Lists

The Ten Best Colorado Albums of 2018

Trev Rich had a quiet 2018, but he still managed to drop a new album.
Trev Rich had a quiet 2018, but he still managed to drop a new album. Aaron Thackeray
Colorado's musicians have been dropping barn-burner albums all year long. A few of these projects have been covered by major media outlets and supported by massive headlining tours (yes, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, we're talking about you); others came out so quietly that nobody other than the musicians' friends and biggest fans heard they were dropping (hello, Trev Rich).

Putting together this list of our ten favorite albums of 2018 required killing some darlings. Recordings from The Corner Girls, Bud Bronson & the Good Timers, Kid Astronaut, DeVotchKa, Brent Cowles, Green Druid, Machu Linea, Oxeye Daisy, Fed Rez, Joshua Trinidad, Anthony Ruptak and others could easily take the place of some of our picks. But we had to make tough choices, and so we did. Here are our ten favorite albums by Denver-area artists in 2018, listed in alphabetical order.
click to enlarge 7 Inch - FAIM
7 Inch
Faim
7 Inch
Faim

Looking for a soundtrack for your rage? Listen to Denver’s militantly anti-fascist DIY hardcore band Faim's November release, 7 Inch. It's an eardrum-pummeling grenade-launcher of explosive anthems — some about midlife depression, others about abusers in the punk scene hopping from one city to another to keep from being punished, and another about old-fashioned class strife. This music decries the rise of the right as fervently as it slices into the various warts of the left and fearlessly rejects the center. But 7 Inch is not an exercise in political catharsis. Rather, it's a cry to wage war against the self-righteous, the destructive, the creepy, the violent and the rich.
The Astronaut's Wife - BLUEBOOK
The Astronaut's Wife
Bluebook
The Astronaut’s Wife
Bluebook

Singer-songwriter and bassist Julie Davis has been undergirding Denver's music scene for years. Her most recent album as Bluebook, created with singer-songwriter and keyboardist Jess Parsons, loops rhythmic and melodic bass lines with synth noise to create folk music rooted in blues, gospel and even darkwave. Parsons and Davis offer up aching harmonies, using bare-bones instrumentation to support their songs. Astonishingly, The Astronaut's Wife dropped with little fanfare. But it's a jewel.
Awards - PORLOLO
Awards
Porlolo
Awards
Porlolo

While other Denver acts have soared and sunk, Porlolo has been simmering since singer-songwriter Erin Roberts formed it in 2002. Her latest effort, Awards, opens with the bar-room twanger “I Don’t Want to Lose," which is all about struggling to keep a relationship intact. That’s followed by “Wasting Time (I Was a Fool),” a stirring song about romantic regrets. The final number, the album's namesake, is homesick indie rock with warm harmonies that are both poetic and down to earth. For more than fifteen years, Roberts has dished her guts out to Denver, and from the looks of it, that’s not stopping.

click to enlarge Trev Rich had a quiet 2018, but he still managed to drop a new album. - AARON THACKERAY
Trev Rich had a quiet 2018, but he still managed to drop a new album.
Aaron Thackeray
Clarity
Trev Rich

Trev Rich, who earned headlines in 2016 when he signed to Cash Money Records, had a quiet 2018 as far as live performances go. He announced a much-anticipated Ogden Theatre show earlier this year, but it never happened. The rapper was busier off stage, putting out the excellent Clarity, which is filled with radio-friendly hip-hop songs yet to gain traction. Back to being an independent, Rich uses the album to fret over his professional gains and setbacks, tensions with fellow rappers, relationships gone sour and the challenges that come with fame. He's also featured on DJ Khalil's song “Elevate,” on the Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse soundtrack. As nice as it is to hear him in the movie theater, let's hope he's back on stage in 2019, giving Clarity a proper christening.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris