Moovers & Shakers 2011: The complete list of our favorite local releases from the past year

Categories: Features

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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

Serious Moonlight, Serious Moonlight (Self-released). With a name borrowed from David Bowie and quivering croon and a dialed back sound that conjures Conor Oberst, Alan Andrews, a few of the Photo Atlas dudes show an altogether different side of themselves on this debut release from this side project, which also includes Donny Rosentrater and Dave Pinto. The results are every bit as tuneful as you might imagine. -- Herrera

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

Slakjaw, Bumcore (Self-released). The term "bumcore" pretty much sums up what Slakjaw is all about. Singing about trains and whiskey and injecting a punk fervor into their foot-stomping bluesy honky-tonk hybrid, Slakjaw plays music that's dusty, gritty and feels like it's decades old. So it's fitting that these modern-day hobos use the term as the title for their latest five-song EP. ― Solomon

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

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Sineater (Greater Than). Of all the local albums released this year, Sineater was perhaps the most feverishly anticipated -- and Snake Rattle Rattle Snake delivered. From Ravi Zupa's stellar cover art to the thick, pall-like clouds these ten songs conjure with their angular guitar lines over pulsing bass and powerful percussion and Hayley Helmericks' enthralling vocals, Sineater is absolutely riveting. -- Herrera

SP Double and Focus, Lethal Weapon (Self-released). A truly collaborative effort, Lethal Weapon was recorded entirely over iChat by SP Double and Focus and finds the two trading verses, bringing the heat over each other's beats. Check for "@#$! The Radio," an indictment of inferior rappers, in which SP goes in on the so-called "culture vultures" and blasts their "bubble-gum, mumbling, plastic bullshit." -- Herrera

Spires, EP (Patient Sounds). On EP, its auspicious four-song debut, Spires plays as though the past two decades and some change had never happened. With breathy vocals and deliberate arrangements, Spires inhabits the textured guitar-driven landscape once occupied by bands like the 77's. Of all this year's freshly minted acts, Spires proved to be one of the most promising, and this first release instantly earned repeated listens. -- Herrera

Spoke In Wordz, Beautiful Dead (Self-released). Spoke's Beautiful Dead mixtape, released to coincide with Día de Los Muertos, sounds like a hip-hop prayer of resurrection. The opening poem, performed by Casey Whirl, is a timeline of hip-hop history, while the title track, produced by Es-Nine of Prime Element, showcases Spoke's tenacious rhymes. A fine piece of work, indeed. -- Johnson

Sole & the Skyrider Band, Hello Cruel World (Fake Four). Not mere spleen-venting, these thirteen tracks are succinct and poignant commentaries on the diminished conditions and expectations of America below the top socioeconomic rung. They have a surprisingly commercial sound, but that's probably the only way the good medicine of their message can be palatable to the unconverted. -- Murphy

The Sunshine House, The Sunshine House (Self-released). The Sunshine House is one of those bands whose comet-like trajectory will be fondly remembered by those who were lucky enough to have witnessed it. The Fort Collins-based act appeared, burned brightly for a very short time and then abrubtly burned out this past August. Luckily the dearly departed group left behind a splendid six-song, self-titled EP to remember it by. -- Herrera

Surplus Cheaper Hands Collective, It's Your Parade (Self-released). Songwriter and guitarist Russ Christiansen got a little help from his friends on It's Your Parade, a grounded and folksy release that benefits from a communal approach. The Hollyfelds' Tim Mallot, Robert "Goose" Guzman (Mighty 18 Wheeler), the New Ben Franklins' David DeVoe, John Waggoner and many others appear on the recording, and their diverse skills and styles shine on tunes like "Restless Heart" and "Self Portrait." ― Goldstein

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3 comments
KidHum
KidHum

My favorite Rap album of the year was probably Turner Jackson's "My Heart Needs Space". 

Curt Wallach
Curt Wallach

Two of the best, if not the two best, Denver releases this year were Speedwolf's "Ride With Death" and Pink Hawks' "Shima."

Get it together, for Tebow's sake.

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