Music News

Denver's best music releases of 2011

Page 5 of 6

Palmer, Sometime Around (Self-released). Andy Palmer, a former public defender in Brooklyn and river-raft guide in Colorado, seems to bring his impressive life experience to bear on Sometime Around, a release that boasts hints of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Mississippi John Hurt. Thanks to Palmer's heartfelt vocal style and explosive acoustic guitar playing, the tracks have a timeless sound that gives the entire record an epic feel. — Goldstein

Pictureplane, Thee Physical (Lovepump United). In a world where mindless, hyper-glossy club anthems are the norm, Travis Egedy's contribution to the contemporary musical landscape is a welcome one. Here Egedy take his time: Synth lines are deep, melody exists in layers and beats rise and fall with a calculated coolness. Nothing feels rushed, as if Egedy were navigating, in real time, the gender fluidity and sexual revolution he sings about. If the best single of the year could be played long after the club has been torn up, "Real Is a Feeling" would be the choice, post-last-call banger. — Davies

Project Aspect, Put This World on Hold (Gruntworthy). Taking the local electronic-music scene by storm, Project Aspect (aka Jay Jaramillo) released this EP full of glitch, dubstep and hip-hop beats in which he composed and produced all of the tracks, proving once again that Denver is becoming a bass capital and that he's standing at the forefront of it. — Chester

Radical Knitting Circle, When Bees No Longer Fly... (Self-released). Although dauntingly dense at times, When Bees No Longer Fly... is a rewarding listen overall. Like Isaac Brock leading a precocious avant-pop ensemble, with Rowlf from the Muppets pitching in periodically on vocals, Radical Knitting Circle seamlessly stitches together a pleasing patchwork of styles, threading in strands of everything from found sounds and rustic folk to loungy jazz and proggy steampunk. — Herrera

Rockie, Censored (Self-released). Rockie has shown tremendous growth in his rhymes and flow this year, finishing strong with this fourth-quarter release. Censored is the culmination of all things dope. Rockie is most impressive on tracks like "Gold Dreams," with its diversified rhyme pattern, and "Game," in which he executes a cool tone and demeanor while letting his lyrics ride the smooth production. — Johnson

Sauna, The Teen Angst Tape & Rad Shit! (Self-released). Two separate records, one awesome, listenable timeline of a great year for a no-bullshit band. Sauna could be filed in with the "lo-fi, beachy, clangy rock" blah, but the quartet is so much more; unisex vocal duties and bare-beat drums make "Glitter Party" sound like an un-raunchy Gravy Train, while "God Dammit Ethan" resonates with a Teenage Jesus and the Jerks kicky scream. K Records, you need this band on your roster. — Davies

Science Partner, Rocky Mountain News (Larksmith Station Records). Science Partner began as an outlet for Tyler Despres's acoustic material in 2008. The group has since grown into a six-piece, and Despres's songs really flourish in the group format. The sextet includes remarkable vocalists Jess DiNicola and Maria Kohler, who offer wonderful harmonies throughout. Save for a few ballads, Rocky Mountain News finds Despres and company at home in an indie-rock setting. — Solomon

Shel, When the Dragon Came Down (Mad King Records/Moraine Records). After parting ways with Republic Nashville, which just didn't know what to do with them, the women of Shel sound no worse for wear on their latest release. In fact, they sound better than ever on these delicate tunes, which boast the sisters' trademark pristine melodies and pitch-perfect harmonies. — Herrera

The Skivies, Lorem Ipsum (Self-released). The Skivies sound so strong on Lorem Ipsum — which benefits from more robust production than any of its predecessors — it's easy to forget that the band makes truly bizarre music and mistake it for a more conventional rock band. Once again, DJ Von Feldt's lyrics weave unsettling stories with a surrealistic fervor. — Murphy

Caleb Slade, Victory in Defeat (Self-released). On Victory in Defeat, Caleb Slade successfully steps out of the shadow of his famous brother and makes a bold artistic statement of his own. Playing piano-driven post-Brit pop, Slade takes a stoic look at the letdowns of love, but also revels in reflections of the redemptive power it can possess. — Herrera

Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Unentitled (Alternative Tentacles). On Unentitled, Slim Cessna's Auto Club doesn't steer too far from its tried-and-true formula of dark country and gothic Americana, but the group does inject most of the tracks with a decent amount of its live vigor. Unentitled stands out as one of the Auto Club's finest releases and possibly its most accessible release to date. — Solomon

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