Music News

Moovers and Shakers 2012: Backbeat writers praise the year's best local albums

When most people thought of the music coming out of Denver this past year, odds are they thought about the Lumineers – with good reason. The outfit had a banner year: From being certified gold on the strength of a breakthrough single and garnering a pair of Grammy nominations, to ending 2012 as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live and headlining two nights at the Ogden, the band has come a long way in a relatively short time. It wasn't all that long ago that the Lumineers were playing to humble crowds at the Meadowlark, just like many of the acts below. While these artists haven't yet gained the level of acclaim the Lumineers are currently enjoying, they're worthy of the same attention. These local musicians put out some of our favorite music made anywhere this year. — Dave Herrera

See also: Backbeat writers sound off on the year's best national albums

A Boy and His Kite, A Boy and His Kite (Self-released). Up until now, Dave Wilton has been mostly working behind the scenes at St. Ida's, a studio in Lafayette owned by members of the Autumn Film. Audaciously stepping out on his own with A Boy and His Kite, Wilton absolutely soars with an intelligent batch of gentle yet affecting songs that are as thoughtful as they are tuneful. — Dave Herrera

AG Flux, Scenic Exchange (Self-released). All of the Black Mask albums that came out this year have their merits, but AG Flux's Scenic Exchange has a musical progression and continuity that makes his album special. For nearly an hour, he has you in his world with his classic sound and captivating lyrics. — Noah Hubbell

Bad Weather California, Sunkissed (Family Tree). While most bands were looking to sound vintage in 2012, Bad Weather California remained in the present, delivering a straight, elegantly produced summer party album. Soulful yet accessible, emotionally rich yet debaucherously freewheeling, Sunkissed will be remembered as one of the great warm-night record selections, a backyard-barbecue soundtrack in the tradition of The Chronic, 40 Oz. to Freedom and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. — Josiah Hesse

BLKHRTS, CHRCH (Self-released). One of a string of releases from BLKHRTS early in the year, CHRCH encapsulates the crew's appeal. From the pounding kick and heart-swelling organ opening of "Dirt, Money & Friends" to the early-morning introspection of "The Water," it's gruff, dark, honest and powerful, and it easily transcends any notion of hip-hop expectations. — Patrick Rodgers

The Bronze, Snake Oil (Self-released). Like Dio-era Black Sabbath trimmed to the essentials without skimping on the kick or bite, the Bronze offers crunchy and fiery guitar work on songs about the devil, personal demons, cosmic peril and overcoming adversity with the sheer force of your rebellious spirit. Rarely has this sort of thing sounded more legitimate than cartoonish. — Tom Murphy

Calder's Revolvers, Steady by Your Side (Self-released). Driven by muscular riffs and bass lines and fueled by Andy Schneider's powerhouse vocals, this is a glorious and rewarding listening experience from beginning to end. A perfect blend of rock and soul, Steady is easily one of the best albums of the year. — Herrera

Centimani, Aegaeon (Dark Millennium Records). One of the most bracing metal albums of the year comes from a band based in the most unlikely of places: Boulder. Seamlessly welding together elements of black and death metal as though they were always meant to be conjoined, Centimani electrifies on Aegaeon with perfectly orchestrated menace, deftly recorded by Steve Goldberg of Cephalic Carnage. — Herrera

Myke Charles, Lift Off (Self-released). The title and associated cover art for the debut mixtape from Myke Charles couldn't be more fitting. Lift Off effectively launched Charles as a rapper to be reckoned with in his own right, aside from the exposure he gained through The Sing-Off on NBC as a member of the Urban Method and, before that, as Purpose from the Fresh Breath Committee. — Herrera

Chimney Choir, (ladder) (Self-released). Enjoyable as a set of warmly delicate, well-crafted Americana pop songs or as an accessible, high-concept experimental album, (ladder) bridges the gap between the editing of a studio recording and the spontaneity of a live performance. Here, Chimney Choir liberally experiments with sound and its many possibilities and uses. — Murphy

DJ K-Tone, Left Lane Music (Self-released). DJ K-Tone merges into the fast lane with his latest release. A collection of some of the best artists Colorado has to offer, as well as established national artists like E-40, Young Joc and Big K.R.I.T., Left Lane is full of viral street classics like Tone Skarfo's "I'm Fresh" and Esi Juey's "Bring Me the Chalupa." — Antonio Valenzuela

Dale Bruning Trio, Just Between Us (Jazz Link Enterprises). Recorded over two nights at Dazzle, Just Between Us finds guitarist Dale Bruning in fine form, performing again with former student Bill Frisell twelve years after the two released the live duo album Reunion. A lot of these cuts are laid-back and understated, a hallmark of both Bruning's and Frisell's style. — Jon Solomon

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