Self-Released Street: 11.13.15 City Of Salt = The Fratellis + Joe Pug
Songs from the City Of Salt is an EP that brings the emotion of folk to life. By the second song, “Sinking Ships,” this self-described folk/grunge band nails both of the genres that they’re going for. This song covers the spectrum of both genres—it’s got your typical riffs and chords found in early grunge such as Nirvana,and the political lyrics of early ‘60s folk like Bob Dylan. However, it’s the instruments used that really show the talent of this band—the recorder can be heard here, as well as the mandolin. The third song, “I Dreamed We Were Alive,” shows the variety of subjects the band is willing to cover in this ballad of self-discovery. The tone of the album is best represented by the fifth song on the EP, “Montana,” which has all the workings of a classic folk song. The heartfelt repentance of a man spending many years in a Texas state jail with nothing but Montana on his mind is an emotional enough concept to solidify the passion they have for music. They also allude to this concept with the lyric, “It’s better to die for a song than a king.” The gritty singing of Michael Radford is what really makes this EP one of my latest favorites. His smoky voice brings the folky, blue-collar imagery of this EP full circle. Songs from the City Of Salt is fucking great, and any fan of folk should give this EP a listen. The passion and emotion the band has for music is implied throughout. City Of Salt are not afraid to explore lyrically as well as instrumentally. The EP is simple—the lyrics are smooth and carry strong messages in a simple delivery. The subjects range from politics to religion and all the way to love. The talent of the rest of the band is clearly evident on the EP with the use of various instruments, and the underlying chord progression moves the songs forward. This EP is definitely worth taking the time to listen to. You will not regret it. –Aaron Jones
Spirit Tribe Records Street: 11.10.15 Spirit Tribe = Houndmouth + The Horrors
Spirit Tribe are a ‘70s-style jam band with a modern twist. Influences such as CREAM, Led Zeppelin and countless other iconic bands can be heard. From the effortless guitar solos to the tone-setting drums and haunting lyrics, Spirit Tribe have major talent. It was refreshing to hear a band that sounds like they appreciate those who came before them. However, this doesn’t always work in the band’s favor. I enjoyed their stylistic approach—the songs melt into one, but they begin to sound the same. The guitar solos, while impressive and hard-hitting, are done in the same fashion throughout most of the songs. The same vocal effects tend to repeat in each song. That said, this band can jam like there is no tomorrow! The third track on the album, “Broken Home,” blends easy-going psychedelic guitar, comparable to Jerry Garcia, with vocals that are reminiscent of early Chris Cornell. The thing that impresses me most about Spirit Tribe is that the band’s talent is through the roof! They accomplish this with just a bass, guitar and drums. Even more so, I enjoyed the concept and talent of this album. I would have enjoyed this album more if they would diversify their vocals and take a different approach regarding the guitar solos. While I wasn’t in love with this album, it’s not a bad one to have on the shelf.If Spirit Tribe were to ever breach into other aspects of psychedelic rock, much like the bands who came before them, there is no telling what they would be capable of. There’s nothing stopping them from being mentioned in the same sentence as some of their predecessors. –Aaron Jones
Self-Released Street: 02.05 Dealin’ In Dirt = Merle Haggard + The Milk Carton Kids
This gritty EP is easy to love and even easier to get lost in with its stories and beautiful guitar work. Dealin’ in Dirt are a three-piece band of men that, on a normal day, wouldn’t stand out until they release their talent and love for music. “Plenty of Room for Trunk Space” follows the story of fugitives looking to start a new life but are tempted by the past to repeat the same mistakes. Immediately, the vocals are quite pronounced and contain the emotion from having lived such a life that is now contrite and with a willingness to start anew. My favorite song on the EP is definitely “Bad luck.” A lyric that sticks out to me is “Truck driver with methamphetamine eyes / I got a feeling it’s of those nights.” This comes after he states, “Gold coast didn’t treat me right.” The song is beautifully written about the very moment a transition takes place in one’s life. Singer Evan Mullaly is given the opportunity to earn a living essentially dealing in the dirt and has to decide what to do. The song is so fucking great! It’s generally relatable, as is the rest of the EP.
The theme of repentance can also be felt throughout. Sharing the band name, “Dealin’ In Dirt” reads, “When you’re dealin’ in dirt, your loved ones are the only ones who get hurt” and, “When your sins are alive / it’s a short life.” The storytelling on this EP is comparable to some of its predecessors: I can faintly hear legends like Johnny Cash along with the badassery of the Sir Douglas Quintet. The confessions on the album are honest and come from a place of struggle, articulated in a way that makes it easy to understand.
