While Denver rapper A Meazy had a very successful year in 2018, which included a sold-out show at the Bluebird, he soon found himself in an artistic funk that he worked his way through with Protect Your Energy. The full-length album was a project two years in the making, with a narrative arc that follows the path to self-discovery through his measured flow of contemplative lyrics. From the dreamy "Ziplock Bag" to the upbeat "Zodiac," with Rachel Bailey and Sydnie Battie, A Meazy has crafted an album that balances compelling stories while keeping you grooving to high-quality beats.

facebook.com/ameazy

Most musicians used their quarantine downtime to create new material; in the past year, we've heard dozens of albums inspired by the plight of the pandemic. One of these was the plucky, upbeat and incredibly fun Leftovers, released by local act Bolonium. After one of the member's cars burst into flames, taking all of the act's new material with it, Bolonium's members decided to resurrect the work with a little help from their friends. As a result, the eleven bouncy songs on the full-length album include collaborations with more than twenty other musical acts, including twelve from Denver.

bolonium.bandcamp.com/album/leftovers

Allison Lorenzen's Tender paints an intimate portrait of learning to heal after heartache and turning those lessons into triumph. Trained as a dancer, Lorenzen brings dynamic movement to her compositions that create lush, imagery-filled sonic landscapes. The journey throughout the record — Lorenzen's first full-length, first solo and first self-recorded album — contrasts light and dark sentiments that parallel the highs and lows of her personal and creative process. Her songs juxtapose dissonance against radiating vocals, fuzzy guitar and synth with light touches of piano. Though "tender" has many meanings and layers of sentiment, Lorenzen weaves them together seamlessly into a dense meandering of images that invites listeners to create their own connections.

allisonlorenzen.bandcamp.com/album/tender

If you love Stevie Wonder as much as the rest of the world, you'll be absolutely enamored with this funky duo, which released its eponymous EP in December 2021. Patchydensefog comprises Julius "Bad JuJu" Henderson and Dan "Stanky" Swain, and — as if you couldn't tell by their nicknames — they are full-on funk and soul. After listening to just one song, you'll know why Bad Juju and Stanky cite the likes of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and James Brown as influences.

patchydensefog.bandcamp.com

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