augments his incurably aching vocals with smatterings of Italian, Spanish and French, leads his fellow DeVotchKans through the ultimate immigrant experience -- one where doomed romantics arrive wide-eyed in a new world, only to escape heartache through wine and song, longing for one last kiss before the curtains fall. Ay, mi corazón!

Woody Allen once said, "Don't knock masturbation -- it's sex with someone I love." In the cocksure hands of Wanker however, love means never having to say you're anything but horny and alone. Then again, damn near every song by these nostalgic, faux-Anglican glam-bangers revolves around frigid white girls, full-metal teddies, or sisters with blisters. Get a grip.

Metal bands usually get straight to the point when it comes to naming their albums: Morbid Angel had Domination; Kreator issued Endless Pain; Venom put out Welcome to Hell. Then there's Throcult's second full-length, Stormbringer: Conjuration of the Nighthorde. Even without umlauts, it's a real mouthful, sporting two compound words, eleven syllables and one pesky colon. Saying it out loud seems to take forever -- and only makes you wish you could speak in a really deep voice like Lurch. Then again, Throcult could get even wordier before it steals the crown from English symphonic metal band Bal-Sagoth's reigning long-winded 1996 title: Starfire Burning Upon the Ice-veiled Throne of Ultima Thule.

Denver Gentlemen alum David Eugene Edwards hasn't left 16 Horsepower behind, but as an extremely prolific songwriter, he needed another venue for his efforts. Wovenhand fills this particular bill very well, and on Consider the Birds, Edwards's third disc under the moniker, he takes advantage of it. Like all of his compositions, the Wovenhand offerings are striking expressions of the themes and topics that obsess him -- love, faith and retribution among them. He's a unique talent, no matter what guise he's toiling under. Denver's lucky to have him.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of