As we compiled our annual Moovers and Shakers issue this year -- a rundown of our favorite local releases from the past year -- we found, once again, that there were simply more albums that we dug than we had space to devote to in the paper. Thankfully, no such limitations exist on the web. Click through for two dozen more picks from the past year that didn't appear in print.
B Blacc & Deca, Joe Thunder/Selector Sam Present B Blacc & Deca: The Lost Tape (Boxstate Music). Originally conceived as a mixtape and planned for release in 2007, B Blacc & Deca: The Lost Tape was finally issued this past August. A meeting of the minds in which indie meets street, Lost Tapes is a classic, an utterly compelling collaboration between two estimable MCs from opposite ends of the scene, with an equally compelling cast of guests. -- Dave Herrera Big Motif, Big Motif (Self-released). Formerly known as the Running Wild Band, this group of freshly minted minstrels -- who look barely old enough to shave -- stormed onto the scene with the swagger and chops of players twice their age. This bluesy three-song effort, recorded by Dave Beegle, is bursting with potential. Move over, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Derek Trucks: Make room for the Big Motif. -- Herrera Candescent/Jed, Split-single (Laser Palace/Bocumast). With just three tracks split between Candescent (Matthew Peterson) and Jed (Jedediah Logsdon), this EP is still a sixteen-minute slow burner. Together, Peterson and Logsdon make the songs minimalist dreams are made of. -- Bree Davies Catch Lungs, Sleeping Pills Scriptape (Self-released). Backed by DJ Bedz with notable features from his fellow Fresh Breath Committee members and some high-profile friends, like FL of Foodchain, Ichiban, Spoke In Wordz, FOE, Whygee and Inkline, Catch Lungs resurrects a classic hip-hop vibe with a confident flair on his self-proclaimed Scriptape, which serves as a coming-out party for this promising MC. -- Herrera Cephalic Carnage, Misled by Certainty (Relapse). In the years leading up to Misled by Certainty, Cephalic Carnage lost some key members. For lesser groups, this would render any subsequent output instantly inferior. Not so here. Certainty finds Cephalic in top form, making music that's as blisteringly brutal and challenging as ever. -- Herrera Dan Craig Band, Alchemy (Wire Bird Music). Besides being an absolutely fitting title for this album, Alchemy showcases Dan Craig's finest songwriting to date, both lyrically and melodically. Everything comes together in a captivating way, with the notably fuller sound of the band helping Craig transcend the typical trappings of the staid singer-songwriter designation. -- Herrera DJ Quote and Iman S, No Subliminals (Self-released). The followup to their Park Hill Logo mixtape, No Subliminals finds DJ Quote backing Iman S as he takes aim at unnamed rivals with a measured, unhurried cadence and unwavering bravado. An unflinching release from two polarizing personalities in the scene. -- Herrera Foodchain, Corpses (Showoff Digital). With the backing of Statik Selektah and features by Big Pooh and Talib Kweli, Foodchain's star continues to rise. But even without those notable co-signs, Corpses proves that Foodchain is plenty compelling in its own right. And as the group continues to evolve as a live band, it's only going to become more so. -- Herrera The Foot., Primary Colors (Self-released). The trio of University of Denver grads known collectively as the Foot. puts its prodigious playing on full display on its highly impressive debut. The outfit's engaging blend of prog-dub-funk-inflected pop is perfectly captured on Primary Colors. Easily one of the year's most auspicious debuts. -- Herrera Flobots, Survival Story (Universal/Republic). Whether intentional or incidental, it seems pretty telling that Universal and Flobots parted ways after Survival Story, a thematic, more carefully considered -- not to mention better sounding -- album than its predecessor. Style clearly trumps substance at the majors these days. The odds of surviving with that sort of superficial approach are bleak at best. -- Herrera The Gromet, Colorado Captain (Self-released). The Gromet's second release has a rootsy, down-home feel to it that's distinctly Colorado, in a mountain-bred, river-washed sort of way. For a trio, the outfit exhibits a surprising degree of musicality, resulting in a vibrant sound that's jangly in all the right places and perfectly at home at any bonfire hootenanny. -- Herrera Kory Brunson Band, Hard Country (Flywheel Records). Denver is a world away from Nashville, both ideologically and geographically. Don't tell that to these guys. From singing about having some "Good Clean Dirty Fun" in the Mile High country to the Whoo! Crew getting all rowdy on a "Girls Night Out," these boys have crafted a set of polished twangers that can hold their own with the best Music Row has to offer. -- Herrera