Local Music Reviews

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American Hollow
Screaming Into The Void
Street: 02.29
American Hollow = Explosions in the Sky + Pink Floyd + Mastodon
American Hollow offers an eerie blend of progressive rock and raspy, Eddie Vedder-esque vocals on their self-released EP. The background synths are darkly encompassing and help to fill their sound. These guys are undoubtedly talented guitarists. However, their sporadic changes in guitar chords and overall rhythm—sometimes metal and other times rock—left me confused as to what sound they really want to own. Then again, the heavy metal closing section on “Say, Is It Really True?” is especially charging. “Bonfire of Myth: Prologue” is literally a ghostly sermon backed by the sound of creeping guitar chords—something that might play in your head if you were lost, wandering in the desert, void of any influence and open to the reality of mankind’s errors. American Hollow has a message to share and is spreading their word at americanhollowband.com. –Justin Gallegos

Street: 05.04
Blackhole = The Jesus Lizard + Earth – Spirit Caravan
This 40-minute live set is a slow burner—one long track of stripped-down, deep grooves from a psychedelic ensemble. Bombarding you with seemingly endless buildup toward a minimal climax, you have to pass that first crest before they start hitting their stride. Somewhere between a slow, experimental western soundtrack and teenage jam band practice, this live recording’s meandering, bottomed-out bass might drive away those unwilling to spend eight minutes waiting for a song to get going. In fact this live recording was never slated for an official release, just passed out to fans who attended a Burt’s Tiki Lounge show earlier this year. Since then, the band has broken up, solidiying this recording as audible time capsule of what one was.  –Henry Glasheen

Charles Ellsworth and the Dirty Thirty
Street: 03.16
Charles Ellsworth and the Dirty Thirty = Chuck Ragan + Ryan Adams + 16 Horsepower
This Arizona transplant has created a record full of sorrowful tunes that seems to organically flow from within himself. Gentle in his approach, each song is as thoughtful in its songwriting as it is in its production. One that stood out for me was “These Desert Nights,” which builds a picture of the lost feeling that Ellsworth himself has surely had while spending time in his native land. It’s obvious with all the different musicians that play on it, the vision for this record is on a larger scale. It’s still easy to hear that the beginnings of each track were struck out by one man and his acoustic guitar. Gentle and genuine are how I would describe this record, and I enjoy that. –James Orme

DJ RoboRob
An Aria Electronic
Street Date: 06.01
DJ RoboRob = Skrillex + Kaskade + Alesso
I was pleasantly surprised by how well produced this album was.  DJ RoboRob is a local Salt Lake City DJ that you can find throwing the sickest electronic music you’ll ever hear at the Metro every Friday. Having been a producer for quite some time now, An Aria Electronica is his first EP, and he knocked it out of the park. Tantalizing synths, smart layering, amazing samples and hypnotic drums that melt beautifully into my ears are felt throughout the EP’s entirety. “Clockwork” made me feel as if I was in some faraway land battling for Earth’s survival against evil cyborgs who could only be destroyed by the bass—it was epic! “Paragon” made me drop it low and do the worm in my living room! This album is seriously too good to not have. Thankfully, DJ RoboRob is currently offering it up for free on his Facebook page, so I suggest you get it immediately before he realizes it’s too good to give away! –Mama Beatz

Draize Method
Now More than Never
Street: 04.28
Draize Method = D.O.A. + Bold + D.R.I.
Slamming out legit hardcore—literally from the ’80s—Draize Method and their onstage socks n’ sandals represent a bygone era that has come back to haunt us. The band namely hashes out D-beat punk with natural, mid-level vocal aggression and thrashy chugs, such as in “Fear.” They do, however, add an Agent Orange-esque element in “Myself” and “Mantra,” where vocalist Dan Fonoti sings in a ghostlike voice and then breaks into throaty wailing. Guitarist Todd Kirk adds in some melodic metal elements to his riffing on “Inside,” which demonstrates that Draize Method are seasoned musicians who take on the unpretentious tenets of punk, but inject their songs with shots of rock n’ roll prowess. “Huddled Masses” slows the pace, but Fonoti takes this as an opportunity to bellow harder, and allow Kirk to bust out some dirty leads. “Look Out!” is my favorite track. This release pulverizes and Draize Method rules live, so get this. –Alexander Ortega

