We love music. We love free stuff. So it stands to reason that Danny de Zaya's One Track Mind has become a daily destination around here. Every day, One Track Mind offers a free, legal MP3 download of a new track from some hot new band or artist, in styles ranging from electronic to indie. Every track is reviewed and rated, so you know what you're getting. And once a month or so, all the tracks get packaged up in an easy-to-download zip file in case you're too lazy or forgetful to visit each day. Plus, there's a monthly podcast. And as if all of this wasn't already an embarrassment of riches, the blog is also beautifully designed.

The world is getting wise to the ways of the big labels, and the ways aren't working, anyway. Which paves the way for enterprising little bands like Candy Claws, which started with the one thing you absolutely must have before any self-promotion technique has a shot: great music. In the Dream of the Sea Life, released last year, is a record with beauty and depth, and the act debuted music videos for each song on a different music blog around the world. Something's working — the group signed with Indiecator Records in Dublin — and we're guessing the sleeve has not been emptied of tricks.

Sarah Slater, a longtime stalwart of the underground music scene, was the mastermind behind Titwrench, a completely independent festival featuring musical projects in which women had strong, if not always exclusive, creative input, and featuring experimental projects from Colorado and beyond. The enthusiasm of the crowds each night was infectious, and attendance was strong even though there was another music festival across town. Given the success of this first effort, Slater and other organizers are now holding fundraising shows at the Meadowlark (called Surfacing) for the next Titwrench (July 9-11 at Glob). Do yourself a favor and catch these DIY gigs.

Since the infamous Warlock Pinchers broke up in 1992, it's been rare to find Daniel Wanush and Andrew Novick in the same room. Still, the split apparently didn't involve much acrimony, because in September, Novick's Get Your Going project performed Crispin Glover songs with a puppet show on the same bill as Wanush's heavy dub band, Murder Ranks. After the Ranks set, Novick came up on stage and performed a number of Pinchers classics with his former colleague. Since then, a bona fide War lock Pinchers reunion has been rumored to be in the works. We can only hope.

Bar Standard

Over the past three years, DJs Low Key and Sounds Supreme (aka Justin Green and Nate Watters) have built the Solution, their underground hip-hop night, into the best weekly party in town. The club night got its start at Milk, then moved to the Funky Buddha, and recently relocated to the roomier Bar Standard, where the DJs can make good on their plans to bring in national acts. They've more than succeeded in their original goal of creating a night they'd want to attend themselves: Now anyone who wants a guaranteed good time knows that the Solution is the solution.

Lion's Lair
Jon Solomon

There's always been plenty to say about the Lion's Lair. From the artists on the stage to the cast of characters who occupy its dark corners at all hours, the Lair is one of Denver's most storied haunts. Yet the conversation got more interesting when Matthew Hunter, the Lair's longtime manager, launched a bi-monthly series of art exhibitions last spring. Hunter, a painter, sculptor and bass player for local bumcore combo Slakjaw, invites artists to contribute works under a broad theme: A recent show featured ruminations on barns; another was a sublime and squirm-inducing homage to Christ. Hunter's own work, which blends a trampy innocence with dark humor and found objects, is intriguing, unsettling and original. Hunter's exhibitions prove that art can live anywhere — even nailed to the crackling red plaster of a Colfax dive.

Confluence Park

There are some seriously badass hippies hanging out at Confluence Park on Sunday nights. If you never thought you'd see the words "hippie" and "badass" in the same sentence, well, you have no idea how awesome things can get in a hurry when you give half the hippie crowd hand drums and the other half fire. These informal Colorado Fire Tribe practices are free to watch, but the participants are very serious about working on their moves, which include swinging flaming balls and other jaw-dropping techniques. Occasionally, one of them will catch fire and jump in the river, which you just don't see every day.

Sie FilmCenter

Every Friday and Saturday night at ten, Denver Film Society programming manager Keith Garcia brings in what he calls "the cooler films," films that don't always get the exposure they deserve. The Watching Hour incorporates all corners of offbeat cinema, including sub-series of zombie films and Ozploitation movies, the original Italian Inglorious Bastards, an archival print of the Dario Argento classic Suspiria, the '80s cult classic The Legend of Billie Jean and even Teen Witch, and provides a time for cinephiles to see all manner of excellent cult and genre films on the big screen, from obscure, overlooked gems to bona fide classics.

Long before they got their nicknames, the historic neighborhoods of LoDo and RiNo were defined by the railroads that brought commerce to Denver. That heritage creates the perfect conceptual tie-in for Joseph Riché's "Trade Deficit," a three-part sculpture spread near Broadway between Blake and Lawrence streets, with the most successful portion on Blake. For all three, Riché used discarded freight containers painted different colors to create constructivist piles that simultaneously refer to the area's past as a hub of transportation and to its present — and future — as an art center.

 

Artists Edward and Donna Marecak were major modernists: He was an idiosyncratic painter and she was a master potter. With the help of gallery director Paul Hughes, Z Art Department owner Randy Roberts tapped the estates of the couple to create a pair of intertwined retrospectives that showed just how great the talents of the late artists were. The Marecaks had been at the forefront of historic Colorado modernism and the subject of a number of shows since the 1990s, but amazingly, much of the material at Z had never been exhibited before, making for one of the year's best exhibits.

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