One thing that is important to note is the guitar work. With three guitars, Dealin’ in Dirt clearly have the discipline to pull this off. Each guitarist is separate and distinct in their own way—they play well, feed off each other and add tone to the story that is being told so poetically. The one thing I didn’t like but learned to look past was the occasional screaming. The screaming, while not bad, also didn’t add to the songs. Overall, though, this did nothing to deter me from enjoying this EP! Dealin’ in Dirt are raw and honest, and the band pulls off exposing the underworld of what some do to survive. While the album dwells on the darkness of transition, it’s relatable to anyone who has ever been at a crossroads and felt the need to progress in life and has struggled to do so. Dealin’ are Dirt is awesome—I definitely recommend Plenty of Room for Trunk Space to anyone who is a fan of classic, American roots storytelling. –Aaron Jones
Feral Cat Records Street: 03.13 Valentine and the Regard = Band of Skulls + Wampire
Valentine and the Regard are hellbent on releasing as much new music as they possibly can. Their latest album, Ragamuffin, is the very definition of blues rock. The album brings back memories of driving through the canyon at too-fast speeds, with the radio blasting and not giving a damn.
The album starts with an introduction that gives a dissertation about the downfall of traditional instruments due to technological advancements. This serves as an ironic message, because the following track, “The Wizard,” is slow, deep and melodic. It is purely instrumental and serves as a great transition that sets the tone of the album perfectly. The guitar playing of Mike Maurer takes us through a melodic trance, not just in this song, but throughout the whole album. They make it easy to get lost and just enjoy this instrumental piece.
The third track on this is definitely my favorite. “Hung My Head” deals with the regret and confusion that comes with a the breakup of a marriage. The tempo and the beat of the song elicit comparisons to the early ’70s blues band Savoy Brown. The song takes us on a repentant man’s journey to understand the reason for the separation. The song is only 2:22 seconds long, so the story is told in piercing one-liners with badass guitar.
The album ends with a slow, rock-infused ballad. “Communicator” takes us on a journey through the demands of a relationship and the things we are not always willing to do. This song brings the album full circle, ending with simple yet powerful guitar riffs. The vocals make a deep message even deeper.
Maurerhas an amazing voice, and I would have loved to have seen him really let loose and fulfill his true potential. If you have the chance to see Valentine and the Regard and do not, you’re truly missing out on one of our premiere local bands. –Aaron Jones
Feral Cat Records Street: 07.15 Valentine and the Regard = Beach Fossils + R.E.M
The latest release from Valentine and the Regard is a nice change of pace. The EP The Devastating Affairreverts to the early days of what made alternative music great, with faint influences of the The Smiths, Tears for Fears and even She Wants Revenge—The Devastating Affair is slow and melodic.
The first song is the title track and has a great story. We are told about a man who seemingly has his life together before a relationship comes together and then unravels in an excruciating fashion: “Before she un-glues everything.” This lyric really captures the theme of the album. Things happen, and it’s about the recovery and how we react. Valentine and the Regard hit that on a deep level on this EP.The song ends with the declaration, “And I don’t know what to do.”
“I Think I Am Sick” is the second track.The song is a lament of a broken man looking back and thinking, “Why did I work so hard?” The song is great, but I can’t help but feel there was more potential with this specific topic dealt with in the song. It does not take away from the EP— however, it does not add the powerful undertone it is capable of.
Valentine and the Regard have been releasing music in 2016 like it is nobody’s business. Each album and EP are vastly different from each other. They have been able to stick to themes throughout each new release that can only come from personal experience, and The Devastating Affairis no exception. I would love to see Mike Maurer let loose even more on vocals—he has a unique voice, and if he can let his full range show, Valentine and the Regard would easily further cement themselves as a mainstay local talent. –Aaron Jones
Amor~Convertino The Western Suite and Siesta Songs
Self-Released Street: 10.26 Amor Convertino = The Byrds (Sweetheart of the Rodeo) + Olivier Messiaen
If Western movies were as huge as they were 70 years ago, this would be the perfect soundtrack. This album conjures up experiences we’ve never had with people we’ve never met in the worlds and cultures we may have never explored. Unfortunately, country music sometimes has a negative connotation attached to it. Country music gets a rap for having too much twang, being too depressing and probably being mostly too boring. That is anything but the truth with this beautifully made instrumental album.
This is the first album by the duo of Amor Convertino. Their background could not be more diverse. Naïm Amor is a Paris-born artist that got his start playing in coffee shops and train stations. In 1997, he and his family ended up in the desert of Tucson, Arizona. When the time came to make an album, Amor had enough material on his own, but he decided to collaborate with John Convertino. Whats makes Amor Convertino such an impressive duo is that they recorded certain parts of the songs on their own before coming together for the finished product.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this album is the themes the artists take on. Each song’s titles reflects the theme of the song perfectly. Fitting examples are the songs “Ryegrass Waltz” and “XO Waltz.” Yes, they are two songs derived from the traditional waltz. “Ryegrass Waltz” takes on more of an earthy tone. The song brings up an image of playing in a field out in the country and running wheat through my fingers. It is an easy song to get lost in, and it’s played in such a way that will ease your mind while you listen to it.