Dusk Raps
Throw Away The Key
Street: 06.29
Dusk Raps = MindState + The Numbs + Burnell Washburn
Throw Away The Key is the new full-length solo release from local hip hop mainstay Dusk One. Having been a member of MindState and collaborated on several shorter releases with Fisch Loops, amongst other projects, Dusk has been defining the scene—it was only a matter of time before he branched out of state and made his presence felt nationally. Most of the beats are produced by California native Pen Pointz, but several producers and other emcees throw their backwards hats into the mix, including Ogden legend Linus Stubbs, Fisch Loops, Finale Grand and rapper Ubiquitous. The result is a record full of dusty samples and tight drums where the unifying sound is Dusk’s unique, gravelly flow. A little more soulful than other releases, Dusk is clearly coming into his own, unafraid to sing as well as rap while in total control of the sound. This record is a must for fans of the local scene and kids who want to get on board before this guy hits it big. This release is available for listen and purchase at duskone.bandcamp.com, check it out! –Rio Connelly

No Absolutes In
Human Suffering
Black Market Activities
Street: 07.31
GAZA = Converge + Acid Bath + Coalesce
Salt Lake’s own grind-metal heroes have kicked their game up to some intense new heights with this record. Familiar elements of the previous albums prevail: the discordant insanity, the rib-smashing riffs, the harsh, grating screams from some lower bowel of hell. On top of this chaotic primordial soup, the band has planted layers of matured, rhythmic, doom-metal moments that feel like coming up for air before you drown. It’s a powerful and tension-building mash-up. “This We Celebrate” is a prime example of this excellent tempo change at work. Lyrically, they tackle their usual suspects of religious and social issues plaguing the world in their true, take-no-prisoners style. The album feels, even more than their past work, full of madness and depressive atmosphere, like a raging tempest of black clouds. When it’s over, all you want to do is jump back in. That’s fucking musicianship. –Megan Kennedy

Slasher Mini Records
Street: 05.21
Inland = Pirouette + Street Smart Cyclist
With noodly, undistorted guitar lines and constant high hat in the forefront showcasing emotional vocals and thinly veiled romantic lyrics, Inland sounds exactly how I’d imagine Kickball did in high school. The opening track “Diamonds & Dinosaur Bones” and “I Love You, I Love You, Etc.” are a bit sappy, but the former remains charming. The highlight is definitely the closing track “Fingernails,” where it seems they found their energy and lost their dejection—more pep and Modest Mouse string bends, and less high school love poetry. I think that this EP is a fun listen, and a very good start, but there are definitely some kinks to work out. –Cody Hudson

Kristen Nelson
Out of My Hands
Street: 05.04
Kristen Nelson = Christina Perry + Taylor Swift + Norah Jones
Beautiful, soulful melodies with drawn- out, twangy vocals comprise the majority of this seven-song EP/album, and a dash of pop helps keep it current and catchy. Kristen Nelson, originally hailing from Washington, brought the melancholy vibe often associated with her homestate to Utah. With a collection of some of our finest musicians and the help of several studios in town, including Jackman Studios and Metcom, Nelson has produced a serene debut album that she should be proud of. It would fit right in on the radio between Zooey Deschanel and Jewel without a hiccup. I’m sure young, indie-loving kiddos will happily load it into their playlists once they stumble upon her tunes when she’s playing a live show around town. I’ll be looking forward to what she’s up to next. –Ischa B.

Markham Sound
Days of Innocence
Street: 10.31.09
Markham Sound = Dave Matthews + Tenacious D
At first, I didn’t know if this was a serious attempt to create an album, but I quickly realized it’s some kind of blend between comedy and music. The album opens with the tune “Mom & Dad,” with a chorus that rambles off a list of bands, “Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Seals and Croft, Three Dog Night, Chuck Berry, Sly and the Family Stone.” The next tune, aptly titled, “The Led Zeppelin Song,” is comprised almost entirely of the band’s song titles. Near the end of the album is the Pete Seeger-esqe folk song, “Don’t Blow Up Yourself,” which begins with the line, “This one goes out to the terrorists,” and the lyrics go on to say, “I heard that you’ve been thinking about blowing yourself up, but I got some advice before you do. Please could you do it way over there so nobody blows up with you.” –Jory Carroll

Mechanical Skies
Wielder of Wonder
Street: 05.29
Mechanical Skies = Suicidal Tendencies + Sugartooth + Neil Young
This five-song EP continues the journey of Mechanical Skies, following their first release in 2010. Exploring the three members’ influences, which they list as ranging from Jimi Hendrix to All-American Rejects, this material has a definitive classic rock undertone throughout. The material ranges from light and mildly funky to heavy and guitar-driven, and of the range I personally prefer their execution of the former. “Cold” has that kind of light-weight bouncy quality—it’s funky and catchy. The production on this release seemed a bit better than on their previous album, and as they keep working I’m sure it will only get better and better. –Ischa B.

