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

Categories: Music News


Take to the Oars, American Volume (Self-released). Since forming in 2005 and later changing their name from Vonnegut, the members of Take to the Oars have tightened up considerably over the years, as demonstrated by the songs on American Volume. Plodding basslines lay a solid foundation for muscular riffs to build up a head of steam from which singer-guitarist Ryan Gombeski draws from to power his focused and earnest delivery. -- Herrera

Tennis, Cape Dory (Fat Possum). Led by the reverb-drenched guitar work of Patrick Riley and the sturdy vocals and organ playing of Alaina Moore, Tennis produced a pleasing, no-frills blend of retro pop that inspired a tidal wave of attention that crested with the release of Cape Dory, which, hyperbole aside, proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable record. -- Herrera

Thrifty Astronaut, Apple Eaters (Act So Big Forest/Woodstack Records). Unaffected earnestness is a rare trait these days, but these songs, while well-composed pop ditties, are performed with such an unabashed slackery and rawness that they immediately draw you in with their awkward charm. Like the output of Half-Japanese, paeans to teenage love included, Apple Eaters tones the punk down and turns the ramshackle vibe way up. ― Murphy

Tollund Men, Demo 1 (Self-released). Like a post-apocalyptic version of Cabaret Voltaire, the music of Tollund Men is akin to grainy, forbidden transmissions from a secret bunker in a former Soviet republic. The songs have a lo-fi grittiness that give them a sound both scrappily robust and bitingly industrial. Think of it as dance music for a cyberpunk version of "The Waste Land." -- Murphy

Vale of Pnath, Prodigal Empires (Willowtip). Prodigal Empire is the full-length followup to Vale of Pnath's 2009 self-titled debut, and the recorded introduction of vocalist Ken Serafin, who replaced the act's original singer, David Lercher. Prodigal finds the dudes playing mind-meltingly complex metal that's every bit as ferocious as before, with the added menace of Serafin's more guttural vocals. -- Herrera

Varlet, The Drifter (Self-released). The Drifter has a timelessness like some forgotten gem from the era when Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt were alive and directly infiltrated the DNA of popular music. Lilly Scott's voice has an ineffable classic quality, and the masterful musicianship on these songs helps it shine brightly. -- Murphy

Vices I Admire, Venom and Pride (Self-released). Venom and Pride stands as a new creative step for Vices I Admire, an outfit that's seen its share of transition and drama in the past three years. The first release fully written and composed with onetime Fray bassist Dan Battenhouse, the EP spotlights a new degree of maturity in songwriting and lyrical themes from singer Dave Curtis. Songs like "The Union" and "Hero" are heartfelt and complex, stirring and stinging in their earnestness. ― Goldstein

Wheelchair Sports Camp, Lo-Fi Mixed Tape (Self-released). Kalyn Heffernan has a charm that's nearly impossible resist. Rapping with a delicate voice distinctive to her on her Lo-Fi Mixed Tape, she showcases a deliberate and assured flow over beats built on an array of samples of everyone from Radiohead and Beatles to Pretty Lights and the Beastie Boys. Until the WSC crew gets around to dropping another release, this gem should more than tide you over. -- Herrera

Wil Guice and DJ Ktone, R&Beast (Self-released). Wil Guice uses his golden tone on this mixtape to bring an R&B touch to rap songs. The Kanye and Jay-Z track "HAM" gets a makeover with Guice's vocals and different lyrics, while the recording's original material showcases the crooner's creative-writing side. DJ Ktone brings the hip-hop-DJ feel while Guice maintains the soulful side of things. R&Beast is a solid project and collaborative effort. -- Johnson

Woodsman, Rare Forms (Lefse). Beginning with the immediately arresting "Insects," on Rare Forms Woodsman take us on a trip through landscapes surrounded by shining psychedelia passages processed through krautrock drones and experimental electronic music. Imbued with a sense of wonderment, this is the sound of a band fully able to surprise itself as well as its audience. -- Murphy

Yo, Sextape (Self-released). Yo (aka Yonnas Abraham) has outdone himself on the first release in the BLKHRTS solo trilogy, Sextape. Naturally, the themes on the project deal with vulnerability and self-exposure, but, frankly, few are actually about sex, save for the explicit "Sybian." Yo frequently recasts himself as whoever he wants to be, and he does so with grace, style and more charisma than most. -- Johnson

Zome, Z-Funk Era (Self-released). Zome of the Diamond Boiz dropped one of the funkiest hip-hop releases of the year with Z-Funk Era. With artwork and a title that nods to Warren G's mid '90s album, Regulate...G Funk Era, Zome gets his groove on with beats built on an array of classic jams by acts like the Gap Band and Fred Wesley and features by fellow Diamonds, Dyalekt and Ze, and others, and cuts by Deejay Tense. -- Herrera

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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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