Kosmøs, Skeptics In Love (Self-released). With a '90s-era alt-rock sound somewhere between Better Than Ezra and the Foo Fighters, Kosmøs embarks on a concept album of sorts that deals, over the course of half a dozen songs, with young love gained and lost (or, in this case, willfully surrendered), the brief jubilation of trying to find yourself that follows, and the subsequent longings and regrets. -- Herrera John McVey, Unpredictable (Self-released). This is what happens when a studio wiz steps out from behind the console and devotes his time and craft to his own music. Recorded at Coupe Studios, where McVey holds court, Unpredictable finds him -- with a voice that recalls John Gorka -- taking as much time and care with his own acoustic-based songs as he does with those of others. -- Herrera Ploy For Extinction, Equality Lies Below (Self-released). Recorded by Dave Otero, Equality Lies Below features impeccably recorded extreme metal built upon precision razor guitars, relentless blast beats and menacing vocals from dependably precocious players, with a shorter running time than desired and twice as many solos as expected. -- Herrera Pretty Lights, Making Up a Changing Mind, Spilling Over Every Side and Glowing In the Darkest Night (Self-released). As prolific as he is, you'd think that Derek Vincent Smith would turn in some lackluster music every now and then. And you know what? You'd be right. Even so -- and despite seeming kind of one-dimensional from time to time -- Smith hits the mark more than he misses, as evidenced by this trio of releases. -- Herrera Pries, Late for Class the Mixtape (Self-released). Pries (pronounced Preeze) is a hip-pop ringtone rap star in the making. With ultra-smooth -- not to mention presciently titled -- tracks like "I Wanna Be a Star" and club igniters like "Go Go" in his arsenal, it seems that it's just a matter of time before Pries explodes on Top 40 radio. Steak escape? Not exactly. More like mainlining a fistful of Pixy Stix. But then, a good sugar rush every now and then never hurt anybody. -- Herrera Rockie, Barcode 2 (Self-released). On this mixtape, Rockie rapped over the most relevant beats of the summer, including B.o.B's rap/rock fusion of "Airplanes," and held his own over the Kanye West-produced "Haters." It was a bold move to use Jay-Z's classic "Can I Live" beat, but Rockie was lyrically confident and didn't disappoint. -- Ru Johnson Eric Shiveley, Eden's Light (Half-Vast Records). Eden's Light finds Eric Shiveley at his heartbreaking best. Hard to believe this album almost didn't see the, well, light of day. Plagued with self-doubt, Shiveley was determined not to release another record until he felt he had something worth releasing. Fortunately, the voice(s) of reason prevailed, and he ended up blessing us with one of the most heartrending yet uplifting listening experiences of the year. -- Herrera SP Double, Lost Gems Volume 2 mixtape (Self-released). Mixed by Statik Selektah, Lost Gems Volume 2 features SP breathing fire over more than a dozen tracks. Taking beats that are already hot by Drake and Slaughterhouse, he somehow manages to make them burn even hotter. Presumably serving as a creative stopgap for Loyalty Honor and Respect, SP's eagerly awaited forthcoming full-length, Gems 2 is a captivating listen. -- Herrera Spoke In Wordz, Western Conference mixtape (Self-released). On his Western Conference mixtape hosted by DJ Bedz, Spoke In Wordz spits with undeniable authority. Brimming with bravado and coated with a venomous vitriol, Spoke's freestyle fury is as compelling as his cadence -- whether he's taking on other rappers or the media -- which makes even familiar beats seem fresh. -- Herrera 2012, The Party of the Revelucion (Self-released). Although mixtapes can be overdone, especially when the artists rhyme over borrowed beats, 2012 and DJ Psycho ensure this power-packed reggaeton tape is far from boring. With dope single after dope single, this mixtape never has a slow moment, which accounts for the much-deserved local buzz it has garnered for the group. -- Nicole Cormier VibeSquaD, The Fire (VibeSquad Recordings). The tracks on glitch-hop/mid-tempo/psychedelic bass producer VibeSquaD's The Fire are layered in flawless arrangements, and VibeSquaD (aka Aaron Holstein) utilizes his keen sense of dynamics, playing with breaky beats and moments of silence in turn. The precise complexity of Holstein's production is approachable and strong, guaranteed to set glitch-hop fans aflame. -- Amber Taufen Young Cities, Young Cities (Self-released). Soaring, anthemic and polished, the self-titled debut from the band formerly known as Hearts Like Lions is brimming with radio-friendly songs that start hushed before giving way to explosive choruses. Beneath the polished package, true sentiment lies, allowing for a musical depth rarely heard these days on modern-rock radio. -- Andy Thomas
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