Mr. Richter
Street: 06.09
Mr. Richter = Cauldron + Dio + Spellcaster’s vocals
I’m all about the classic heavy metal revival. Mr. Richter join the mêlée of Utah’s virtuosic-vocal NWOBHM with their debut, six-song EP, where they find a good portion of their heavy metal niche with elegiac songs including opener “Mr. Richter,” which pounds along at a heavy, steady pace set by drummer Tyler Russell, along with chuggy guitars that blast in and out of dual harmony from both guitarists. Where the band really shines, though, is when they speed up, as in “Gargoyle,” where the dirge bounces into a catchy yet dark chorus of a stonéd beast, and sonorous breakdowns snag back onto the main theme where the guitars work in technical switch-offs from muted-chords that spiral into melody. Other than perhaps not projecting to his full potential, vocalist Brandon Richter kills it in closer “Coward,” and lead guitarist Phee Richter shreds that axe in hammer-on verses and a killer solo. This EP is an impeccable start for a local metal outfit. –Alexander Ortega

The New Electric Sound
Street: 06.26
The New Electric Sound = The Beach Boys + The Kooks + Spoon
Whether it was serendipity or just savvy marketing, the debut album from Provo-based surf-rockers The New Electric Sound has arrived just in time for summer. Generally speaking, the words “surf-rockers” and “Provo” don’t jive with one another, but this album just might change that. It’s the type of music that screams to be blasted out of topless convertibles cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway as the sun lazily sets over the horizon. It’s also great for nursing the agony of unrequited love. Opening tracks “What if I Disappear” and “Suitcase” use the façade of polished guitar riffs to explore the heartache that comes from loving someone who is unaware of your existence. Despite frequent visits to lovelorn territory, The New Electric Sound’s debut remains sunny and exuberant without losing its bleach-blonde cool. –Alex Springer

Pleasure Thieves
The Empire Never Ended
Kilby Records
Street: 07.28
Pleasure Thieves = Murder City Devils + (Fugazi x Septic Death)
This band is practically a decade old, and this is their first LP. No, this album didn’t take ten years to produce—they’ve just been defunct for eight of those years. Six months ago, Pleasure Thieves finally reunified with their new adhesive and bassist, Lance Saunders. The Empire Never Ended is an engrossing fusion of grimy metal/punk and beer-sloshing bar rock. Using a keyboardist in lieu of a second guitarist, Pleasure Thieves manage to maintain momentum with stalwart chord progressions and locomotive percussion. Dave Combs’ impassioned growl (think Spencer Moody spackled with Tom Araya) quarterbacks the tracks very well, especially on “Black Heart.” This band has my best wishes and I’m looking forward to their releases in the future. And by future, I mean hopefully in fewer than eight years. –Gregory Gerulat

The Saintanne
Live at KRCL
Street: 06.01
The Saintanne = Owen + David Bazan
Listening to this EP, I can’t help but be reminded of the earlier days of Okkervil River and the vocals delivered by Will Sheff. These songs are best heard in an intimate setting with eyes closed to soak in the sounds as much as possible. Drenched in melancholy in a transformative way, vocalist Tom Bennett has a deep and catchy voice, reverberating to make echoes that deepen the lyrics. While tracks like “Lights Fall” and “Murmerz” lead to chaos with apocalyptic tones, the rest of the tracks balance out in a comforting way that allows easy listening. Seeing as this album was recorded live, it definitely convinced me to make it out to see them perform. –Brinley Froelich

Your Meteor
The Retroscope
Street: 06.11
Your Meteor = Jeff Buckley + Television + Joni Mitchell + Prince
A year in the making, The Retroscope is a crafty, quirky gem of a debut album. Incorporating everything from 8-bit to acid pop to jazz, Your Meteor proves to be multi-genre, avant-garde and refreshingly non-contrived. This isn’t your average, whiny youth, whispering words about their last breakup. Rather, The Retroscope offers an alternative perspective about substantial items such as third world exploitation, vital organs and Nintendo. The track “Gold Paint’’ seems to be the backbone of the album, with a rocking bass-heavy beginning and a poetic ending. It becomes clear when listening that their music is made genuinely—each purchased album comes with handwritten liner notes that mention how each song is best listened to, whether it be in an empty bathtub or riding home on the bus. The mesh of styles may be off-putting to some listeners, but props to these DIY-ers for throwing something innovative into the mix. –Kia McGinnis