Music News

Denver's best music releases of 2011

Page 4 of 6

Innerstate Ike, Moolah Music (Self-released). Innerstate Ike got loose on Moolah Music and dressed his rhymes with confidence. The production value gives each track a golden touch, and Ike sounds like a champion on standout track "Super Man Buggs Bunny," in which he plays his rich-man character with ease and precision. His 'hood-describing lyrics give each tune an anthemic quality and swagger to spare. — Johnson

Turner Jackson, My Heart Needs Space (Self-released). As far as rappers go, Turner Jackson has a battery in his back that just won't quit. Turner, who released several projects this year, does well with the emo-titled My Heart Needs Space, using his flamboyant flow to produce lyrics that go perfectly with his themes of reality and the craziness of life. Turner Jackson is on some next-level shit. — Johnson

Jim McTurnan & the Kids That Killed the Man, Joie De Vivre (Self-released). On his own, Jim McTurnan has fully realized the potential he first displayed as the co-frontman of Cat-A-Tac. With lush melodies and a strong, swoon-worthy croon, McTurnan sings with notable assuredness on the best set of dreamy pop songs he's penned to date. — Herrera

Karma, Karmarado (Self-released). Karma, one-third of BLKHRTS, struck gold with the release of Karmarado, which provides an exceptional display of the MC's solo talent. Karma lets his gruff voice carry the rhymes through several street anthems, personal stories and other gangster shit, taking listeners on a journey through his world. Features from Innerstate Ike, Foe, Haven the Great and others round out the disc. Solid. — Johnson

Kevin Costner Suicide Pact, Standstill (Self-released). Someday someone will subject the information of brainwaves during a heavy dreaming period to sonification, and the resulting "sound" will be not unlike what Kevin Costner Suicide Pact has done here. It's ambient music that sounds like it has given voice to something deep inside you — the auditory echo of a half-remembered dream. — Murphy

The Love Royale, Love Letters (Self-released). Headed up by singer Heather Larrabee and bassist and Flobots producer Kyle Jones, the Love Royale whips up some of the finest electro-soul in these parts. On Love Letters, the group lays down a number of solid, fluid grooves, a few of which could be ideal tunes for getting to know somebody. Intimately. — Solomon

Lust-Cats of the Gutters, Lust-Cats of the Gutters (Self-released). Lust-Cats of the Gutters are fantastic orators who sing about the dangers of shitty dates, having werewolves for boyfriends and the reality of diving into a really nasty motel swimming pool. The duo produces the songs others joke about writing. This four-song EP is just a tiny piece of the L-Cats' vast comedic fortunes, but still an excellent exercise in the band's searing dual vocals, stompy drumbeats and horror-movie guitar riffs. — Davies

Paul Musso, Tonescapes (Self-released). While jazz guitarist Paul Musso clearly has some exceptional chops, he doesn't flex them all over the place on Tonescapes, instead turning in a more subdued performance. With an understated, fluid and lyrical handle on the guitar, Musso sounds right at home on these seven jazz and bossa nova cuts. — Solomon

Ninth and Lincoln With Cuong Vu, Static Line (Dazzle Recordings). Ninth and Lincoln's leader and composer, Tyler Gilmore, has developed considerably as a composer since the orchestra's 2008's self-titled debut, moving further from jazz and incorporating more twentieth-century classical, minimalist, rock and experimental elements into his pieces. While the new material definitely shines, trumpeter Cuong Vu also adds some outstanding textural work throughout. — Solomon

Octopus Nebula, Through the Next Door (Self-released). Drawing influence from the likes of STS9, Octopus Nebula displays an undeniable confidence on Through the Next Door, mating precise electronic vocal samples with jam-style organic instrumentation. The self-released debut album does an excellent job of capturing what it's like to see the band live, and couldn't speak more to the merging of electronic, jam and rock genres. — Chester

Orbit Service, A Calm Note From the West (Beta-lactam Ring Records). This record provides a perfect, poetic distillation of the fears that plague the adult psyche of anyone both blessed with and cursed by a reflective disposition and a powerful imagination. Musically, the album is like a disorienting walk through darkly beautiful forests populated by the physical manifestation of your worst nightmares. — Murphy

Paper Diamond, Levitate (Elm & Oak Records). Alex Botwin, head of Elm & Oak Records, is no stranger to the capabilities of electronic-music production. His mastering on Levitate is flawless, never allowing a note to pass without total dissection, and the music shines through, perfectly illuminating a growing electronic movement where the bass can't get heavy enough. — Chester

Page 27, Krakatau (Self-released). The godfathers of the Denver noise scene sound like they've re-created what went on in Victor von Frankenstein's laboratory, from the installation of the equipment to the moment he gave life to his monster. Krakatau is initially forbidding for its sheer avalanche of sound, but ultimately rewarding to the adventurous listener. — Murphy

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.