Best of Denver

The 31 Best Colorado Albums of 2014

Page 5 of 5

Ned Garthe Explosion, Teenage Acid Party (Self-released) This album's title track takes you on a wild trip that starts with innocently dropping LCD at a party and then melts down into a total freak out. Other issues explored here include the death of the Ramones and that awkward moment when you light a house on fire with a group of people but can't remember their names after the fact. Part concept album and part garage-rock perfection, The Ned Garthe Explosion possess the musicianship and craft to take you down any part of the rabbit hole you want to explore - just don't expect them to help you back out of it. -- Thomas

Potato Pirates, Raised Better Than This (Self-released) The Denver music scene, by and large, is inclusive and inviting. On their latest release, the Potato Pirates set out to make it clear that they are neither of those things. Songs like "I Will Defend" and "Outta My City" warn that "hipster shit" is not welcome in their world. While these lyrics are mostly tongue-in-cheek, the band remains true to its punk-rock pedigree. Like Operation Ivy before them, the Pirates take the best parts of ska, street punk and pop punk to create a diverse and well-crafted record that you can't help but want to get closer to, even when the band is telling you to stay away. -- Thomas

Sara Century, Curiosity (Tinyamp Records) Like every Sara Century album, this one is unclassifiable. Describing it as lo-fi does capture how these songs are supposed to sound like diary-entry short stories, discovered posthumously as literary and musical curiosities. The way that Kenneth Anger films tap into a kind of subconscious understanding of urban and personal mythology, these songs have a fog-enshrouded sensibility, a dreamlike haze that imbues what might be everyday experiences an otherworldly quality. It's part Goth Julie Ruin, part Maya Deren, bizarre, unique and surprisingly accessible. -- Murphy

Safe Boating Is No Accident, Bonus Features (Self-released) The new LP from Leighton Peterson and Neil McCormack is a fun time all around. It's actually hard to understand why the song "Lover Undercover" isn't playing constantly on every radio station, it's that catchy. The rest of the tracks are just as upbeat, all bursting with energy and emotion. There are so many bands out there trying to do the weirdest or strangest thing they can, so something as simple as Bonus Features comes off as refreshing and familiar, in the best way possible. It took the group two years of releases for this full-length, and we hope it doesn't take another two years to hear from them again. -- Jones

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Totem (Self-released) There are no clear choruses or catchy hooks. Instead, this is a record with a pulse. It fluctuates, recedes and then lunges forward suddenly. Hayley's vocals are more than compelling enough to carry the listener through, but this is miles away from the band's debut, which sent danceable sensibilities and catchy melodies through a macabre filter ... Totem is still capable of making people move, but this time it's almost ritualistic, with Hayley singing incantations, repeating the same phrases as beats swell and fade behind her. "I root for the antelope, I root for the lion," she whispers over and over in "Versus," while drums and bass slowly build. While the album is very much a group effort, the result comes across as personal and private, the work of a fanged, five-headed beast. -- Jones

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.