“XO Waltz” is crafted very similarly but clearly takes on a more romantic tone. Both songs are done beautifully. What makes these two songs so unique is that they are essentially the same song, only one is done in a in general and slowed down. They are similar but bring about different situations we find ourselves in. “Round ’em up,” the opener, pulls you in. Think of being a sheriff in the smallest desert town you can think of. A gang of bank robbers has entered, and it’s your job to round ’em up and bring them to the jailhouse.
Perhaps the most telling song on this album is the sixth track, “Black boot shuffle,” which combines the grittiest of boots on the desert ground with the finesse of country dancing. It brings together quick guitar with snarly drumbeats to create a shuffle. The song could be an old ranch hands favorite tune at the local bar with its blue-collar feel that is hard to beat.
I really enjoyed this album. When I first began to listen to the release, I thought that only the first song would be pure instrumental. I was pleasantly surprised when I began to listen to the rest of the album. It’s a great theme-centric and novel listen for a long, reflective road trip. –Aaron Jones
Feral Cat Records Street: 1.30 Valentine And The Regard = Incubus + Connor Oberst
For the past year or so, Valentine And The Regard have been releasing music on a regular basis. Each release has had a different and distinct style. The latest release is their debut album, Daydream. For the amount of music that they have released, it came as a surprise that Daydream holds 22 songs. I, however, did not mind. Daydream blends themes that pour over an acoustic guitar and simple drums.
Echoing the simplicity of Bob Dylan withintense lyrics recalling Incubus and the rawness of early Conor Oberst,Daydreamdoes a great job of pulling the listener in. Most songs are short and keep one’s attention. It is easy to get lost in the songs of this album for two reasons: The length compels the album to blend, and the themes invoked are enough to wrap us into each story and keep us waiting for the next song.
The song “New York or something”showcases the album’s depth well. New York is far away from the cold and dreary winter of Salt Lake City, so when the lyric “something new” begins to emerge, it is clear to see one of the major themes of the album. It indicates a fresh start while still holding onto the past—in the song “Lyric,” we hear “You were my best friend.”
I really enjoyed this album. I will be adding it to my collection. While it does seem to drag on at times, it is not hard to get back on track. Though the method in which the album was recorded comes off as scratchy and at times inaudible, it can still be enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this album for a nice, long drive when you have time to think about its themes. –Aaron Jones
Self-Released Street: 10.24.16 Burn Atlas = From Aphony + The Offspring
Burn Atlas possess a talent for songwriting. The EP’s main theme seems to be—at least in two out of the three songs—a post-apocalyptic world that has reached its poor state through capital greed, negligence of the environment and ruthless killings of other human beings. The second track, “California Smoke,” does a good job of encompassing the perils of corporate greed and the effects it can and has had on the environment. While the song describes California, it is very applicable to Salt Lake City during the winter.
Burn Atlas throw together some lyrical content that clearly has a central theme well, and they also do a great job of composing music around it. The first song, “Desert Skies,” has a bridge that can only be developed by a band that has chemistry and a bond that supersedes anything they do as musicians.
The last song on the EP, “Fruit Smoothie (320),” seems to be an ode to the ’80s glam band Warrant, specifically their song “Cherry Pie.” The song centers on an objection of the singer’s obsession. Certain lyrics, like “You’re the sweetest girl in my candy world / so why don’t you say we give it a swirl,” remind a bit of why some might be glad that the ’80s are over.
Despite some strengths, the EP tends to come off as chauvinistic and even a little predictable. While Burn Atlas are a talented band, they did not appeal to me. However, that is not to say it is bad. It can easily be a good musical experience for anyone who has a love for early rock mixed with a little bit of blues. The themes that are prevalent here are themes that have always been used and have always had success. Overall, the EP could be great, though for a specific type of listener.–Aaron Jones
Air House Records Street: 10.13.15 The Wonder Revolution = Fanfarlo + Animal Collective
Wichita-based music and art collective The Wonder Revolution’ssixth album release is indie ambience at its finest. It’s easy to see why they have a growing fanbase. The freedom by which they write their lyrics as well as the different instruments they use are enough to earn my respect. The album itself has a new-age theme, which they express through song titles such as “The Invisible Forest” and “Budapest River.” They also convey this through the various instruments heard in the background like bells, mbira and countless chanting synthesizers. While I will say I didn’t exactly fall in love with this album, it’s great for those who want to hear creativity and originally come to life. –Aaron Jones
In 2010, Brandon Stanton took his camera to the streets of New York City. That day, he not only started the now renowned Humans of New York blog but also spawned a practice in many cities all around the world. When Mike Angelieri saw this, Salt Lake City would be no exception.
