Best Bluegrass Album 2023 | Round Feet, Chrome SmileRagged Union | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Reggie Ruth Barrett

It had been nearly six years since 51-year-old Geoff Union and his band, Ragged Union, left us hungry for more following the release of 2017's Time Captain — but after a slight change in lineup, the "grassicana" band delivered another delicious down-home album. The nine-track Round Feet, Chrome Smile, which dropped in September, is a feel-good album all the way through, perfect for a drive through the mountains or a get-together with friends.

If you've walked around the 16th Street Mall or the Denver Performing Arts Complex over the past seven years, chances are you've heard the blaring sounds of Brothers of Brass. The New Orleans-style brass band, founded by Khalil Simon, has been trumpeting around Denver since 2016. While it first established itself by busking outside everything from DCPA let-outs to football games at Empower Field to the Phish lot at Dick's, the band is now playing places like Ophelia's Electric Soapbox and Meow Wolf. Brothers of Brass is also steeped in activism, helping to lead protests and encouraging youth engagement by playing local schools. Be on the lookout for its upcoming full-length, set to drop in late April.
Silky Shots

Brandon Theis, aka The Orchestrator, has become one of Denver's most popular artists on the strength of his saxophone-infused wobbly beats, which have nabbed him sold-out headlining slots at Meow Wolf, the Bluebird Theater, the Marquis Theater, Larimer Lounge and Globe Hall. While he has yet to release a full-length, Theis is consistently dropping singles that hint at big things to come. Meanwhile, his energetic live concerts are a wonder of live-music production as he jumps from deejaying to trilling his sax to playing guitar to banging on his drum kits. Theis is diving into hip-hop, too, adding more vocals to his tracks that run the musical gamut, with inspirations in jazz, trip-hop, funk, soul, EDM and more.
Armando Martinez

A Denver jazz-scene mainstay, award-winning composer, arranger and pianist Annie Booth formed her sextet in 2015, creating a multi-generational supergroup with Mile High jazz stalwarts Greg Gisbert (trumpet), Wil Swindler (alto sax), John Gunther (tenor and soprano sax), Patrick McDevitt (bass) and Alejandro Castaño (drums). The group released the soothing, layered Alpenglow last summer after receiving the 2021 Performance Plus Grant from the Doris Duke Foundation and Chamber Music America. Booth composed all the songs, which highlight the varied skills of the seasoned performers.
Courtesy Silver & Gold

The Denver area has always been fertile ground for indie rock. Silver & Gold got its start at the University of Northern Colorado, where all five members were regulars at open mics and earned their music degrees a decade ago. Since then, the band has released a couple of EPs and a debut record in 2018, Point A — Point A. The music of singer/guitarist Devon Hildebrandt, bassist Brandon Vela, guitarist Pie Lombardi, drummer Taylor Drose and keyboardist Claire Jensen is spacey and soothing, even calm, and the band's new EP, Saving Faces, marks the evolution of Silver & Gold into one of the Front Range's most original indie bands.
Brad Stapleton

Elektric Animals has taken Denver by storm since forming in 2018, and released the five-song Channels EP, its much-anticipated debut, in 2022. Songs like "Come Clean" and "Woe Is Me" highlight the indie-rock group's ability to intertwine danceable, catchy hooks with moving, tight guitar solos that trickle over smooth bass lines. The band has worked its way to playing places like the Larimer Lounge and Lost Lake, where it offers high-energy sets that keep the crowd moving from the moment it takes the stage.

Fort Collins just seems to breed punk-rock acts, and Plasma Canvas has been one of the area's most popular punk bands for nearly a decade. After an intoxicating set at the Westword Music Showcase in 2022, the band released an absolutely addicting full-length, DUSK, in February. Showcasing the captivating vocals of lead singer and guitarist Adrienne Rae Ash, the album encapsulates a poetic, cathartic release, all wrapped in a relentlessly rocking punk package.
Courtesy FAIM

Catch FAIM while you can: Denver's most righteous hardcore punk band has announced that 2023 will be its last as a formal group. But the March release of new record Your Life and Nothing Else is evidence that FAIM isn't going quietly into the cold, post-punk rock night. Instead, the band approached this swan song with an anything-goes attitude and churned out the most diverse album of its short yet storied six-year run, proving that it isn't afraid to mix in screamo, shoegaze or crust elements. Listen, then make sure to see FAIM before it's too late.
Morgan Elizabeth

Bury Mia isn't just Denver's best active pop-punk band right now; it's also one of the oldest. The four-piece has been paying homage to genre forefathers like Blink-182 and Taking Back Sunday for the better part of a decade, after starting at a time when this type of music was neither popular nor trendy. But Bury Mia — which currently consists of guitarists Justin O'Neal and Stevan Alt, bassist Devin Martinez and drummer Marcus Allen-Hille — stayed the course and ultimately became flag-bearers for the unlikely local pop-punk resurgence. After last year's Somewhere Between Where We Are and Where We've Been (the hammer-smashed teal Game Boy on the cover couldn't be more early 2000s), the boys are back with new music in 2023, including the single "We've Been Trying to Reach You About Your Car's Extended Warranty." Bust out your studded Hot Topic belts and keep an eye out for Bury Mia.
Courtesy Primitive Man

Primitive Man is an elder in the Denver metal scene; before even forming the popular three-piece ten years ago, lead singer and guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy booked numerous shows and was responsible for bringing many underground acts to the city. Over the past decade, the band has slowly built a loyal following with a brand of doom that's so scathing, it can be frightening to hear at first — offering a mix of grindcore and harsh noise that seemingly exists solely to pierce fragile eardrums and cave in faces. McCarthy is clearly processing some shit when he steps up to the mic and screams until his throat bleeds, but that's a good thing for both the band and local metal fans. Primitive Man just released a collaboration with Full of Hell titled Suffocating Hallucination. 'Nuff said.

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