Best Musical Messengers 2022 | Los Mocochetes | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Denver has a blossoming scene of Latin roots music, with bands that add their own twists to the traditional sounds. And one of the most innovative champions of the genre is Los Mocochetes, a Chicanx six-piece act that layers traditional Mexican sounds with funk, always guaranteeing a high-energy, unforgettable show. The bandmates honor and share their pride in their culture's music while also using it to express and educate about issues that affect Latinx people. Don't miss out on this group.

He's best known as the banjo player for bluegrass band Leftover Salmon, a 2021 Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee. But Andy Thorn has recently gone viral as a solo act, after YouTube videos of him playing tunes for a friendly fox he named Foxy in his Boulder back yard were shared millions of times. One video, which shows Foxy calmly perched on a rock while being serenaded, has now been played almost 4 million times. Thorn even made an album, Fox Songs and Other Tales During the Pandemic, that was inspired by their encounters.

You've probably seen these up-and-comers playing at venues such as Cervantes' and breweries in and around Denver as Deer Creek Sharpshooters grow their way into the city's bluegrass scene. With Luke Hinder on mandolin, Harrison Gaeng on banjo, Zach Hudson on fiddle, Fritz Boniface on Dobro, Daniel Putrino on bass and Josh Bergmann on guitar, this bluegrass group is now in the midst of mastering its debut album.

Yonder Mountain String Band, Colorado's favorite bluegrass band, started 2022 with a bang, releasing a long-anticipated album and celebrating it with a sold-out concert at Meow Wolf. Even though the Nederland-based act had to work on Get Yourself Outside during the height of the pandemic, guitarist Adam Aijala says the musicians had never been more prepared in the band's twenty-year-long career. They took a completely new approach and pre-produced the album, knowing where every solo and arrangement would go before hitting the studio. And the practice paid off.

Denver's Stormkeep initially formed in 2017 and includes members from other well-known local acts, mainly Wayfarer and Blood Incantation, that have grown in popularity recently. But Stormkeep's 2021 full-length debut, Tales of Othertime, vaulted the five-member symphonic black-metal outfit onto the scene with a 43-minute-plus album filled with wandering wizards and cavalries of dragons. Stormkeep creates a refreshing mix of epic music that showcases familiar components, but there's still a thread of originality that keeps it sounding fresh.

Khemmis is Denver's best purveyor of modern-day doom metal. Period. While doom is what Khemmis does best, though, there are some death-metal nuggets sprinkled throughout its latest full-length, Deceiver. After parting with bassist Daniel Beiers in 2020, drummer Zach Coleman and guitarist-vocalist duo Phil Pendergast and Ben Hutcherson show that less can be more on the new album.">

On Gateway, FOANS fans experience a fourteen-track, genre-less electronic music album that runs the gamut of timbres, textures and frequencies. It's a contemplative, delicate opus of electronic music that grabs influence from lo-fi, ambient, house, techno, IDM and glitch, all held together by a signature veneer that gives congruity to the LP. Its sparse integration of organic instruments like harps, violins and guitar gives it a feel that is inexplicably human. Released on the enigmatic Los Angeles label 100% Silk, Gateway speaks to the ambiverted nature of thoughtful electronic music, where it can be experienced both on the dance floor and at home.

The Velveteers are coming out of an incredible year. Currently on the North American leg of Greta van Fleet's Dreams in Gold tour, the unique rock band produced its latest album with Grammy Award-winning Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame. From "Dark Horse," a rock ballad laced with chugging, rhythmic power chords, to "What a Smile Can Hide," a synth-heavy lyrical thunderstorm of angst, the music on this album marks a return to the greatest ages of rock and roll, with a modern twist.

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.

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.

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