Tony and Lydia Fiore, a musician and artist, respectively, sensed that the local music community needed a high-quality, inexpensive place to record and mix music. They were right: Since opening last year, Globalsound Recording Studio has produced demos and CDs for scores of local acts drawn by its accessible atmosphere, reasonable prices and more than adequate facilities. The place is modest, with two studios equipped to varying degrees of high-techness: In the scaled-down Studio East, most bands are able to work at a pace of about two hours per song for recording and mixing. The more highbrow Studio West sports ProTools and a Digidesign Control 24 mixing console. And because time is money, Globalsound is also a good deal as a one-stop CD shop, offering duplication, web design and graphic-arts services. Get rolling.

The Walnut Room
The Walnut Room is a massive extension of Soundstructure Studios -- a popular, musician-friendly rehearsal space on a formerly barren fringe of the Ballpark neighborhood -- with its own restaurant, bar and performance venue. Since it opened, the room has netted a reputation as one of the best-sounding rooms in town, with a huge stage and spot-on sound crew. With its fine wood bar, red neon sign and generous drink specials, the Walnut Room is more than just another cool venue in an invigorated part of town. Rather, it signals a sea change in the way Denver thinks about local music: Here's a venue dedicated entirely to supporting and showcasing musicians while giving them a place to hang out and build community.

Best Place to Feed Your Ears While Feeding Your Belly

Toad Tavern

The Toad Tavern
It's no secret that the club market in Denver is oversaturated. And like crabgrass, for each spot that doesn't make it, two or three others sprout up in its place. Nowadays, folks need a reason to search a place out -- namely, cheap drinks, plenty of free parking, and great sound and booking. The Toad Tavern has all of those things. But the best deal of the week happens at Toads on Friday nights, when, in exchange for a small door charge, you get all the free Anthony's pizza you can shove down your gullet.

It's like a full-scale ninja battle on stage: eight sweaty freaks brandishing guitars, horns, tambourines, microphones, pheromones, feedback and blood as they eviscerate everything that is decent and respectable about rock and roll. The band is Call Sign Cobra; that wet splat hitting your underpants is what's left of your spleen. With players culled from Scott Baio Army, Out on Bail, Mustangs and Madras, Rabbit Fight and Pariah Caste, Call Sign leaves no eardrum unscarred in its attempt to force-feed Rocket From the Crypt into Molly Hatchet -- and, of course, cement its position as the most blistering, organ-engorging live act in Denver.

Fort Collins-based Matson Jones has been around for a couple of years, but it's only in the last few months that the group has really started carving out its empire. Not that the coed quartet seems crassly ambitious; instead, it's wholly focused on creating music that obliterates expectation even as it captures the brain and heart. With a lineup comprising two cellos, stand-up bass and drums, the outfit crafts a seething, tense tangle of sound resembling that of a chamber-punk PJ Harvey. Newly signed to Sympathy for the Record Industry, the indie label that launched the White Stripes, Matson Jones stands poised to whip its captivating whisper into a full-on roar.

While not entirely a straight-up ramen act (though lead guitarist Damon Wood can noodle with the best of them), Harmonious Junk pulls together savory parts funk, jazz, blues, psychedelic, soul and jam. The versatile outfit is equally comfortable pumping the groove at a Colfax smoke hole or loosening wallets and hips at more upscale clubs downtown. Composed of members of James Brown's band (yep, that James Brown) and local outfits Cocktail Revolution and the Byron Shaw Projex, the band likes to keep it "old-school, organic and boogieable." Expect classic covers, fresh originals and the sweet sounds of real talent.

In July 2001, Tyfoid Mary lost its frontman, Vince Stott, in a fatal car accident. While such a tragedy would cause most bands to hang it up for good, Tyfoid persevered and found a new voice in Jerry Harper. He had his work cut out for him, as Stott was a well-regarded vocalist. But Harper -- a giant in his own right at 6'5" and nearly 300 pounds -- brought with him a monster set of pipes and an imposing stage presence. The result was two stellar releases -- 2002's Nu Strain and last year's brilliant Quarantine -- and a shit ton of momentum. Talk about resuscitation.

Dow Jones, Sid Fly, Aseone, D.O. Da Fabulous Drifta and DJ C.Y. -- the five members of Ground Zero Movement -- have spent much of the past year teasing area hip-hop fans. A few copies of Writer's Square, the exceptional followup to the 2003 full-length Future I.D. , were leaked to the media months ago, but the disc still isn't available from area retailers or on the group's website, www.groundzeromovement.com. With luck, that will change in the coming months. The album is now slated for release this summer, around the same time as a solo joint from Fly is set to drop, and Guns...The New Watermelon, an album by D.O., may be out by mid-April. These side projects don't mean the Movement has come to a standstill. It remains a going concern, and if its current release schedule holds, music lovers will soon be repaid for their patience. Given the group's skills, the wait will most likely be worth it.

When not pulling duty in the veteran local outfit Uphollow, Ian Cooke writes and performs his own music. But instead of going the orthodox acoustic route, the flamboyantly coiffed artist employs electric cello, piano and a wireless microphone headset to sculpt arty, gorgeous pop compositions that are as delicate as they are virtuosic. Combining the pathos of Antony and the Johnsons with the bathos of Freddie Mercury, his shows are buoyant and arresting enough to almost outshine Uphollow's own excellence. Cooke's act may be solo, but there's not a thing missing.

Who would have thought that the 21st century would see a huge resurgence of interest in Guns N' Roses? Too bad Axl Rose is too messed up to capitalize on his own legacy. But picking up his Slash, er, slack is Rocket Queen. Begun as a one-off Guns N' Roses tribute at the popular "Monsters of Mock" concert held every Halloween, the Queen consolidates members of local punk and hardcore bands Shogun, the Gamits, Contender and Signal to Noise. Now, though, the group has become an ongoing affair; with wigs, denim and hip swivels in full effect, Rocket Queen will take you down to Paradise City.

Best Of Denver®

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