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Best of 22 from 303 Magazine: Music Edition

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Year-end lists are fast approaching a blight on the written world, but they still have a certain appeal. That calling lies in gratitude – these aren’t just lists, they’re love letters. Sweet words and whispers in hopes of capturing an iota of the sparkle that got us through another trying year. To the musicians featured here (and the plethora of those who aren’t), thank you for all you do and all you create. We music nerds wouldn’t get the chance to fume and rave – let alone create our own art by writing about yours – almost as much if it wasn’t for you.

But as we look to all the sublime music to come from the Denver scene in 2023, let’s not forget this year’s biggest hits that have piqued our excitement so much. Of Charger 303‘s music desk to you, here are our picks for Denver’s best music in 2022.

Best Singles

Pink down. Photo by Roxanna Carrasco.

Pink Fuzz – “Jake’s Turn”

If 2018 speed demon was any indication, Pink Fuzz’s self-proclaimed style – “High-Speed ​​Desert Rock” – fits their creative bill. They tore through the Denver rock scene with reckless abandon, making a name for themselves as one of the best bands in town. In the years since their debut studio album, the trio have refined and matured their sound. Their double single, titled fading away, is a true testament to the comfort they gradually found in themselves. “Jake’s Turn”, the first of the pair, does not impose itself on the listener. The record is soft and reserved and serves as a resonant tribute to a dear friend of the band, Jacob Wright, who passed away in 2020. Lulu Demitro’s bass chords hum through the ether, racing alongside Forrest Raup’s drums. John Demitro’s voice is haunting and echoing, and hits a high note as he sings, “I really hope you know, you picked me up when I was low.” before making way for a posthumous guitar solo by Wright. “Jake’s Turn” serves as both a tribute to a dear friend and a reminder of his remarkable ability to convey emotion. — Carter setter

Laika Beats – “Only Now”

Denver-based producer Laika Beats released her most recent — and most intriguing — single “Only Now” on November 11 of this year. Laika’ has an incredible ability to create mind-blowing beats, each twisting and twisting in unique and unpredictable ways. “Only Now” demands attention. Breathy’s lyrics say, “There is no past, there is no future. Only now,” as the soundscape shifts and disappears beneath the listener. Put on your best headphones and buckle up to discover the Laika Beats discography. —Victoria Glidden

Fox Lake – “Gas Light”

Fox Lake, a nu metal/rapcore band, released their single “Gaslight” in July 2022. This band from Colorado brings high caliber talent to the hardcore scene, and “Gaslight” is the perfect example. The first minute will have you hooked while keeping you on your toes as it bounces between an intriguing audio sample, quality screams and hardcore hip-hop. The negative space in the first vent is clever, and the rap element is particularly captivating. The echo of “squeeze tight, gaslight” continues throughout the evolving track, sticking to the back of your mind. Wake up during your morning commute or refuel in the gym by turning this one on high. — April Dawn

Top Albums

Stone jackals. Photo by Julia von Dreele.

Neoma — Hyperreal

Neoma’s captivating second album, Hyperreal, is a stunning balancing act, navigating serious songwriting and ethereal production with experimental glee and semi-conceptual ideas. Traversing a romantic Rolodex of love, connection and feminist ideologies, Neoma successfully captures a sense of wanderlust in the modern age of technology – wandering through true love and internet adventures, through female difficulties and difficult awakenings. congruently, hyperreal explores a new sound for Neoma, accompanied by ambient synths and hyper-pop sounds from the modern and disco era. It’s a sonic love letter to the most influential female personalities in music history. like Donna Summer and Kate Bush as well as a tribute to modern pioneers like 070 Shake and FKA Twigs. —Logan Sasser

Tuff Bluff— poppies PE

Short through mighty, Tuff Bluff’s EP reigns supreme as it runs the gamut of emotional release. Sometimes fun, sometimes melancholic and sometimes chaotic, poppies is a jubilee. Uninhibited in its approach to life as it is heard through melodies and harmonies, this EP ignores what it “should” be: warm when it seeks lightness, pensive when numbness beckons. and lively when the world calls for sadness. Truly one of the best listening experiences of 2022. — Alex Kramer

Stone Jackals — Canopy chemical

The Stone Jackals album Canopy chemical is one of Colorado’s finest indie rock albums. It’s an amazing mix of psychedelic and new-age rock that was crafted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stone Jackals managed to produce a record that was both innovative and emotionally radiant. From the opening track to their closing notes, Canopy chemical takes listeners on a journey through the band’s musical vision, making it a must-have for fans of indie and psychedelic rock. —Andrew Venegas

Andy Thorn— Dawn Fox Songs

We love a good story of friendship, and this year saw an unexpected bloom between Boulder banjoist Andy Thorn and the infamous fox. “Foxy,” who had spent a lot of time hanging out in the Thorn Canyon backyard, ended up inspiring an entire album of the banjo player’s acoustic bluegrass tunes. Aptly named Dawn Fox Songs, the album is stripped down, homemade and as easy to listen to as the best bluegrass tends to be. Proving you can find inspiration from the weirdest muses, we loved seeing Thorn take a quirky detour from the norm this year and bond with this foxy friend. —Emma Jerry Polachek

Best Live Acts

N3ptune performing at UMS 2022. Photo by Roxanna Carrasco.