“I saw an article on msnbc.com about a guy who walks the streets of New York talking to strangers, gets a story about their lives, and shares it on his Facebook,” Angelieri says. “I thought, ‘Hey that’s a great idea.’” After a quick search, there was not a chapter here in Salt Lake City, so Angelieri created a Facebook page modeled after the same project, through which the project mostly operates.
Humans of Salt Lake City is a photojournalism project. Angelieri will walk the streets of Salt Lake City and begin asking anyone he sees questions about their life and will take a picture of them. This creates a sense of personal reality to the interview. It shows the picture of the person dictating their story of struggle, commitment, happiness or, in some cases, attempted suicide.
The subjects of Humans of Salt Lake City best illustrate this notion of shattering perceptions about Salt Lake City.The term “The Zion Curtain” has been used repeatedly to describe the effect of the Mormon Church, as well as the culture of the town. The goal, however, is to show SLC’s diversity. “Salt Lake City is a very unique place with surprisingly diverse people, and to be able to prove so many times over that Salt Lake City isn’t the homogenous bubble that I’m sure lot of people think it is, is pretty cool,” Angelieri says. He also notes that “everyone has a struggle, everyone has a lesson to teach, and everyone has a lesson to learn.” It’s the subjects that make Salt Lake City such a diverse city that people often gloss over on a map. Angelieri takes it upon himself to educate people on the reality of those who reside here. “People share their fears, their shame, their hopes and their dreams.” It’s the non-tangibles such as these emotions that Angelieri is hoping to capture.
It is easy to see that Salt Lake is a city with a creative scene that is still growing. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Angelieri, which has
helped him decide to keep pressing forward with this project. Although, “Every once in awhile, someone is unnecessarily rude.” This comes at a cost of putting oneself out there.
There are times when Angelieri has felt like he was in over his head. “There have been a few posts here and there that touch on controversial issues,” he
says. When these do happen, Angelieri is prepared. “I can delete the mean comments and block the abusive people.” The goal is a forum in which people are open to diversity and social constructs that they may not be familiar with. Though, when the occasional story that is less than true comes through, “I definitely don’t have interest in perpetuating a lie,” Angelieri says. This is done to keep the integrity of the project intact.
Salt Lake City has a smaller metropolitan area compared to cities such as Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles, yet the response to Humans of Salt Lake City has a larger following than all these cities. The reason is not so easy to see. “As much as I don’t know why Humans of Salt Lake City has taken off more than other human projects, I think it has to do with the fact I get out there, almost every day,” says Angieleri. Humans of Salt Lake City does have a post ratio that can only be matched by the origin of this project, Humans of New York.
The beauty of Humans of Salt Lake City is that what it captures defies stereotypes about the city tucked away in the mountains. This diversity that Angelieri hopes to shine light on isn’t always met in a positive light, though. “Almost invariably, when I a post gay/LDS–related story, people can be either very supportive or nasty about it. … I really like it when a post engages people on both sides of an issue.”
The curator of Humans of New York has helped refugees gain exposure, raised money for charities and even spent weeks on top the New York Times Best Sellers list. Humans of Salt Lake City has accomplished similar humanitarian goals. “Last year, I did a fundraiser that raised $2,000, and I gave those funds to the Homeless Youth Resource Center to purchase shoes, socks and boots for the youth there.” Angelieri also is sending a terminally ill woman to Disneyland through Humans of SLC. What started out as a project has become a community-outreach project. This not only shows diversity but also a willingness to help those with whom we walk the very streets of the city.
Angelieri has big plans for Humans of Salt Lake City. He plans on visiting countries such as Ukraine, Peru, the Philippines and Japan. “I am partnering with multiple organizations such as the American Cancer society [and] the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society.” The philanthropy behind this project is something that can be contagious within the community. Angelieri is also working with publishing companies to get a Humans of Salt Lake City book published.
Many people have aspirations of being a photographer. Angelieri offers some advice: “You have to believe that there’s magic out there in every form—good, bad or ugly, just waiting to be captured,” he says. “Have an eye for the unexpected. Look for moments that might, at first, seem unworthy of your camera. When you see them, whatever they are, capture them.”
Angelieri doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Humans of Salt Lake City is continuing to grow along with the city. The forthcoming philanthropy of this movement is something from which we can all model ourselves. Angelieri is always out on the streets of Salt Lake City, and you, too, may just end up having your picture taken and your story told.