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Heavy Diamond Ring heads up strong batch of northern Colorado releases 

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When Denver’s Paper Bird fragmented two years ago, many wondered whether Sarah Anderson and Paul DeHaven could resurrect a new band on its ashes. Heavy Diamond Ring’s debut at MeadowGrass in May convinced skeptics, and their self-titled album (HDR/Bandcamp) reinforces the new band’s power.

While new members add much weight, Anderson’s vocals carry the day, ranging from a delicate whisper akin to Joy Williams, to a full-throated country sound in “Find Myself” and “Wild Things.” Denver summer releases also include a new EP from power-pop favorites Oxeye Daisy, They Say You’re a Demon (Oxeye Daisy Music), with a luscious, summery sound with hints of The Sundays, salted with strong rocking tracks like “Beth” and the stunning cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.”

Farther north, Greeley-based Jaquita Straw has created an alt-country gem with her band Jackie and the Racket. The EP Goal Digger (Jaquita Straw Records) carries the promise of a new pioneer in Colorado juke joint music. Also impressive in the metro Denver area are the folk-country stylings of Kelly Augustine. Her debut album Light in the Lowlands (CEN/The Orchard) delivers one lyrical miracle after another, from the droll “Debbie” to the heartbreaking “Hurt Too Big.”

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