Polly Urethane

It’s rare that a scene wielding a single performer can capture the attention of an entire audience, but that’s exactly the power of Denver’s Polly Urethane. During her first Hi-Dive performance for Sloppy Jane this fall, the singing siren’s gospel melodies mesmerized the crowd of onlookers. But it’s not just the music that dominates during a Polly Urethane performance. The urethane moves frantically from the stage to the pit to the floor and back again. Sheaths of black hair paint the floor as high notes erupt to haunting melodies continuing from the abandoned stage. There is emotion in this work and there is no shortage of it. —Alex Kramer

Shaded oaks

The bustling streets of UMS couldn’t stop the crowds from cramming the narrow halls of Stoney’s Cantina to see Shady Oaks this summer – the rock band that took them off Broadway by the ears. As soon as the band took the corner stage, it was clear the packed house was in for a treat. The energetic performance was a whirlwind of jovial chaos and muted vibrations that shook the walls. It was a truly unforgettable sight that left everyone in attendance wanting more – the perfect setting to energize them for the follow-up album release of Shady Oaks’ 2022 album. MAD. —Andrew Venegas

Mr Mota

For years, Boulder has served as a hub for all things “mountain rock” – an umbrella term that spans the spectrum of jam, folk and blues rock. To say that, in the year of our lord 2022, this scene is indeed lost, would be a disservice to the incredible talent hard at work in Boulder. To say, however, that the academic community has shifted its attention away from the genre and towards more glitchy electronic music is indisputable. It didn’t take Mr. Mota long to change that. Over the past two years, the band has combined elements of the three aforementioned rock subgenres, gathering packed crowds in beer gardens, backyards and, most notably, Boulder’s Fox Theater for graduation. of 2022. Juniors, seniors, adults and music lovers danced the night away to a roundup of never-before-seen music, comedy setlist staples, a saxophone performance by Danny Lerman (a renowned player and uncle of bassist Ari Lerman and keyboardist Max Lerman) and finally, an impromptu “Freebird” outro that blew off the roof of the legendary 13th Street music hall. — Carter setter

discos

As EDM continues to grow in popularity, more and more variations of the style permeate the Denver music scene, Disco Lines, or Thaddeus Labuszewski, is a prime example of this renaissance. Taking their retro disco beats across the country this year, Disco Lines have skyrocketed in the music world. This fall, the Ogden packed up for their legendary homecoming performance. Disco Lines brings goofy personality to intricate beats and remixes that kept Denver fans going until 2 a.m. Creative energy oozes from every track and Disco Lines made sure their visuals and crowd interactions did too. For his next pit stop in Denver, he’s a must-have for those with tastes ranging from dubstep to Taylor Swift. —Victoria Glidden

Andrea Gibson

Denver’s poetry scene often intersects with the music scene, resulting in a unique artistic experience. Andrea Gibson is a legendary spoken word poet who has resided in Boulder since 1999. They are known for their melodic cadence, jaw-dropping raw words, and heart-on-sleeve attitude. Gibson performed at the Chautauqua Auditorium with cellist Zoe Keating in June last year. It was their first time on stage in over two years after the show was repeatedly postponed. Gibson was diagnosed with Stage II ovarian cancer in 2021, and the gratitude for their long-awaited return was warm and thick in the air. If you’ve never been to the Chautauqua Auditorium, know that this is a place like no other. This indoor venue is inside a historic barn built in 1898. The privacy of the barn combined with the abundance of nature was the perfect environment for Gibson to reconnect with fans. The emotion in their performance was raw and intense, yet humble, hopeful and inviting. The barn felt like home and the crowd felt like family. — April Dawn

N3ptune

There’s a good show, then there’s incorporating a live performance. N3ptune, a genre artist who explores soundscapes ranging from R&B and synth-wave to rock ‘n’ roll and rap, is the latter. Everything from N3ptune’s flamboyant costumes and his theatrical approach to musical performance, to his grand entrances and wild energy on stage with his creative partner, Rusty Steve, contributes to one of the best live experiences in the music industry. the music – period. —Logan Sasser



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