Dec 242011

Playing catch-up? Read part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Okay, okay. I know I said the Top Picks would be announced yesterday…sorry about that. It’s the holidays, and I do have  a family. ‘Nuff said. :)

As I mentioned before, I’m listing some of my favorite Denver acts and songs for 2011. Up until now, pretty much all the songs on the list have been in random order, but to finish off the series, I’ve saved my three Top Picks for last–the songs that stood out even beyond the standouts.

I initially was going to do this series as a Top 10 from least to greatest, but decided to do it this way because I just had too many favorites to rank them in order. (On a Top 10 list, these three songs would have all tied for first place, leaving only a bottom seven…and that wouldn’t have worked.) 😀

So without further delay…here are my Top Picks among the Denver Locals for 2011.

Stephanie Mabey: “Zombie Song”

A love song about zombies? On the Top Picks? You betchee. You’d think this song would just be a fun fluke, but it just happens to be the wittiest, hookiest, funniest, most clever, most funnest zombie song I have ever heard. Never mind the mixed metaphors about vampires in love–this song is just too cool. I actually had the opportunity to hear this song played for a panel of industry pros at the Durango Songwriter’s Expo, and watching the reaction of the group was almost as fun as the song itself. Stephanie Mabey’s full-length record isn’t due out until early January, but the single was released just in time for Halloween–happily making it eligible for the list.


Churchill: “Change”

Yes, for those who are paying attention, Churchill already has a song on this list. Churchill has had a really good year–releasing a solid debut CD, opening for DeVotchKa at The Ogden, and recently winning the KTCL Hometown for the Holidays competition with their new single “Change,” released just this month. Current, catchy, and just plain cool, this song is a whole other direction for Churchill, and a huge leap forward, in my opinion. After hearing this tune, I simply had to make room for it on the Top Picks.



Rachel James:  “Not Giving Up”


From the moment I heard this song by pop/rock artist Rachel James, I knew it had to be at or near the top of my list. What can I say–I’m a sucker for a great hook, and this song has the strongest hook I’ve heard from Denver musicians all year. Anytime I hear it, I seriously find myself replaying it in my head for about 24 hours afterward–not in an irritating “Moves Like Jagger” kind of way, but in a really good way. It always makes me smile when I see musical artists move forward–and with this song, Rachel James has made me smile a lot.

Rachel James “Not Giving Up”


So there it is–my list of the Best of Denver Locals 2011. Kudos to the artists of the Denver music scene for all the great music, and for giving me so much to write about this year.

Happy Holidays to all.

Dec 222011

My Body Sings Electric. (Photo: Brandon Whalen)


Wait! Read part 1 here…

…aaand part 2

I’m continuing to share my personal faves of 2011 from bands and artists in the Denver scene. These are in no particular order, except for the Top Picks which I’ll reveal in the next post. Meanwhile, here are a couple of additional contenders.


My Body Sings Electric: “Step Into the Light”

This band impresses me with their complex rhythms and tight arrangements–My Body Sings Electric is a solid group of musicians, to say the least. The single from this year’s release Changing Color is “Step Into the Light.” Not only is it quite hooky, but the searing guitar solo near the end floors me every time, and was enough on its own to land this song on my list.


Places: “The Fire”

A latecomer to the list, pop/rock outfit Places just released a new record called No More Wasted Days. It’s so new, in fact, that it’s currently only available digitally, with a hard-copy release coming in January. “The Fire,” the first single from the record, really stood out to me, so I made room for it on the list. I’m looking forward to interviewing these guys after the holidays.

The only current streaming I could find for the single was their YouTube vid, so here it is:

NEXT UP: In the closing post tomorrow on Best of the Denver Locals, I’ll reveal my three Top Picks for the year–the standouts among the standouts.

Dec 212011

Take to the Oars. (Photo: Lucia de Giovanni)

Continuing our recap of some of the best music to come out of Denver this year…here are a couple more of my personal picks for this year’s standouts.

Take to the Oars: “Bar Talk”

After rocking Denver for several years under the moniker “Vonnegut,” indie-rockers Take to the Oars took a risk and lunged into uncharted waters in 2011 with a name change and a new album (reviewed here). I’ve seen these guys play a few times this year, and I’ve been particularly impressed with the passion behind their music, as well as their solid work ethic. After having their tunes in my shuffle for the better part of this year, this song is the one that stands out as the most memorable.

Take to the Oars: “Bar Talk”


Churchill: “Happy Sad”

I’ve made it no secret that I’ve had a serious blogger crush on Churchill since I first heard them play two years ago, and I’ve heard them do nothing but improve and grow since then. Their first full-length record Happy/Sad was released in February (read my review here), I’ve been enjoying tunes from it all year. I was all set to list their main single from the album, “Miles,” but at the last minute I went with the title track at the end of the record, because of the raw emotion in it. They definitely saved the best for last.

Churchill: “Happy Sad”

Still more great bands to come! Stay tuned…

Dec 202011

Denver act I'm With Her. (Photo: Lucia de Giovanni)

It’s no secret that while I spotlight music from all over the world on this blog, I’m a particular fan of the Denver music scene. I’ve covered the music scene here for for a couple of years, and I’ve become friends with a lot of the local talent–and we do have some great talent here, IMHO.

So…’tis the season for end-of-the-year lists, and I thought I’d jump onto the wagon this year by sharing a few of the Denver bands/songs I thought were standouts for 2011. I initially thought I’d just do a Top 10 list or something, but I found it a bit difficult to place certain songs above others–too many “ties”–so I thought the best way not to slight anyone was just to list them in no particular order (except for a couple of honorable mentions at the end of this series), and share them in a series of four parts. So if you’re part of a Denver band and you’re on this list, know that this means you’ve earned my respect, regardless of where you appear on the list. And if you’re not on the list–chances are you still have my respect. I just had room for 10. :)

That said, here are some basic criteria I set up to be eligible for this list. If a local band met these criteria, I considered them for the list:

1. It had to be a band/artist from the Front Range area (i.e., Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins, Co. Springs).

2. I had to be familiar with the band/artist. (Duh.)

3. The song had to be released (either as a single or part of a project) in 2011.

4. I had to be able to access the song for sharing/streaming.

Fair enough, right? So…here are the first three of my picks for the Best of Denver Locals 2011:

The Heyday: “Somebody to Someone”

Pop/rock outfit The Heyday has been a staple in Denver for several years, regularly placing at or near the top in local band competitions. This single was released a few weeks ago as an entry in KTCL’s annual Hometown for the Holidays competition, and in my opinion it is their best work to date–so it comes in as a last-minute favorite for the year.


Wire Faces: “Cloak and Dagger”

I haven’t had a chance to see Wire Faces live yet, but I was impressed with their record (which I reviewed here earlier this year)–and this song in particular has stayed in my head, and on my ipod, pretty much since.


I’m With Her: “Let Me In”

When Denver country-folk artist Angie Stevens teamed up with Haley E. Rydell (formerly of South Dakota, recently moved to Denver) to form I’m With Her earlier this year, I immediately liked the chemistry and the vibe. This tune has been my personal fave on their EP (reviewed here), and stayed on my playlist all year long.


More to come over the next few days! Stay tuned…