Best Literary Rag 2020 | Birdy | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

When Deer Pile, the empty room above City, O' City that hosted everyone from crusty folksingers to Dave Chappelle, closed in 2018, organizers threw their energy into Birdy, the stylish literary magazine they'd launched back in 2014. Continuing the tradition of celebrating all manner of Denver culture, fiction and art (and occasionally work from far beyond), Birdy has become a staple of the scene. When you're lucky enough to find one out in public, it's free. And Birdy is not just a great read filled with gorgeous art; it's also collectible. Jonesing for past issues? Buy them online at the mag's website.

Normally, a Colorado-themed board game would fall under the categories of "tacky" and "touristy." But this year, while we're stuck inside dreaming of all the things vacationers dream of once they've come and gone from our great state, we finally understand the appeal of Colorado-Opoly. Visit Colorado Ski Country from the safety of our homes? Sure! Hoard green chili (spelled that way in the game) without going to the grocery store? You bet! Visit Rocky Mountain National Park in our pajamas? Absolutely! Order a copy and play with your friends, whether you're trapped in the same house or just a video chat away.

Half Past Fate, made for Nintendo and PCs by Boulder's Serenity Forge Games, is a charming rom-com adventure rendered in 3-D pixel-art graphics. The story follows six people over the course of eight years through the twists and turns of fate as they all find love. Half Past Fate creates a heartwarming world where couples help a stranger change a flat tire or eat a perfect bowl of spicy ramen. This single-player game is social-distancing-approved, and is a much better alternative for digital romance than endlessly swiping on Tinder.

The sounds of a laughing crowd offer a reprieve from cabin fever. Lonesome listeners will find guffaws, groans and chortles in abundance on A Boatload of Jokes, the debut standup album from local comedian Zach Reinert. A one-liner wunderkind with a comedic fixation on DUIs, imaginary dead family members, and the cinematic oeuvre of M. Night Shyamalan, Reinert packs his filler-free hour with an onslaught of hilarious misdirects, grim surprises and unexpected wordplay, pausing only for quick comments or to allow peals of laughter to reverberate through the audience. Recorded late last year at the Denver Comedy Underground, a performance space in the basement of the Irish Snug, Reinert's debut is a testament to what the Denver comedy scene can achieve. A Boatload of Jokes is available on streaming services, including Apple, Amazon and Spotify; visit to start listening now.

Discovering new music is one of the great joys of life. The DJs at Colorado Public Radio's Indie 102.3, formerly known as OpenAir, have mastered the art of recommending new music from around the world to Front Range listeners. Whether they're playing the new or the nostalgic, the DJs at Indie know how to put together a playlist. From cheeky new collections like "COVID Dance Break" and "Social Isolation With You," to tried-and-true compilations like the monthly "Waking Life" and "Especial Favoritas," Indie playlists are sure to introduce you to new tunes and remind you of old ones you've loved and forgotten. Follow Indie 102.3 on Spotify, or stream music online at

Denver has a reputation for being cheery, sporty, sunny and high. What's often forgotten is that the city also has one of the nation's fiercest metal scenes. Blood Incantation, one of the most nationally celebrated Colorado death-metal acts, has been ravaging speakers for half a decade, creating eardrum-splitting soundtracks for brutal times. The group's sprawling four-song EP, Hidden History of the Human Race, is one of the latest and angriest records — an epic, mythical origin story about how humans came from Mars after that planet's ecosystem collapsed. Celebrated by Pitchfork and landing on plenty of end-of-year best-album lists, Blood Incantation's latest is an urgent listen.

From Jeremiah Fraites’s first melancholy piano lines on “Donna” to the barn-burner sing-along chorus led by Wesley Schultz in “Gloria,” the songs on the Lumineers’ III paint a sprawling portrait of several generations of a family wrangling with addiction. Inspired by the musicians’ own relatives’ tragic struggles with drugs and alcohol, the project, accompanied by a series of music videos, is the Lumineers’ greatest, most cohesive artistic statement to date. While the band may still be best known for its breakout song “Ho Hey,” its past two albums, Cleopatra and III, have proven that the group is more than just a foot-stomping, feel-good Americana act that fills stadiums.

Jay Triiiple has been a hardworking, steady presence in Denver's hip-hop scene for the past few years, and her latest album, Change Over Dollars, is a perfect introduction to her gritty voice. Triiiple delivers smart, often funny lyrics, taking swings at inauthenticity, embracing lust, dodging the cops and paying homage to the community and its possibilities. She brings in talented local rapper A Meazy for a few bars and hook on "Energy," and also features Keenan TreVon on "Tell the Money." With throwback skits between songs and club-worthy beats, Change Over Dollars is a fun journey through the imagination of one of the city's greatest lyricists.

In an industry dominated by cis white male musicians, TúLips stands out. The band describes itself as a "colectivo of feminista, genre non-conforming, BIQTPOC in Denver full of queer glory"; all of its members identify as queer and trans people of color or black indigenous queer and trans people of color. The group's sound falls somewhere between Mexican pop rock and South American alternative folk, and its politically minded lyrics often chronicle the immigrant experience. "I'm both confined and without borders/I'm a floating entity with no roots/I am adrift/I am halved, cortada a la mitad."

Even before the current crisis, the electronic-music scene in this city had been debating whether to embrace the mainstreaming of its music or try to hunker down in the underground and keep rave culture alive. Along the way, Denver-based site Beatport has been doing the heroic work of documenting, selling and promoting all styles of electronic music, keeping today's DJs up to speed on all the changes going on in the style. For those floundering in the endless genres and subgenres, the site is one of the best places to bone up on the differences between hypnotic techno, psy-trance or nu disco. Does any of that matter? Get to listening and decide for yourself.

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